Pledging playoff allegiance to ... nobody
Just what team left in the NFL playoffs is worth rooting for?
Hardly anyone sitting in this snow-infested meat freezer called Wisconsin has a rooting interest. The Packers and Bears have cleaned out their lockers. Lion and Viking backers are wondering how Jim Caldwell and Mark Zimmer are going to turn around their teams.
So we have the Patriots playing at the Broncos at 2 p.m. today in the AFC Championship game, and the 49ers playing at the Seahawks in the 5:30 game for the NFC Championship.
Let’s look at the NFC matchup first, since the Packers and Bears play in this conference.
San Francisco is a difficult sell to any Packer fan. People living in Milwaukee adopted Colin Kaepernick when he was a youngster, which should make him an honorary Cheesehead.
But the guy has left cleat marks all over the Packers in four games the past two seasons.
Then we look on the 49ers sideline and see their coach Jim Harbaugh. The word “smug” immediately comes to mind.
Seattle has several components that local fans could get behind.
Many people say that Russell Wilson is a Badger and that is why they root for Seattle.
Russell Wilson played at Madison for one semester. He is more of a North Carolina State product than Wisconsin. If you want to root for him because he is a Badger, go ahead.
With that reasoning, though, Minnesota fans can also hope Brett Favre goes into the Hall of Fame in a Viking uniform because he was a Viking…not.
The Seahawks and Packers have traded front-office staff through the years. Present Packer general manager Ted Thompson worked as a scout in Green Bay from 1992-99, then went to Seattle to join Mike Holmgren, who you might remember was head coach of the Packers from 1992-98.
Holmgren, whom the Packers grabbed from the 49er staff, also took John Schneider from the Packers’ front office in 2000.
Thompson left the Seahawks to become the Packer GM in 2005.
Schneider later rejoined the Packer front office in 2002 and advanced from the top personnel aide to Thompson and then to director of football operations.
Seattle grabbed him back in 2010, a week after Pete Carroll was named coach and the pair has transformed the Seahawks through the draft on free agency. Meanwhile the Packers’ front office has gone into hibernation.
Schneider is a likeable guy. The gum-chomping Carroll is pompous.
All Packer fans should remember Carroll strutting around after the “Failed Mary” game a few years back, telling everyone what a great call it was and how the Seahawks deserved to win.
About the best thing that could happen today would be Harbaugh and Carroll getting into a brawl after the game and giving each other a concussion. OK, that’s mean. Mild concussions.
So no, I can’t pull for either of those teams.
In the AFC matchup, New England might be the most despised team in any sport.
Bill Belichick has been great in New England after being miserable in Cleveland as the Browns head coach from 1991-1995. He went 36-44 for the Browns.
Belichick has been penalized for illegally taping other team’s defensive signals, and still would be a wealthy man if the NFL fined him $10,000 for every time he smiled.
Tom Brady gets away with chasing referees off the field and dropping audible F-bombs when the Patriots lose.
Even those things might be bearable if Boston wasn’t good in every sport. The Red Sox win World Series titles every other year, and the Celtics have in NBA title contention up until this season.
Now if we base allegiance to the nearest team left, Denver is a narrow choice over New England by a little more than 100 miles. Denver is just 964 miles from Janesville, while Foxboro, Mass., is 1,095 miles.
So there’s a checkmark for the Broncos.
I can see pulling for Denver. Peyton Manning seems like a good guy. I even like Papa John’s pizza.
John Fox is the only likeable coach left in the bunch.
So if I had to wear a team sweatshirt today, it probably would be orange.
But those are Bear colors. I’ll probably throw on a Packer hoodie.
Picks? I’ll say the despicable Patriots beat the tolerable Broncos, 38-31, and Packer-owning 49ers over the pompous gum-chomping Seahawks, 20-10.
I won’t lose any sleep if I’m wrong.
Tom Miller is a page designer/sports writer for The Gazette.