The Green Bay Packers are in the NFC Championship Game. They’ll be facing Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This is special. Savor this moment.
The late Herb Brooks once said that great moments are born from great opportunity.
That is what the Green Bay Packers have earned with their 32-18 win over the Los Angeles Rams this past Saturday.
Sunday, they found out who their opponent will be. That will be the Tampa Bay Buccanneers. I’m sure you’ve heard by now, but they are quarterbacked by none other than the most accomplished quarterback in the history of the sport, Tom Brady.
For years, football fans longed to see a Super Bowl matchup of Rodgers against Brady. As each year passed by, one team would fail to hold up their end of the bargain.
More often than not, that was the Packers.
We don’t have to dream anymore. It’s the reality.
No, the two men will never be on the field at the same time. Maybe they’ll downplay the fact that they’re facing each other, but you cannot tell me that they do not know who is on the other sideline and what they are capable of.
In the red corner you have Tom Brady. A silent assassin. A master of execution. He’s seen it all. He’s done it all. He’s overcome a 28-3 deficit to win a championship. He’s played in a conference championship seemingly every year of his Hall of Fame career. The consensus greatest quarterback of all time.
In the green corner you have perhaps the most talented quarterback in the history of the game. The highlight reels. The hail marys. Throws that you will tell your kids about one day. The highest-rated passer in the history of the NFL.
These moments are special. These are the kinds of games you dream about.
Sure this game would have had plenty of juice regardless. If the Saints had been in this game, a lot of the things said about Brady would have held true for Drew Brees, but it’s different now.
Tom Brady is the quarterback on the other side.
If I shot truth serum into every Packers fan on the planet and asked them who would they want to beat in a Super Bowl for the last 20 years, the answer would have been near-unanimous. Tom Brady.
Now, they can’t beat him in a Super Bowl, but they can beat him to get there. I think the same holds true.
If you had told me at the beginning of the season the Packers were going to the Super Bowl, I would have told you they would have had to beat Tampa Bay at some point to get there.
That opportunity is here now. This Packers team is special. They have exorcised every demon along the way.
At the beginning of the season, the demon was they were the worst 13-3 team ever with no offensive weapons.
They responded by going 13-3 again and had the highest-scoring offense in the NFL.
The next demon was that they couldn’t stop the run, or beat good teams.
Week 16 they saw both. Derrick Henry was shut down, and the Packers dismantled the Tennessee Titans on national television.
The next demon was that they couldn’t beat a top-tier defense from the NFC West. The San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks had given Aaron Rodgers plenty of fits in seasons past.
They piled up 484 yards and 32 points in a game they missed plenty of opportunities as well.
The next demon in their way is the NFC Championship Game and Tom Brady.
One of the big sticking points in the Aaron Rodgers is the best of all time conversation is that the next NFC Championship Game he plays well in will be the first one. He was not good against Chicago, a game they were able to win.
He followed up with a performance below his standard in Seattle in 2014. A poor performance in Atlanta in 2016, and a performance in San Francisco that frankly looks better because of some window dressing after the game was already out of hand.
Tom Brady has had some moments where his team has played well, but typically he plays his best when the money is on the table. That’s what the Packers will need from Rodgers this weekend.
In addition, this Tampa Bay team is the one big blemish on their schedule that would have Packers fans scratching their heads. Anything that could have gone wrong on that mid-October day, did. The Packers lost 38-10.
They have one final demon to exorcise. This team is special enough to do it.
Savor this moment. This is what you hope for as a fan at the beginning of the season.
These games are special, and it’s a privilege to watch your team play in these games.