In case you have not heard the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers will be playing in Super Bowl XLV at Arlington.
Thirty-two teams started the season with the hopes of making it to the big game with a chance to win the Lombardi trophy, the National Football League’s most coveted honor.
The Packers season was one marked with injuries early in the season, last minute losses and a sixth seed in the playoffs.
To top it all off, the Packers’ road to the Super Bowl went straight through Solider Field, the home of our longtime rival Chicago Bears.
The Packers defeated the Bears 21-14 in the National Football Conference championship game, thus earning them a spot in the big show.
I watched this game very closely, as the Bears are not a team to take lightly. They swept the regular season series with us in 2009 and we split the regular season grudge matches with them in 2010.
Each team knew that they were playing for a chance to move on to the Super Bowl. For the Bears there was an added incentive,as the NFC Championship trophy is named after long time Bears leader and football pioneer George Halas.
With this in mind, I was one of many people who were shocked when Bears quarterback Jay Cutler walked off the field in the third quarter of the NFC Championship game, never to return to play.
As the game progressed, sideline reporters relayed information that Cutler was suffering from a knee injury and would not return to the game. This would spark much controversy during the game and for many days after, and possibly well into the next season.
First off, I was not playing in that game. My knee was not injured and I did not personally ask Jay Cutler to describe the pain on a 1-to-10 scale.
However, I did watch Cutler walk off the field, as did over 60,000 fans at the game and millions of viewers at home.
Now, injuries have been a huge issue with the NFL this year with several players, including Austin Collie, suffering from concussions limiting, if not ending their season.
Cutler’s decision placed second stringer Todd Collins in as quarterback, who eventually was taken out for Caleb Hanie. Haine did a great job and almost led the Bears to a comeback in the late third and fourth quarters.
The following Monday the news and sports networks were abuzz with the information on Cutler’s sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL), which kept him out of the game.
Cutler’s toughness and dedication were called into question by just about everyone. His teammates and coach defended him, each stating that if he could have gone back in, he would have.
However, I have to ask, why not go back in despite the injury? As a Green Bay fan I could mention how many times Brett Favre got back on the field despite injuries.
Instead I think I will talk about another quarterback who chose to get back on the field despite pain. Let me set the scene for you — it was Sept. 24, 2006. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were playing against the Carolina Panthers.
Bucks quarterback Chris Simms was injured and carried off the field after taking a hard hit from Panthers defensive end Al Wallace. Simms returned to the game, scoring a touchdown off a two-yard quarterback keeper play. The Bucks lost that game 26-24. Simms was taken to the hospital where he underwent emergency surgery to remove his spleen, which had been ruptured as a result of Wallace’s hit.
Simms played with a ruptured spleen. It was week 3 and the playoffs, let alone Super Bowl, were nowhere in sight.
For Packers’ fans, the win means a dream come true and bragging rights for years to come. For many Bears fans, it is yet another chapter in the “We need a quarterback” saga in Chicago.
Now the question we Packers fans ask is, “Who do Dallas fans route for now?” On one hand you have Green Bay, a rival. A win will give us our fourth Lombardi Trophy, edging us closer to Dallas’ coveted five. On the other hand, you have the Steelers — you know, the six-time Lombardi Trophy winners.
Four or Seven? Now that is a question on every Cowboy fan’s mind.