First off, I have to reluctantly give the Green Bay Packers their due credit. Most people left the team for dead after Brett Favre and the Vikings completed the season sweep by beating the Pack 38-26 on November 1st at Lambeau Field. Green Bay was meandering along, sitting at 4-3, only to suffer the ultimate indignity of losing 38-28 to the previously winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers the following week. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was getting regularly mauled behind an injury-ravaged offensive line (he still has been sacked a league-leading 48 times this season), and there seemed to be no hope of turning the season around.
But to their credit, the Packers have rebounded. Green Bay has been on a tear recently, winning five straight games after the Tampa Bay debacle, and sitting at 9-4, the Packers should be considered one of the dark horses to ruin the seasons of one of the front-runners in the NFC playoffs.
So how is head coach Mike McCarthy keeping his squad motivated? Simple. A pizza party!
The Packers are in Pittsburgh this weekend, McCarthy’s hometown, for a matchup with the reeling Pittsburgh Steelers (6-7). Win or lose, the Packers postgame meal will consist of pizza from Aiello’s, McCarthy’s favorite pizza parlor, although, according to this AP story, the pizza will taste even better if Green Bay escapes Pittsburgh with a win.
Now, I like pizza as much as the next gluttonous, greasy-fingered overeater. Put a pie in front of me and I will fight you for the last slice, either by simple speed or if it comes to it, by stabbing your hand with a fork or bashing you upside the head with a shaker of Parmesan. Whether it be of the frozen variety, Papa Murphy’s, Domino’s or a nice pie from a traditional Mom & Pop parlor, it doesn’t matter – pizza is the food of the Gods. I have been known to eat pizza for breakfast, as I’m sure many of you have as well.
But it does cause me to chuckle a bit thinking about the players in the locker room becoming obsessed about the pizza. In fact, one could argue that the pizza party might turn into a distraction.
“I can’t wait for some of that pizza from Aiello’s.”
“Me too. All I can think about it diving in after the game. I wish we didn’t have to play the stupid game.”
I remember pizza being a wonderful motivational tool back in school. You know, if everybody scores a 90 on the history test, Mr. Johnson will order in pizza! Woo-hoo! Hey, whoever stays late after school to help decorate the room for Halloween gets Pizza Hut!
Best of luck to the Packers this weekend. And enjoy the pizza party.
Pizza tastes better if Packers win in Pittsburgh [Sporting News/AP]