We interrupt this era of egos and selfishness to bring you something completely different.
As any sports fanatic knows, professional athletes in this day and age are more than just athletes. They are marketing machines. They market not only their name but their brand as well and usually make themselves a nice chunk of money in addition to compensation from their respective teams.
Win a championship in your sport and the marketing goes into overdrive. Endorsement deals, TV show and movie appearances, their voice on “The Simpsons,” etc. The end result of this usually helps the players themselves and helps feed their egos. This is how modern day champions bask in their glory.
Then there’s the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers.
At last check, we don’t see Aaron Rodgers’ face plastered all over TV or Clay Matthews making cameos in movies (although he did get a nice deal with Suave). We don’t see Mike McCarthy writing his tell all memoirs or making a DVD telling the world how great of a coach he is.
Instead, we see Rodgers making an appearance on behalf of the MACC fund. We see Matthews on TV not as an actor, but as a spokesman advocating a cure for Duchenne. We see McCarthy hosting a charity golf tournament and taking the Lombardi Trophy to Children’s Hospital to help brighten the days of some very sick kids. Donald Driver’s annual softball game brought out a good chunk and the annual Tailgate Tour around Wisconsin helped some players connect and celebrate on a much more personal level.
Hell, Tom Crabtree even met up with some fans in a bar for a tweetup.
The point is the Packers decided to bask in the glory of winning a Super Bowl by helping others instead of helping themselves. Cheesehead Nation knows how great of a place to play Green Bay is, but the efforts of the Packers post-Super Bowl XLV have reminded America and the world that Titletown is a unique and special place as well.
The Packers are showing the world how it is done. While championships are huge accomplishments and deserve to be celebrated, using that accomplishment to inflate one’s own self-worth is completely counterintuitive to what led to that championship in the first place. The Packers recognize this, given all the injuries suffered during the 2010 campaign, and have taken that message to heart as they celebrated winning Super Bowl XLV. Accomplishing greatness is never the product of one but rather the effort of many.
You could see this in the Packers even in the immediate aftermath of the Super Bowl. Rodgers talked about the great group of men and character in the locker room. McCarthy talked about it. Ted Thompson talked about it. It’s true that most teams usually say such things after winning a championship, but the Packers are living this rather than just paying lip service to it. They are walking the talk.
Aside from Matthews’ Suave deal (which isn’t HUGE to begin with), you’re not hearing about Rodgers, Jennings or Woodson signing big deals with any big companies like Pepsi or Motorola or any big company. They have stayed true to who they are and they are decent men who care about winning more than their brand and thickening their pocketbooks.
One can only hope other teams in the NFL as well as other sports leagues are taking notice. The Dallas Mavericks just won their first NBA title as a true team. They have one big star, but Dirk Nowitzki knew he would have to lean on his other teammates to help carry him to a title. They were a team in the truest sense of the word.
If the Mavs follow the Packers example and then the winner of the 2011 World Series does as well, then perhaps the greatest legacy of the Super Bowl XLV Champion Green Bay Packers will not be what they did on the field, but rather what they did off it and how they set the example for future teams in all of sports.
That would be a legacy we would all be proud of.——————
Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke