Last Sunday's game between the Packers and Vikings was a sterling example of everything that's alternately wonderful and maddening about the NFL. On the plus side, fans at Lambeau Field were treated to one of football's best Hollywood scenarios: Backup quarterback Matt Flynn, recently reacquired by Green Bay after flopping in Seattle and Oakland, instantly energized the team upon relieving Scott Tolzien in the second half. Flynn rescued a moribund offense from a 23-7 deficit with a fourth-quarter comeback, got the game into overtime and, more importantly, helped keep a wobbly squad upright until Aaron Rodgers recovers from his broken collarbone.
That would be the positive spin. One could just as honestly report that two ugly football teams mucked around for four hours in front of 78,000 freezing spectators and accomplished nothing. A tie? Why are those still allowed in the NFL?
And the injuries this season -- Johnny Jolly, Sam Shields, Casey Hayward, Don Barclay, Jermichael Finley, Randall Cobb, Bryan Bulaga, Rodgers and on and on. The pain never stops with this team, although the Packers certainly are not unique. As illustrated in the PBS documentary League of Denial last month, a growing body of evidence suggests that football players are slowly beating each other's brains in. After watching athlete after athlete limp off the field every weekend, it's difficult not to get the sinking feeling that football might be doomed to go the way of professional boxing.
Amazingly, despite all the injuries and not winning a game for a month, the Packers remain solidly in the hunt to win the NFC North division. The Bears have injury problems of their own, and the Lions continue to be the Lions. To put it more bluntly, the North sucks. Someone has to win it, and Green Bay still can be that team, but only if Rodgers misses one more game at the most.