PEP Talk with Tony Vetrella: What Now?

Tony Ventrella reflects upon the Green Bay playoff loss.

Seconds after the Seahawks took advantage of two Ryan Grant fumbles and turned them both into touchdowns for a quick 14-0 lead Saturday I began to think about the Green Bay fans.  "What'll they do now?" I thought as the snow began to blanket Lambeau field.

The Packers are Green Bay. The story has been told a thousand times. This is the only sports franchise in the country owned by the fans.  The stadium is named after the Packers first coach Curly Lambeau not after a bank of insurance company. There are no professional cheer leaders; high school teams do the cheering. Now don't get me wrong, I love the Sea Gals, I'm just stating a fact here.  There are no fireworks and smoke when the home team is introduced at the start of the game. The only thing you hear is the roar of the owners or the crowd which in this city are one and the same.

Green Bay is pure old school football at its best. No need for throw back uniform in this city, the whole city is a throw back and I mean that in a positive sense.

This has been a dream season for these folks. Brett Favre at 38 is playing like he's 28. Ryan Grant came off the Giants practice squad to anchor a running game that allows Favre to find any number of great receivers open much of the time. The Packers finished the regular season 13-3 to earn and first round bye and a home game. These fans could see their first real hope for a Super Bowl since Mike Holmgren headed west after the 1998 season.

Now just three minutes into the game their promising team had fallen behind the underdog Seahawks 14-0. What would these fans do now? The window is closing on Favre's career it may be now or never, what now?

Then it all changed, turned around and didn't stop turning until the Packers had a 42-20 lead with just seconds left in the game.  The ghosts of Lombardi and Lambeau had cast their spell on this snowy afternoon. More importantly Bret Favre cast his spell, cast three touchdown passes and playfully cast a snowball at a team in the fourth quarter.

After that first three minutes the Packers out scored the Seahawks 42-6. It wasn't exactly the nightmare on Elm street but it was the bad dream on Holmgren Way.

There is an empty feeling the morning after your team loses, whether it's in the first round of the playoffs or the Super bowl.

"It hurts, it hurts," said Matt Hasselbeck as he spoke with the media a few minutes after game ended. "But I know we have a good team, not just talent wise but good guys." 

Nate Burleson said the same thing in different words and then added, "I'm going to spend this off season getting bigger, faster and stronger literally, and I think all the guys feel the same way."

Deon Grant talked about moving forward but remembering this day. "This leaves a bad taste in our mouths and we need to remember how this feels so it won't happen again. Next year we want to go all the way."

Clearly disappointed about the loss Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck did offer this comment about the Packer fans and their organization.  

"Part of me feels good for the Packers and their fans. That statement is no surprise because Matt is a classy guy and he did spend three seasons as Favre's back up.

As the Seahawks charter winged its way out of the Green Bay snow toward home I asked myself the same question again. "What will they do now," only this time I was thinking about Seahawks fans.  They get that empty feeling too and often it lasts longer for the fans than it does for the players.

The good news is in spite of the disappointing loss in Green Bay and the other set backs this season the core of this Seahawks team is pretty solid. Sure there is work to be done in the offseason. Sure we don't know what decision coach Holmgren will make about his future yet but for the most part Seahawks fans should be feeling pretty good.

A draft pick here, a free agent pick-up there and we can begin to dream all over again. Matt Hasselbeck had a Pro Bowl season but I still think the best is yet to come for him.

As a fan of the game I'll enjoy the AFC and NFC title games even though the Seahawks aren't part of it this year. The Super Bowl never seems to be as good as the semifinal games but I'll be watching with food and friends on February 3.

Then it's just two months till the NFL draft another month until mini-camp and before you know it training camp starts all over again.

We do have a lot of reasons to look forward to next season.

Keep the faith. Paint your face blue once a month to stay in practice and follow all Seahawks offseason activities on Seahawks.com. We'll be with you every step of the way.

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