Packers training camp can’t get here soon enough
America is a fat country. Now, I’m not trying to ruffle feathers here, but it’s true. We are big. Much bigger than most, in fact. Recent polls suggest that almost a quarter of the country is overweight. And, I have to say this – I’m fat too! The root of this problem isn’t hard to pin down either – Americans spent nearly $350 billion on fast food in 2021. Amazing, right? $45 billion of that was on pizza alone. Ah, the pizza, my delicious and doughy secret lover. Did you know that 350 slices of pizza are eaten in America every second of every day. No minute. SECOND. Maybe it’s because there are 75,000 pizza places in America. There are 300,000 churches. What does all this have to do with football? Absolutely nothing. But, it’s the dark fringes of the offseason, Packers news is rarer than baby formula, and I’m bored, so I thought we’d compare all the NFC North teams to national pizza chains. . You know, for the s and the g’s. Damn, Packers training camp can’t come soon enough!
A quick note from the author
We’re going to talk a lot about pizza today (a subject I know way too well!). One brand of pizza that we won’t mention is Domino’s Pizza. It’s not for fear of legal reprisals, I can assure you. No, dear reader, we won’t talk about Domino’s for one simple reason: Domino’s pizza is hot trash. Domino’s is basically the WalMart of pizza. Pizza for the absolute lowest common denominator. Pizza for people who find Jay Leno funny. If you want an accurate representation of this country’s ever-declining collective IQ, just know that Domino’s Pizza is America’s number one pizza company, and it doesn’t come particularly close. Mind you, this is a company that recently ran an entire ad campaign willingly admitting that their pizza was awful, they knew it was awful, and they knew you knew it was awful. Let it sink in. With the item.
Chicago Bears – The NFC North Godfather’s Pizza
When I feel bad about the state of this world, or something at work makes me sad, you know what I do to cheer myself up? I look at lists ranking the best Chicago Bears quarterbacks of all time. It always brings a smile to my chubby face. Quarterback – you know, the most important position in the field. The position that somehow eluded our clogged southern artery buddies forever. To say the Bears arrow has been pointing down since the late 80s is an insult to the word down. The Bears’ trajectory since 1990 mirrors that of the initial fall on the Intimidator 305 roller coaster at King’s Dominion Theme Park. You know what else was huge in the 1980s but is pretty much extinct today – Godfather’s Pizza. You remember Godfather’s Pizza, right? The clumsy logo. The crazy white Coca Cola cups with the cheap plastic handles? The ridiculous ads with the fake mob boss that would usually run during episodes of The People’s Court? Fun fact: the Chicago Bears were the NFL’s first team. They are preparing (I use that term extremely loosely) to take to the field this fall for what will be their 102nd season as a professional football team (being super loose with terms today). 102 years old. And a massive 1 Super Bowl ring to show it off. The Bears’ relationship with winning championships is akin to AC Green’s relationship with sex while playing for the Lakers. When you sum up the Bears’ outright ineptitude over the years, you tend to see the culprit in their flaccid and incompetent leadership. Another thing they have in common with Godfather’s Pizza. It’s a bit apropos to compare the Bears’ wading football organization to a pizza chain — most Bears fans seem to be about half a slice away from an emergency visit to their cardiologist. You know, the more I look at the spokesperson for The Godfather, in a way, he looks a bit like Mike Ditka. Long story short, the Bears suck. Let’s move on.
Detroit Lions – NFC North’s Little Caesar Pizza
Weird fact about most American pizza chains – most of them have Michigan ties for some weird reason. But, of all those batter-throwers claiming full (or partial) Motor City credibility, I think Little Caesar captures the Detroit Lions’ best all-around status. No one hates Little Caesar’s pizza. And, quite honestly, nobody really hates the Detroit Lions. Whether I train my brain to do it or it comes naturally, every year when the NFL schedule is announced and I watch it for the first time, my eyes automatically skip the Lions game. It’s as if my eyes are so bored with the thought of beating Detroit that they resist wasting time to even communicate those words to my brain. There’s nothing exciting about beating the Lions. Nothing memorable about the many wins we’ve had against Detroit over the years. Bland. Without originality. Like, games are missing an ingredient or two. It’s Little Caesar’s pizza in a nutshell. You will never truly regret having had Little Caesar’s for dinner. It’s something to swallow, throw away and quickly forget. Like a Lions game. True story – I was in Detroit on business a few years ago. Had tickets to a Lions game. Stopped for gas just outside Ford Field. I left the game tickets on my passenger seat. I was at the gas station for maybe three minutes. When I returned to my rental car, the passenger window was smashed and someone had left two extra tickets for the Lions game. Detroit is a rough and gritty city. Coincidentally, “rough” and “grainy” are the two words most often used to describe Little Caesar pizza. It’s also only fitting that Little Caesar’s is the #4 pizza chain in America, much like how the Lions find themselves in fourth place in the NFC North year after year. Leos are the pal you’d feel totally good letting hang out with your girlfriend while you were out of town. They are not a threat. They never were. They never will. The Lions are the alcoholic brother of the NFC North. And everyone knows the taste of Little Caesar best if you’re hammered. Dating glove in hand.
Minnesota Vikings – NFC North’s California Pizza Kitchen
Man, where do you even start with the Minnesota Vikings? The Orgy Boat fiasco? The unfortunate situation of Korey Stringer? Their owner’s creepy mustache? The Vikings are the NFL’s version of that hand-drawn horse meme that starts out so professionally, but in the last two panels, it looks like a mentally disturbed kid’s art project. Minnesota is a pick-and-choose adventure book where each variable conclusion ends in tripping over a conch shell and falling into an active volcano. I bet you didn’t know the Vikings were the first NFL team to launch their own proprietary app! California Pizza Kitchen was the first pizza chain to put lettuce on a pizza! Two truly useless titans of innovation. Most pizza chains are started by chefs. California Pizza Kitchen was started by lawyers. Conversely, most NFL teams are founded by former players/coaches. The Minnesota Vikings trace their origins to a few unscrupulous Minneapolis businessmen. California Pizza Kitchen found pizza delivery to be too much of a hassle and opted for a dine-in experience instead. The Vikings found playing outdoors too inconvenient and pivoted to a domed stadium in 1981. Minnesota Vikings and California Pizza Kitchen–Microsoft Zunes in an Apple iPod world. A sales pitch without a product. A six that thinks it’s a nine.
The NFL realigned the conferences in 2002, bypassing Tampa Bay from the NFC North (a place it never belonged to) and creating the NFC North we know today. In the twenty years since the realignment, the Packers have won the North Division title 12 times. The other three teams (again, using the term super loosely) have won the Northern Championship Belt 8 times COMBINED. Two of those seasons, Green Bay was without the services of their four-time MVP quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. I guess what I’m trying to say here is that Green Bay is not a pizza chain. They are all pizza itself. The rest of the north is just the crust. And the crust is the worst part of pizza (stop reading right now if you’re one of those crust-loving perverts). The crust is nothing more than an edible handle for your pizza. With the exception of a fallow decade in the late 1970s that extended into the late 1980s, the Packers have dominated the NFC North since its inception. This year will be no exception. Last year, Aaron Rodgers shouted “I Own You” to Bears fans after a fourth-quarter touchdown that sealed Green Bay’s victory over their outclassed “rivals.” He might as well have shouted that at the whole division. In 2012, Rodgers himself starred in a series of Pizza Hut commercials. No one tops the pizza, this is the hut. And no one tops Rodgers. No matter how you slice, the Packers are the big cheese in the NFC North.
Timothy Preece has been a Packers fan since 1991 and currently lives in Utah because he makes bad decisions. You can follow him on Twitter at @LegitimateTimP.