NEW ORLEANS — We did it, we got them there, and it's like we have wanted to write all year: The Green Bay Packers were destined to be Super Bowl XXXI champions.
We all had our roles:
--The Packers had to defeat the San Francisco 49ers, get lucky and not play the Dallas Cowboys, and then whip those mighty expansion Carolina Panthers.
--The fans had to skip a weekend night at the local tavern to spend $19 for a cheesehead so their heroes could have something soft to land on when jumping into the stands.
--And the writer, who had to withstand wisecracks and mail addressed in care of "the idiot," which somehow found its way to his desk, selected Buffalo and then Denver to win the Super Bowl strictly for the purpose of motivating the Packers to play to their potential.
Anybody could have gone with the Packers back in August, and surely we would have, but we knew better--you know, the writer, who put the Packers' future ahead of his own, and the head coach, Mike Holmgren.
Holmgren called his charges together in August and told them to shut up, stop chirping about their Super Bowl prospects and concentrate on winning football games.
The last thing Holmgren needed was another newspaper poll placing his big-headed ego monsters in the Super Bowl without having even played a game. The guys needed to be slapped around, prodded and reminded, that yes, they had beaten San Francisco during the regular season, but they had to cheat to do it.
The writer obliged, risking his own reputation as a prognosticator and all-around good guy so Packer fans could have a real reason for acting so goofy.
Duty above and beyond: The writer went so far as to leave California and visit Green Bay six times this past season, and while that's an invitation for middle-America boredom and a lot of bratwurst and crummy hotels still waiting for the arrival of cable TV, the Vince Lombardi Trophy is now ours.
And now that the record has been set straight, and the Packers have lucked out as we predicted privately all along, we can only hope the Cowboys regroup, so next year there's no good reason to return to that ice box they call Green Bay.