It's not every day you watch your team make it to the Super Bowl. Here are a few of my thoughts on the morning after.
* Is it possible for two teams to back into the Super Bowl? I don't want to take anything away from the Bears and Jets -- both made scary comebacks late in their games -- but the Packers and Steelers really seemed to be trying to give away their plane tickets to Arlington.
I was absolutely reeling late in the Packer game. I was sure we were giving up a fourth-quarter comeback to a third-string QB. Caleb Hanie will haunt my dreams.
* I'm already worried about the Super Bowl for my boys in green and gold. While my devotion to the Packers knows no rival, I do generally also cheer for the Steelers.
Will the football gods punish me for my fan bigamy? Time will tell.
* The new conference championship trophies are no good.
I always thought the George Halas Trophy and the Lamar Hunt Trophy looked like pieces that should be on the mantel of an old school NFL exec's oak-paneled office. (Like, say, George Halas or Lamar Hunt.)
The new trophies are a bit too modern to bear those hallowed names. To me, the old versions aptly represented pre-merger pro football and the rivalry between the old AFL and NFL.
As my wife pointed out, they sort of look like cheap imitations of the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
If we're going to modernize the trophies' look, then why not the names as well? Anybody up for battling over the Bill Belichick Trophy and the Jerry Jones Trophy? Me neither. Change them back.
As long as we're here, I want to point out to Bears fans that you get the George Halas trophy for winning the NFC, but you get the Vince Lombardi Trophy for winning the Super Bowl. The league understands the proper pecking order.
* Is it too soon to call Jay Cutler this generation's Jeff George? Tell me who I am describing right now: A strong-armed Indiana boy with no mental toughness, no physical toughness and a bad attitude. You can't tell for sure, can you?
Neither guy is a winner.
* One of my best friends from college is from Pittsburgh and a die-hard Steelers fan. We were surrounded by Colts and Bears fans, so Straub and I found each other as kindred souls rooting for the non-local teams.
It was actually through Straub that I became a Steeler sympathizer.
We spent yesterday in contact, each pulling for the other guys' team. I couldn't be happier than to have our teams matching up for all the marbles.
My wish, though, is that the two of us were at the time and place in our lives to take a road trip to Texas for this one. I wouldn't even care about tickets to the game; I'd just like to take in the whole scene. I can't think of any better way to take it all in than as a die-hard Packers fan and a die-hard Steelers experiencing it together.
I'm sure there will be some trash talk between us the next two weeks, but the respect will remain. It should be fun.
* Packers fans owe Ted Thompson a great big apology. Sure, he mangled the Brett Favre issue, but it's over. It's ancient history.
The fact is, with Thompson at the helm as general manager, the Packers have successfully navigated the pitfalls of replacing a legendary quarterback. They have also made it to the Super Bowl in spite of one of the most injury-plagued seasons I can remember. (A nod to this year's Colts as well.)
Thompson has his own style, but he is a good executive -- one of the NFL's best.