HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN:

HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN - city of big bottoms and small minds.

Monday, November 16, 2009

THE PHENOMENON OF THE BOO-BIRD PUZZLES ME

On the way back from the Blugold/River Falls game last saturday, I mentioned to Wil that I had "run into" Jim Carter. former 1970's Packer linebacker, now automobile dealership owner, and that we chatted briefly. I told Mr. Carter that I was collecting NFL helmet replicas and asked if he would autograph one for me. He graciously said that he would.

Turns out that Wil is now in a book club with Jim so I asked Wil if he would take a Packer helmet I had set aside for Carter to autograph with him to the meeting and Wil agreed. Luckily, the meeting isn't until early December which will give me the time to order the correct "cage" face mask similar to the one Jim wore.

In my research i stumbled upon the following article comparing Jim Carter to Aaron Rodgers. it is really a study in the boorishness of fans - something that my Ohio buddy, Kirk Roebuck and I have discussed by e mail before. Here is the article:

The Sad Tale of Jim Carter

Interesting article by Wolfley



The better Rodgers plays, the less of an issue his unpopularity with Packers fans will be. The worse he plays, the more of an issue it will be.

During the Family Night Scrimmage and some practices, Packers boo birds were out in force against Rodgers. Monday night, during a nationally televised game from Lambeau, Rodgers was greeted warmly with applause. We’ll see how the boo-cheer dynamic operates as the season unfolds.

But Carter’s case is a reminder of how Packers fans can be irrational, unfair and unrelentingly brutal.

Carter, out of the University of Minnesota, played 106 games for the Packers in the regular season, from 1970-’75 and again in 1977-’78.

Carter knows too much about what Rodgers is up against in terms of replacing a legendary and phenomenally popular Packers player, one with Hall of Fame talent.
Carter’s curse was replacing Packers middle linebacker Ray Nitschke as a starter in the 1971 season, when Dan Devine was the head coach.

Packers fans never forgave Carter that sin, even though he became a good player. He was chosen for a Pro Bowl in the 1973 season. In fact, he and Nick Barnett may be the two best middle linebackers the Packers have had since Nitschke retired in 1973.

But Packers fans at the time did not care how good Carter was. He was booed mercilessly.

In ’71, according to reports, Carter was booed when he was introduced at home games. He was booed each time he missed a tackle. He was booed when a pass was completed over the middle. Fans chanted for Nitschke.

They never forgave Carter for not being Ray Nitschke. They made Carter into a villain.

The stigma followed Carter long after Nitschke left the game.

Carter, who declined to be interviewed for this column, has never come back to Lambeau for any of those alumni ceremonies, according to the recollection of one Packers official.

On occasion, the team has urged him to attend, but he has told them he’s too uncomfortable to participate.

In the 1996 book “Downfield!: Untold Stories of the Green Bay Packers” by Jerry Poling, Carter addressed his treatment by Packers fans.

“If I ever went to Green Bay for an alumni game, I fear I’d get booed,” Carter said. “I never want to go through that again. It had a profound effect on me. It was degrading. Maybe that’s why I made a new life of not being interested in football.”

As a player he was brash and confident. He did not deal well with the treatment Packers fans gave him. He said Nitschke was over the hill.

He answered boos in kind. He came to admit that was a mistake, that he made it worse because of the way he chose to deal with it.

By comparison, Rodgers has made the right kinds of comments about replacing Favre. Only once has he stumbled there, telling fans “to get on board now or keep their mouths shut.”

During the ESPN telecast of the Packers-Cincinnati Bengals exhibition game, the broadcasters suggested Green Bay fans, perhaps given their Midwestern good hearts, might be unlike fans in other cities. It was said they might be more willing to be patient with Rodgers because they understand how difficult it is for anyone to replace a legend. They might be inclined to encourage Rodgers by cheering for him, helping him boost his confidence.

Baloney.

Because of the success the Packers have enjoyed in the 1990s until now, some people might have forgotten that Lambeau Field in the 1970s and ’80s wasn’t always a place where home team players received nurturing treatment.

And, in the case of Carter, it was treatment that was brutally unfair.

The exodus of Lombardi-era players was before my time, and GB hasn't really had too many players of similar stature get forced out (Lofton and Sharpe were obviously Hall of Fame talents, but Lofton had worn out his welcome and Sharpe was an injury issue and capably replaced by Brooks and Freeman; Leroy Butler was injured, Reggie White retired and didn't hold GB over a barrel when he came back).

Around here it seems that all but the most ardent Favre supporters are willing to give Rodgers a chance. You hope that even IF he's a bit disappointing he doesn't get ruined for the sin of not being Favre.

Now you can say that I've grown bitter,
But of this you can be sure
The rich have got their channels in the bedrooms of the poor
And there's a night of judgement coming...
But I may be wrong;
Ya see I hear these funny voices in the Tower of Song



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