Green Bay-Detroit rivalry has lost its zest over the years

It was once one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports.

No, I’m not talking about the Washington Redskins-Dallas Cowboys game, which has become the darling of current television pundits.

The one I’m referring to is the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers.

You have to be at least in your 50s to remember the interest this matchup once generated.

Get on the time machine and go back some 55 years or so.

It’s the fall of 1962 — a time when this country still had some innocence left in it.

John F. Kennedy was our president back then, and he was a true leader who handled things in a straight-forward fashion. Not like the recent leaders we have who prefer to conduct business in the bright lights of Facebook or Twitter.

There were no wars going on, even though a faraway place called Vietnam was beginning to get a few headlines in newspapers.

And you had the Lions and Packers battling twice a year. Detroit had won three NFL titles during the 1950s and was as close to being a dynasty as any team in that era.

The Packers had only just become a league power behind the guidance of Vince Lombardi, who was just establishing his legacy as one of the great coaches.

Football was a much different game a half-century ago.

For one thing, there was just an East and West Division, with the winners meeting in late December to settle things.

The game itself was also much different. The games were often settled in the trenches between the respective lines.

Legends like Schmidt, Nitschke, Lane, Kramer, Karras and Hornung roamed the field.

Passing was just coming into its own as early masters like Johnny Unitas, Y.A. Tittle, Bart Starr and the like could decide the outcomes with pinpoint throws.

Locally, there used to be as many as Detroit backers as there were Green Bay fans. Perhaps more than anything else that has changed. I would say the split now is now about 70 percent Packers, thanks to a local TV station that has broadcast Green Bay games for three decades in a row.

The two old rivals square off again this coming Monday Night in Green Bay, but I don’t see the intense local fan rivalries that once existed.

Maybe its because the Packers lost their All-Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers for the season a couple of weeks ago.

Or because the Lions have fallen back into the old bad habits that have kept them from winning a league title since 1957.

Or it could be because fans are just sick and tired of the never-ending drama (players protests, arrests and bad behavior) that mark all pro sports nowadays.

As the old B.B. King song went: The thrill is gone.


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