Long time coming?
Aaron Rodgers was in the second grade at Oak Manor Elementary School in Ukiah, Calif.
“And my teacher was …” the Green Bay Packers quarterback said, racking his brain for a moment before giving up. “That’s going to bother me now.”
Mike McCarthy was working as a graduate assistant at the University of Pittsburgh. His days as a graveyard shift toll collector on the Pennsylvania Turnpike were behind him.
“That was a summer job, OK? I worked there for four weeks,” the Packers coach said when asked about his infamous make-ends-meet job that has been told ad nauseam. “I can't remember what year it was. I think it was '89, actually. Yeah. The summer of '89. Sounds like a song.”
Packers general manager Ted Thompson was working in the financial sector in Houston. President Mark Murphy was a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice. Wide receivers coach Edgar Bennett was a senior at Florida State. Offensive line coach James Campen was the Packers’ starting center. Starting left tackle David Bakhtiari, who celebrated his 22nd birthday this week, was 2 1/2 months old.
Yes, the list could go on and on – just like the Packers winning streak over the Detroit Lions in the state of Wisconsin has. Since the Lions won, 21-17, at Lambeau Field on Dec. 15, 1991 – when Mike Tomczak was the Packers starting quarterback, Lindy Infante had one more game left in his tenure as Packers coach and new GM Ron Wolf had already made up his mind to fire Infante, leading to the Packers’ renaissance under Wolf, coach Mike Holmgren and quarterback Brett Favre – the Packers have won 22 straight in Wisconsin against their division rivals, including one playoff victory following the 1993 season.
The streak includes victories over the Lions at Milwaukee County Stadium in 1992, 1993 and 1994 and spanned the entire NFL career of retired Lions kicker Jason Hanson, who was a rookie on the 1992 team and hung up his kicking shoes after the 2012 season having never won a game on Wisconsin soil. It is the longest streak of consecutive road losses by one team to another team in NFL history.
And what will it mean Sunday when the Lions (3-1) and Packers (1-2) face off at Lambeau Field?
“I don't acknowledge the streak,” McCarthy said Wednesday. “Really. I understand how long it's been. But it ain't going to help us Sunday.
“Last year is last year. The last two decades is the last two decades. I mean, I get it, it's good to write about. It won't show up in our power points. It won't show up in our team meetings.”
In fact, McCarthy said the subject of the streak wasn’t among the potential media topics he presented his team with in advance of Wednesday’s open locker room period.
But the Lions are aware of the streak – in part because they just got done ending the second-longest such streak in NFL history. Before their 27-20 victory at FedEx Field on Sept. 22, the Lions had lost 21 straight road games to the Washington Redskins. While the previous games had no bearing on that outcome – and no one was suggesting that they would – it was one less thing the Lions had to hear about once the streak was snapped.
The Packers’ streak, meanwhile, is slightly different to the Lions.
“It kept being brought up that we had never, ever won in Washington. In the history of the National Football League, the Lions had never won in Washington. We were asked a million questions about it,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz, who took over as the Lions coach after their 0-16 season in 2008, said during his conference call with Wisconsin reporters at Lambeau Field Wednesday morning. “I don’t know how really fair that is to Matt Stafford or Reggie Bush or Ndamukong Suh or Lou Delmas or anybody else that hadn’t been part of that.
“But I think just about everybody on our team – other than our rookies – has been part of losing games at Lambeau. They know the reasons we’ve lost them, they know how close we’ve been and how we’ve been a play away. I think that stuff rings a lot truer and is a lot more relevant than some other streaks.
“We’ve broken a lot of streaks here. We had the longest losing streak in the National Football League; we broke that one. We had the longest road losing streak; we broke that one. We’ve had a lot of these things. I don’t know that it means anything more to the team other than just winning a game, particularly a division game like this. But it does free guys up from having to take those questions and things like that.”
Questions like the one Stafford, the Lions’ starting quarterback, answered in his conference call.
“It is kind of for you guys to write about and talk about. If we sat there and tried to focus on that we wouldn’t be doing ourselves justice in trying to prepare for a team that’s talented,” Stafford said. “We’ve got to go out there and spend all of our time preparing to play the 2013 Green Bay Packers and not the ones from ’94, ’95. That has nothing to do with what we’re trying to do this weekend.”
And how old was Stafford the last time the Lions won in Wisconsin?
Stafford laughed. “I was 3 years old.”
Listen to Jason Wilde every weekday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on “Green & Gold Today” on 540 ESPN, and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jasonjwilde.