Appreciating the Greatest 12 Months in Packers History

With apologies to the Lambeau and Lombardi eras, we are living through the greatest stretch in Packer history. Since the team is unlikely to play an important, meaningful game until mid-January, it feels right to step back for a moment to appreciate and soak in what we have witnessed since the Packers hosted the Giants last December 26th.

Things were oh so different a year ago at this time, when the team was in playoff mode with two games to go in the regular season. After dismantling the Giants and knocking off the Bears, they entered the postseason as the #6 seed and became road warriors. We all know what happened next.

The Packers became the first NFC sixth seed to win the Lombardi trophy and in the process, Aaron Rodgers became a superstar. His playoff performance in Atlanta was one of the greatest by a quarterback in NFL history. That night in the Georgia Dome, against the NFC's top seed elevated him to within arm's reach of the Mannings, Bradys and Brees's of the world. Of course, after playing at a similar level against the Bears and Steelers, and becoming the Super Bowl MVP, he was suddenly mentioned in the same breath with those three.

And after a historic parade through Titletown, the Packers had to soak up the adulation quickly, because soon after the league went dark and the lockout shut everything down for the next six months or so. But not even that could slow the Pack's momentum.

That brings us to the 2011 season, where the Packers have been unbeatable and are now seen as the model organization in the NFL. Without being dragged down by a number of crippling injuries, the team has plowed through the schedule, never trailing in the fourth quarter and only being tested for 60 minutes one time: at the Giants a couple weeks back.

19-0 is being talked about because of one player: Aaron Rodgers. He is in the midst of the greatest season a quarterback has ever had, displaying remarkable decision making, accuracy and leadership week in and week out. His receiving corps is called the best and deepest in the league, though none of them were drafted in the first round.

We got to watch Brett Favre for 16 years as he quickly developed into the league's best and toughest player and was the poster child for the NFL for years. Now Rodgers is prepared to take that title and has elevated the play at that position in his first four years as a starter. Still in his 20s, Rodgers could own most Packer passing records before he's through, except for two: the starting streak and the interception record.

The Packers are six wins away from perfection. Six wins away from becoming the greatest team in NFL history. We're so close we can taste it. But much can happen between now and then. For now, let's just drink in these last 12 months: the greatest and most exciting we've ever witnessed.

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