I was born in 1957. That is a great year in the history of the Green Bay Packers, as that was the year the new City Stadium (later Lambeau Field) was built. I have been a big Packers fan as far back as I can remember.
I was four years old when the Packers won their first NFL championship under Vince Lombardi in 1961. The Packers followed that up with another NFL title the next year. I recall the Packers from those years, but not as much as the teams from 1965-1967 which won three straight NFL titles and the first two Super Bowls.
Before the 1965 NFL Championship game, I remember going to church with my mom. I was really hoping the priest wouldn't be too long-winded so we could get home in time for kickoff.
That was the time frame in which I truly became an avid fan of the Packers.
The Packers won five NFL titles in seven years under Lombardi, and needless to say, I was pretty spoiled in terms of being a fan of the Pack.
But in 1968 that all changed. The Minnesota Vikings became the new kings of the then NFC Central, which had started the year before. The Packers had won their first division title in 1967, but the Vikings became the dominant team in the division for over a decade starting in '68.
One play I'll always remember; Quarterback Bart Starr was going back to pass in a game against the Vikings at old Metropolitan Stadium in Minneapolis. Defensive end Carl Eller got by right tackle Forrest Gregg and sacked Starr with a resounding thud. A wobbly Starr had to be helped off the field.
Starting in 1968, the Vikings ended up winning 10 division titles in 11 years, with the Packers winning the division in 1972 when Dan Devine was head coach.
The Vikings also went to four Super Bowls in that time, losing them all.
As a youngster, the Vikings were an easy team for me to hate.
In terms of the history of the NFC Central/North division, the Vikings have won the most division titles, with 18. The Packers are next with 11, while the Chicago Bears have won 10 divisional titles. The Detroit Lions and the Tampa Bay Bucs have each won three NFC Central titles.
In terms of winning the Super Bowl, the Packers have won three after the divisional play concept started in the NFL in 1967, while the Bears have won one. No one else has won a Super Bowl in the NFC Central/North.
When the Tampa Bay Bucs won Super Bowl XXXVII, they were in the NFC South.
Recently, the Packers have seen a number of their former players join the Vikings. The list includes kicker Ryan Longwell, safety Darren Sharper, quarterback Brett Favre, and this year both wide receiver Greg Jennings and linebacker Desmond Bishop have also joined the Vikings.
It's hard for fans of the Packers to see players who were so successful in Green Bay put on the purple jerseys of the Vikings. Especially in the case of Favre.
Favre had spent 16 years with the Packers and had basically rewritten most of the passing records in Green Bay, plus he had become the all-time touchdown pass leader in NFL history. Favre also started an incredible 253 straight games with the Packers, plus had led the Pack to seven NFC Central/North titles and a Super Bowl win.
But after a nasty divorce from the Packers in 2008, Favre eventually ended up in Minnesota in 2009, where he played for two years. However in 2009, the rivalry between the Packers and the Vikings intensified as Favre went on to have the best year of his storied career in the NFL.
He was especially lethal against the Packers that year, as the Vikings swept the Packers that season. Favre completed 41 passes in 59 attempts against the Pack for 515 yards and seven touchdowns. Favre did not throw a pick either.
The Packers got their revenge against Favre and the Vikes in 2010, as the Packers swept Minnesota behind quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Favre ended up retiring after the 2010 season, as he had the worst year of his career, as he was battered often and saw his consecutive starting streak end at 297 games.
The rivalry will be intensified again in 2013, as the fans will see Jennings and Bishop in Viking uniforms. Both players were instrumental in the Packers winning Super Bowl XLV.
In addition to that, the Vikings have the reigning MVP of the NFL in running back Adrian Peterson, who won the award last season, a year after Rodgers of the Packers won it.
Plus, both teams met in the postseason last year, as the Packers defeated the Vikings 24-10 at Lambeau Field. That was only the second time the two teams had met in the playoffs.
The first time the two teams met in the postseason was also at Lambeau Field in a 2004 NFC Wild Card game when the Vikings shocked the Pack 31-17. That game saw wide receiver Randy Moss of the Vikings score on two touchdown receptions. On Moss' last score, he pretended to moon the crowd at Lambeau.
Bottom line, although the Packers and Bears have the best rivalry in the NFL in my opinion, having played 186 times (including two postseason games) since 1921, the rivalry between the Packers and Vikings is also very good, especially since the era of divisional play began in the NFL.
Overall, the Packers and Vikings have met 105 times (including the postseason). The Packers hold a slim 55-49-1 edge in the series.
The fact that so many great players of the Packers have gone over to the side of the Vikings has really invigorated the match ups when the two teams meet.
That will certainly be the case in 2013, when Jennings and Bishop will be wearing the purple helmets.
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