The Green Bay Packers have been around for 104 years and Jordan Love is the first opening day starting quarterback that happens to be black. Some will say–and have said–it’s not monumental and it shouldn’t be talked about.
Should it be dwelled on? No, of course not. But it shouldn’t be ignored altogether either.
Believe me when I say that I was unbelievably hesitant to even start writing this piece.
Many people’s first reaction will be, “Why even mention it?”
If you read this piece, you’ll find the why. And since you actually clicked the article and didn’t just read the title, you’re already giving this piece a more fair shake than many people will. So stick with it, even if you think that the fact Love is a person of color doesn’t have to ever be mentioned.
This is a three and half minute read. Just read it first before getting mad at the premise of the piece.
Others will say something along the lines of, “I don’t care if he’s white, black, or purple, all that matters is how he plays.”
And that sentiment is good at its core. It really is.
But there’s the thing:
Many fans do care.
And their celebration of this over-a-century-in-the-making event is extremely valid.
I’ll explain from my perspective (the only perspective I can ever write from) why this moment on Sunday is such a big deal to so many people.
“Why does everything have to be about race?” Others may ask.
And my answer is, everything isn’t and doesn’t have to be. But this specific event is monumental because it’s rare for anything to happen for the first time for a 104 year old franchise.
And it means a lot to many people, even if it doesn’t mean anything to you (and it doesn’t have to mean anything to you).
You can bet your ass we’ll write an article about the next “first thing” that happens for this ancient franchise, too. Whether it’s the first seven touchdown pass game or the first 70-0 beatdown of the Bears.
We catalog firsts. It’s what we do.
This franchise has won 13 World Championships and has been around since before the roaring ’20s. The Packers were formed a decade before The Great Depression and 22 years before the United States entered World War II.
And still, what’s about to happen on Sunday has never happened before.
You want to say that’s not monumental? You want to say that it’s not important? Feel free, but you are missing something that’s special to so many people.
To those in the comments that will predictably say something like, “You’re a racist for talking about Jordan Love’s skin color!” There’s no way to change your mind. You woke up deciding to be miserable and are choosing to not look at this moment with an open mind and how other people may be feeling about it.
There’s nothing I can do about that. You can stay mad.
We specifically cover the history of this team. This is an historic moment. It just is.
Why Does This Matter?
I look at it like this:
I am a white, European-descended American that has watched the Green Bay Packers for my entire life.
When I was born Don Majkowski was the starting quarterback of the Green Bay Packers.
Then Brett Favre took over as the team returned to its former glory.
Then Aaron Rodgers took over and the good times kept rolling.
What do the three quarterbacks that have been the preferred starters for the Green Bay Packers in my lifetime have in common?
Take your time thinking about it.
Favre and Rodgers have been the only two quarterbacks I’ve actually been able to watch in my lifetime. Besides kicking the shit out of the Chicago Bears and winning AP MVP Awards, the thing that they have the most in common is that they, more or less, look like me.
Especially from a distance, with a helmet on.
Now lets think about the quarterbacks that the other half of this site (my father) has watched in his lifetime.
He was born as Bart Starr’s Packers were starting to take over the football world.
Then in the lean years he watched Scott Hunter, Jerry Tagge, John Hadl, and David Whitehurst muck it up.
Lynn Dickey was finally another solid quarterback that he got to cheer for.
Then Randy Wright got the job and after him was the quarterback of the team when I was born (Majkowski).
Want to guess what those seven quarterbacks all had in common?
It wasn’t winning AP MVPs and it wasn’t beating the Bears (only Starr’s Packers did that regularly out of that group).
It was the fact that they all, more or less, looked like him.
Which means the 10 combined preferred starting quarterbacks of the Green Bay Packers that the two of us have ever watched have all looked similar to us.
Ya know, white guys.
And in the 41 years before he was born in which the Packers existed, there were no black quarterbacks starting in Green Bay either.
This isn’t a criticism of the Packers or anything. It really isn’t!
It’s simply a celebration of the fact that the countless people of color and black fans of the Green Bay Packers, this Sunday and this year, get to watch an opening day starting quarterback of the Green Bay Packers that looks more like them.
For the very first time!
Everything mentioned so far has been fact. Not opinion. Not pushing an agenda. Just simple facts that explain why it’s great news that many Packers fans that do not look like us (the two people behind this site) will get to watch a quarterback lead this team that, more or less, looks like them (from a distance, with a helmet on).
For the sake of perspective, two other black quarterbacks have started for the Packers. They are Seneca Wallace and Brett Hundley. Neither were opening day starters and both filled in for an injured Aaron Rodgers.
What’s different this time is Jordan Love is the guy.
This Fanbase Is Extremely Large and Diverse
The Green Bay Packers are a massive brand. There are Packers fans all over the state of Wisconsin, the country, and the world.
The fans of this franchise don’t have a homogenous look to them — and now, after 104 years, the quarterback position of this franchise doesn’t either.
It was always going to happen at some point, but now it is happening. It’s worthy of note.
Sure, there is the prototypical “Packers fan” that ESPN and other outlets draw upon when creating a skit or are the focus of a pregame story that happen to look a lot like me.
But many Packers fans, millions in fact, do not look like me.
And many of those fans, whether they’re children or longtime fans, get to watch a black quarterback lead this franchise from under center for the first time.
That is monumental.
That is special.
And it’s not “focusing too much on race” or “judging Love by his skin color instead of his play or leadership” — it’s simply celebrating the fact that Love starting means a whole lot to a large swathe of Packers fans that have been waiting for this day.
It’s okay to be happy for people that are happy that something happened — especially when it has been 103 years of white quarterbacks (or passers) starting for the Green Bay Packers.
Jordan Love being black isn’t something we’ll likely ever mention again, as I don’t see how it would come up naturally. But this moment just deserved special mention because of what it means to a lot of people and how it is obviously a good thing.
Will Jordan Love be the next successful franchise quarterback of the Green Bay Packers?
We don’t know. We hope sure as hell hope so!
He’s handled the pressure amazingly so far and, up to this point, seems unflappable. He learned from Aaron Rodgers for three years and this preseason he certainly looked the part.
Now he just needs to go out and prove it on the field.
We can’t wait to watch his career unfold. And for the many fans that have been waiting for a quarterback that looks like him to lead this team on opening day — we can’t wait to celebrate with you on Sunday.
GO PACK GO!