Conversation with NBC News' Chuck Todd, devoted Packers fan
Clockwise from left, NBC's Chuck Todd, Aaron Rodgers and a quarterback Todd pretended he was when he'd play football in the backyard as a kid, Lynn Dickey. Image by NBC News/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
But in between all that, he's also a husband, dad and devoted Green Bay Packers fan.
After appearing last Sunday on Meet the Press (every Sunday on TODAY'S TMJ4/NBC26) to talk about issues much more important than football, Chuck spent his Sunday afternoon at his home in Virginia, watching his favorite football team in a scintillating season-opener in San Francisco.
Packers-Niners is living up to the hype. Arguably the 2 best teams in the NFC and they are playing like it. #gopackgo— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) September 8, 2013
So in between his multiple journalist responsibilities with NBC News, Chuck was very willing to answer our questions about the Packers on a week where he's surrounded by fans of the opponent, the Washington Redskins.
Jay Sorgi: How and when did you become a Packers fan?
Chuck Todd: I didn’t know I was allowed to be a fan of any other team. There wasn’t a choice in my household. My dad was a big Packers fan… the first book over 100 pages that I ever read was Jerry Kramer’s “Instant Replay”; of course, the next book I read on the Packers was “Run to Daylight.”
My dad grew up in Iowa and as he said, the goal of most Iowans was to root against all things Chicago so for football that mean becoming a Packers fan. Despite growing up in Miami, he passed on his love for the Packers to me, and I’d like to think I’ve taken it to another level.
Jay: When you were running around the backyard with a football in your hand (assuming you were a Packers fan as a kid), which Packers did you pretend you were?
Chuck: As a kid, I was Lynn Dickey or James Lofton… and early on, I’d pretend I was Eddie Lee Ivery; no kid wanted to claim they were Terdell Middleton because, well, the first name. No offense to Middleton, who by the way, was a pretty decent running back.
Jay: The top 5 Packers games you ever watched?
1. Well, the first Favre-era Super Bowl; just to finally be in a Super Bowl after all those painful years; that’s easily one. It wasn’t the best played game of that season by the Packers, but it was cathartic.
2. During the Rodgers Super Bowl run, my favorite GAME that season was the Falcons playoff game… just such a beat down and I think easily was the best game the Packers played all year, just destroyed the Falcons in every phase of the game. It’s when I (and I’m sure others) knew the Packers weren’t going to be beat. They became invincible that game.
3. Nov. 1997: Favre’s first win vs. the hated Cowboys in 1997. After all those playoff losses to the Cowboys in the 90s, to finally get ‘dem Cowboys was a relief… and to do it with such authority and to blow them out.
4. Oct. 1983, Monday Night Football win over the Redskins. Lynn Dickey was UNSTOPPABLE. It was a crazy shootout. My dad and I always had a deal when I was a kid, when the Packers were on MNF (back then in the ‘80s, usually only ONCE a season if at all), I could stay up and watch the entire game.
5. Oct. 1979 – Dolphins vs. Packers. Packers lost. But it’s in my top 5 because it’s the first Packers game I ever attended in person. I grew up in Miami so of course we were there. The game wasn’t close; very depressing. I vaguely remember the Packers only scoring once (I swore it was Lofton who scored) but the box score on pro-football-reference.com says it was Paul Coffman who got the big bomb from David Whitehurst that day. I at least remembered, it was a lone bomb for the score. Maybe I simply wished it was Lofton! I thought the final was 28-7… turns out it was 27-7… but I give myself props for being close with that score (I was seven at the time).
Jay: Been to Lambeau Field? How many times? Favorite memories?
Chuck: Sadly, I haven’t been to Lambeau yet… I know to some that means I’m not a real Packers fan… but trust me, I was raised a die-hard…indoctrinated with all the books…every member of my family has one share of stock (I have two). I will make the pilgrimage soon.
Jay: What kind of flack are you getting this week from your Washington co-horts about the matchup Sunday?
Chuck: Actually, Redskins fans are in a total funk over RGIII and the team; They know the final score of the Eagles game was NOT indicative of the game itself. The ‘Skins didn’t look good; the fans know it; they are worried; they are NOT cocky.
Jay: Try to throw down some Packers knowledge and analysis. What did the Packers learn about themselves in the loss to the Niners?
Chuck: We don’t have a Super Bowl defense, pure and simple; at least not yet; maybe they will become one by the end of the year. But we have a secondary problem, big time; the Niners offense seemed prepared for the Packers to make the adjustments they made to prevent Kap running; so what did he do, he beat us with his arm.
Jay: What do they need to do to win a possible playoff rematch?
Chuck: See first answer, we HAVE to figure out how to defend the pass a LOT better. Sure, we contained Kap and kept their running game in check, but ack…that said, the good news is that I think it’s clear the Niners and Packers are a cut above the rest of the league. I hope McCarthy does NOT give up on Lacy just yet at RB… still need to try and make him better; get some smarter running plays called and get Lacy the ball more in the open field; the early screen play with him showed just what potential Lacy has. We should NOT use Lacy as a 3 yards and a cloud of dust kind of RB.
Jay: What amazes you about Aaron Rodgers and that receiving corps?
Chuck: Rodgers' ability to see the entire field and his accuracy. He seems to combine the toughness of Favre with Kurt Warner’s ability to know where EVERY receiver is on the field at all times. Favre had stretches where as a fan you wanted to cringe because he’d make the dumb throw because he wanted to prove a point or something. Rodgers doesn’t do those throws and he gives you the feeling that we’re ALWAYS in the game. There’s ALWAYS a chance when Rodgers is taking the snap.
Jay: How much must Green Bay get out of its running game this year?
Chuck: Rodgers has already won one Super Bowl without a running game, so perhaps the anxiety over it is a bit over-done; that said, I like Lacy and I hope he’s given a REAL chance to succeed. I think some of our running plays are too pedestrian. Why not put some of the same creativity into getting Lacy the ball as is done getting Cobb the ball on running plays? Point is, don’t just try and call off tackle plays for him; give Lacy space.
Jay: What does the defense have to do to solve the issues San Francisco unveiled Sunday?
Chuck: Go find a ball hawk in the secondary like Charles Woodson; I get why we didn’t re-sign him and he’s probably not the answer but we don’t have someone like him back there and it shows.
Jay: Is Mason Crosby still the answer at kicker?
Chuck: Kickers succeed or fail on confidence, let’s not shake his confidence; so I refuse to criticize him.
Jay: Favorite food/drink when you take in a Packers game?
Chuck: I’m a wings and Miller Lite guy.
Jay: If a world leader came up to you and said "convince me why I should be a Packers fan," what would you tell them?
Chuck: Easy, it’s truly America’s team. America at its core was built by small and mid-size communities like Green Bay and the Packers, more than any other sports franchise, represent what WAS and still SHOULD be best about America – small town done good, community investment and involvement.
When things are good in towns like Green Bay or Waterloo, IA (where my dad grew up), then things are great in America. Frankly, it’s un-American to not LIKE the Packers. So if you want Americans to respect you or even potentially love or like you, then become a Packers fan.