Friday, November 27, 2009

Trigg vs. Turkey, Day 3

It’s Friday evening, and the post-game show is still going strong in the Trigg household. My kids insisted on watching the Packers-Lions game again today, so I obliged them as I entered day three of turkey wrangling.  My four-year-old decided, against my recommendation, to name our turkey “Lightning.”  Giving dinner a pet-like name is generally a bad idea, but he didn’t shed any tears as I ripped Lightning’s wings and legs from his body last night – though I was slightly disappointed to be denied the “animals are food” teaching moment.

Yesterday between me and Lightning ended in détente , but I’ve definitely got the advantage now and I’m going on the offensive.  I brought in some new weapons.  In addition to the stock pot, I busted out my bone-cutting kitchen shears and my meat grinder.  What once looked like road kill will now become turkey-cranberry sandwiches, turkey noodle soup and a tasty turkey hash.  Yum.  Lightning didn't look so tough when he was simmering in a stock pot.

This might still be the tryptophan talking, but it occurred to me that my odyssey with this turkey is analogous to the Packers season so far.  Work with me on this.  As you can see in this chart, my confidence index in the Green Bay Packers has trended almost identically as my confidence index in preparing and dismembering this turkey.  Allow me to elaborate.

Pre-season – the start of the year was like first bringing home that Thanksgiving turkey.  You’re not really sure what you’re getting yourself into, but you’re filled with optimism.  Everyone thinks their turkey is going to emerge perfectly browned from the oven to the oohs and aahs of your guests – just as every fan thinks they have a playoff caliber team in the pre-season.  You overlook the obvious blemishes and unpleasantries – the sawed off neck, the remaining bits of feather, the organs in that little bag.  You forget what a pain in the ass last year’s turkey was, and you think ahead to the vision of that bird in its fully basted glory.

This season started the same way.  Forgotten was the 5 of 6 losing streak to close out last year, and over-running was the optimism about NFC titles and championships.  The Cardinals game marked the zenith of the pre-season confidence index.  Pundits on NFL Network were picking the Packers to go to the Super Bowl after the beat down in the desert (at least, for the first half) against the defending NFC champions.  That optimism sustained through the last pre-season loss against the Titans (after all, they don’t count).

Bears – The opener against the Bears gave some pause.  That “oh, crap – it’s going to take me a while to peel 36 cloves of garlic” moment.  Just as I looked awkward stuffing and trussing the turkey, the Packers looked out-of-sync their first game.  But they pulled it off – just as I finally got that fowl hog-tied and into the oven.

Bengals – About 20 minutes into my turkey roasting, I noticed smoke emitting from my stove.  Not a good feeling. That was the Cincinnati game.  Your confidence is suddenly shaken.  What you thought was going to be easy, you are now realizing you may have under-estimated.  Blackened garlic was my culprit.  A porous offensive line was the Packers’.  But I sprayed some stock into the pan and got things under control.

Rams – I felt steady after that, just as the Rams game brought some confidence back in Packer nation.  I knew I was a decent cook and that roasting a turkey shouldn’t be that hard.  And, as a fan, I knew that beating the Rams shouldn’t be that hard.  We did what we had to.

Vikings – Then came the Vikings game.  The confidence index plummeted.  The second-guessing proliferated.  Maybe we should have kept Favre.  Maybe the Vikings will be pretty good after all.  Maybe our offensive line is going to give up the single season record for most sacks allowed.  My kitchen confidence reached a low-point then as well.  Had I over-salted the brine?  Had I allowed for enough cooking time?  Was I going to give all my guests food poisoning with an under-cooked bird?

Bye – I coasted through the bye week and regained some perspective, just as hour 2 of my turkey roasting seemed more calm.  I periodically checked it, flipped it, basted it, and hoped things would get back on track.

Lions – Thank God the Lions are in our conference.  Two easy wins per year is a nice security blanket.  It wasn’t a great win, but it was a shut-out.  My confidence was steadily increasing, as Lightning started to take on that chestnut hue.  Unless my meat thermometer was off, I hadn’t over-cooked it yet.  Just like the Packers win – it may not be perfect, but it was going to be edible.

Browns – Dinnertime.  The turkey emerged from the oven pretty close to perfect.  It looked spectacular, and smelled even better.  I carved it up and served it with mashed potatoes and gravy – just like Aaron Rodgers carved up the Browns defense.  There was no denying that this was a tasty bird, and at 4-2 it looked like the Packers were on their way to the season we’d all envisioned.

Vikings – Losing to Brett Favre at Lambeau Field was a crash back down to earth.  Suddenly, the Browns game felt meaningless, as I stared at the undeniable reality that the Vikings would almost certainly win the NFC North.  The feeling was just like returning to my kitchen to the unfiltered reality of that turkey carcass.  I could get things back on-track though.  I’d just make some stock out of it and everything would be good.

Buccaneers – The Bucs were the low-point on the Packers confidence index, and my turkey confidence index hit a low-point here as well.  Just as the Packers defense struggled with a rookie quarterback, I struggled with the rib cage and backbone of that animal.  Things felt hopeless.  I wanted to scrap the turkey and start over, but I knew I had to fight through it and make the most of it.  Like the Packers, I could either quit or I could strengthen my resolve and show that bird who was boss.

Cowboys – Once I got all the bones into the stock pot, I felt a lot better about where things were headed.  The Dallas win was the same thing – that sigh of relief that maybe things weren’t as bad as I’d feared.  Like the Packers stopping the Dallas offense, I did things I wasn’t sure I could do.  As indistinguishable chunks of meat became beautiful cubes for soup and were ground for turkey hash, I felt more confident about the future.  Dallas returned the confidence that great things can still happen this season.

49ers – Green Bay executed one of its best halves of football this season in the first half of the 49ers game.  The confidence index continued its climb for both the team and the turkey – as I realized that my second- and third-derivative meals from this fowl were not only going to be edible but darn tasty.  I started looking ahead again.  Thinking about menu possibilities, just as I started thinking about playoff scenarios again.

Lions – With turkey soup in the freezer and a variety of turkey-centric meals planned that I’m actually looking forward to eating, I finally feel like my turkey adventure 2009 is under control.  Like the 5 remaining games on the schedule, I’m not sure that all my 5 (or more) turkey meals are going to be perfect, but I have every reason to believe they will be delicious.  The confidence index isn’t quite back to its pre-season level, but it’s trending in the right direction.

The work I’ve done getting the remains of this turkey transformed into something I (let alone my wife and kids) would actually eat has been hard work.  This is the preparation that goes on behind the scenes.  Thanksgiving dinner is like playing on Sunday, but there’s a lot of work that goes on both before and after that performance.  You need to hit the weight room, and get injury treatments.  You need to do film study.  Sometimes you even need to bring in new equipment (Tauscher = meat grinder).  But somehow you need to figure out how to get it done, and that’s what the Packers seem to be doing.


  1. Wonderful description, I hope the next games are as good as those post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches we all love! My turkey confidence trend didn't track quite as well as yours. I watched the game in the basement with the stomach flu that my kids gave to me and haven't had anything to eat except crackers, white rice and 7-up. If it wasn't for the Packers win on Thursday, I'm sure I would have spent more time over the toilet. Thanks again for your blog, keep it up. It might just get some of us through the ups and downs of the season (and personal health).

  2. I love your style of writing here, Trigg. :) This season has been had more ups and downs than a roller coaster, but I am fully confident that Rodgers and the Pack can bring us a wild-card playoff spot.

    Offical prediction here for the last 5 games.

    Dec. 7th - Ravens - This might be a tough one. Baltimore has a good defense, but we have a better D. Baltimore's shaky offense may cost them the game, but the Pack have to keep the ball out of the way of Ed Reed to pull it off.

    Ravens 17 Packers 24

    Dec 13th @ Bears - It's the Bears...'nuff said. cakewalk.

    Packers 34 Bears 13

    Dec 21st @ Steelers - Sorry, but the Steelers have the better D, although KC picked them apart with a sub-par QB and their loudmouthed star RB gone. Pack might pull out a win if they can get through the Steelers O line to sack Big Ben and also get through their D.

    Packers 24 Steelers 30

    Dec 27th - Seahawks - Again, a cakewalk. Hasselback isn't the QB he once was and the Seachickens have a pretty craptastic D. Easy pickings for the Pack.

    Seahawks - 6 Packers - 27

    Jan 3rd - @ Cardinals - The Cards might be out for blood given the ass stomping we gave them in the pre-season, but if the Green and Gold can keep the pressure on Kurt Warner and maybe double up on Fitzgerald, it may be a different ball game.

    Packers 17 Cardinals - 20