Long time Cheesehead TV readers remember this video (you can see it below as well. Warning: NSFW language), which went viral after Justin Harrell was selected in the 2007 draft. With Harrell's release by the team, one of the videos participants brings closure to one of the most disappointing tenures any Packers player has ever had.
Like many football fans, I check ProFootballTalk.com a few times a day while at work. Somewhere between our office pep talk and quarterly summary meeting I saw a rumor mill story that caught my eye: Justin Harrell has been released. A certain video came to mind.
In April of 2007, my high school friends and I recorded a reaction video to that year's NFL draft. We had just taken a course on film and video during our senior year, and we had accumulated several other little movies, including a warehouse fight scene and a Spinal Tap-eque Guitar Hero parody. These were the videos that we actually hoped would blow up on YouTube; unfortunately, the worst one that we ever made happened to rise to infamy and spark controversy across Packer fandom.
In 2006, the same group of friends watched the Packers select AJ Hawk. Myself and my blonde, curly-haired colleague jumped for joy when Green Bay picked the hulking linebacker out of O$U. So naturally, my other buddy set up a camera and waited to record the 2007 version of our "draft-day freakout."
0:03 -- "THE PICK IS IN!" That's how our buddy normally talks. When I think of this video, that phrase pops in my head. We still say it now and then when we're at the bars.
Many people thought that when he reached for the TV, that he was pressing play on a VCR/recording. He was just turning up the volume.
0:10 -- We were hoping for Greg Olson. Really, anybody besides Olson was going to disappoint us.
0:13 -- The "freakout" commences. Probably the one thing that I want people to know is that we were completely playing to the camera. Our buddy was sitting there, smirking while filming us. It's not like we didn't know he was there. We were pissed, but we really exaggerated the reaction because we thought this would be a throwaway video that would never see the light of day.
0:25 -- This is the main thing that I regret saying. You know how high school is... everything is "gay." It wasn't until a few years later when I moved to a major urban area and realized the sensitivity that a lot of people had about this sort of talk. I would actually be fine with this video if this and the anti-semetic parts were bleeped out.
1:24 -- The blanket-throwing part always makes me laugh... lol.
1:57 -- It is a miracle of physics how that hat made its way under the ping-pong table like that. We still have no idea how it got there.
2:10 -- "G.H.N.A.J." Another part that I wish we bleeped. The phrase really doesn't make much sense, is particularly oxymoronic and sparked a good amount of our controversy. A teacher asked my friend after high school graduation... "So, (name), now that you've graduated, I have one question... what's a N.A.J.?" We still don't know.
2:18 -- An obvious homage to "The Office" (back when the show was decent). Most of the home movies that we made had pretty dry humor along with a mockumentary style. Looking back, it's pitiful how much I wanted to be like Jim Halpert.
3:20 -- The "grocery store magazine" part: This was where a lot of the criticism was rooted... and understandably so. No, I didn't analyze Harrell's technique through Tennessee game film. No, I didn't watch his combine workouts or read his numbers. Yes, I judged him off of a pre-draft publication that probably came out in February.
The reactions didn't take long to start coming in. Most of the local reactions we got were positive; I think that the people who knew us knew that it was exaggerated. The real backlash came from the internet.
Some of the YouTube comments were vicious, and some were encouraging. It was a real mixed bag; I can definitely sympathize with anyone who thought we were acting like "spoiled trust fund kids in their daddy's basement..." that's not exactly the situation that we were in, but we were throwing a fit over a draft pick. Any ridicule is probably deserved.
I knew that we blew up when I heard that KFAN (Twin Cities sports radio) played our clip (with bleeps, of course) and roasted us on-air. I really wish I could have called in that day, or at least heard the broadcast. At that point, I really started to question whether or not this was a good thing. The "N.A.J." guy played football his freshman year of college and got recognized at preseason camp. Things were getting a little too big for our liking.
We eventually decided to remove the video after about a year or so. It had ran its course and some of the negative responses were beginning to bother me. So we went ahead and deleted it... only to find out that a YouTube account named "gmtedthompson" had reuploaded it. I tried everything to get it off, including filing every copyright claim against YouTube that I could think of. The huge error was that we had already deleted the original; we had no proof. The video has been up ever since, having accumulated about 130,000 views between the two versions.
It's crazy to personally look back on this video, as all of us look so young... it seems like that thing was filmed forever ago. Since then, I graduated with a journalism/English degree with aspirations of sportswriting, only to end up in the corporate world. The kid with the curly hair is also seeking a career in sports journalism and will finish up school in the fall. He and "The pick is in!" guy have established themselves at a local publication. The cameraman spent some time out in Los Angeles at film school before returning home to pursue a degree in radiology. We are all still good friends.
Despite this editorial already seeming overly apologetic, I'd like to extend a personal note to Ted Thompson. In 2007, I couldn't have been the only doubter... I know that a lot of other fans felt the same way. I didn't like how rigid, quiet, and secretive he was. He definitely proved all of us wrong this year, bringing the trophy back to Titletown with "homegrown" talent and a meticulous selection of free agents. My favorite part of his regime so far (besides the Super Bowl) was how he perfectly handled the Favre transition. He will now go down as a legendary and strategic GM... well, besides the Harrell pick. I think we can overlook that one. Thank you, Ted.
It was nice to be able to write this editorial, as it inevitably closes a chapter in my life. The thing I have always wondered was if Justin Harrell ever actually saw the video. Would he recognize us? Would he be angry? Did it affect him? I wish the guy well in the next stage of his career; he's an obviously talented player who simply has had a string of bad luck with injuries. Maybe someday we'll meet... or maybe that wouldn't be such a good idea.
Thanks for reading,
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