This is a re-post of an article originally published on July 9, 2013.
It isn’t often that preseason games are memorable or hot items on the secondary-ticket market, but this year’s exhibition game pitting the Seattle Seahawks against the Green Bay Packers might be one for the history books.
Granted, I’m prone to hyperbole, but a confluence of factors will collide on a Friday evening, August 23, at Lambeau Field, making this meeting true “Must-See TV” for those not in attendance at the game personally.
Here are the storylines that are adding up to make this appointment viewing:
“Fail Mary” Re-Match
The August meeting between the Packers and the Seahawks will be the first matchup between the two teams, preseason or otherwise, since last season’s infamous Week 3 “Inaccurate Reception.”
Packers fans don’t need to be reminded that was the game when a last-second heave was ruled a touchdown and a Seahawks win with wide receiver Golden Tate and safety M.D. Jennings battling for possession of the football in the end zone.
By virtue of what was ruled a Packers loss, Green Bay had to travel to San Francisco in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs in what otherwise would have been a game hosted in the frigid temperatures of a January date in Wisconsin. Packers fans don’t need to be reminded of that loss or the 579 yards their defense surrendered either.
Former NFL replacement referee Lance Easley only fanned the flames earlier this week by posing for a picture with his arms upraised during a charity softball game or authoring a book based upon his infamy that arose out of his blown call.
Russell Wilson’s Return to Wisconsin
This exhibition game will also mark Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s first in the state of Wisconsin since his one extraordinary season in a Badgers uniform.
Even without his ties to Wisconsin, Wilson has been a living, breathing headline generator. From his attempt to play professional baseball in the farm system of the Colorado Rockies to his beating the odds as a sub-six-foot quarterback in the NFL to his beyond-his-years maturity, Wilson commands attention and deservedly so.
But fans in the Dairy State will fondly remember Wilson’s 2011 season as a member of the Badgers in which he led them to victory in the Big Ten’s first-ever conference championship game and duked it out with Oregon in an unforgettable Rose Bowl, albeit in a losing effort.
He’ll also be remembered for being named a Badgers captain just weeks after arriving on campus and setting major college football’s all-time, single-season record for passing efficiency.
There will be a lot of joint Packers and Badgers fans in the stands that evening with torn allegiances, not knowing whether to cheer for the stand-up young man or playfully boo him for his role in last season’s “Fail Mary.” Don’t doubt if they do both.
The regular season and eventually the playoffs will determine just how good these two teams truly are, but at the very least, the Packers and the Seahawks were two of the best teams in the NFC last season that don’t appear to be going backwards anytime soon.
The Seahawks came within 30 seconds of advancing to the NFC Championship game last season, while the Packers have been a playoff team for four consecutive years. There are certainly other teams worthy of the title of the conference’s best team, but there’s little doubt that the Packers and the Seahawks are in the conversation.
During the offseason, the Packers extended the contract of their two best players for years to come in quarterback Aaron Rodgers and linebacker Clay Matthews. As long as those two are healthy, there’s no reason for Green Bay not to be competitive.
As for the Seahawks, with Wilson entering his second season at football’s most-important position, the future is bright in the city stereotypically known for its gloomy weather.
Third Preseason Game
Traditionally, the third preseason game is the one considered a tune-up for the regular season. Coaches typically will play their starters into the second half before taking their foot off the gas pedal during the fourth and final preseason game in an attempt to avoid injury to key players.
For the starters, it’s generally the only opportunity they’ll get during the exhibition season to make halftime adjustments and come back out onto the field for the third quarter. For the fans, it’s a rare opportunity to see Pro Bowl caliber players like Rodgers and Wilson for an extended period of time.
Nationally Televised on CBS
The Packers and Seahawks each play only one nationally-televised preseason game this season, their only opportunity to be seen from coast to coast.
Fans nationwide will be the beneficiary, as will CBS. The network doesn’t get to televise games between NFC opponents during the regular season, so this will be a special treat for the broadcaster that isn’t often afforded such an opportunity.
Seeing New Faces
While exhibition games in general are often dull and meaningless, one of their redeeming qualities is the occasion they provide for observers to see the new faces the team has acquired since last season.
And what an offseason it’s been for the Seahawks. In an attempt to surround Wilson with top-notch talent, they traded for former Packers division rival Percy Harvin, as well as added running back Christine Michael with their first pick in the NFL draft.
Over on the defensive side of the football, the Seahawks signed defensive linemen Cliff Avril (another former NFC North rival) and Michael Bennett in free agency in an attempt to enhance the pass rush for what was already one of the league’s better units.
Per usual, the Packers weren’t major players in free agency, but the talent they added during the draft provides plenty of intrigue. First round pick Datone Jones will be relied upon to upgrade Green Bay defensive line, while running backs Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin are expected to help rejuvenate the Packers ground game.
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book “It’s Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America,” and editor of Cheesehead TV’s “Pro Football Draft Preview.” To contact Brian, email firstname.lastname@example.org.