Saturday, October 15, 2022

Q&A with Chuck Carlson




Chuck Carlson is the author of the new book Catching Excellence: The History of the Green Bay Packers in Eleven Games. A longtime sportswriter and columnist, his other books include Ice Bowl '67.


Q: What inspired you to write Catching Excellence?


A: I've written a number of Packers books over the years and when this one was suggested by my publisher, I thought it was a little different. Of course, there have been many books written about this franchise and it's difficult to find some ground that hasn't been plowed before. But this had a different direction and I was intrigued to dive into it.


As for 11 games? My lousy math skills.  A couple of changes, a few rewrites and it turns out I wrote one too many games and instead of removing it, my publisher said keep it in, it works. 


Q: How did you choose the games to highlight in the book?


A: I was trying to find games that hadn't been featured before and that most football fans knew about. Of course, I had to include the "Ice Bowl" because of its significance in so many ways. But there are a few in there that no one really remembers and that resonate through the decades. That's what I was looking for. The most important games aren't necessarily the most memorable so I wanted to convey that.


Q: What do you see as some of the most common perceptions and misconceptions about the Packers?


A: For an entire generation of football fans, the Packers have been one of the gold standard teams in the NFL. Many division titles; several trips to the Super Bowl; memorable players. But for decades before that, the Packers were irrelevant and, several times, there were real questions whether the team would survive in Green Bay.


Make no mistake, the Packers are not just Green Bay's team; they have passionate fans around the world. 


Maybe that's the biggest misconception. The Packers aren't a quaint Midwestern story; it's a multi-million dollar juggernaut with fans everywhere and with a record of success teams in bigger cities cannot come close to matching. It's a sports story that can never happen again.


Q: How do you think the team will do this year, and what do you see looking ahead?


A: They suffered some serious losses on offense but as long as they have Aaron Rodgers, this team is a force. I don't think they'll win 13 games again like they have the past two seasons. I'd say, 11-6, another spot in the playoffs and another postseason heartbreak for their fans.


Looking ahead? Rodgers can't play forever and when he retires, the situation may change dramatically. Of course, this team has always found a way to make the right moves at the right time, so who knows?


Q: What are you working on now?


A: Nothing right now but I'm keeping my eyes open


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: This is a different type of Packers book. It will appeal to even the most casual fans and, just maybe, they'll learn something new about their favorite team.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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