Even after a win against rival Chicago, the 2022 Packers are not likely headed to the playoffs this year. This leads to the question; should the Packers tank the end of the season to ensure they have the highest possible draft pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Every fanbase who has been in this situation gets into the same argument and the Packers faithful are not different. However, a winning culture and mentality is something that needs to be cultivated. The Packers culture that has been developed, carefully cared for, and it’s health is more important than moving up the draft board.
Admittedly, it’s tempting to do what you can as an organization to acquire better talent. The difference between a top 5 to 7 and a 10-15 pick may just be a single win or two. It’s also pretty clear that it is easier to acquire top talent when you have a higher pick (duh). However, routinely being at the top of the draft never transformed Detroit in the last twenty years. It takes a culture that expects to win and do the necessary work to win regularly.
Look no further than teams where winning is not a core part of their culture. Cleveland and Jacksonville, are both places where their culture historically hasn’t been around winning championships. Multiple former players for both organizations say that the locker room isn’t focused on winning all the time. They go through coach after coach trying to find a way to instill a winning spirit. Both would give anything to have the natural mentality that emanates from 1265 Lombardi.
The Packers organization also knows what it’s like to have a losing culture. While many Packers fans aren’t old enough to have experienced the 70s and 80s (this writer included), it was a very dark time. The Packers managed just three winning seasons in twenty years. That includes a strike shortened year in 1982. The past thirty years have been a careful development of the ‘Packer Way’ and that must be carefully protected to avoid a slide into the past.
Over the final four weeks of the season, the calls by some for the Packers to lose games to enhance their draft standing will get louder. Maybe they will lose some or all of the games, but under no circumstances should the Packers bench veteran players in an attempt to influence the outcome of the games. As Vince Lombardi said: “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing”. Winning is the only thing that matters at Lambeau Field and a single disappointing season cannot lose that vision.
Jordan is a lifelong Packer fan who grew up in Idaho and now lives in Seattle, Washington. You can follow him on twitter at @jordantwolf.