First came the feeling of actual physical illness, so bad I never even considered eating dinner. Just kinda sat around, stunned, for the rest of the night.

A guy I know, haven't talked to him for years, sent me an email expressing condolences. He was sincere. My youngest brother, who had been sending me taunting texts earlier in the day, wisely chose to stop.

Then I woke up Monday still in a world where the Packers weren't going to the Super Bowl, but Tom Brady would be. Again.

And I'm again left to ponder: why? Why become so emotionally invested in the success of a football team? Particularly one that represents a city and state I have never visited?

Sports are entertaining. And it's fun to have a team/individual to root for (I pulled so hard for Lindsey Jacobellis to get a gold medal in the Olympics). But, wow, can it be painful at times.

When the Ravens lost to the Bills, I was disappointed but it didn't hurt.

All week long, my worst nightmare was of Tom Brady and Tampa beating the Packers, at Lambeau Field. Even as I told myself the 43-year-old Brady and the warm-weather Buccaneers couldn't handle this Packers team on its home field.

Because this was a good Packers team, one of the best I've seen in the 40+ years I've been a fan of the team. This was the team that would get Aaron Rodgers back to the Super Bowl (where I didn't like their chances against Kansas City, but I wasn't ruling out a win).

Instead it's the most painful outcome imaginable: Brady. Wins. Again.

And he had a miserable game, with three interceptions, one touchdown because the Packers defense stopped playing six seconds too soon at the end of the first half and another gift when a turnover started the Bucs at the Packer eight-yard-line and it never occurred to anyone to keep a defender back in case Brady used play-action.

And the weather let us down. Sunshine??

Yeah, I'm bitter.

Brady throws up a prayer and somehow the receiver snags it and Tampa scores a touchdown on the next play.

The blatant defensive holding penalty that wasn't called. The borderline pass interference that was.

The Packers offense, after two impressive long drives, going three-and-out on its next two possessions following interceptions.

Brady's three interceptions taking place so deep in Packers territory they may as well have been punts. The two Packers turnovers giving Tampa good field position.

Settling for a field goal in the first half after someone Rodgers and Davante Adams missed on what should have been an easy touchdown pass.

Settling for a field goal - look, I almost understand this decision. Go for the touchdown, get it, make the two-point conversion and it's still a tie game and Brady has two minutes.

Kick the field goal, get the stop, and let Rodgers drive down the field for the game-winning touchdown.

It all hinges, obviously, on getting the stop. Which the Packers might have done, had the ref kept his flag in his pocket like the refs did when Tampa committed defensive holding earlier in the game, leading to a Buccaneer touchdown.

Still bitter.

It's hard to feel sorry for Packers fans. Starting in 1992, we've been blessed with two outstanding quarterbacks: Brett Favre, followed by Rodgers. 

Over that period the Packers have made the playoffs 21 times. Their longest playoff drought over that span has been two years. Only four losing seasons.

But they've only reached the Super Bowl three times, winning two. Brady, meanwhile ...

The pain will fade. Heck, if I survived the loss to the Seahawks in the 2014 NFC title game, when the Packers blew a 19-7 lead with under three minutes remaining, this should be easy.

But that Seahawks loss still stings.

Despite all these losses, all the times the Packers have appeared cursed in the playoffs, it really has no impact on me at all. They're just lines in a record book, stats on pro-football-reference.com. Fading memories. Old VHS tapes and DVD compilations.

My life is ultimately not changed when the Packers win. It's not worse when they lose. 

But it still matters. Maybe I get a little too emotionally invested.

***

Man, I can't wait for that future day when it's revealed Tom Brady's defiance of aging is due to illegal genetic manipulation.

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