A Personal Letter of Thanks
by Mike Conklin
May 7, 2013
It seems hard to believe, but it has now been one year since we first launched Packerpedia. The journey has taken us places Dan and I never dreamed possible, and we have you to thank for it.
The funny thing is, the whole thing really all started out of boredom. My wife was out of town visiting relatives for several weeks, and I found myself alone in the house every evening after work, staring at the walls.
It was a week or so after the 2012 draft had concluded, and every year around that time there is a bit of a lull in the Packers universe. I had read and re-read every draft article I could find on the web. I had gone back and listened to every Packers-centric podcast to be found. As a Packers fan, I was still left wanting more.
There are a ton of great Packers information sources out there...that's not the problem. Some of the absolute best beat writers in the NFL can be found in Green Bay, and there is no shortage of outstanding content for fans to consume. As if that is not enough, there are also several top-notch independent sites with an abundance of great bloggers and original insight on the Packers. Even so, my internal dialogue sounded like this: "I just can't ever get enough Packers. I'm never satisfied, no matter what. And I'm sure there are a lot of people out there just like me...with an insatiable appetite for all things Packers. Why not share some of my own thoughts? Why not start another Packers website? I know it won't be better than the other stuff out there, but why not? After all, if I can't get enough, and I know there are others out there who are the same way, what could it hurt? After all, it's not like anybody would actually find it anyway..."
The idea took root and I just couldn't shake it, and the next thing I knew I was checking out books from the library about building websites. I watched literally dozens of hours of YouTube tutorials, and ended up teaching myself HTML and website formatting. I was doing it all for fun and for my own personal benefit...little did I know back then that so many of you over the ensuing months would eventually find the site and give such great encouragement and feedback.
In prior years I had participated in various online Packers message boards and fan forums, but when it came to getting my Packers fix I usually found myself on the phone talking with my brother Dan. We are both lifelong Packers fans, and even though we now live several hundreds of miles apart one of the things that really kept us tightly connected over the years was talking about what was going on with our favorite team. We would annoy our wives by discussing the same topics for hours on end, dissecting every move the Packers would make. We sometimes thought to ourselves, "Wouldn't it be great if we could just record some of these conversations?" We knew there were hundreds of thousands of hardcore fans out there just like us who could never get enough Packers, and thought that maybe...just maybe...somebody else would enjoy listening in on the conversations. Little did we know back then that as part of the website we would eventually launch, we would indeed start recording those conversations and sharing them in the form of a podcast. We thank so many of you who have listened to them and given us positive feedback. Dan was instrumental in starting this whole thing as well, and whenever I refer to Packerpedia as "us" I am including him. He may not write as many posts as I do, but he is certainly present in every way.
Right around the same time we started slapping together the website, we also launched a Twitter account. The first tweet simply said, "This is the inaugural tweet for a new venture in Packer Fandom." Now just a year later, we have over 3,000 followers and receive a ton of great feedback every day. Twitter has been one of the most rewarding aspects of running Packerpedia, and it is the forum we use more frequently than any other. We have appreciated the opportunity to make friends and connect with so many of you, and it has been fun to hear your feedback. Early on in the process we decided that our goal was simple: we would try to create something that could maybe just add a little something to the Packers fan experience, however small it may be. I like stats and history, and I try to find little factoids and blurbs to tweet out that I think Packers fans might find interesting. It is fun to constantly be on the hunt for something (hopefully) interesting to tweet. Thank you for following.
As for the blog posts and stories on the website, our approach is that we do our best to offer something maybe a little bit different than you might find elsewhere. We will never match the skill or access of the writers that cover the Packers regularly. We don't intend to; if it weren't for the writers and the excellent insight they provide into the team there would be no hobbyist bloggers like us at all. Instead, we just do our best to process what's going on out there, and try to give you something maybe from a slightly different point of view. Sometimes we come out looking good, like when we were among the first to suggest a year ago that Greg Jennings would be playing his final season in Green Bay. Back then the popular feeling was that the Packers would re-sign him. Sometimes we don't look so good, like when we suggested that Ryan Taylor may emerge as the second tight end last season. He pretty much remained on the sideline all season long, except when playing special teams.
We enjoy trying a different approach to our stories, like when we linked last year's signing of Cedric Benson to the five stages of grief. And we had fun comparing the idea of "Packer People" to some of the principles of workplace dynamics found in corporate America.
But probably the most fun we have when sharing these thoughts and ideas with you is when we really get to dive in and learn about the team. After all, back when I first came up with this idea and didn't ever really expect anyone to find it, the site was originally founded with a selfish purpose in mind...to enhance my own personal fan experience. I love it when I get to dig in and write a story on an injured rookie nobody knew much about at the time like Mike Daniels, or do research on a guy who came out of nowhere in training camp like Jarrett Boykin or Don Barclay. And there's nothing better than when you come across an idea that you haven't seen explored before, like when we wrote about the reason it may have taken so long to promote DuJuan Harris from the practice squad last year.
Nothing has been more satisfying, however, than the e-mail we received from a reader in response to our story after last year's disappointing loss in Seattle. It wasn't long, but the e-mail touched us so much: "I can honestly say that was the best article I have read about the Packers in a long time. I must find more of your articles." It is very humbling to read something like that, and it means more than I can convey here.
It's hard to believe that something we originally started as a fun little side hobby has been embraced by so many of you. We have had a mindblowing number of visitors to our site, and we are truly grateful for each and every one of you. Thank you for coming back and reading our stuff again and again. Thank you for following us on Twitter. Thank you for listening to the podcasts. This first year has been a blast, and we look forward to what the future may hold.
One of the things we enjoy most about being part of a community of such great fans is the opportunity to hear from you. If you have any thoughts, suggestions, comments, complaints...anything...we'd love to hear from you. If you would like to write a post for us to possibly put up on the site, we're open to that idea as well. The bottom line is that we enjoy your feedback and are always open to new things.
In closing, I would be remiss if I did not thank several people whose support really encouraged us to keep going and building this site during its early stages. Thank you to Jerry Hanson, Staff Counsel for the Packers, who helped answer some of our initial questions when we just started out. Thank you to John Rehor, who was one of the first to discover us and has been nothing but encouraging along the way. Thank you also to Aaron Nagler, who shared our existence to a much wider audience early in the process, and offered great support as well. Thanks also to Brian Carriveau and Jersey Al Bracco, two giants in the Packers blogosphere in their own right, who have been kind and supportive along the way. And special thanks to C.D. Angeli, someone I was acquainted with going way back into the early days of Packers online message boards, who was instrumental in inviting us to join the family at the Packers Talk Radio Network. I am grateful to be able to call each of you friends. I also appreciate the encouragement and interactions I've had with several of the great writers that cover the Packers regularly, including Jason Wilde, Bill Huber, Tyler Dunne, and Wes Hodkiewicz. Many times the smallest of gestures can go a long way when you're just starting something up, and whether it was an e-mail exchange, an encouraging word, or even a timely retweet...each of you offered some measure of encouragement in our early stages. On a final note, Dan and I want to thank our families for allowing us and encouraging us to spend so much of our time this past year pursuing this silly hobby/dream and creating this site.
But most of all...we want to thank YOU. If you hadn't kept reading our stuff and listening to our podcasts, there is no way Packerpedia would have grown the way it has. Thank you!