In honor of Halloween, and a certain soon-to-be-released movie, we have a holiday special this week.
The Packers once had a strong run of tight ends, featuring Mark Chmura, Keith Jackson, Jackie Harris, and even the slow but reliable Bubba Franks, but recently the position has been one of the least consistent on the team, seemingly turning over every single year with a new cast of big names, troubled souls, and the occasional underrated, low key acquisition.
You might think we’re going to compare the position to Spinal Tap’s drummers. Good guess, but not today.
In the Harry Potter novels, the position of “Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor” is reportedly cursed, and no professor is able to stay in the role for more than one school year. The Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is often critical to the plot of the book, just as the rotating cast of tight ends has often been crucial to any given Packer season, for good or ill. The comparison goes even further if you dig deep, and so we bring you,
The Packers’ Tight End Position is like the Defense Against the Dark Arts job at Hogwarts
Quirinus Quirrell — Brandon Bostick
Professor Quirrell is, for most of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, a minor player, shown as a cowardly and likely incompetent professor who is unable to stop trolls or hold a student’s attention. However, when Ron, Harry, and Hermione eventually discover that the security on the Sorcerer’s Stone has been breached, it’s Quirrell who they find in the catacombs, about to seize the secret to eternal life. They also find that Voldemort has inhabited Quirrell and is using his body in an attempt to achieve proper resurrection.
Like Quirrell, Bostick was a bit player for an entire season, but with the season on the line, in the most important game of the year, and with victory in hand, he went against his coach’s orders and dropped an onside kick, giving new life to Dark Lord Pete Carroll and crew. Bostick was an unlikely character to severely impact a football season, just as Quirrell was, but that didn’t stop him from undermining an entire season.
Gilderoy Lockhart — Jermichael Finley
The real measure of one’s quality as a professor and as a tight end is less about how great you actually are and more about how great you tell people you are. And both Gilderoy Lockhart (“Order of Merlin, Third Class, Honorary Member of the Dark Force Defense League, and five times winner of Witch Weekly’s Most Charming Smile Award. But I don’t talk about that.”) and Jermichael Finley were more than happy to tell you all about it.
Both Lockhart and Finley arrived at their posts with great fanfare, promising to revolutionize their respective jobs. And to an extent, both succeeded, albeit as much by circumstance as by their own merits. Lockhart’s misguided lessons gave Harry Potter and his fellow young wizards their first dueling opportunities as much in spite of their teacher as because of him. Finley, meanwhile, blew up in 2011 as a part of an already loaded receiving group, but the Packers managed just fine without him in 2010 after a knee injury derailed his season.
Alas, it was injuries that ultimately did both of them in, sending both to the sidelines and leaving the wizarding world wondering what went wrong.
Remus Lupin — Jared Cook
Remus Lupin, aka Moony, is the perfect proxy for former Packer tight end Jared Cook. Like Cook, Lupin was always super talented, but it seemed like he never found the perfect scenario in which to showcase his talents until he got to Hogwarts. In this case, yes, I’m calling Green Bay Hogwarts. Cook toiled away for years on bad Titans and Rams teams, living in anonymity and not being accepted by his contemporaries.
His time in Green Bay was very much like the former Marauder’s time as Harry Potter’s third Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher in as many years. We didn’t get as much of him as we would have liked, and at random times he would disappear (“Turn to page 394”).
Lupin, as we remember, had his best moment when he was able to teach a 13-year old a very advanced piece of magic, the Patronus Charm. If the hero in this story is Aaron Rodgers, then Cook’s best moment was catching Rodgers’ fireball-shaped Patronus 35-yards down the field while tapping his toes ever so slightly in bounds in the 2017 NFC Divisional Playoff game against the Cowboys. Without Lupin, Harry would have struggled mightily against the Dementors in books 3, 5, and 7. And without Cook, Rodgers wouldn’t have been able to complete a little magic of his own.
As with Lupin, we wish we had gotten more time with Cook (especially as he’s on a career-year pace in Oakland). I hope Gruden is your Tonks, Jared!
Bartemius Crouch Jr./Mad Eye Moody - Lance Kendricks/Jimmy Graham
(Evan “Tex” Western)
Graham was signed by the Packers to be the great tight end he was in New Orleans. A lot of people thought he would become that player again. Likewise, Alastor Moody’s career as a wizard was distinguished, and he was a critical member of the Order of the Phoenix. Bringing him aboard seemed like a great get for the leadership at Hogwarts.
However, due to some circumstances outside of his control (injuries limiting him, the Bears taking him out of the game plan, or just odd playcalling), Graham at times seems to be banished into a hole in the Packers’ offense while Lance Kendricks takes over targets. Sound familiar? That’s just like how Mad Eye Moody was secretly replaced by Bartemius Crouch in Goblet of Fire.
Still, Graham remains a dangerous weapon in his advancing age, much as Moody did once freed from Crouch’s shackles. Hopefully he can be a critical weapon for the Packers’ offense and bounce back to help lead the team to crucial victories down the stretch and not succumb to an untimely injury on a trick play.
Amycus Carrow — Colt Lyerla
You may not remember much of Carrow, the Professor during the Deathly Hallows when Death Eaters owned the school, which is fine because you also may not remember the brief kerfuffle over the signing troubled Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla, a Sandy Hook truther with severe drug issues who would eventually be convicted of forgery and go on the run from the law.
Lyerla wasn’t on the team long, but he did make quite the impression on a certain beat writer. What price glory, indeed.
Thompson, McCarthy, Murphy/board, welcoming fans show they can bottom-feed with the best signing off on TE Lyerla. What price glory?— Bob McGinn (@BobMcGinn) May 20, 2014
Dolores Umbridge — Martellus Bennett
When Umbridge was first introduced at Hogwarts during the year’s opening dinner, it was apparent that she was going to be a boisterous, ultra-confident addition to the staff when she rather abruptly asserted herself while Professor Dumbledore was speaking. Like Umbridge, Bennett was a loud addition from the start, actively engaging on social media and being recognized by teammates in interviews as a very vocal individual.
However, Bennett quickly lost favor from the fan base with dropped passes while never quite fitting into the Packers’ offense and Aaron Rodgers’ circle of trust. Delores Umbridge could relate, realizing quickly that her style of teaching as dictated by the Ministry of Magic was not a fit for how Dumbledore’s Hogwarts was being run and that it was vehemently opposed by the students.
But the real tipping point came when Umbridge made a false accusation against Harry Potter that he “must not tell lies” when referring to the return of Lord Voldemort in class and sentenced him to detention. In a similar way, Martellus Bennett made what was heavily regarded as a false accusation against the Packers. When he was released by Green Bay for failure to disclose a pre-existing medical condition, Bennett immediately accused the Packers and team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie for pushing him to play through injury despite outside opinions. When Bennett’s remarks were not backed up by the likes of Rodgers and Jordy Nelson, he quickly became a despised figure by fans and the media.
In the end, big things were expected of both Umbridge and Bennett when they were hired into their new roles. However, neither made it through their first year and were ultimately frustrating disappointments.
Severus Snape — Jimmy Graham
Ahhhh Severus Snape, the professor you loved to hate to love. Like most Harry Potter fans, I never knew what to make of Snape. He always had this this mysterious complex to him, a fierceness that stemmed from a difficult past, overcoming obstacles no one should ever have to face but doing so with wit, wisdom and tremendous skill. He was the master of the dark arts for a reason - he was damn good at what he did and he owned it.
Jimmy Graham, much like Snape, is damn good at what he does. On the field, he’s fearless, taking command of each play and driving the ball down yard by yard. He’s the Snape to Aaron Rodger’s Dumbledore, a follower who I think, secretly wants to be calling the shots. An outsider who joined an already strong Packers squad, he had to find his place on the team and earn his place on the roster. You won’t hear much from Graham, as he is known to shy away from the media, a Snape-like loner vibe to him.
But when push comes to shove, Graham has proven his strength, his prowess, his dedication to the team and the ultimate goal of helping the Packers succeed, the protagonist we all knew he was. There’s magic in those hands, and I can only hope he can accio more of that as the season goes on.