The 2001 Green Bay Packers highlights film, 'A Special Team, a Storied Town,' which made its first of three premieres Tuesday night at the Packer Hall of Fame, starts where the season left off, with a bitterly disappointing 45-17 playoff loss to the St. Louis Rams, in which the final outcome seemed determined well before the final seconds ticked off the clock at the Edward Jones Dome.
But then the highlights reel turns to the rest of the Packers' banner season, over which the Green and Gold posted 13 wins compared to four losses, so that by the end of the 22-1/2-minute production, the sting of that fifth loss is almost forgotten.
There's some irony in that, pointed out Packers offensive tackle Mark Tauscher, who was on hand to take fans' questions and sign autographs at the premiere. For him, if not for the entire team, it's the 13 wins that are so easily forgotten, and the memories of those losses that last.
"I thought it was good that (the film) started off with the St. Louis game, it was a long game and it only took like three seconds in the film," Tauscher said. "Obviously it's not good to get our tails kicked in like we did, but if you're going to go into the offseason, I think getting kicked-in is a good way, because your motivation always should be up at an all-time high.
"Everybody talks about that. Nobody talks about the fact that we had a 12-4 (regular) season."
The video, an NFL Films production, makes remembering the season's triumphs a little easier, profiling everything from Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila's breakthrough defensive effort in which he amassed 13.5 sacks, to the dominance of the Packers' offensive line, which allowed only 22 quarterback takedowns as a unit.
And then there are the images.
Some prompt cheers, like Ahman Green's tackle-breaking 61-yard touchdown run at Minnesota, or Brett Favre's perfectly-lofted pass to Bubba Franks in Green Bay's playoff win over the San Francisco 49ers.
Some prompt laughter, like the victory shuffle of Vonnie Holliday and Cletidus Hunt after a 17-7 triumph at home over the rival Chicago Bears.
And some tug at your heartstrings, like the passionate, flag-bearing charge onto the field of linebacker Chris Gizzi, a first lieutenant in the Air Force reserves, prior to the Packers' first game after the tragedies of September 11.
The end of the film includes GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman's emotional address to his team following the hard-fought playoff win over San Francisco on what was a 28-degree day at Lambeau Field.
No Packers home game would ever quite be the same, Sherman reminded his troops. The tunnel that had funneled so many great Packers teams to the storied grounds of Lambeau Field would be no more in 2002, a necessary byproduct of the stadium renovation project.
They had closed a storied chapter of Packers history with a win.
Yet even though the Packers will now take the field at home games from the southeast instead of the north, and although the bowl will be bigger and the press box and private boxes will stand more stately than before, the spirit of Lambeau Field and Packers football is not in jeopardy.
"It's a good time for change," Tauscher said of the coming season. "It's new guys and a new facility, and hopefully we can get back to the old tradition of winning a Super Bowl.
"There's no question that any time you put on this uniform, anytime that's not your goal, you're in the wrong spot."
'A Special Team, a Storied Town' encapsulates one of the most successful seasons in the organization's recent history. Still, Tauscher and the Packers are hoping that the images spliced into the 2002 highlights reel will be even more remarkable.
There will be two more premiere presentations of 'A Special Team, a Storied Town.' Wednesday, May 29, the 2001 highlight film will be shown at Tailgators in Escanaba, Mich. Thursday, May 30, the final premiere will be held at Recreation Lanes in Iron Mountain, Mich.
'A Special Team, a Storied Town' was produced, written and edited by Margaret Ruffing of NFL Films, in conjunction with the Packers' public relations department, and is narrated by Jim Birdsall, the voice of NFL Films.
The film is now available in VHS form for non-commercial group showings (church, fraternal and civic groups, etc.) through the Packers' public relations department by contacting Linda McCrossin, P.O. Box 10628, Green Bay, WI, 54307-0628.