GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman knows what it means to be a Green Bay Packer. In his five seasons since being hired to succeed Ray Rhodes, Sherman has made sure that every player who comes into the locker room at Lambeau Field knows what an honor it is to put on the Green and Gold and play for Packer fans.
Sherman has made it impossible for the players not to know the history and the pride that is inherent to this organization. Every day, when players report for work, the walls of the halls they walk through are covered with the story of the great Packer tradition.
Each time they take the field at Lambeau Field, they cross over bricks that have been walked on by generations of great Packer players.
Sherman knows how personally each and every Packer fan takes wins and losses, as if the millions of them were out on the field with the team each week. He appreciates the unique opportunity that his team has to be a professional sports franchise so tied to its community.
That's why the start of the 2004 season has been so difficult for Sherman and for his players. He also knows how difficult the disappointing 1-3 start has been for the Packers fans, the fans Sherman often calls the best in all of sports.
"It's unfamiliar territory for them and for us," Sherman said of how the fans must feel after Sunday's 14-7 loss to the New York Giants. "It's not acceptable."
He continued in his post-game press conference to reveal some of the words he had for his team in the locker room after the game.
"Part of what I said in the locker room to them was 'You are a Green Bay Packer football player. When you sign on here, you're expected to win every time you take the field. Whatever the situation is - whatever the circumstances are - it doesn't matter, you're expected to win. That's part of what you have to achieve and aspire to as a Green Bay Packer football player."
Sherman went on to remind his players that they do not merely play for themselves or each other. They play for the fans - fans who expect better out of them.
"'When you lose, it better hurt, because it hurts a lot of people," he told them. "When you do lose, you'd better get it fixed, and get it fixed fast.'"
There is no doubt that Sherman and his Packers find 1-3 to be unacceptable. A three-game losing streak is unprecedented in the Sherman era.
Leaders in the locker room echoed the sentiments of their head coach after the game.
"This is a bad feeling," said guard Mike Wahle. "You put so much into these games, and to lose the way we're losing - knowing that we can do better every game. We're beating ourselves, and it's unacceptable."
Fullback William Henderson, the longest-serving member of the Packers outside of Brett Favre, put into words what it will take to turn things around.
"You've got to appreciate the game for all it is, and you've got to know every Sunday that you've got to leave everything out on the field," Henderson said. "You've got to play your best or the (opponent is) going to take advantage of it. We didn't play our best today. I'm not going to make any excuses for how we played today. We're going to evaluate the film, and try to get better on Wednesday."
As bad as the feeling may be following a difficult loss - or three difficult losses for that matter - there was no sense of resignation in the downbeat dressing room.
"This season is not over," said Henderson. "It's far from over - we've got 12 games left. The reality is that as bad as we might feel right now, it can't affect you come next week."