I don't believe in jinxes.
Yet, Arizona Cardinals sideline reporter and pre-game host Paul Calvisi, believes that I am a jinx. That's why Calvisi invented the term "Pasch Factor" (which the Cardinals then decided to use for this column). A "Pasch Factor" moment corresponds to me making a prediction or a statement, immediately followed by the exact opposite action. For example, when I say, "The Cardinals have done a good job protecting Carson Palmer" and he's then sacked on the very next play, that is (so I've been told) a "Pasch Factor." So, when did this start, and why did it start? If you believe in these sorts of things, then the "Pasch Factor" must pre-date my time with the Cardinals.
In 1997, I took a job hosting the pregame show for the Chicago Blackhawks. They made the playoffs for 28 straight years prior to my arrival in the Windy City. In the two years I worked for the team, the Hawks missed the postseason both times. For the next three years following, I was the play-by-play announcer
for the Syracuse University basketball team. The Orange went to a Sweet 16 during my first year on the job, but then regressed, landing in the NIT my last year. The very next season, once I had left the school and moved to Arizona, Syracuse won the national championship.
A lot of coincidental moments. Or is Calvisi right?
Perhaps this problem traces back to my birth. For those that still believe Calvisi, I'll take you back to my childhood, growing up in Wisconsin. I wasn't a huge Packers fan, but I knew their history well. Green Bay won 11 NFL championships, including the first two Super Bowls prior to the NFL-AFL merger in 1970. I was born in '72, and the Packers were awful my entire time growing up. They made one single playoff appearance between the year of my birth and when I left for college in the early 1990s. After I departed Wisconsin, the Packers went on to make the playoffs 18 times in 21 years.
Could I really jinx an entire professional football franchise? Don't be ridiculous. Ask yourself, what was the common denominator during my childhood in Wisconsin? Well, it's the same problem every losing team has: no quarterback. When Green Bay won its first two Super Bowls, Bart Starr was the signal caller. In fact, Starr was the Packers starter from 1957 until 1971. When I was growing up in Wisconsin, the Packers had 18 different starting quarterbacks. Household names like Lynn Dickey, Randy Wright, David Whitehurst, Anthony Dilweg and Blair Kiel. There was a brief period of rebirth when the "Majik Man" Don Majkowski was slinging it all over the field, but other than that, the Packers were terrible. Since I left Wisconsin, the Packers have had only two full time starting quarterbacks -- Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers.
What Calvisi, and others, may not realize is that if the "Pasch Factor" truly exists, it's a condition that is actually improving over time. When I arrived in Arizona in 2002, the Cardinals were a struggling franchise. Look at them since: Back-to-back NFC West division titles in 2008 and 2009, including an appearance in Super Bowl 43. Another division championship in 2015. Kurt Warner and Carson Palmer had to have something to do with those playoff berths. Last weekend the Cardinals set the franchise record with their 12th regular season win. Perhaps the "Pasch Factor" has been completely exorcised.
Just in case a trace of the "Factor" remains, and to amuse Calvisi and his disciples, I will play it safe this weekend. We all know what's at stake this Sunday for the Cardinals when the franchise that once implanted the hex (Packers) visits the franchise that cured it (Cardinals). I won't dare comment about the stakes in this column, or make any predictions. But we all know who is going to win Sunday anyway. You'll know whether the "Factor" still allegedly exists, or whether it was all just made-up Calvisi malarkey.