10-18-17 Guess cartoon

Here in Wisconsin, we like to think our passion for our professional football team burns hotter than anyone else’s. We own the team. Even with star quarterback Aaron Rodgers out, we clear every Green Bay Packers game day on the calendar. We name our pets Lambeau and Nitschke and, in the case of wayward puppies, Buckley.

But after our riveting victory over the Dallas Cowboys this month, we were outdone. You think you have Packers fever? Well, one Cowboys fan was so upset about the outcome, he set his jersey on fire.

A Florida man is recovering from severe burns after setting fire to his Cowboys jersey over the Packers’ last-minute win. He put it on after setting it ablaze. I said he was passionate. I never said he was bright.

The 27-year-old’s shirt burned bright after the incident, as did lights on the ambulance that rushed him to a Vero Beach hospital. Like so many regrettable circumstances, this incident was the result of a bet. Think of all the tragedies that would be averted if no action ever followed the utterance of phrases such as “I bet you …” and “Hold my beer.”

In this case, both phrases were fitting. Not only was the victim placing a high-stakes bet, he was doing so while drunk. Like a bar-time Taco Bell customer deciding he simply must have four Doritos Locos Tacos, this Cowboys fan learned that booze-infused gambles tend to result in a hot mess.

Deputies learned at the hospital that the man was the losing half of a couple that had bet on the game’s outcome. The loser would burn his or her team jersey. When Rodgers led the Packers down the field on a game-winning touchdown drive, the Cowboys fan trudged outside to honor the bet. The man told deputies he was drunk, hence his attempt to put the jersey on while it burned. Talk about wearing blaze orange.

Say what you will about this guy. He might be a moron. He might need substance-abuse counseling. But he just might be the most loyal football fan in America. It’s one thing to wear your team’s colors in the hot zone of a rival stadium. It’s quite another to wear them while they’re searing your skin.

Face it, he’s a stand-up guy. Not only did he not abandon his team in tough times, he made good on his bet when a lot of people would’ve refused. Just as Rodgers torched the Dallas defense, this fan torched his jersey as promised.

He will no doubt emerge from this incident scarred. But what die-hard football fan doesn’t carry wounds from disastrous days past? Packers fans still are smarting from blowing a seemingly insurmountable lead in a playoff game at Seattle a couple years ago. You can elicit tears in any Wisconsin tavern by uttering the phrase, “fourth and 26.” And you can incite rage by mentioning the name of Terrell Buckley, the highly touted cornerback who, like a puppy who refused to be trained, was never where he was supposed to be, and displayed a tendency for making messes at inopportune moments.

Like I said, Packers fans would like to think their fervor burns brightest in the land, but we must tip our cheeseheads to this Cowboys fan. Sure, he’s stupid. And yes, he was drunk. But he’s a loyal, stand-up guy. He’s our kind of people. He strikes me as the kind of guy who’d give you the shirt off his back, if he hadn’t burned it already.

Ben Bromley has been named Wisconsin’s top small-town newspaper columnist two years running. Follow him on Twitter @ben_bromley