Produced by lifelong Bears fans, "The Cheesehead Bible" is a literary tribute to an iconic culture.
Pat Baker reacted as any lifelong Chicago Bears fan might, given the source of the improbable feat he just witnessed.
“I dropped to the floor,” Baker said in a phone interview this week from his home in Lake Forest, Illinois, not far from the Bears’ headquarters. “I actually dropped to the floor out of my chair.”
Baker had a second reaction moments after Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed a Hail Mary touchdown pass to a leaping Jeff Janis in the end zone Saturday night.
He refrained from cursing Rodgers’ second such throw of the season on the final play of the fourth quarter that extended the Packers’ playoff game against the Arizona Cardinals. Instead, Baker, the author of a new book that glorifies the football team he’s cheered against most of his 65-year-old life and its devout fans, took some satisfaction out of the unbelievable turn of events in Arizona.
“My second thought was, ‘Hey, maybe there is something to this Cheesehead Bible,’” Baker said.
Baker and his twin brother Terry just might help Packers fans keep the faith as another long offseason is upon the team following its dramatic overtime loss to the Cardinals last weekend.
The retired advertising art directors from the Chicago area are responsible for the whimsical, yet historically detailed “The Cheesehead Bible.”
Packed with 120 pages of unusual scriptures and more than 40 vivid illustrations, the paperback that sells online for $14.99 is a literary tribute to the culture of cheeseheads and the team they unfailingly support.
The quick read is laid out in biblical fashion, featuring book titles and verses as well as a distinctive cover with the lettering in Papyrus font and gold colors against a green backdrop.
“This is a story I wanted to tell about the Bears, but it didn’t work because the Bears are all about biography, not group history,” Baker said. “And, when I realized that if I’m going to do a group history, it’s probably got to come from the Old Testament.
“So, what I did was I just took the Hebrews out and put the Cheeseheads in. It worked. It was amazing!”
The first verse from the opening Book of Creation — “In the beginning God created Wisconsin” — sets everything in motion.
Falling back on many years of immersing himself in the Packers-Bears rivalry and delving into all kinds of historical research about Packer Nation, the artistic Baker needed only a few months last year to compose his first book.
He wrote the more than 400 verses and also drew the illustrations. His brother edited the book.
They use the pseudonym Art Starr, giving reverence to Bart Starr, the Packers’ much-beloved Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback and former coach.
“All of it is true,” Baker quipped. “I know the Creation chapter reads like a fairy tale, but it’s true. God gave the 'Sconners (the Wisconsin natives) cheese and spotted cows and beer. It’s all there. It’s all true!”
An excerpt from the Book of Creation after an abundance of several varieties of cheese was made reads:
“Now the burly people of Wisconsin were very happy and they lifted their cheeses toward Heaven to praise God and thank Him. Then they placed the cheeses upon their heads so that God could see His congregation from on High. And God called his congregation ‘cheeseheads’ which means ‘people of Wisconsin who wear cheese upon their heads.’ And God saw that it was good.”
The Cheesehead Bible weaves through the books of Sin and Promise among the cheeseheads, who wage a bloody war over a boundary dispute and then are rewarded by God with a football team in tiny Green Bay on what He called a Field of Honor.
“And God ended by saying, ‘Choose My Rules for Happiness and enjoy Wisconsin!’ Then God went up from them to His Heavenly Sky Box.” (Book of Promise, Verse 67)
The last half of The Cheesehead Bible is devoted to the books of Lambeau and Lombardi, chronicling the formation of what would be known as the Green Bay Packers and their ascension to championship glory.
“I was hoping the cheeseheads wouldn’t be too terribly offended because, after all, the whole idea is a tribute to this unique relationship these people have to their team and to God, and it’s all connected somehow,” said Baker, who calls himself a cheesehead wannabe.
The fulfillment of God’s promise to the cheeseheads to take ownership of the team also is included.
“(Vince) Lombardi believed that there was only one opinion that really mattered, and I think he’s right,” said Baker, referring to the legendary coach’s devotion to God as a Catholic, who went to church every morning.
“Then Lombardi addressed the gathered Packers and introduced his Trinity saying, ‘Think ye only upon three things: God, family, and the Green Bay Packers.’ Whereupon, those who assumed they were playing for the Cleveland Browns, left the room.” (Book of Lombardi, Verse 6).
The Cheesehead Bible ends with the highest form of respect given to the late Lombardi, who led the Packers to five NFL titles in his seven years as coach, with the naming of the league’s championship trophy in his honor.
As for the anguish brought on Bears fans by the Packers most of the last quarter century with quarterbacks Brett Favre and Rodgers, the author said a new-age testament may be needed.
“The problem was when I wrote 'The Cheesehead Bible,' I should’ve put in a prophecy about a redeemer, but I didn’t,” Baker said. “That was a big mistake.”
To get a copy
"The Cheesehead Bible" can be purchased online at Amazon.com.