We in the media have perfected an unflattering routine of asking newsmakers for predictions and, when offered, inflating them into guarantees. There is a phonic difference between "I think we'll win" and "we will win" that sometimes gets lost in the excitement.
Aaron Rodgers' "I think we can run the table" contention in Week 11 falls somewhere in between.
To be sure, he's no Rex Ryan, whose bold predictions couldn't allow him to avoid his second firing in the past three years. Rodgers didn't promise a six-game winning streak to end the season, but his assertion was bold nonetheless.
At the time, the Packers were 4-6, and after four consecutive losses, they knew the bleak history of their position. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only three teams in the past 38 years had made it down the path Rodgers described: flipping a losing record after 10 games into six consecutive victories and a playoff berth.
And lo, the Packers got there -- and then some. They won their final six regular-season games, won the NFC North and are now one victory away from appearing in Super Bowl LI. In all, they have won eight consecutive games, the most recent a thrilling 34-31 victory to eliminate the NFC's top-seeded Dallas Cowboys in the divisional playoff round.
Whether he meant it as a guarantee or simply a show of confidence, his seven-word declaration could soon go down as one of the most memorable predictive quotes in NFL lore.
What else belongs in that group? Glad you asked.
1. Joe Namath's Super Bowl III guarantee
Context: In those days, the Super Bowl pitted the champions of two independent leagues, the AFL and the NFL. Namath's New York Jets (AFL) were 19-point underdogs to the Baltimore Colts (NFL) at a time when it was widely assumed the AFL was the inferior league. Three days before the game, Namath accepted an award from the Miami Touchdown Club. According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame account, a Colts fan yelled to him: "Hey, Namath, we're going to kick your ass." Namath responded: "I've got news for you. We're going to win the game. I guarantee it."
Outcome: Sure enough, the Jets defeated the Colts 16-7. Namath threw for 206 yards and won the Super Bowl MVP award.
2. Rex Ryan's Super Bowl guarantees
Year(s): 2009, 2010, 2011 (twice), 2015
Context: Ryan talks a big game, much bigger than his 61-66 career record supports. As the Boston Herald expertly chronicled, Ryan has predicted/projected/guaranteed a Super Bowl appearance or victory at least five times. It began with his introductory news conference with the Jets and continued into his first year with the Buffalo Bills.
He predicted his team would soon visit the White House, and in 2011 said: "I guarantee we'll win it this year." He has predicted playoff appearances for all eight of his teams in one way or another. Eventually, the world stopped listening. Rex is gonna Rex.
Outcome: Ryan never coached a team to the Super Bowl. None of his eight teams so much as won their division. The closest he came was two AFC Championship Game appearances with the Jets in 2009 and 2010.
3. Buddy Ryan's guarantee to win in Arizona
Context: We can see where Rex Ryan got his prognosticating tendencies. In 1994, his father, Buddy, was hired as the Arizona Cardinals' coach. At the time, the Cardinals were an NFL laughingstock. They had produced nine consecutive losing seasons and appeared in the playoffs only once in the previous 18 seasons -- the strike-shortened nine-game season of 1982, when they were based in St. Louis. When he was hired, Ryan said: "You've got a winner in this town."
Outcome: The Cardinals were 8-8 in his first season and 4-12 in 1995, at which point he was fired. If "winning" is defined as more wins than losses, it didn't happen on Buddy's watch in Arizona.
4. Matt Hasselbeck's victory guarantee
Context: At midfield before overtime for a wild-card playoff game at Lambeau Field, Hasselbeck won the coin toss for the Seattle Seahawks. A microphone clearly picked up and broadcast his response: "We want the ball, and we're going to score." At the time, the Seahawks had won only one road playoff game -- and had just three postseason victories in total -- in franchise history.
Outcome: The Seahawks got the ball, all right, but on the sixth play of their second possession, Hasselbeck threw an interception to Green Bay Packers cornerback Al Harris. Fifty-two yards later, Harris scored the game-winning touchdown. Whoops.
5. Plaxico Burress predicts Super Bowl outcome
Context: Burress' New York Giants were a 12-point underdog to the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. That didn't stop Burress from making a very specific prediction in the days leading up to the game: A 23-17 Giants victory. As the media rose into its usual uproar, Burress shrugged and said: "All this is entertainment. It's sports, and sports are entertainment. So 23-17 is the prediction I made, but the game still has to be played."
Outcome: The Giants won, ending the Patriots' dream of a 19-0 season, and the 17-14 score wasn't that far off from Burress' prediction. He almost went Nostradamus on the bit.
6. Jim Fassel raises the ante
Context: Fassel's Giants lost consecutive midseason games to drop their record to 7-4. Amid speculation about his job security, Fassel said at a news conference: "I'm raising the stakes right now. If this is a poker game I'm shoving my chips to the middle of the table. I'm raising the ante. Anybody that wants in, get in. Anybody that wants out, get out. OK? This team is going to the playoffs."
Outcome: The Giants won their final five games of the regular season, finishing 12-4, and crushed the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game 41-0 to advance to Super Bowl XXXV. They lost there to the Baltimore Ravens 34-7, but the Giants absolutely did what Fassel said they would do.
7. Ryan Kalil buys a newspaper ad
Context: Kalil, the Carolina Panthers center, took out an advertisement in the Charlotte Observer promising to reward the support of Panthers fans. In what the ad declared was a "war cry to fans," Kalil wrote: "CAROLINA PANTHERS -- SUPER BOWL XLVII CHAMPIONS."
Outcome: The Panthers finished the 2012 season 7-9, but they rebounded with three consecutive division championships and an appearance in Super Bowl 50. Kalil was closer than most people gave him credit for, but his Panthers haven't gone all the way yet.