This Sunday, when the Green Bay Packers travel to Detroit to play the Lions, the 2-1-1 Pack won’t just be playing an important early-season game against a division rival. They aren’t only returning to the site of the unforgettable “Rodgers to Rodgers” pass. The Packers will also be reuniting with one of their most detestable opponents. Lions wideout Golden Tate might not be the most hated figure among Packer Backers, but he’s sure to have a spot beside the likes of Anthony Barr, Randy Moss, and pretty much anybody from the early ’90s Dallas Cowboys on Green Bay’s Mount Hatemore.
More than six years after the then-Seahawks receiver tore an obviously intercepted ball from the arms of M.D. Jennings in the “Fail Mary” incident, the mere sight of Tate is enough to rile up Packers fans. Since 2014, we now get to be two annual reminders of the game he quite literally stole from Green Bay in 2012. In the unlikely case time has healed your wounds of softened your disdain, here are some things that might help restore your hate for Golden Tate.
1. His name really is “Golden Tate”
Yes, his legal name is Golden Hickory Tate. This might be a case of someone cursed with the name “Tyler” being jealous, but Tate’s parents having the audacity to name their child “Golden” surely has something to do with his showmanship and the attitude a guy who gave himself the nickname “Showtime” brings to the field. Even more amazing than the fact that he’s named after a precious metal (and a type of wood?) is that he’s actually Golden Tate III. Yep, there are three consecutive humans named Golden Hickory Tate.
2. He’s actually been really good as a Lion
Even though he’s been fairly quiet against the Packers since landing in Detroit—44 receptions, 550 yards, and two touchdowns in eight regular season games—Tate has become a legitimately good wide receiver with the Lions. Initially, Tate reaped the benefits of being WR2 behind the perpetually double-covered Calvin Johnson. After Megatron called it a career following the 2015 season, Tate transitioned into Detroit’s default No. 1 receiver.
Regardless of his role, he’s managed at least 90 receptions every season since 2014, his first year with the Lions. He’s topped 1,000 receiving yards every year except 2015, and he’s currently on pace for career highs in receptions, yards, and touchdowns this season. Last week, he also passed became the fastest Lions player to 400 receptions with the team, getting to the mark 13 games faster than Johnson. So even though he’s under-performed against Green Bay, fans have to hear his name and see Tate near the top of league leaderboards with regularity.
3. He could’ve been a baseball player instead
Before committing fully himself to be an infuriatingly above average receiver, Tate was actually a standout on the baseball field. He was drafted by the Diamondbacks, who took him in the 42nd round in 2007. Instead of signing, Tate played both baseball and football at Notre Dame. He was drafted again in 2010, this time by the Giants, who took him in the 50th round. Wisely, he opted not to sign and, instead, focused on football. The decision worked out, but imagine how things would’ve changed had Tate decided to be a middling baseball player instead of an interception-snatching 2nd round selection by the Seahawks.
4. Remember when he ate stolen donuts?
In June 2010, not long after being drafted by Seattle with the 60th overall pick, Tate wasted no time before making a name for himself in town. He did so by allegedly causing a disturbance at a Bellevue, Washington donut shop called Top Pot. According to an employee, Tate and his friend are described as “drunk” and “acting like idiots” in the Seattle-area shop after hours. The baker claimed Tate and his friend stole donuts and her keys. Tate blamed his friend for stealing the keys, but admitted he ate some of the pilfered pastries.
“A buddy made the mistake of going in, grabbing a couple,” Tate told the Seattle Times. “We ate them. Nothing much to the story other than that.”
No charges were filed. As far as legal mistakes go, it gets much worse than eating a few maple bars from a donut shop. Since then, Tate has stayed out of trouble. However, the receiver’s name made the news just a few days ago when he…stopped to console a little girl who was crying at the scene of a car accident. Dammit! Between that and the work he does through his Golden Future Foundation, Tate actually seems like a pretty good guy off the field. Okay, so maybe he’s more talented and likable than we’d like to give him credit for, but we’ll always remember Golden Tate most for…
No matter where he plays or how much he’s improved both on and off the field since leaving Seattle, Tate will always be the dude who stole a game from Green Bay and re-routed the seasons of two teams. Even before wrestling for a ball Jennings clearly intercepted, Tate committed an obvious offensive pass interference penalty on Sam Shields (which Tate fully admitted to) that gave him separation.
Yes, awful officiating from replacement refs certainly had a part in the Fail Mary, too, but Tate instantly became a villain in the eyes of Packers fans. Now we get to be reminded of that night’s unfortunate events two times a year.