Monday, January 14, 2008

My Life, the Packers

You might question me if I were to tell you that the moment I'll remember most from attending the Divisional Playoff Game between the Packers and the Seahawks started in the bathroom. And I wouldn't blame you for doing so. You see, like many of the 72,000 plus fans at Lambeau Field that day, I had been indulging myself in some of the six dollar beverages, and I was due for a bathroom break. The Packers were up by fifteen at that point, so I could afford to miss a few plays. It was on the walk back from the bathroom to my seat in section 114, row 40, that I realized the significance of just exactly where that was. I was walking back into a stadium of fans that had been on their feet for nearly three hours of football. I was walking back into a stadium where the home Packers rebounded after an ugly fourteen point deficit. I was walking back into a stadium that was completely covered in white. From the field. To the top of every fan's head. To the sky, and the millions of snowflakes falling down from it. A picturesque scene in a picturesque stadium, and I was once again a part of it all.

It's moments like this why I say the Packers are more than just a football team.

Everyone that loves sports, or even has a limited interest in them, has a favorite team. For some people it's the team they grew up watching with their dad. For others, it might be the kids that now play at their Alma mater. Some people like a team because they are good, or their favorite player is on it, or they like the colors of their uniform. Everyone has a favorite team.

But even people that have a favorite team, even people that say they are die-hards, would be in awe of the three hours that transpired at Lambeau Field in Green Bay last Saturday night. Now in Wisconsin, we have plenty of teams to choose from, plenty of teams to like. Who doesn't like the Brewers, especially as they are on the upswing? There's nothing wrong with spending a night watching some basketball with the Bucks, Badgers, Golden Eagles, Panthers, Phoenix, and the rest of great basketball that is played in college and high school gyms throughout the state. How can you not enjoy the experience of Camp Randall on a fall Saturday morning?

Somehow the Packers transcend all of that.

It's a way of life, really. Instead of talking about the weather to a stranger while making small talk, we talk about last week's game. Drive five minutes on any country road in this state, and I bet you'll find at least three mailboxes with the Packer "G" painted on it. Look in any kid's bedroom, and Packer memorabilia is sure to line the walls. Hell, I'm 23 and half my room is laden with Packer gear, everything from jerseys to pennants, to bobbleheads and tickets. Hell, there are grown men aged 40 and over that have turned their entire den into a Packer room. And it was their wife's idea.

Anyone that moves to Wisconsin can see after five minutes that people like their Packers on a whole different level. The level that people will drive to Lambeau and shovel the bleachers, just to be inside the stadium. It's the level that compels people to pay $150 dollars for the latest hat worn by Brett Favre at his press conference, and to wait in line for the Sports Illustrated that bears his photograph. It's the same level that people are so proud of this team, they don't mind wearing the 1996 NFC Central Champions hat along with their Pro Player jacket, many years after they have gone out of style. The same level where orange is the unofficial third color of the Packers. It's the same level that has someone signing up to be number 63,429 on the season ticket waiting list, even though they own stock in the team. It's just different here.

Whether it's healthy or not, it's our culture. It's the driving force that brought 72,000 plus strangers together on a Saturday afternoon to watch the surprising, yet deserving, 13-3 Packers beat the Seahawks 42-20 to advance to the NFC Championship Game, to be played right back in Lambeau Field. It's the reason we pay whatever it takes to sit cramped together on bleachers that aren't even good enough for some high school football stadiums. It's the reason we'll do it again next week.

If you're not a Packer fan, or don't live the Packer culture, it's easy to not understand why we do what we do. It's easy to hate us for doing it. It's easy to hate the media for their lovefest of Favre. It's easy to hate us for always thinking this is the year we're going to win another Super Bowl. It's easy to hate us for going a little too overboard about the Packers. But I'll never waver. I'll never give up hope. And I'll never stop believing. Because this is the team I love, the lifestyle I live, the culture I embrace.

And you can't question me for that.


Anonymous said...

I'm curious is this going on the back page of SI, or a columnists feature in ESPN the mag? jk

A little corny, but nevertheless true.
Sure many teams have fans that act like this, but there is no way that any team has AS many fans who live, breath and sleep a team as much as the packers.

Winks said...

corny? what are you my ombudsman?

Unknown said...

not very bill simmons like....thats not like you winks

Anonymous said...

haha i was gonna say, "nice post rick reilly," but bear beat me to it. go packers.

Unknown said...

I might be drunk, but I just cried a little. The same little that I cried when #4 ran out on Saturday and I was across the field from you.

Anonymous said...


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