A Packers fan from Minnesota? How preposterous!
Go Pack Go! Go Pack Go!
If you’re a NFL fan, maybe even just a sports fan, you know that is the famous chant that echo’s throughout the bleachers of Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Lambeau Field is the historic home to one of the most legendary American sports teams, the Green Bay Packers.
Let me take the time to introduce myself. I’m The Ace and I love the Green Bay Packers. Just so you can get to know me better before we dive into this, I was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I’m currently living in Richfield, which is a suburb of Minneapolis. My full time gig is working for a bank, but my passion is sports. I host a radio show about sports and much more on Blogtalkradio.com every week. That’s where I met John Canton, and that’s how I’m here and that’s how you are reading these words. You’ll learn more about me as time goes on through my posts. I am looking forward to opening up to you and seeing how you react to my stories and opinions.
I get the same question time and time again, ‘How can you be a Packers fan in Minnesota? Why aren’t you a Vikings fan?’ Growing up I was aware of the Minnesota Vikings, but for some reason, I never really got into them. In 1992, Minneapolis hosted Super Bowl XXVI where the Washington Redskins faced the Buffalo Bills. I still remember being amazed that the game I was watching on TV was only a mere 4 miles from my parents home. I was six years old at the time and I really did not have a team to support. I never remember watching a Vikings game, and there was a major reason for that. The team could not sell out their home games. This resulted in being blacked out locally. This meaning that unless you were at the game, you could not watch it on TV if you lived in that area, makes sense, right?
Two weeks before my 7th birthday I remember coming inside on an autumn Sunday afternoon to find my dad watching a football game. It had just started and the strange stadium that the game was taking place from immediately intrigued me. It was similar to the Metrodome, but it had a hole in the roof almost half the size of a football field. It was Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys were hosting the Packers. My dad was never really a big sports fan, but he has family that lives in Texas who are huge Cowboys fans, so he pulled for Dallas. For some reason, I couldn’t wrap myself around calling the Cowboys ‘my team’. I decided that I was going to root for the Packers, not knowing that Green Bay was a 5-hour car ride away. The Packers got beat 36-14. I was not happy. That season I saw more Packers games than Vikings games due to the blackouts. The Packers managed a 9-7 record that season and squeaked into the playoffs to face the Central Division Champion Detroit Lions. In a stunner, the Packers pulled off an upset of 28-24 and their 2nd round playoff matchup put them against…the Dallas Cowboys.
The first half of the game was relatively dull, until the final 23 seconds. Dallas kicked a field goal and on the kickoff Green Bay fumbled and Dallas scored a quick touchdown, bringing the score from 7-3 to 17-3 in 23 seconds. Green Bay lost that game 27-17, but I was already looking forward to next year when I could root on the Packers. The next two seasons the Packers would lose in the regular season and playoffs to Dallas. That equals six losses in three years to Dallas. I hated Dallas. I wanted Dallas wiped off the map.
Fast-forwarding a bit, the year is 1996, I’m in 5th grade. I received my first Packers jersey, #4 Brett Favre. I had a pullover Starter jacket with the word PACKERS on the front. I was the only kid in my class who liked Green Bay. My teacher wrote on my report card that I was ‘a real Packerfan’. Green Bay just compiled their best season in history with 13 wins and 3 losses, one of those losses was to Dallas. Green Bay would go on to beat San Francisco and Carolina in the playoffs to reach the Super Bowl, and then defeat the New England Patriots 35-21. I was as stoked as an 11 year old could be. My favorite team just won the Super Bowl!
I met my best friend Charlie when I was in the 7th grade. Listeners of my radio show know him better as C-Mac. We had the Packers in common, and from there a great friendship blossomed. He told me he went to Green Bay every year for a game, I was intrigued. ‘How could I mooch off this guy to get a trip to Green Bay?’ Okay, I didn’t really think that, but I really wanted to go there to see a game or even just Lambeau Field! You may be asking, ‘How in the heck did this kid get to go to Green Bay to watch the Packers?’ Well, his uncle married into Packers season tickets. What a lucky S.O.B!
My first trip to Lambeau Field was December 21st, 2002. I just turned 17 and couldn’t believe where I was heading. This would be my first time attending an NFL game. We traveled with C-Mac’s brother, Nick and their dad, Mike. I was so thrilled! C-Mac told me that every time the Packers score a touchdown, Todd Rundgren’s ‘Bang on the Drum’ would play. We listened to it a few dozen times on the car ride there. We didn’t stay in Green Bay the night before the game, but in a small town, about 45 minutes from Green Bay, called Shawno. After having a late supper, we went to our hotel room and went to bed. We could barely sleep due to all the excitement that was to come the next day.
My first Packers game was on a chilly December morning. The air temperature was 25°F, but it felt much colder. I didn’t wear a jersey or anything like that because it was so cold. I ended up wearing blaze orange hunting coveralls. Other than Packers gear, camouflage or orange hunting gear is like a second uniform for the cold games. Since Lambeau Field is essentially plopped right in a residential neighborhood, for a certain price, residents let people park in their driveways and front lawns. We ended up parking about 2 blocks from the stadium. C-Mac was so excited that before changing into his coveralls, he ran down the street in his Packers boxer shorts. After getting all bundled up, we made our way into the stadium. The game itself was rather boring. It was 3-0 all the way into the 4th quarter. Packers Defensive End Vonnie Holiday had 5 sacks on Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe, but the best part came in the 4th quarter. Brett Favre threw a touchdown pass to Donald Driver in the same end zone that our seats were in and we finally got to hear ‘Bang on the Drum’.
My next trip to Green Bayis one of my most memorable sports moments ever. The Packers faced the Denver Broncos. The same crew as before headed out in the early morning hours of December 28th, 2003. It was the final game of the season for the Packers, at least we were hoping it wasn’t. There was a very slim chance the Packers could make the playoffs. If the Packers beat the Broncos and the Vikings lost their game to the Arizona Cardinals, then the Packers would be the NFC North Division Champions. This was considered a long shot because Denver had a playoff spot secured and they were not going to be playing several of their starting players. The Cardinals were 3-12. This made it likely that the Vikings would win, which would eliminate the Packers from the playoffs. The Packers dominated the game; there was no question they were going to win, but everyone was curious about what was going on with the game that was 1,900 miles away.
Arizona was keeping it close, they had recovered an onside kick and were making plays to try and take the lead. The 4th down and final play of the game went like this: (VIDEO) Lambeau Field started erupting in excitement when they found out that the Vikings had just been upset in the desert. They didn’t show the score of the game at the stadium because they didn’t want to discourage the fans, but all the press boxes and luxury suites had their televisions turned to the Vikings/Cardinals game. This was before smart phones where you could easily check the score. It was an amazing experience because we brought a ‘GO CARDINALS!’ sign with us. After the game everyone wanted to take pictures with our sign and us. The Vikings flat out collapsed and we were so pleased.
The only playoff game I have ever attended was January 12th, 2008. The Packers faced the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks head coach, Mike Holmgren, was the former Packers head coach who led them to the Super Bowl victory in 1997. There was a chance of snow during this game, so we brought our warm hats and gloves. We were ready for Mother Nature to bring her worst. The game could not have started any worse for Green Bay. On their first possession, running back Ryan Grant fumbled the football deep in their own territory, Seattle then scored a touchdown. On Green Bay’s second possession, the exact same thing happened. It was quickly 14-0, Seattle. Not long after that score the snow started to come down and Green Bay’s offense started fire on all cylinders. They quickly answered with 14 points of their own and at halftime the score was 28-17, Green Bay. Seattle fell apart and their offense could not do any damage in the snow. Green Bay won 42-20 in about 3 inches of snow. Several thousand of us in the stadium were throwing snow in the air in celebration as Green Bay would go on to the NFC Championship game to face the New York Giants. Little did we all know we just witnessed Brett Favre’s final victory as quarterback of the Green Bay Packers.
I’ve been to Green Bay between 12-15 times. Each time has been memorable, but I don’t think any will compare to our trip on February 5th, 2011. We weren’t going to attend a game at Lambeau; we were going to watch the Packers play in Super Bowl XLV from our favorite bar, The Stadium View. Two weeks prior to the Super Bowl, I got cocky after the Packers destroyed the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome to advance to the NFC Championship Game. I booked two hotel rooms in Green Bay so we could celebrate there, if the Packers won the Super Bowl. After leaving the cities we arrived in Green Bay several hours ahead of C-Mac’s sister and dad, because they took a wrong turn in the city of Eau Claire and ended up near Lake Superior. Once they arrived we enjoyed a nice dinner, a few adult beverages, and then went to bed. We dreamt of Lombardi Trophy’s and Aaron Rodgers.
I woke up around 7:30AM to chants of ‘Go Pack Go’ in the streets. I looked outside and saw about 15 people in line at The Stadium View, home of where we would be watching the Super Bowl. I quickly showered and joined C-Mac’s dad in line. He was one of those crazy 15 people already waiting to get into the bar. The doors opened at 9AM, we found a great spot overlooking the entire bar, with a perfect view of a projection screen. This isn’t your average neighborhood bar. This is a bar that also has a banquet hall that seats 1,500 people. The bar/restaurant area is huge, easily packing a few hundred people into it; we were ready for an unforgettable day. C-Mac and I did a radio show live from the bar. We met people from the NFL Network as well as the lovely Rachel Nichols of ESPN. We spent an average person’s normal 9AM-5PM workday drinking to get ready for the Super Bowl.
5:34pm, time for kickoff.
The Packers scored their first touchdown late in the first quarter, a picture perfect strike from Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson. After the kickoff, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger lobs up a pass and my favorite Packer, Nick Collins, intercepts it and he takes it 37 yards for the touchdown. Just like that, 14-0 Packers and we’re sensing a Super Bowl victory! Pittsburghkept it close and about halfway through the 4th quarter, Green Bay’s lead was 28-25. The Packers next drive ran a lot of time off the clock, a touchdown would seal the victory. Unfortunately, they had to settle for a field goal putting them up 31-25. It was a six point game, all Pittsburgh had to do was score a touchdown and an extra point and they would win. They had a little over two minutes to do that. After poorly thrown ball on 3rd down, it came down to one play. I was nervous, everyone was nervous. I was crouched down staring at the TV screen, Roethlisberger drops back to pass finds Mike Wallace, but its bounces out of his hands and the bar goes crazy! I shoot up and C-Mac and I immediately embrace! Hugs and tears of joy were flowing throughout the bar! ‘We Are the Champions’ by Queen rocked the bar.
This was the first time as friends Charlie and I could celebrate a Packers Super Bowl victory! We did it from the town they call home. I love this team. They truly have the best fans in sports. I’m proud to call myself a fan and shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.
These are just some of the amazing experiences I’ve had cheering on my favorite team. I look forward to sharing my stories and opinions with you.
I want to give a big thanks to my pal John Canton for letting me write for this site. I love the NFL and I’ll write a lot about it during the season and off-season. I will also dabble in MLB, NCAA Football (specifically, the Big Ten) and Golf.
Hop aboard this crazy-fun ride that will be TJRsports.com, because if you made it through my stories, you are a true sports nut, just like all of us here are!
Follow me on Twitter: @TheAce18
Listen to my weekly radio show: blogtalkradio.com/jakeyandtheace
If you have any ideas or topics you want me to cover, email me: TheAceTJR@gmail.com
Also, check out our celebration from The Stadium View as the Packers won Super Bowl XLV.