The Dumb and The Dedicated

Frozen Babies in the Tundra

I was born and raised in Packerland, Titletown…good’ ole Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Okay, well a suburb… Howard.  Same thing, except our schools had their own district.  To say I could’ve ever became anything but a Packer fan, would just be ridiculous.  It was just part of your life growing up in Green Bay…Packer players lived in your neighborhood and attended your church, I even hung out with Jerry Kramer’s son, Dan. (I actually had a bit of a crush on him.  Who didn’t? He was hot!)

But of course, being a fan runs the gamut of the fair-weathered fan to the “extreme, over-the-top, to the extent that you are just plain stupid” fan.

I remember the excitement of Superbowl XXXI back in January of 1997.  I absolutely could not settle for watching the game in Racine (dang, couldn’t afford a ticket either), so I ventured back to my hometown.  The day before the big game, I had to go shopping, so I went to Bay Park Square Mall which is just south of Lambeau Field.  People were in a crazed daze. Packer paraphernalia was pushed out of the store’s into the mall aisles, like a Packer Sidewalk Sale. You would look out of place if you didn’t have something Packer plastered to your body. It was Football frenzy like I have NEVER, EVER seen or felt before in my life.Read More…

We all know how that game played out…Packer’s victory! Superbowl XXXI Champions!  Brett Favre!  Whoot Whoot!  After screaming, jumping, and high-fiving our win, a group of us jumped into the Explorer and headed down to Lambeau.  The chunks of snow that fell and the euphoric state of those that gathered on the streets around and in the stadium’s parking lot made for what I could only describe as a Packer dreamland snow globe.  Had this really happened?

Shirtless men, along with Green Bay Press Gazette paper hawkers, walking along Oneida Street are amongst the many visions still vividly etched in my memory.  People were actually kissing the stadium.

Plans for the team’s homecoming celebration were quickly in the works and publicized.  The Packers were coming home and I was going to welcome and celebrate with the Superbowl Champions (along with 60,000 others) in the Frozen Tundra.

To say that Lambeau was anything but frozen, would be an understatement.  Wind chills were hovering around zero, if not below.  I prepared with layers under my ski pants, down parka, wool socks, ski gloves, and Sorel boots (“protection to -40 degrees” proclaimed the tag on the boots).  I topped off this ensemble with a wedge of cheese.  Yup, that foam does insulate, as well as decorate.

We watched and cheered as the Jumbotron displayed our champs’ plane landing at Austin Straubel Field, which is just a couple of miles west of Lambeau.  We saw them deplane and board a windowless bus that was to parade them through town straight to the stadium.  What was anticipated to be an hour long celebratory trip, stretched out to about 3 hours.  Go figure, the fans that lined the parade route, had to get their “fix”, too.  They slowed that bus down to a turtle’s pace.

Beer does not keep a body warm.  Neither does coffee or hot chocolate.  Nor does walking laps under the stadium seats to pass the time and to keep the body moving.  I am fan, but, truly, I watched their progression to the Lambeau destination in pain.  To what extent to you risk frost bite?  Not only me, but the other tens of thousands of crazy people who were waiting there with me?  We were all truly nuts.

What mortified me more than the agony of my own hurting, frozen, stiff body were the numbers of young children that were, I am sure, equally as freezing as I was, with less protection.  These poor kids were dragged out into the blustery cold, their well-being sacrificed all for the sake of their parent having to see our beloved Packers.  I remember specifically a baby, probably about 9 months old, being held in her daddy’s arms: pink snowsuit, socks, no mittens.  I saw them under the seats, so it was a couple of hours into the wait. This baby had to be subjected to these conditions for at least two hours, if not more. Really?  Are the Packers THAT important?

As we looked toward this weekend’s battle (and hopefully another matchup in Dallas), let’s hope that we all put into perspective how important football is in the scheme of things.  We are parents first….our football fanship needs to take a backseat to our kids.

I am excited at the prospect that the Green Bay Packers may take home the title of Superbowl XLV Champs!  And for the sake of my brother, Green Bay City Traffic Engineer, and possible “victims of their parent’s stupidity” kids, that the team’s path back to a Lambau Field celebration is warmer and faster.

Go Packers!

Note:  I found this archived article that details what some of the Packer players experienced during that victory parade and celebration. Gives me the chills! http://www3.jsonline.com/packer/arc/13097/pack128.html

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