We had to do something else besides look at toilets.
For those who are not familiar with American football, Lambeau Field is home of Green Bay Packers, the National Football League (NFL) franchise that makes its home in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Within its city limits, we are talking about a place that contains about 104,000 people with approximately 306,000 in its expanded metro area. This is a team that does not have a huge fan base at its doorstep.
However, what it does have is intensely devoted, loyal and deep, and its national following carries the banner just as high. Starting in 1919, the Packers is the oldest team in the NFL that has stayed in one location. (The Decatur Staleys became the Chicago Bears, and the Chicago Cardinals eventually became the Arizona Cardinals.) So, the franchise has been there for nearly 100 years. Not only that, the Packers have won 13 NFL championships, including four Super Bowls. Five of those championships were under the helm of Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach after whom the famed Super Bowl trophy is named. And I haven’t touched upon people and events like Donald Driver, the Ice Bowl, the Lambeau Leap, Bart Starr, and host of other references.
So, even if you are not a Packers fan, this is home to quite a bit of American football history.
With that in mind, yesterday, the three of us decided to partake in the Classic Tour (the comparatively cheap hour long one) of the field. Since I have become a lapsed rabid, football fan, my attitude was to just take in the atmosphere and info and go with the flow. My recommendation is to get there early to get ahead of the rest of the hoard sporting Lambeauners. It is basically like being at a game or training camp as far as T-shirt, cap, and jersey donning of the crowd is concerned. And it is understandable. This is Packer Mecca.
Our tour guide, Kevin, was quite genial with a Dad-style humor who dearly loves his Packers. Let me put it this way. He has been on the season ticket list for 26 years. He is about number 13,000 out of about 114,000. He can will his spot to his granddaughter and hope she gets the coveted seats eventually. No exaggeration.
All of us on the tour were out-of-towners, so he really enjoyed giving his spiel to a fresh set of ears. After taking us to the plaza where the statues of Curly Lambeau and Lombardi, Kevin told us how Lambeau, a clerk for Indian (Meat) Packing Company, asked his boss for money for uniforms for the football team he was organizing and how it all snowballed from there.
From there, we got to see how the other half lives from the box seats.
If you look around, you will see something…or not see something, as the case may be. Notice the minimal amount of advertising. The Packers are a not-for-profit, publicly owned franchise with shareholders and a board of directors. The board has made a conscious decision to keep advertising to a minimum to cover expenses. Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting to make a profit off of your football team, but one of my issues with the NFL is how excessive it has become. It is lovely to see a team who has reined it in.
From the heights to the depths, we got to the cool part…the home team’s tunnel. They even played crowd noises for us as we walked out, although I think the Bears would eat the Boffin and Sprog alive with their lax attitude.
And being able to walk on the field. Wow.
And aluminum benches that will “keep you cold during the winter and hot during the summer,” according to Kevin.
My uncle and cousin recently went to a game here in the middle of winter without building themselves up to the cold, and I am thinking about the windchill and uncomfortable seats and came to a conclusion. They obviously wanted to test their endurances and give themselves a real football fan experience. The reality is that they were nuts. And I only say this with love, guys. Mwah!
So, what did I take away from the tour? I really enjoyed the experience from a football history standpoint. But I have to say, I still have my issues about what the NFL is now, which is a separate post entirely and has no place here. If I ever do go back to the NFL (not looking likely at this point), I would consider the Packers as a team. I think I could pull off the look.