It all began in 2009 when I was the features writer at Amarillo Magazine. My editor, Michele, received a phone call from a friend who was looking for a graphic designer who might be able to help him with a project. A physician and lifelong Packers fan, he’d spent years researching the history of the team and needed someone to turn that content into a book.
I was sitting next to Michele when she received that call and listened as she relayed my information to him over the phone. We met later in the week at Barnes & Noble, where Dr. Hurly showed me documents, photos, text he’d written, and all of the information he’d compiled at great effort. Having never designed a book before, I offered: Let me take some of this and create a few pages. If you like it, great! If you don’t, no hard feelings.
What transpired was nearly two years of working on Green Bay: A City and Its Team and a budding affection for the team. My family became fans alongside me, which is why our trip to Lambeau Field in December was so memorable.
Here are seven reasons why we root for the Green Bay Packers:
No. 1: The Packers are the only team in the NFL that’s owned by its fans. There is no billionaire in a skybox looking over his or her field. There is no corporation to claim ownership. The Packers cannot be bought and sold to the highest bidder and relocated to another city. Instead, it is a publicly owned franchise. More than 350,000 stockholders (i.e., fans) claim ownership. While currently not open, stocks become available when renovations are necessary to Lambeau Field or some other financial need arises. This is partly why Packer loyalty runs so deep. It is the only team that is owned by a community of fans.
No. 2: We love the hometown connections. Reggie White (92) played high school football at Howard in Chattanooga, went on to become a Tennessee Vol, and played six successful seasons with the Packers. Brett Favre (4) played at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, where we lived and my father worked for a small chunk of my early childhood. Morgan Burnett (42) played for North Clayton High School in College Park, Georgia, where my sister and I attended in the early ’90s. Randall Cobb (18) is from Alcoa, Tennessee, and went on to shine at the University of Kentucky. There is a lot of loyalty to Cobb in this area, which I’m pleased to be a part of. Though you can make collegiate connections with players on most NFL teams (i.e., Vols fans turning into Colts fans, and then Broncos fans), there is something special about knowing certain players are from your own neighborhood.
No. 3: Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi. These two have exceptional stories, which I encourage you to read in Green Bay: A City and Its Team. Their contributions to the game of football and the city of Green Bay are unmatched.
No. 4: They are football-playing studs in winter. Green Bay would be an ideal city for an indoor fancy football arena. There is a reason why the field is called the Frozen Tundra. But the team’s ability to play hard and fast on the coldest of days deserves recognition. The fans, too – they still show up no matter what. This is just one of the unique aspects of Lambeau Field, along with being the longest continuously occupied field in the NFL.
No. 5: They don’t have professional cheerleaders or an official mascot. But they do have cheerleading teams from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and St. Norbert’s College who take to the field and serve that role. As for a mascot, everyone is a cheesehead and that’s just fine.
No. 6: Mike McCarthy and the Green Bay Packers donated money to the Green Bay Police Foundation. Also, so far, they aren’t taking a knee during the anthem.
No. 7: The Hail Mary. Aaron Rodgers is fun to watch. Simple as that.
Honorable mention: Cheese curds! Yum.
Whether this season takes the Packers to a Super Bowl win or it all ends in Atlanta this weekend, I’m proud to be a Packers fan and it’s a been a great season to watch. Go Pack Go!