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Jersey Girl reflects on becoming a Packers Fan – Yes, the Catholic Faith is the reason!

18 January 2015

 

After many a senseless debacle for the Packers at the hands of referees, (who are neither experienced enough for the NFL or are rooting personally for a team) I decided that the pain I was feeling is the true pain of a Packer fan. My newly acquired (at that time) Green and Gold blood needed to remember why I love football so much.

This post is special to me and I hope you will read it for the first time or AGAIN and let me know if indeed I am just a silly Jersey Girl or I have grown up now since I made the big move to Wisconsin. Enjoy and please comment (yes, you can vent in the combox about the ridiculous scenario the NFL has gotten itself into with this officiating nonsense.)


Having been born and bred on the Jersey Shore there was never a question which football team one would root for. The NY Football Giants (as they are affectionately known by locals; not to be confused with the long-defunct NY Baseball Giants now residing in San Fran) were the first kids on the block with the Jets coming along later for the younger set.

My Dad took me to Yankee Stadium to see my first Giant game (nope, not telling the year!) and I was hooked by Big Blue.

Now, I must say there were many lean years of being a long-suffering Giant fan, but we were finally rewarded with Lawrence Taylor, Phil Sims and a Super Bowl. Four years ago, defeating the hated Patriots and Tom “I’m too good for myself” Brady in one of the most exciting Super Bowl game’s ever made me proud to have hung in there for so many years.

I do have a confession to make though… I have been a secret Green Bay Packers fan the whole time. Whenever the Giants played the Pack I would root unethusiastically for the Giants. My Dad, even though he was a de facto Giants fan always talked about the great Vince Lombardi and Lambeau Field. He loved the Packers so much that the one and only time he came with us to the beach (thank goodness it was only once!) he built us a sand castle rendition of Lambeau Field! Some Giants fan.

One fall day when we were raking leaves before kickoff time I asked my Dad why he loved the Packers if he was a Giant fan. He told me about Vince Lombardi, how humble the Packer organization is and in particular how great the people of Wisconsin are.

He told me he heard Lombardi interviewed once years ago when he was the Defensive Coach of the NY Giants (before becoming the Packer coach) and that Lombardi had said when he asked where he got his philosophy and strength. Lombardi said, “I derived my strength from daily Mass and Communion.”

That was it for my Dad and for me. He knew this was the guy and he would love the team that this guy worked for. So, Lombardi started out with the Giants (ahem) and then went to Green Bay and the rest is history. Please read a bio of Vince Lombardi and some of his inspiring quotes here: This is a webpage sponsored by the family of Vince Lombardi.

Interesting thing: Half of my family is buried in a Catholic cemetery in Middletown, NJ. Lombardi is buried there with his wife and other family even though he was from Brooklyn. When my Dad went to the cemetery to make his visits, he said he always had to stop and see his friend Vince. Until I wrote this post I never knew the “Vince” he spoke about was the great Lombardi. Now, I really get it.

Last year when the Packers marched to the Super Bowl I was truly happy. My Dad was still talking about the great Lombardi and Aaron Rodgers was a quarterback all of football found classy. I still rooted for the Giants but I was relieved when it was evident they weren’t going anywhere. I was free to root for the Pack! So this Jersey girl was a cheesehead in her last days living on the Jersey Shore.

Then, Divine Providence opened a door for me and I was moving to Wisconsin!!! Long story, saving that for another post! Anyway, here I was going to the land of the Packers, great cheese and cold! Well, it’s really a terrific place, everybody in America should visit WI…the people, well…here’s the post I’m reprinting and it will tell why the Packers are so beloved and why the Wisconsin people are so special…
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“Maybe the Only Truly Romantic Thing Left in American Sports: The Green Bay Packers”

(This article was in The Desert News, the Salt Lake City newspaper.)

Seriously, America, what’s not to like about the Green Bay Packers? What’s not to like about a small-town team that is not only surviving, but thriving in the billion-dollar business of professional football?

There is nothing like them in professional sports. Think about what an oddity they are. Teams have come and gone in the NFL in a continuous game of musical chairs–the Baltimore Colts moved to Indianapolis, the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore, the Oakland Raiders to L.A. and back to Oakland, the Cardinals from Chicago to St. Louis to Phoenix, the Los Angeles Rams to St. Louis …

But the Packers have stayed in tiny Green Bay, Wisconsin, since their birth in 1919. America ‘s second biggest city, Los Angeles, with a population of 4 million, doesn’t even have a franchise, but Green Bay , with a population of 101,000, does. It’s like plunking down a team in the middle of Sandy , Utah . They are the smallest market in pro sports. Green Bay ‘s metro area–if you stretch the definition of “metro”–is 283,000. Buffalo, the next smallest in sports, has 1.1 million. New York City has 8.5 million in the city limits alone, 19 million in the metro area.

What’s not to like about a team that was dreamed up during a street-corner conversation one day? Curly Lambeau, a former Green Bay prep star and Notre Dame football player, hatched the idea and convinced his employer, the Indian Packing Company, to buy uniforms and provide a practice field. In turn, the team called itself the Packers. Lambeau was the team’s first star player (for 11 years) and its first coach (for 30 years) and–you’ve got to like this–he pioneered the forward pass in the NFL.

What’s not to like about the last small-town survivor of the National Football League? In the early ’20s, the fledgling NFL consisted almost entirely of small-town teams like Green Bay–the Decatur Staleys, Akron Pros, Canton Bulldogs, Muncie Flyers, Rochester Jeffersons, Rock Island Independents. But as the league turned fully to professionalism, those teams either folded or moved to big cities for bigger profits. Green Bay found a way to keep the Packers–the community bought them.

What’s not to like about a team that is owned by its fans? The Packers are the only publicly owned team in professional sports… There’s no Jerry Jones, George Steinbrenner, or Daniel Snyder in Green Bay . The other teams have one very rich, often reviled, owner; the Packers have 112,000 shareholders–or 112,000 Monday-morning quarterbacks who are legally entitled to kibbutz. They’ve rescued the team from financial hardship four times–in 1923, ’35, ’50 and ’97. Without them, the team simply would not exist.

What’s not to like about this team? Apparently, not much. Despite their small-town roots–or perhaps because of it–they have courted a world-wide following. According to a 2010 Harris poll, the Packers are still the third most popular team in the country, 40 years after their glory years. Someone once asked the late, former, NFL commissioner, Pete Rozelle, to name the best football city in America … “Green Bay,” he replied. “A small town. People owning their own football team. Rabid supporters.”

The Packers have one of the longest waiting lists for season tickets in pro sports, some 80,000 deep (Lambeau Field seats only 78,000). The average wait for season tickets is estimated to be 30 years, but if you added your name to the list now you probably wouldn’t get tickets in your lifetime. Packer fans are known to leave season tickets in their wills or to place newborn babies on the waiting list. Packer games have been sold out since 1960

“I’m a ‘green and gold’ season ticket holder and have some voting stock in the team,” explains Walt Mehr, a Utah resident who grew up in Eagle River, WI, just north of Green Bay. “It took me 23 years to get season tickets. We have a big shareholders meeting in July and vote. We were involved with remodeling of the stadium. As season-ticket holders, we had to put up money for that – $5,000. My tickets are in my will.”

It’s every fan’s dream–they get to help run the team… You’ve got to like that.

The rest of the post is at Kate the Right’s blog, “From the Right of Center”. Please click HERE


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7 Comments to “Jersey Girl reflects on becoming a Packers Fan – Yes, the Catholic Faith is the reason!”

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