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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Tales from the old-timer

Green Bay Packer Fans

By Jane Thibodeau Martin,

daughter of the Old-Timer


My husband and I were lucky enough to be able to attend the Packer pre-season game against the St. Louis Rams on Saturday night, Aug. 16. We had excellent seats, 3 rows behind the Packer bench. Living in Oklahoma, attending home Packer games and even training camp visits are nearly impossible, but last year we hit on the idea of traveling to Kansas City to watch them in pre-season action. It was so much fun we repeated this year, only in St. Louis, a reasonable six hour drive from our home.

Over the years we’ve been able to attend a few Packer events away from Wisconsin, including traveling to Tampa Bay for a game one year. It was memorable, with the Packer fans literally taking over the entire city of Tampa Bay. Thousands of them in green and gold were everywhere. And in St. Louis, it was probably 40% Packer fans in the stands. We met people from Ft. Atkinson, Marathon, Madison, Manitowoc and many other cities. Some were travelers like us, others have become residents of the Greater St. Louis area, and were taking advantage of the opportunity to see the team.

I was struck by the number of “mixed marriages” I saw - couples where one person was wearing Packer garb and the other Rams garb. Seated right behind us was a nice St. Louis couple in Rams clothing with their son, about 7, who had an Aaron Rogers jersey on. I started talking with them and asked about their offspring’s contrary team affiliation. They proudly told me he was trained by his Grandfather, a staunch Packer fan from Wisconsin. When I congratulated the youngster on his excellent decision they laughed, and insisted on taking a picture of me with their son before we left.

There were two older ladies in front of us, very friendly and intensely interested in the game. In the second quarter, one of the two volunteered that her friend was Packer’s backup quarterback Scott Tolzien’s mother. I was amazed at how calm she was watching her son take a sack -I’d be a nervous wreck if that had been my son.

Packer fans, in general, are quite popular with opposing team’s business communities. They are travelers - like us, willing to go a long way to see their team. That means business for hotels, restaurants, and gas stations. As one business owner told me, they come early, and they stay late, and they spend a lot of money. An usher at one game told me the reputation of Packer fans is that they are very, very football knowledgeable; are friendly and outgoing; and display a remarkable enthusiasm for their sport.

I like hearing this kind of feedback, and hope all fans in the green and gold conduct themselves in a way that brings credit to our team and the state of Wisconsin. For many people who aren’t lucky enough to be Wisconsin natives, Packer fans ARE the ambassadors of the state, and our deportment can mean reciprocal benefits to the businesses of our state including tourism. But if the fans are obnoxious and belligerent, good luck getting people to come to the Dells, fishing in Green Bay or touring our cheese factories and breweries.

Scott Tolzien had a few bobbles during the game, and I heard one booming male voice a few rows back making critical personal comments about him. I was happy to turn around and, pointing at Scott’s mother, tell him “That’s his mother there.” I was happy when he abruptly curbed his commentary. It’s okay to be an enthused fan, but we all have to remember each of the team members is someone’s son. And there are more important things in life than football. Being a really nice fan is one of them.


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