So the Packers are playing the Seahawks tomorrow. There is the usual brouhaha at the office: the one quiet-mannered man who sits a cubicle next to me that is discussing Brett Favre’s next year in Green Bay, the lady at the front desk who gave me a GREEN BAY or BUST sticker to wear on my cheek (mind you, my cheek, for all this writing?), and the graphics designer who told me he had a dream about watching the Green and Gold on his 19-inch television, and suddenly Brett Favre starts to speak to him. It all comes up to a mild steam during the week and then green and gold boils over into the bay on Friday. Of course, any day that the Packers are on is important. Any Saturday, when you can have a reason to go to the local tavern, kick back a few PBR’s and hang is another important game … But of course, I am leaving out the important part is the fact is, it is the playoffs. Green and gold will be fighting it out, and every true Wisconsinite will be watching.
As an outsider, I thought this dedication to this team was a bit freaky. In fact, the jackets, the bumper stickers, the thirty-year waiting lists, overwhelmed my notion of loyalty. I come from a great sports town, however, the town I’m from “welcomes” great fans—not necessarily breeds them. So, the dedication and fury I’ve seen, when the bars are stacked to the brim with fans, is a different animal. It took me one game, one game where I had to watch “my team” play the Packers, to realize what me, and all other outsiders, are up against.
The bar was packed full, there was loudness abound, pounding fists, and a smoky fog in the air (smoking allowed, of course). And my team was drowned out. Not even just played out, but even if there were twenty fans of me, there would be no way that they could combat the thunder in that Packer bar. I was doomed. And that’s when I realized: The Packer love is unconditional love, passed from generation to generation-from one fan to the next. And it’s contagious.
Yes, even though I’m not from here, I still want to see the Packers win. They are one of the All-American (okay, all football is American, I know) teams, owned by the fans and for the fans. Fans are diehard, no matter if the Packers are winning or losing. That loyalty is what makes a fan a true fan, especially during the bitter Wisconsin winters in Green Bay. That loyalty and dedication, even the fans love for an All-American Mississippi boy, makes me want to cheer for the Packers even more. Just witnessing a beer-drinking, cigar-smoking, paint my house green, pot-bellied fan at the bar, makes one reluctant critic somewhat of a cheerleader. This unconditional positive regard makes me want to love what they always seem to love. After all, who wouldn’t want to be part of something we all can appreciate-the kind of love that gets you out for a bone-chilling winter day—or just the mere appreciation for your hometown team, showing up to play their hearts out on one of these bone-chilling days? Both make it worthwhile to be a fan. And to be a fan, it takes more than just loyalty. It takes unconditional love. And so the love runneth over, once again, into the bay tonight.