The Green Bay Packers

Father David Epps's picture

If one presses me for a favorite professional football team, I’d have to say the Green Bay Packers. That might seem strange for a guy who grew up a Southerner cheering for the Volunteers of Tennessee and basically believing that Heaven started south of the Mason-Dixon Line. But, the Packers it is.

When I was a kid, there were much fewer Southern NFL teams. If I recall correctly, the Dallas Cowboys was the only team that could remotely be called “Southern,” although Texas people tend to see themselves not as Southern but “Texan.”

Miami, Atlanta, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Jacksonville, and Tennessee all came to the NFL late and, in my young world, Green Bay exemplified all that football was supposed to be. Every kid who played football dreamed of wearing the Green and Gold of the fearsome Green Bay Packers.

The term, “packers,” conjured up people who worked hard, dealt with dead meat, dirty conditions, and were tough. Anybody who watched the Pack knew that they played rough football in the heat, the rain, the snow, and the ice. Nothing seemed to faze them. It was the snow and the ice that gripped my imagination.

Here were big men, strong men, tough men who, when in their stance at the line of scrimmage, seemed to breathe fire as the air from their lungs made smoky haze in the sub-freezing temperatures of Wisconsin.

The football field would be covered by inches of snow and these rough men were covered with dirt or mud, sweat poured from their faces, and — even in the ice — they eschewed long sleeves.

Real men, it seemed, didn’t need to bundle up to play pro football in wind chill factors of minus-23 if they were Green Bay Packers. Let the merely mortal men dress warmly.

Founded in 1919 by Earl “Curly” Lambeau, for whom the Packers’ field is now named, the Green Bay Packers have won 12 league championships, including nine NFL Championships prior to the advent of the Super Bowl.

The Pack won the first two Super Bowls in 1966 and 1967 and won it a third time in 1996. The team also appeared in another Super Bowl but lost.

The Super Bowl trophy, the Lombardi Trophy, bears the name of legendary Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi who led the Packers to five championships in seven years that culminated in victories in the first two Super Bowls.

The Packers’ fans are also noteworthy —regardless of whether the team is winning or losing, the Packers have sold out every game at home since 1960.

Fans have been known to leave season tickets in their wills and newborn infants have been placed on the season ticket waiting list.

The Packer’s logo, the “G” within an oval is a trademark owned by the Packer organization, although they have given limited permission for the logo to be used by Grambling State University and by the University of Georgia.

When the Green Bay Packers played the New York Giants for the right to meet the New England Patriots in the 2008 Super Bowl, I watched every play. The temperature was minus-3 with a wind chill of minus-23, the wind was blowing, and the Packer linemen were wearing short-sleeved football jerseys.

They ignored the howling and bitter cold, mocked the concrete-hard turf, and played the kind of football that Green Bay fans have been watching for 89 years.

Since 1919, the Packer faithful have seen their beloved team compile a record of 681 wins, 512 losses, and 37 ties. On this night, the Giants prevailed and will now face undefeated New England. Beyond the Super Bowl next season awaits.

One thing is certain, however: The Pack will be back. And so will the fans.

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