Two Brothers, Two Coasts: Driving Vancouver to NYC
Green Bay, Wisconsin: The Town That Football Built
It may be America’s Game, and the Dallas Cowboys may be ‘America’s Team’, but in Green Bay, Wisconsin, football is life and death, and the Packers are gods.
Football may be like a religion in England, and as the great Bill Shankly said: “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that,” but in Green Bay it really feels that way. As we drove into the small, football crazy town, all signs lead to Lambeau Field, the historic home of the Green Bay Packers. The stadium lies on Lombardi Avenue, named after the legendary coach that led the team to five titles in seven years during the 1960s.
We had booked our first AirBnB of the trip and were staying in a quiet suburban neighbourhood outside of downtown. We were in a basement where all three beds were made up with Packers sheets. Old photos of the Packers adorned the walls and there was a plastic case on the wall holding a handful of a4 sheets of paper, each one detailing the season’s schedule.
I went for a run around the neighbourhood and the religious like following of the team just kept appearing. Post boxes are adorned with the green and yellow G logo, number-plates and bumper stickers scream the team’s name, “Go Pack, Go” appears on front doors, open garages display shrines to Aaron Rogers, the near-transcendent quarterback and two time league MVP of the Packers, and even the bins outside every house are green with yellow lids.
We headed out the next morning to take a tour of Lambeau Field. There aren’t many other activities for tourists in a town where the team IS the town. Our guide was a great old-timer, who ran us through the fabled history of the team, from it’s founding by Curley Lambeau to the massive leap the team and the stadium has made to retain it’s position in the National Football League as the only fan-owned team in the modern era (it is owned by the public via stocks, all other teams are owned by billionaires).
We walked out onto the pitch while crowd noise was piped into the hallway. It’s pathetic that this gave me a Cheshire cat grin, but I’m just a sucker for this sort of thing, before spending a small fortune in the Tesco-sized Pro-Shop, because apparently I’m a sucker for that sort of thing too.
Next Stop: St Joseph on Lake Michigan