If you read my Twitter bio, it reads “Diehard Packer fan that lives in the shadows of Lambeau Field. Full time appraiser, part-time bartender, life long Packer fan. That pretty much sums up my life. How I got there, is a little bit longer of a story.
I was born in the wonderful city of Green Bay, on a cold wintery day in February 1980, just 13 days before the Miracle On Ice. I was born to wonderfully loving parents. My mom, a Green Bay native herself, grew up on the West side of town and used to sneak into Lambeau Field in the late 50’s and early 60’s. My father was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Escanaba to be exact, but moved to Green Bay just days after he graduated from high school. Shortly after my brother Aaron was born, our family settled into my childhood on the Southwest side of Green Bay, within blocks of Vincent T. Lombardi Middle School. It was in that neighborhood that my love for the Green Bay Packers, and all sports for that matter, was born.
By the time I was 9 years old I was pretty much wrapped up in the Packers. That year was the year of the “Heart Attack Pack”. Don Majkowski and Sterling Sharpe lead the Packers team to an NFC Central Division winning 10-6 record, highlighted by the infamous “After further review…” game at Lambeau Field. That season gave me a hardcore case of Packers fever that I still haven’t found the remedy for…thank God.
That next season began the Summer ritual that I carried on for the next 5 years. During the Summer of 1990 I officially became a Lambeau Field “Bike Kid”. After much back-and-forth with my parents, I finally convinced them to let me make the 4.89 mile trek from my parent’s house to a quick stop at childhood friend Nick Mocco’s house, then to another friend Matt Wolcanski’s house, and then on to Lambeau Field. The purpose? So we could meet the Green Bay Packers outside of the stadium and try to get them to ride our bikes (mine was a Huffy) down to the practice field on Oneida St. This continued every single day of training camp for me from 1990 until 1994. Five years of riding nearly 5 miles to Lambeau Field, and then riding 5 miles home. As I got older, you know…12, that happened twice a day so I could run home and deliver the Green Bay Press Gazette around the neighborhood as quick as I could so I could make it back for the afternoon practice. That’s what I call dedication.
Those Summers shaped me to be the Packer fan I am today. Getting to know every single Packer player by name, face, and number is still something I carry with me today. I got to meet a lot of great friends when I was a “bike kid”, some of whom I still consider friends today. Back in those days I had the knack for having some big offensive or defensive linemen ride my bike. My guess is because we had the same mentality. “It’s hot out…let’s not move too fast and tire ourselves out”. I’ll admit it. It was commonplace to see some kid huffing and puffing as he/she ran along side their bike as some WR or RB was riding their bike and smiling. Not me. I wasn’t an idiot. I enjoyed the company of such guys as Bob Nelson, Dan Fike, Tootie Robbins, and Guy McIntyre ride my bike. My little brother on the other hand was lucky enough to have such Packer heroes as Desmond Howard and Reggie White ride his bike to practice every day. You want to talk about life not being fair. He nagged and nagged about being able to go to Packers practice with my friends and me and he showed up and landed the “Minister of Defense” for a Summer and then Desmond Howard for another Summer. I may have been jealous then, but you know what, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Okay, I lied…it would have been cool to have Reggie White ride my bike.