As a team with a worldwide fan base, the Green Bay Packers are in rare company. In any major city, you can find groups of Packers fans coming together on Sundays (or the occasional Monday or Thursday) to eat, drink, celebrate their shared fandom, and watch their beloved Packers.
The best part about these gathering places is that a Packers fan who is in an unfamiliar city can usually drop in and feel right at home with the local fans and feel like part of a community wherever they are.
I have been lucky enough to experience gameday in numerous different locations around the country, and each and every time it was fantastic.
In late December 2010, I found myself in the Los Angeles area for the Rose Bowl, which pitted my alma mater, the Wisconsin Badgers, against the TCU Horned Frogs. With several of my fellow college friends joining me, we saw the Badgers lose a heartbreaker in Pasadena. However, one day later, the Packers played the Bears at Lambeau Field with a chance to make the playoffs with a win. One of my friends and I ended up at Pickwick's Pub in Woodland Hills, which was hosting an unusually large group of Packers fans for the game (due to so many Wisconsinites being there for the Rose Bowl weekend). We were welcomed warmly, invited into the heart of the group, and shared drinks with locals and fellow visitors alike as Green Bay was victorious by a score of 10-3 and clinched the sixth and final playoff spot in the NFC. We all know what happened that January and February.
Then, earlier this year, I found myself on a business trip in Seattle during the days leading up to the season opener against the Seahawks. While I was unable to stick around for the local Northwest Packer Backers' gameday tailgate, I did get to drop by their pre-game Pep Rally the night before at their local gathering place, Mustard Seed Grill and Bar, which hosted a veritable who's who of locals and legendary Packers fans alike. Their group's president, Jerry, even insisted that I grab the microphone to address the group about Acme Packing Company and the Packers in general. Head over to the group's Facebook page to check out pictures from both their Pep Rally and Gameday Tailgate.
Finally, there's the group I am most associated with, the Buckeye Packer Backers (and yes, it kills me a little bit inside every time I associate myself with a group that has "buckeye" in the name). After relocating to Ohio from Wisconsin, I was embraced immediately by the group and now spend most of my fall Sundays with 60 or more fellow rowdy Packers fans. There's Packers gear all over the walls, and there's always at least one Leinenkugel's beer on tap. It truly feels like home.
If you're a displaced Packers fan, make sure to go to PackersEverywhere.com to find a local establishment where Packers fans gather. If you have a particular memory about a Packers bar or have a specific group that you call home, we encourage you to share in the comments.
And if you happen to be in the Columbus area, stop by On Tap Pub on Sunday and say hi. Just follow the noise - you'll find me.