When the Packers square off with the Vikings on Sunday, they’ll be completing a rare feat: they’ll be the first team in NFL history to have played the opening game in every other division team’s stadium.
The most recent example was in 2003, when they had the privilege of helping the Chicago Bears reopen the newly renovated Soldier Field.
It went badly for Chicago.
What should have been a celebratory event for the Bears turned into the kind of party where the food isn’t ready on time, then one of your friends shows up and trashes your house then leaves without helping you clean up.
Things started well enough. The Packers opened the game with a three-and-out, then dutifully punted the ball away to Kordell Stewart and the Bears.
Yes, that Kordell Stewart. The former Pro Bowler played the last meaningful football of his career with the Bears, winning just two games in seven starts there while completing just 50.2% of his passes.
The Bears gained -1 on three plays, then punted back to the Packers, who promptly ended the game.
Ahman Green ripped off a 60-yard touchdown run on the second play of that drive, spearheading an offensive explosion that would see the Packers lead 17-0 by the end of the first quarter.
Green went on to pile up 179 yards and two scores, already the second time that season he’d eclipsed 150 yards.
The rest of the Packers followed his lead. Brett Favre threw three touchdowns, one each to Javon Walker, Bubba Franks, and William Henderson. Donald Driver had 50 yards on four catches. Even Doug Pederson got in on the action, completing a 14 yard pass to Henderson.
Chicago tacked on a couple scores at the end, but they were merely aesthetic. The Packers ran away with the Monday Night Football matchup, trouncing the Bears 38-23.
The Packers were also the featured opponent when the Lions opened Ford Field in Week 3 of the 2002 season.
Early on, it looked like the Lions were setting the stage for a romp, as Az-Zahir Hakim opened the scoring with an electrifying 72-yard punt return for a touchdown after the Packers went three-and-out on their first possession.
The Packers responded with a big play of their own, though, as Marques Anderson returned an interception 78 yards for a touchdown later in the first quarter. The Packers led for the remainder of the game after Donald Driver caught a touchdown on the first play of the second quarter.
Joey Harrington rallied the Lions late, but the Packers prevailed 37-31.
While the Packers haven’t been featured in any other modern era stadium openings, they have played against teams during their first season at a new stadium several times.
Here’s a quick rundown of teams that have hosted the Packers during their inaugural season in their new digs:
Atlanta Falcons - Georgia Dome - October 4, 1992
A year after the Falcons traded him away, Brett Favre returned to Atlanta and completed 33-of-43 passes for 276 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. The Packers, however, couldn’t stop Andre Rison, who scored on two of his six receptions. The Falcons came out on top, 24-10.
Jacksonville Jaguars - Jacksonville Municipal Stadium - September 24, 1995
If anyone in the Jaguars’ ownership group is reading (and we know you are), you’re probably about due to shake down Jacksonville for a new stadium deal. You’ve been in your current facility literally the entire time your team has existed!
The Packers worked over the Jaguars during the Jaguars’ first year, beating up on Mark Brunell and company 24-14. It was a strange day of football. Edgar Bennett needed 21 carries to manage 66 yards. Anthony Morgan was the Packers’ leading receiver. Craig Hentrich kicked a field goal.
Los Angeles Rams - Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum - December 8, 1946
The Packers have yet to play the Rams during their current stint at the Coliseum, but in their original residency, the Packers and Rams squared off during the final week of the regular season. Los Angeles came out on top, 38-17, but Tony Canadeo did throw a 51-yard touchdown to Clyde Goodnight. Names in the 1940’s were much more fun.
New Orleans Saints - Louisiana Superdome - October 12, 1975
The 1975 New Orleans Saints won exactly two games. One of them was against the Packers in the second ever regular season home game at the Superdome.
The Packers raced out to a 16-0 lead thanks to a kickoff return for a touchdown and a safety, but quarterback John Hadl couldn’t lead Green Bay to any sort of significant offensive production. Archie Manning rallied the Saints to a 20-19 victory.
New England Patriots - CMGI Field - October 13, 2002
The Packers beat the Patriots 28-10 during their first trip to the stadium now known as Gillette Stadium. The Packers picked off Tom Brady three times courtesy of Marques Anderson, Matt Bowen, and Bryant Westbrook.
New York Jets - New Meadowlands Stadium - October 31, 2010
It’s MetLife Stadium now, but the Packers helped break in New Meadowlands Stadium in 2010 with a 9-0 win over the Jets. Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams helped lead the defensive effort with interceptions, though Mark Sanchez still outpassed Aaron Rodgers.
Philadelphia Eagles - Lincoln Financial Field - January 11, 2004
The Eagles opened The Linc for the 2003 season, and the Packers played the first ever playoff game there that year. All records of that game have been destroyed and the outcome is unknown.
BONUS: Cowboys Stadium - February 6, 2011
The Packers didn’t play the Cowboys during their first season at Jerry World, but they did make an appearance there for Super Bowl XLV, the first Super Bowl held there. Until 2014, the Packers had won just as many playoff games in what’s now called AT&T Stadium as the Cowboys.