Editor’s note: This article was submitted to APC by Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann, a writer for Mile High Report, the SB Nation Denver Broncos blog. Laurie is traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday and shared with us a wonderful experience she had in Costa Rica with a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan.
Thanks to Laurie for this excellent piece, and thanks to Fernando — the man who inspired it.
This time of year football fans like to feel thankful for their teams.
And each year, some teams’ fans have an easier time than others.
I’m a Broncos fan - but also an Aaron Rodgers fan - so I can understand how Packers fans must be feeling at this point in what is most likely a “lost season” (certainly not like ours but not as good as hoped in August, I imagine).
But then while traveling in Costa Rica today I met Fernando Montoya - probably the happiest Packers fan on the planet - and his enthusiasm for American football got me even feeling good about my own hot mess of a team this time of year.
“I just love the Packers, man. Let me show you a picture...I wear this to every Sabrissa futbol game,” he says, pulling out his phone and showing me his selfies from every game of his favorite Costa Rican team.
In each photo, despite 100-degree Costa Rican heat in many cases, he is sporting the iconic Cheesehead hat. “I love that thing, man. I can’t wait to wear it to Lambeau someday.”
Montoya and I instantly strike up a friendship as we talk about the Packers, the NFL and his love of this uniquely American game - alongside his first love of “futbol,” of course.
I ask him “why the Packers?” (because while that may not seem so crazy to you, it seems pretty crazy to me that a guy from San Jose, Costa Rica, loves the team that plays on The Frozen Tundra.)
“I just love everything about their history,” he tells me. “I love that the people own the team, I love Brett Favre, I love Aaron Rodgers, I love Lambeau Field. Did you know they won the first two Super Bowls in history? I love it, man.”
And I love Fernando.
Much like the Packers’ season, my Broncos are a lost cause this year - and “being thankful” for them right now means looking to the past and remembering a rich history of legendary players and coaches rather than feeling a ton of gratitude for the current roster.
But talking to fans like Montoya, I am reminded why I have always loved this game, even when my team isn’t any good.
I love it because football is fun - and it brings people together.
And especially on a game day like Thanksgiving where so much of the experience of sharing good times and gratitude with family and friends is designed around watching this great game, I am thankful for football and my team - even if the Broncos’ 2017 season has long been dead to me.
I’m thankful because it always provides an interesting conversation point - whether it’s with a fellow Broncos fan, a rival AFC fan or even a Packers fan in Costa Rica where we can reminisce about Super Bowl XXXII (and yes, also Super Bowl XXXI) and find some common - and friendly - ground.
Before Fernando and I part ways, we become Facebook friends, and I tell him I’ll be sending him a Peyton Manning jersey to hang alongside his Brett Favre No. 4 - mostly to give him a hard time.
But when he agrees Manning is the greatest quarterback ever (sorry, Packers fans), I vow to definitely send him one.
But he also promises that if he wears the No. 18, he is still wearing the hat.
Because he will always be a Cheesehead.
As they say in Costa Rica, pura vida!
Thanks again to Laurie, and to Fernando, whom you can see here:
Hey @acmepackingco ... I'm in Costa Rica and I just found the greatest #Packers fan. Fernando Montoya wears his #cheesehead to EVERY #Saprissa futbol game...even in 90-degree heat! pic.twitter.com/3S0cLCl8cy— Non-local blogger LLV (@docllv) November 22, 2017