In what has seemed like an eternity since the Green Bay Packers could be seen riding into training camp on bikes and running out of the tunnel on Family Night, I found myself reminiscing about my own experiences at Lambeau Field this past weekend.
Glancing at a framed picture on my wall of a Lambeau Leap I was fortunate to be a part of, I was reminded of a first-hand experience I had detailed back in 2012 when I created my first blog as a college student. Much has changed since that day in December 2012, a Packers win over the Minnesota Vikings, but the mystique of walking through the gates of Lambeau has remained.
Finding this particular memory to be a relatively fond and amusing one from nearly a decade ago, I figured I would share it once again for a few smirks in anticipation of the upcoming Packers season.
South End Zone, Row 3, Seat 15
Over the past decade, I have had the great privilege of frequently showing my Packers pride from the confines of Lambeau Field. And more specifically, row three, seats 15 and 16 of the south end zone.
My great uncle Gene has been a season ticket holder for many, many years with a pair of seats handed down from his father. Each game, he takes a friend or family member with his extra ticket and I have been fortunate to be the recipient on several occasions, as I grew up only 25 minutes from the legendary stadium.
But with college interfering, I have attended significantly less games over the past four years and found myself wishing just two weeks ago to once again be able to make the sacred pilgrimage back to Green Bay.
A late-night email on my phone last Thursday night, which of course rang to a Sports Center theme, was the answer to my prayers. Gene had a spare ticket to the game against the Minnesota Vikings and he was wondering if I was interested in going.
Fast forward three days later and I was sitting once again in row three, seat 15. I couldn’t help but feel the excitement of the crowd – 70,000-plus – and get my habitual goosebumps as the Packers ran onto the field to 2Unlimited’s “Ready for This.” Watching the purple and gold of the Vikings run out of the opposing tunnel from about 20 feet away took me back to the last time I saw a Packers-Vikings game. It was a cold, rainy day as Green Bay fell to Minnesota in the 2005 playoffs, 31-17, and I was literally one of the end zone fans faux mooned by Randy Moss. Needless to say, it was necessary to repress that memory with a happier ending this time around.
Well, it was still a damp, cool day, but nothing could stop me from having a blast at Lambeau Field after a two-year leave of absence. I couldn’t help but notice a few differences. The brand new upper deck levels that are being added in the renovations caught my eyes first. Then the brand new mammoth HD scoreboards at each end of the field. But for the most part, the Lambeau experience remained the same.
Fans in the end zone come together as one to bring the team to a home victory. High-fives after every Packers score are a commonality, especially from “Cheery Judy” in the front row with the row and seat number she has held for decades inscribed into her baseball cap. There are the groans and grumbles. The shouts when a receiver is open down the field and Aaron Rodgers is under pressure. The rejoicing when that receiver makes the catch for the score.
Occasionally you are rewarded with a Lambeau Leap, the most electrifying 10 seconds of your week. But not when it is from someone like Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph last Sunday. Then, the friendly end zone fans will politely attempt to heave the impostor back onto the playing field.
As I bit my fingernails during the game that was too close for comfort until the final four minutes of the ballgame, I was entertained by a very charming and slightly intoxicated group of young women who wanted to learn all about me and include me in their pictures. Seemingly designated as the “team photographer” as the game wore on, I continued to experience the unexpectedness that is a Lambeau crowd. It was a win-win scenario. The Green Bay Packers walked away with a 23-14 divisional win, and I walked away with a phone number.
Sadly, there is no telling when I will get back to another Green and Gold game in the foreseeable future. But I do know one thing. I will be awaiting the next call from Uncle Gene with eager anticipation and the chill of Packers spirit running down my spine.