How I Became a Green Bay Packer Fan – Part 1

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I receive many emails asking me, “How in the world did you become a Packers fan?” I guess I get asked that question because I am not from Wisconsin, I live in Texas, and I was born in Oklahoma. For me, it all started with my dad. My dad was born in Texas and then moved to Oklahoma when he was a teenager. In the 60’s, everyone who lived in Oklahoma and Texas was automatically supposed to be a fan of the Dallas Cowboys. But not my dad. He liked the brand of football the Packers played in the 60’s and he loved how Vince Lombardi coached. He used to tell me, “It would be third down and one, and everyone knew the Packers were going to run the ball with either Paul Hourning or Jim Taylor. But Bart Starr would take the snap, drop back to pass, and throw for the first down or for a touchdown.” And then my dad would say, “That took guts, and Lombardi’s players were the guttiest and toughest ever to play in the NFL.” As a kid, I loved hearing my dad talk about the Packers and the glory days of the 60’s, of NFL Championships and the first two Super Bowls.

I was hearing all of these great stories of the Packers as a child in the 1970’s and I was too young to ever see the great Packer teams of the 60’s. The Packers by then were no where near the great team they once had been. They did make the playoffs once in the 70’s – in 1972 behind the rushing of running back John Brockington. But in the NFC Divisional Playoff they lost to the Washington Redskins 16-3. The rest of the 70’s for the Packers was marred by mediocre teams and a coach, Dan Devine, who ruined the Packers for years to come with a trade he made to the Los Angeles Rams for aging quarterback John Hadl in 1974. The trade cost the Packers five draft packs, a 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the 1975 draft, and a 1st and 3rd in the 1976 draft. In my opinion, this is key to the team being so bad from 1975 until the late 1980’s. The Packers would not recover for a very long time.

But none the less, no matter how bad they were, I was a fan of the Green Bay Packers. You know that you are true fan of a team because when your team loses, you become sick to your stomach and you are depressed for several days. I suffered through the 70’s and 80’s season by season as I grew up in Oklahoma, and I watched all of my friends, who were all Dallas Cowboy fans, watch as their team won games, won in the playoffs, and play in the Super Bowl.

The bright spot of the 80’s was when the Packers made the playoffs in the strike-shortened season of 1982. Green Bay hosted its first home playoff game since the 1967 Ice Bowl, and the Packers defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in the snow 41-16 in the First Round of the NFC Playoffs. The Packers then traveled to Texas Stadium to take on the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Divisional Playoff, were they lost 37-26. I did not realize it at the time, but playing the Dallas Cowboys at Texas Stadium would be something that would not be very kind to the Packers and their fans in the years to come.

I remember being both sad and mad year after year as the Packers disappointed me. But I never gave up on them, and I would always proclaim that next year “The Pack would be Back”. But it never did happen. And although they were losing year after year, for me, there was something special about the Packers. There was all the history, Lambeau Field, and Green Bay being the smallest city to have an NFL team. And I always dreamed about attending a Packers game at Lambeau Field.

The closest I had ever been to Lambeau Field was in 1973, when I was 7 years old. While traveling to Escanaba, Michigan, with my family, we went through Green Bay, stopped by Lambeau Field, took pictures, walked around for a few minutes, then got back in the car and traveled on. I remember thinking that would be the last time I would ever get that close to the legendary stadium. However, that would not be the last time I would see Lambeau Field, for some 28 years later, I would be there again.

Look for “How I Became a Packers Fan – Part 2.”

write by evans

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