In all my years as a big-time Packer fan, I had never been to training camp…until last Friday (8/7). On our way up to Door County, I persuaded my wife to allow a brief detour to Lambeau. I have a homing device or something that just pulls me toward Lambeau whenever I’m in northeastern WI. Anyway, I knew we would be arriving right toward the end of the practice (I’d checked the schedule) and I kept telling my wife that my 2 year old would go nuts. He already loves Lambeau and all things Packers mostly because he’s my son and has no choice, but also because of a kids book we often read called Go Pack Go (http://www.amazon.com/Go-Pack-Aimee-Aryal/dp/1932888942) – Anyway, I was acting as though making this stop was for purely altruistic reasons when in reality, I was also pumped to see it myself.
We arrived shortly before practice ended (though practice was indoors due to the rain) and we positioned ourselves by the kids with the bikes to see some of the players. It was very cool. My son and I found a spot where few others were standing and he extended his arm to give high fives to all the players. A two-year-old slapping five with Breno Giacomini is something to see. My son was super excited and really, I was too – lots of fun. The best part I thought was that the kids weren’t the only ones smiling – lots of the players (Jennings, Driver especially) were hamming it up and having a good time with it.
Afterward, I called Brother Steve so my son could tell Uncle Steve what he saw. Steve picked up and I just said, “Dude, Ben wants to tell you what he saw”. Ben said: “big, huge, huge, giant, big strong guys”. Steve, was a bit concerned about what Ben had seen until Ben then blurted out “Donald Driver”. When he realized where we’d been, brother Steve, far from the homeland, was quite jealous.
But what a neat experience. And man was it easy to just park, walk across the street and slap high fives with some of the best-known athletes around. This experience made me think of something that I couldn’t shake until we got to Door County: there is a reason training camp is popular, the Packers are popular and the Lambeau mystique is alive and well…the team just does it right and it has for years. We should all feel lucky to be a real part of this organization. Sure not everything the team has done has been smart, but there is a constant undercurrent of class that keeps this organization separate from many others.
(Hopefully I can get some of the pictures we took up soon…)