In case you missed the news (or live in a cave), the Pack is on the move! Last weekend they earned their 13th NFC Championship title (hence the reason Green Bay calls itself "Titletown") and everyone here is packing their bags, the rich literally, the rest figuratively, for the Super Bowl in Dallas on February 6.
Now I'm a native New Yorker. To the outsider, NY is a sports Noah's ark, with 2 of everything; Mets and Yankees, Rangers and Islanders, Jets and Giants (and Bills but they don't count since they are an 8 hour drive from the rest), Knicks and Nets. However, NYC has a population of around 7 million people. Assuming for the sake of meaningless math that each New Yorker is only interested in one sport and one sport team (Let's Go Mets!), that comes to 875,000 people per team.
The population of Green Bay City (as of the 2000 census) was 96,000. Brown County is 150,000. Even if you go as far as the Fox Valley and Pulaski, you'd be lucky to break a quarter mil. This is the home of the team that, until a few years ago, had won the most conference championships of any team in football history. Are the people here proud of their Pack? Oh yeah. For a large percentage of the population, the Packers rank somewhere between an obsession and a religion.
And to people here, the Packers aren't a business or even just a team, it is personal. The players and managment live here, eat at the local restaurants, go to the movies here. They visit hospitals and homeless shelters without the press. When Brett Favre went to the Vikings, people didn't say he made an unusual career move or a poor choice, but rather he betrayed them (personally and as a group). In local real estate parlance, houses don't have "dens" or "family rooms" in the basements, they have "Packer Party Rooms" and most of them are green and gold. Anyone over the age of 12 can tell you in detail about the Packers' 1998 Super Bowl win and the celebration and parade that followed.
I moved here in April 1998, just after the Super Bowl win. The energy in this city was incredible. In June, my Mom and nephew came to help me move into my house. We quickly noticed that where ever we went, Attilio was the only male not wearing a Packer shirt, sweatshirt, or hat, and we were in the minority of unPacker-accessoried women as well. Attilio finally allowed us to buy him a tee with a picture of the Tazmanian Devil wearing a Packer uniform because we were afraid there would be a scene like in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, where everyone would stop, turn, and point to us.
As the years have passed without another win, that energy has faded to a dull simmer. But now it is back in force. To help you understand, I have the following shots of the local paper, the Green Bay Press Gazette from Monday, January 24.
This is the first and last page of the main section:
That is BJ Raji, the 337lb Nose Tackle (who knew we had one of those!) who intercepted one of Chicago's passes and scored us a touchdown. According to the announcer, people who play his position maybe have 1 or 2 opportunities in their entire career to score a touchdown but that they all have a dance they practice just in case. Raji scored one in his second year of play in the Championship game. He was happy. So were the fans. He danced well.
This is the second first and last page of the paper:
Another page chosen at random (page 8 and 9):