Green Bay Packers: The Biggest Media Misconceptions About the Packers
Dog wearing cheesehead and Brett Favre jersey.
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When you've been around as long as the Green Bay Packers, there's certain to be some misconceptions created over time.
Established in 1919, the Packers are one of the oldest teams in the NFL. They have a rich history that boasts 13 world championships, including four Super Bowls.
With success comes media attention, and naturally, a few ill-perceived notions take root.
Thanks to the assistance of a few followers/friends/acquaintances on Twitter, I've taken a look at a few common misunderstandings regarding the Packers.
Behind all of them, however, there's usually a hint of truth that's been twisted and blurs the line between fact and fiction.
Players Don't Want to Play in Green Bay
The snowy surface of Lambeau Field
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@BrianCarriveau The the players can't stand living in such a small community? I hate that one.— James Kust (@kustjt) June 29, 2012
There used to be a time when the Packers couldn't attract players to live in Green Bay, or at least that's what legend would have you believe.
The line of thinking was that players would rather live in a bigger city that offered more entertainment. The cold winter weather that inspired the "Frozen Tundra" moniker played into the idea, too.
While there's probably been a few players whose preference would be to avoid the small-town atmosphere, perhaps the bigger reason behind the aversion to Green Bay was the bleak years in the 1970s and 1980s.
The time period between the eras of Vince Lombardi and Mike Holmgren is one most Packers fans would like to forget. In the 20 combined years between those two decades, the Packers had only four seasons with a winning record, one of them being the strike-shortened 1982 season.
Ever since Holmgren was hired as head coach, there's been a winning attitude ever since.
Helping put to rest the notion that players didn't want to live in Green Bay was the signing of Reggie White, arguably the biggest free-agent signing in NFL history.
Since that time, the Packers have signed other big-name free agents such as Sean Jones, Santana Dotson, Charles Woodson and, most recently, Jeff Saturday.
Players have realized they have a good chance to win in Green Bay, which certainly helps in the recruitment of free agents.
The Packers have also done whatever is in their power to make living in Green Bay more attractive by paying players to stay there in the offseason to work out.
"We made it a priority to change the attitude about the program, negotiating offseason workout bonuses into all veteran contracts," said former Packers vice president Andrew Brandt in a 2010 interview.
Perhaps the biggest compliment came this past April when the head coach of the NHL's Winnipeg Jets, Claude Noel––who lives in the smallest market in professional hockey––had to address similar doubts about luring players to Winnipeg.
"Green Bay wins," Noel told the Ed Tait, of the Winnipeg Free Press. "What the hell's in Green Bay? You been to Green Bay? I mean, I've been to Green Bay. It's a nice town, but... Winnipeg's going to be a good place to play. I think players really like it and the response we get from our players is they love playing here. It won't be for everybody. So be it. Some guys might want to golf all year round. Go ahead.
"I learned a long time ago you don't sell your soul to get a player to come. You get him to come for the right reasons and you'll win."
Green Bay Is Your Typical Small-Market Franchise
Statue of Vince Lombardi in front of Lambeau Field.
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They are "small-town" and "folksy". Not anymore. RT @BrianCarriveau: "The Biggest Media Misconceptions about the Packers" What do you think?— The Packer Ranter (@PackerRanter) June 29, 2012
There's no doubt Green Bay is a small market. The Packers probably epitomize the term as the smallest market in all of American professional sports.
But they don't operate like a small-market franchise, even those just down the road like the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks.
The business practices of the Packers might border on cut-throat.
In 2003, the Packers unveiled a large-scale renovation to Lambeau Field, a project that may have saved the franchise.
Made possible in part due to the efforts of former Packers president Bob Harlan, the project needed to be funded by the public and was approved through a referendum.
There's no doubt the renovation has been hugely successful, but now, less than a decade later, the Packers aren't resting on their laurels.
While the NFL shares revenue equally among teams for things like the right to broadcast their games, teams get to keep local revenue such as ticket, merchandise and food sales.
A bigger and better Lambeau Field with more and better entertainment options will only increase that stream of income.
In order to keep up with the Joneses (specifically, Jerry Jones), the Packers have raised ticket prices for the third consecutive year in 2012 in addition to the recently completed stock sale that saw an increase of more than a quarter million new shareholders.
The Packers raised roughly $67 million through the stock sale alone, all of which will go to the new renovation underway at Lambeau Field.
They installed a new sound system and new high-definition scoreboards to be debuted in time for the 2012 season. And by 2013, they'll have approximately 6,500 new seats added to the south end-zone area of the stadium.
With tens of thousands of names on the season-ticket waiting list, there's no shortage of fans willing to share their money with the Packers. But it's clear the Packers aren't shy to ask for it either.
Packers Fans All Wear Cheeseheads
Fan wearing cheesehead.
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@BrianCarriveau How about we all wear Cheeseheads and Green Bay is a nothing town
— John (@jrehor) June 29, 2012
The cheesehead is an iconic symbol of Wisconsin sports and specifically the Green Bay Packers.
As the Dairy State, Wisconsinites are understandably proud of their milk and cheese heritage. But they also don't want to be defined by it.
Asked for elaboration about his above comment, Twitter-user John Rehor said, "Every time a camera shot shows a person in a cheesehead it makes a general statement about Packer fans. It's totally incorrect; it makes fans appear 'cheesy' in a degrading fashion."
It's not so much a dislike for the cheesehead itself, but rather the tendency for camera operators to single out the cheesehead in the crowd, perhaps giving the impression that fans of the Packers are a bunch of country bumpkins.
For many, the cheesehead is a source of pride and, in fact, has been hailed by a man for perhaps saving his life during a plane crash (h/t Chicago Tribune).
There have since been many other cheesy products made from hats to neckties to bikinis.
But not all Packers fans wear them. Just a minority that happens to attract the attention of a camera.
It's Not Just a Love-Hate Relationship with Brett Favre
Fan wearing Brett Favre jersey.
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It doesn't get any more high-profile than the very public divorce between Brett Favre and the Packers.
Perhaps in the summer of 2008 it may have appeared that the majority of fans sided with Favre, an NFL legend. Protests, letters to the editor and calls for Ted Thompson's head are enduring memories from that period in Green Bay history.
But the tide seems to have turned in Green Bay. The boos rained upon Favre in his return to Lambeau Field in a Vikings uniform can attest to that.
And the Packers Super Bowl victory during the 2010 season has lent legitimacy to the decision to make Aaron Rodgers the starting quarterback of the Packers instead of Favre.
But with that very same win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, some fans were able to bury the hatchet with their feelings towards Favre, such as Cousineau.
"In the days after the Packers beat the Steelers I came to the realization that I can exist as a Packers fan and as a Brett Favre fan," said Cousineau in an interview with Bleacher Report.
The playoff run following the 2010 season made me realize even more that no one player is bigger than an organization, especially an organization like the Green Bay Packers. I spent my life from the time I was 12 until I was 28 years old cheering for a Packers team lead by Brett Favre. I can't turn my back on that.
Favre will always be a divisive figure in the history of the Green Bay Packers, but time tends to heal all wounds.
There was a time when Curly Lambeau turned his back on the franchise he helped establish, but that's an event mostly forgotten.
While some fans may still harbor ill feelings toward Favre, they can at the same time, acknowledge the years of memories he gave them in a Packers uniform.
The "G" on the Helmet Stands for "Greatness"
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Minus the help of any Twitter followers, I'll add one entry on my own, more or less to poke fun at a celebrity.
There aren't many people that believe the "G" on the Packers helmet stands for "Greatness," but one famous person was duped into believing that's the case.
In a feature hosted by Yahoo! that originally aired during the week of the 2010 Super Bowl, former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber hosted a feature that asked several Packers players what the "G" stands for. The video is no longer hosted online.
Most assumed, of course, that the "G" stands for Green Bay, but Barber said it was for "Greatness."
In the aftermath of Barber's curious comments, both the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and MidwestSportsFans.com found that the source of Barber's misinformation may have come from an inaccurate Wikipedia entry.
MidwestSportsFans.com published a direct quote from the Packers' director of PR and corporate communications saying, "There’s nothing in our history that suggests there’s any truth to this. The Packers Hall of Fame archivist said the same thing.”
In the end, Barber ended up with a little egg on his face, and his affiliation with NBC has come to a close.
Brian Carriveau is a Green Bay Packers Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations in this article were obtained firsthand.