The Green Bay Packers have been part of the National Football League since 1921. That's almost 100 years. That also means there have been a number of generations of Packer fans that go way back. A tradition that is passed down through the years.
My grandfather witnessed the very first time the Chicago Bears came to Green Bay in 1923. The Packers then played at Bellevue Park. The Packers lost 3-0.
My dad and grandfather were also at the very first NFL Championship game ever played in Wisconsin, when the Packers hosted the New York Giants in 1939 at State Fair Park in West Allis. The Packers won 27-0.
That history has been passed down to me, and I have in turn passed it down to my son. There are a countless amount of other fans just like my family.
Then there are others who just came to love the Packers, no matter what part of the country and the world they are from. A lot of fans got on the bandwagon of the Packers in the 1960s, when Vince Lombardi led the team to five NFL Championships in seven years, including the first two Super Bowls.
The same thing happened in the Brett Favre-era, when the Packers always seemed to be a NFL title contender.
No team has won more championships than the Packers (13) in the history of the NFL. The team recently won their last title (Super Bowl XLV) behind quarterback Aaron Rodgers, which was also the fourth Super Bowl the team has won.
According to a story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the waiting list for season tickets is over 80,000 people. Packer season ticket holders come from every state in the nation, and also a number of foreign countries as well.
It's an amazing tale. Green Bay is the smallest city (just over 100,000) in the NFL, and it is also the smallest television market. But the tradition lives on, even after a number of situations when the team came close to folding, especially in the early years of the franchise.
The biggest event that helped the Packers to continue to exist in the NFL, was when the owners of the league, led by Commissioner Pete Rozelle, agreed for all teams to share television revenue in 1960.
Bottom line, there are a number of reasons that point to someone being a fan of the Packers, and I'm going to name five of them.
If you are a fan of the Packers, and you haven't been to Lambeau Field, it's a must that you go at some point. For that matter, if you are just a fan of the NFL, going to Lambeau Field should also be on your bucket list.
There is something about the place. The stadium was built in 1957, and it's the longest continuously occupied stadium in the NFL. It was originally named City Stadium, but was renamed Lambeau Field after the passing of Curly Lambeau (the team's first coach and one of the founders of the franchise) in 1965.
The stadium has held three NFL Championship games (1961, 1965 and 1967), and two NFC Championship games (1996 and 2007). The most memorable game ever played at Lambeau Field was the 1967 NFL title game, better known as the "Ice Bowl."
The Packers have made the trip to Lambeau Field a year-round experience now. The organization built an atrium in 2002 that now gives fans of the Packers many options to chose from. Fans can go to the team's Pro Shop for all the Packer gear and items that one could ever think of.
Or you can go to the Packers Hall of Fame (25,000 square feet), which one can see the history of the teams and players throughout the years. Fans get to see the rebuilt office of Vince Lombardi, lockers of all the Packer players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, all four Super Bowl trophies, countless films from the glorious past and all sorts of great memorabilia.
The atrium also houses five different eating options, including Curly's Pub.
But the best part of Lambeau Field is the game experience. Odds are the Packers will win too. In the 306 regular season games that have been played at the stadium, the team has a record of 194-108-4.
In the postseason, the Packers have a 14-4 record at Lambeau.
Bottom line, if you haven't been to Lambeau Field, go! Trust me, you won't regret it. In fact, it will be one of your most treasured memories, at least in terms of experiencing the NFL.
Every year, no matter how many times I come to Green Bay, whether for training camp or games, I always visit the Packers Hall of Fame.
It should be a must for all fans of the Packers, especially the younger fans who are just learning about the great tradition of the franchise.
According to the Packers 2012 media guide, the Hall welcomed over 156,000 visitors during the 2011-12 fiscal year.
There are several things to see. You can see the lockers of all the Packer players who are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You can also see a rebuilt replica office which is similar to the one Vince Lombardi had while he was in Green Bay.
There are all sorts of great memorabilia to see, including the four Super Bowl trophies and the plaques of all the people who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Give yourself at least an hour to walk through the various exhibits. Also make sure to bring your cameras and video devices.
The Packers Hall of Fame is open every day of the year, except Thanksgiving and Christmas.
You often hear the term "Cheesehead" when people mention fans of the Packers. Why is that? Well, the first appearance of a Cheesehead happened in 1987, thanks to a Packer fan named Ralph Bruno. That started a trend that has continued for over 25 years.
Just about every Packer fan I know has a Cheesehead, whether it's worn at a game, or it's in someone's office or some room in the house.
Cheese is also a big part of Wisconsin's lore, as the state is known as the dairy state. Wisconsin is the nation's top cheese producer, and there are now over 600 varieties of cheese available for the consumer.
Cheese is a favorite food item at tailgate parties before and after games at Lambeau.
People will take lots of photos at these parties, and one can surmise what they tell everyone before they take the picture.
As in, "Say cheese."
Packer fans love their bratwurst almost as much as they love their cheese. If you didn't know where Lambeau Field was on your first visit to Green Bay on game day, just follow your nose. The smell of bratwursts grilling in the parking lots would make any Beagle drool, not to mention some Packer fans.
I know I always have at least two brats every time I come to Lambeau Field. At least one outside the stadium, plus you have to have at least one on the inside. There is nothing like a stadium brat at Lambeau.
The love of bratwurst has made me a bit of bratwurst grilling connoisseur. Several years ago, WDAE (620) in Tampa had a bratwurst grilling contest which was hosted by Steve Duemig at a local bar and grill near Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
I was one of the contestants and I'm happy to say I won. I ended up winning a grill and a few other items, including some packages of brats. I used the keep-it-simple method in winning. I only put mustard and sauerkraut on the brat, while the other contestants doctored their brats with all sorts of stuff, including condiments like salsa.
The only other thing I ever put on a brat is perhaps stadium sauce. I also love cheese brats. To me, that's a very apropos combination.
Besides cheese and bratwursts, Wisconsin is also known for beer. Green Bay is no different. I'm sure some of you have heard what they say about Green Bay. You know, it's a drinking town with a football problem.
If you ever go to a tailgate party in the parking lots at Lambeau Field, or at an area near the stadium, you will see one of three things for sure. You will see a Cheesehead, you will see folks grilling brats and you will also see ample amounts of beer.
The parties go on for hours. Some folks don't even go see the game. They just want to be close to the game day experience. They bring a TV and keep the party going.
Because of the excessive partying at some events, it's wise to bring a designated driver.
Inside the the atrium at Lambeau Field, one can go to Curly's Pub, which has a wide assortment of beers, along with a number of great dining options.
Finally, during the game, one will hear the Beer Barrel Polka in the 4th quarter, and it's imperative that you learn the words of the song.
You don't want to stick out like a sore thumb.
Just in case you don't know the words, allow me to help you with the lyrics to the song...
There's a garden, what a garden
Only happy faces bloom there
And there's never any room there
For a worry or a gloom there
Oh there's music and there's dancing
And a lot of sweet romancing
When they play the polka
They all get in the swing
Every time they hear that oom-pa-pa
Everybody feels so tra-la-la
They want to throw their cares away
They all go lah-de-ah-de-ay
Then they hear a rumble on the floor, the floor
It's a big surprise they're waiting for
And all the couples form a ring
For miles around you'll hear them sing...
Roll out the barrel, we'll have a barrel of fun
Roll out the barrel, we've got the blues on the run
Zing boom tararrel, ring out a song of good cheer
Now's the time to roll the barrel, for the gang's all here
Da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da
Then they hear a rumble on the floor-or-or-or
It's a big surprise they're waiting for
And all the couples they form a ring
For miles around you'll hear them sing
Zing do da do ding do da-do-do-day
Roll it out, roll it out, roll out the barrel
Dump-dump-da da-da da-dat en da-da-da-da-da
Sing a song of good cheer
'Cause the whole gang is here
Roll it out, roll it out
Let's do the beer barrel polka