With the NFC Championship game coming up between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears tomorrow, I thought it would be helpful for any Bears fans watching the game to have a handy reference guide that will allow them to know, and love, the Packers fans that they may meet. As the Packers and Bears have a long history and storied rivalry, some may scoff at the notion that the ways of Packers fans are unknown to Bears fans. However, Packers fans are varied and knowing some of the personality types may be key to establishing a positive relationship between the two. Here are some key points to remember:
1) Packers fans may be Midwestern, and therefore modest, but that rule does not apply towards Packers games. If you have ever witnessed a game in person at Lambeau, you may have seen some form of chest nudity. I have been to one game at Lambeau, during a cool, rainy September day. While I was shivering in my rain gear, I noticed a row of middle-age men two rows down from me wearing nothing but a pair of jeans and spelling out "GO PACK" on their rather prolific paunches. The men were screaming, cheering and full on belly to belly hugging during the game (until the Buccaneers won, that is). Which brings us to the second observation.
2) If you are from Wisconsin, chances are high that you are either German, Polish or Norwegian (amongst other Germanic and/or Scandinavian descent). If you descend from these people, you will also know that we are not a "huggy" people, for the most part. The above mentioned men during the game I was at looked to be regular blue collar guys, who could work as your auto mechanic or your supervisor at the local factory. They did not appear to be "huggy."
However, the no-hugging rule seems to go out the window while watching Packer games. I have seen big, burly, grown men openly hug, sobbing, during the final moments of a Packer play off game. After the game, however, the no-hugging rule goes back into effect and there will be no discussion of the hug after it has occurred. If you don't believe me, try to take a picture of "the hug." You will see a Clay Matthews-style tackle coming at you just to get your camera. Imagine a fat, furry, man with his chest fur glistening in the sunlight coming at you with the intensity of Clay Matthews going after Jay Cutler, and you will see the picture clearly in your mind.
3) If you have ever been tailgating with a Packer fan, you are also aware that we are connoisseurs of fine beverages and fine food. My husband, Manpig (not his real name, but he does respond to it), loves to cook and usually makes some pretty intricate delicacies when not in football mode. When Packer fans are in football mode, the State of Wisconsin's bratwurst and sauerkraut companies dance with glee in the streets. We eat brats. We consume sauerkraut. And wash it down with our favorite beer. Which brings us to the fourth observation.
4) We like beer. As I have known Packer fans my whole life, it has been duly noted that while the beer consumed may vary, there is still beer consumed. I fear that when the Packer Nation descends on Soldier Field, the beer vendors will be overtaken with the sheer lust for beer that the Packer Nation has. We love the Packers and we love beer, no matter the consequence.
This became evident during this season. Aaron Rodgers was taking a victory tour of Lambeau Field when a fan, waiting to touch Aaron Rodgers, took a nose dive out onto the field directly in front of a running Aaron Rodgers. I did not witness this on television, but found the clip on the Internet. Aaron Rodgers went around the fan, stopped, and then kept on going. Why, you may ask, was this not noted on some telecast? Was the guy hurt, or did he bounce from all the alcohol he had consumed?
The reason, I determined after speaking to my cousin Lori, was that this may be a normal occurrence at Lambeau Field. While you are there, you are to consume alcohol, if you are able to. If you fall out of the stands, ONTO LAMBEAU FIELD, IN FRONT OF AARON RODGERS, so be it. You have just been almost hurdled by the one of the greatest quarterbacks that played for the Packers. You have now become the coolest guy at work on Monday morning, provided your concussion heals before then. Milwaukee may have made beer famous, but Green Bay made sure it was plentiful to the Packer fans. Soldier Field, you have been warned.
5) Finally, it should be noted that not all Packer fans are from Wisconsin. While Wisconsin is not a state known for its diversity, it should be recognized that Wisconsin allows other football team's fans to reside in it's borders. While this has not been willingly, it has been allowed.
Why, I have some of my own family that fail to admit that they enjoy the Packers and state they are Vikings fans (this is what sometimes happens on the western side of the state, unfortunately). People who leave the State of Wisconsin have been known to venture home for games when tickets are available. Even people who have never lived in Wisconsin have been known to make a pilgrimage to Green Bay just because they enjoy watching the Packers.
It is truly a tremendous occasion to see a person in their Packer finest open their mouth to order a beer and out slips a Southern accent. "Y'all want a brat?" I have also witnessed this. I have some of my own family that loves the Packers, although they reside in Florida. The Packer fans are a welcoming bunch, unless you talk smack about the Pack. Then, it's game on, my friend.
While these observations are not all-encompassing, it is important to note that Packer fans are some of the most devoted fans that you can find in all of sports. We live in a state where winter can be very brutal, as it is also known to be in Illinois. However, we are also known as the fans that hand season tickets down to our children and grandchildren. If given a choice of attending my wedding, or being allowed to grace the hallowed ground of Lambeau if a ticket could be purchased, my own mother would have chosen the Packer tickets. She wouldn't have had to wear a dress at the Packer game and she would've seen the greatest franchise in the world in person. And, she could have seen pictures of the wedding... And yes, gentle reader, I had to schedule my own gift opening for my wedding around the Packer game and bow hunting season.
Bear fans, please welcome the Packer Nation with open arms. And remember: no hugging.