More of a Green Bay Packer fan than a football fan, Sara, my 11-year-old daughter was very excited about the prospect of attending her first Packer game at Lambeau Field. Given tickets by her grandmother — a season ticket holder for some 40 years — to the NY Giants game, scheduled the day after Christmas, Sara and I packed warm clothes for our holiday visit.
A 3:15 kick-off gave us plenty of time to soak in the pre-game atmosphere as fans dressed in Packer Green and Deer Hunter orange prepared by tailgating in parking lots around the stadium. The home team did not disappoint as Aaron Rodgers’ return spelled doom for the Giants as he threw for 400+ yards and 4 touchdowns. It would be hard to imagine a better venue for experiencing a football game.
Throughout the event, Sara had lots of questions about the Packers, the stadium and the game. As a result of our conversations, I’ve compiled this list of “Top Ten Things a Green Bay Packer Fan Should Know.”
Here’s What Packer Fans Need to Know
1. Fans own the Green Bay Packers. The team is the only non-profit, community-owned franchise in American professional sports major leagues. Where most professional teams are owned by an individual, a partnership or a corporate entity, the Packers are owned by the community.
Steve Tate, one of many Green Bay Packers’ owners proudly displays his title
2. The “Lambeau Leap.” When Packer players jump into end zone stands to celebrate a touchdown, it’s known as the “Lambeau Leap.” Invented by LeRoy Butler, a defensive safety for the team, Butler jumped into the crowd after scoring a TD on a Reggie White fumble recovery and lateral.
3. The bicycle tradition. In a long-time Packers tradition dating back to Vince Lombardi’s reign, Packer players frequently ride to the practice field from Lambeau Field on the bicycles of young Packers fans. Read more about the bicycle tradition.
4. Retired numbers. Of all the Packer greats, only 5 players’ numbers have been retired: Don Hutson, Tony Canedeo, Bart Starr, Ray Nitschke and Reggie White. All 5 players are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
5. The Ice Bowl. In the coldest NFL game ever played, Bart Starr scored a TD on a quarterback sneak behind the block of Jerry Kramer as the Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys in the 1967 NFL Championship game. The score came with just 16 seconds left in the game. The Packers went on the beat the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl II. Vince Lombardi stepped down as head coach after this game. A highlight film from the game referred to “the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field” and “frozen tundra” as become synonymous with the field.
6. Kroll’s. With one location conveniently located across from Lambeau, Kroll’s is a Packer tradition for many fans.Kroll’s menu includes cheese curds, butter burgers and Wisconsin chili (served with noodles) and a decor suggestive of the 1950s. Kroll’s is a must visit for you if you’re attending a Packer game for the first time. Don’t expect anything too fancy as it seems like 90% of the orders are delivered to your table in wax paper, not plates. Packer memorabilia including photos of past coaches and autographs line the walls.
7. Vince Lombardi. The coach of the Packers in the 1960s, Lombardi’s record in post season play was 9 & 1. He led the team to 3 consecutive NFL championships. Lombardi said, “Think of only three things: your God, your family and the Green Bay Packers-in that order.” His success and leadership style earned him fans across the world.
8. Titletown, USA. At the 1961 NFL Championship Game, Packer fans hung up signs around the stadium that read Welcome to Titletown USA. When the Packers beat the Giants in that game by a score of 37 – 0, the nickname caught on. Lambeau Field has been home to six NFL world championship seasons.
9. Curly Lambeau. Earl Louis “Curly” Lambeau was founder, player and first coach of the Green Bay Packers. He coached the team to 6 NFL championships and Lambeau Field is named in his honor. A 14 foot statue of Lambeau greets visitors to the stadium. He’s credited with pioneering the forward pass and daily practices in professional football.
10. Packer fan loyalty. With a population of only about 100,000 people, Green Bay is the smallest city to have an NFL team. Despite its small population, every Packer game since 1960 has been a sell-out. Packer fans, sometimes referred to as “Cheeseheads” due to the state’s cheese production, are famous for their loyalty.