Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Giving Thanks Part II

The Packers have a fan base that is truly national—and exceedingly loyal. The Harris polling organization surveys football fans every year to determine which NFL team is the most popular. And every year, the Packers finish at or near the top of the list, no matter what the team’s won/loss record might be. At away games, it’s amazing to see how many Packer fans are in the stands. Sometimes the fans in green and gold occupy 20%, 30% or more of the seats. At one game I attended in Phoenix, the Packer fans nearly outnumbered those of the home team Cardinals. And the TV announcers said the same (rather dumb) thing they always do: “Look at all the people who came down here from Green Bay!” Sorry, Mr. Announcer, but the people came from no further away than Scottsdale. It was just a typical day in the life of America’s Team, and it is repeated at every away game, every year.

And so the Packer players have something to be perennially thankful for, whether they are having a good season or not: their truly amazing fans.

This widespread fan base also means that no matter what city you move to, you never have to feel alone. Just put on your Packer jersey and new buddies are just a sports bar away. It’s the ideal Alumni Association to belong to because, unlike college, you never actually have to study in order to graduate and become a member.

With the Packers, you get the opportunity to own a piece of your team, without having to be a member of The Billionaire’s Club. This is truly a blessing, because being a billionaire means you have to be arrogant, develop a rude, type-A personality and scream at your employees all the time. Simply put, having too much money is just too much stress, which is why I’ve worked hard at not becoming rich. It doesn’t seem worth it just to sit in a fancy luxury suite at the game and watch your $800 million investment get their doors blown off by a scrappy team owned by 110,000 people most of whom don’t even have country club memberships and who think foam rubber cheese is a fashion statement.

Being a Packer fan encourages you to maintain good health and set a goal of living a long, long time. This of course is because when you submit your application to be a season ticket holder, it will take around 50 years before your name appears at the top of the list. I think I better put in a good hour or two on the treadmill this afternoon. I wonder what the ticket prices will be in 2057?

We can also be thankful that we’ve had the opportunity to see some of our favorite players for ten years or more, special players to whom it meant a great deal to remain a Green Bay Packer. Players seem to come and go so quickly; we barely learn their number and they’re off to another team in free agency. But how about 15 years of being able to see Ray Nitschke play, 16 years of Bart Starr and 16 years (and counting!) of Brett Favre.

And one last thing I’m immensely grateful for as I think of all the seasons I’ve been a Green Bay Fan: anticipating the glorious games that are yet to be played, and the exhilaration we will all feel when the Packers win that 13th NFL Championship.

And then the 14th.

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