Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Packer Pilgrimage Day 4

There wasn’t supposed to be a day 4.  But a canceled flight from Green Bay to Chicago resulted in our pilgrimage lasting one more day than we’d planned – even if we’d run out of clean underwear.  The steady football diet continued through the remainder of the weekend, both on the television and in the street in our Packers jerseys.

The Sunday night game was a great one for any Packer fan.  If you’re feeling discouraged by our narrow victory over the Lions, just imagine being a Bears fan.  One week, your team is 3-0 having just beaten the Packers on Monday night for the lead in the NFC North.  The next week, the Bears give up 10 sacks, log 110 total yards of offense, and lose their starting quarterback to a concussion in a display of offensive ineptitude on par with the 1989 Northwestern Wildcats.  As awful as Cutler can be at times, he’s their only chance to win.  Good luck with back-up Todd Collins executing the Mike Martz offense.  The guy can’t execute a 10-yard out route.  If Cutler misses extensive playing time, the Bears will drop to the bottom of the NFC North faster than the temperature in the Windy City.

Lunch today was at Cheyenne Sports Bar & Grill in downtown Appleton.  More cheese curds, more burgers, more fries, followed by a visit to Baskin-Robbins.  I need an angioplasty.  I’d like to think that if I lived here, I could exercise more restraint than I have in the last 72 hours.

Speaking of a lack of restraint, our excessive purchases of Packer merchandise can only be described as a “binge.”  Maybe a “bender.”  Actually, maybe a “problem” is the best description.  I’m going to enroll myself and my kids in a 12-step recovery program for NFL apparel addicts before my wife stages an intervention.  I looked on the NFL.com site, and signs you may have a problem include: multiple visits to NFL team pro shop in a 24-hour period (we went three times), cannot leave store without a three-digit purchase (which we did each time), buying multiple versions of items you didn’t need in the first place (2X for each boy), and being on a first-name basis with the sales clerks (hey, Sandy and Pat!).

Here’s a partial accounting of what we bought:
An Aaron Rodgers home game jersey
A Jermichael Finley home game jersey
A Charles Woodson home game jersey
A Packers sideline fleece
2 sets of mini pennants for all 32 teams
2 sets of mini helmets for all 32 teams
A 12-pack of mini Packer helmets
2 sets of Packers Fat Head player posters
A Clay Matthews pennant
2 Packers lunch boxes (which came with the kids’ meals at Curly’s)
Packers receivers’ gloves
An Acme Packers blue ball cap
A green Packers knit ski hat
A Packers flat-brimmed players’ cap
A Packers sideline cap with pink trim to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month
A bag of M&Ms in green, yellow and white with Packer logos on them
And a Packers Gameday Program

In addition to the purchased items, we received several other free items upon entry, including Packers temporary tattoos (thank God they weren't offering real tattoos or I really would have had some explaining to do!), pink Packers player cards, pink Packer rally towels and a green bead necklace with a blinking Captain Morgan’s medalion.  It was ridiculous.  Total indulgence.  I was contemplating a Packers BBQ cover during our third visit when I finally came to my senses.  Visa put my card on a fraud hold, convinced someone was reselling merchandise in the parking lot.  Team president Mark Murphy came by our seats at halftime and thanked us for visiting Lambeau.

We packed up all that Packer gear in an extra large bag from the Pro Shop and made our way to the airport (Outagamie this time).  Swearing we didn’t have a problem, Packer merchandise lured us once more into the gift shop at the airport resulting in the purchase of a Packers matchbox car, more playing cards, and a bag of real Wisconsin cheese curds, which the clerk was kind enough to inform us were so fresh they “still squeaked.”  Good thing I grew up here or I wouldn’t know what the hell she was talking about.  I’d hate to have those defective non-squeaky curds.  It won’t matter once I deep fry these suckers.  Nothing squeaks after 3 minutes submerged in boiling oil.

Packer Road Warriors
On our flight home, through Denver this time, several fellow passengers remarked on the boys’ Packer jerseys, hats and lunch boxes, asking if they’d gone to the game.  This sort of innocent question was typically met with a detailed account of the game, including an analysis of various players’ performances.  My 4-year old was explaining how “Charles Woodson’s pick six was really the turning point in the game” to a grandmotherly lady from Montana on our Appleton-Denver leg, while my 7-year old son broke down the deficiencies in A.J. Hawk’s Cover-2 technique with a middle-aged man from Hortonville and how having Brandon Chillar out for the game really hurt us on the underneath routes to Pettigrew.  It went on like this for most of the trip.  I could see the “holy crap” look in peoples’ faces after about their 10th minute of play-by-play analysis, which they indulged and feigned interest with “uh huhs” and “I sees” and “my, you sure know a lot about the Packers.”  I think I need to start diversifying their interests after this weekend.

It was a fantastic trip, and I managed to get everything home without losing any Packer items… or either of the boys.  Might have to make this the first inaugural annual Packer Pilgrimage.

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