I remember it was around this time a few years back, when my employer announced a “Team Spirit” Week. There were a few clothing-themed days, and one was to wear jerseys or apparel of your favorite sports teams. I walked in wearing a Green Bay Packers jersey, as that was the most common jersey in my closet. I noticed many of my coworkers were wearing Milwaukee Brewers jerseys or t-shirts. That wasn’t a surprise. It was baseball season, and the Brewers were doing pretty well at the time.
I had a team meeting early in the day and as I entered the conference room, one of my coworkers pipes up, “You know it’s baseball, not football season, right?” I politely laughed and responded “Yeah, I’m a Packer fan year-round though.” To which they responded, “well yeah, I like them too, but it’s the offseason, nothing’s happening.” I wanted to launch into a lecture about my excitement for OTA’s and how Training Camp is just around the corner. The players we drafted are playing with the old, it’s exciting! But I quickly realized, it’s not worth it. They obviously don’t share the same level of fandom as I do. For real Cheese-heads like me, there is no offseason.
Does it ever stop?
The clock runs out in the final game, the last touchdown shots are taken at the bar, and the gameday jerseys are hung up. This might mark the end of football season for some fans, but for others, it’s just the beginning of the next. There could be a short mourning period depending on how the season concluded, but once that’s over, we’re wearing our Green and Gold once again. The end of the season usually marks lots of sales at the Packers Pro Shop. So, for me, it’s time to take advantage of a lower price on what I maybe didn’t buy during the season! The “G” is always carried with us, no matter what day it is.
We love our team, and we can’t wait to see what it does next. Our minds immediately move to how we can improve or repeat the previous season’s performance. Analysts fill our brains with ideas. Sites like NFL Free Agency suddenly become our homepages just so we can stay up to date on who’s available. And we wonder if maybe, just maybe, there could be a big free agent signing this year.
Could the Packers make a signing that puts them over the top? Of course, the last two decades haven’t been all that exciting in reality with free agency for Packer fans. But we’ve had those big splashes like Charles Woodson to hang our hats on. Visions of the next Charles Woodson signing dance in our heads until early March gives us our Free Agent news.
Oh, this is my favorite part. To me, the draft is like a Packers Christmas. Well, I tend to get a lot of Packers-themed gifts for actual Christmas anyways. But this is like on-field gift Christmas! This is time to receive players that might become the new fan favorites! They could become the next Packers legends! And we don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to get them! Not many thought Aaron Rodgers would be under their draft tree in 2005, but we’re sure glad he was! I’d say at least over 90% of the best Packers over the last two decades were Draft gifts under our Packers tree. It’s the exciting time of the year to see what the future could bring us.
As we’re in the midst of OTA’s right now, everyone knows, they don’t necessarily matter. But to the bigger cheeseheads, they are exciting for sure. The guys are back in uniform. Well, most of them at least. The new players, mixing with the old. The new coaches showing what they demand. It’s the first glimpse of the new season. And you bet we’re eating up the hype to see what we’ve got.
The view of that first bike ride from Lambeau to Ray Nitschke field has fueled my soul for decades. The team is together getting ready for the season. Family night is probably just a few days away, and soon comes the Preseason. Best of all, we all get to watch our team go through drills scrimmages at only the cost of our own time. The games are just around the corner!
Some might consider this the start of the season. But then there are others that deny it and don’t even watch because it “doesn’t matter.” I’m sorry, but there’s no way you can consider yourself a real Cheesehead if you skip the Preseason. Your team is back on TV, playing games, you have to watch. My favorite part is wondering if any of the guys playing in the 3rd or 4th quarter, being considered “long shots” to make the roster, will surprise us. Few people might recall future legendary receiver Donald Driver wearing the number 13. Maybe it’s because they weren’t watching the Preseason games in 1999!
And all in-between
Outside of these monumental moments of the off-season, being a real cheese-head means never taking a day off. You’re always all about the Packers. No one can stop you. You will always have that connection to your team, and no day of the year will take that away. But make sure you rest that voice, because in a few months, it’s time to get loud again, Cheese-heads.
Greg Meinholz is a 24/7/365 Packers fan. When he’s not spending time with his family, he can be found meditating in his Packers shrine with a good beer. You can follow him on twitter at @gmeinholz.