Green Bay’s team name, the Packers, refers to the team’s very first sponsor, the Indian Packing Co. In the early days of pro football, that company supplied the founders with $500 for uniforms and equipment. However, the Packers should also be synonymous with bona fide football pioneers.
The Packers first hit the field back in 1919, thus making them one of the three oldest teams in the entire league. With age comes a bit of experience in big-time games, and the Packers have delivered with an impressive 13 league championships.
But what really sets the Packers apart as unique is their ownership. Whereas most teams are owned by a small group or individual, the Packers are the country’s only community-owned team. That means some 360,863 fans count themselves as shareholders. But whether they own shares in the team or not, there’s no denying the relationship between the Packers and their fans.
Plenty of football teams sell their own jerseys, but do they have a world-famous hat? Many Packers fans rep their team by donning the Cheesehead hat, a large, squishy block of foam shaped like a cheese wedge that’s become the go-to headgear for Packers fans. The hat itself came about in 1985, when the Chicago Bears’ faithful began mocking Green Bay with calls of “Cheesehead!” One lucky inventor got the idea for the hat, and the rest is history. The hat’s so famous that even Chicago had to jump on the hat bandwagon: In 2013, several Bears backers began wearing cheese grater hats to further the decades-long rivalry between the teams.
Extra cheesy fans
Some Packers fans gauge their commitment by the size of their Cheesehead or the number of team shares they own. For the more famous Packers fans, there are just as many ways to fly the Green and Gold flag:
• Harry Styles: The One Direction member has a Packers tattoo, proving even the English love football. Not soccer-football.
• Li l Wayne: He might hail from New Orleans, but Wayne’s fandom is so intense he released “Green and Gold,” a parody of Wiz Khalifa’s anthem for the Pittsburgh Steelers titled “Black and Yellow.”
• Ellen DeGeneres: The talk show host once bet Oprah that if the Packers beat the Bears, she’d get her very own TV network. There is still time for that dream down the line.
Other famous fans include Ryan Reynolds, rocker Joan Jett, actor James Van Der Beek, comedian Denis Leary, and actor Tony Shalhoub.
Doing the Lambeau Leap
While it was initially called City stadium, Lambeau Field has been the Packers’ home since 1957, making it the longest continuously occupied NFL stadium. And while some teams have invested in new digs, the Packers maintained the field with periodic renovations, most recently the addition of 7,000 seats in 2013, eventually bringing Lambeau Field’s capacity to 81,435. In terms of size, that makes Lambeau Field Wisconsin’s biggest venue and the second largest in the entire league. More room for Packers fans!
If there is anything about Lambeau that hasn’t changed, it’s the many traditions born over the last 59-plus years, including:
• The Lambeau Leap: It’s customary for a Packers player, upon scoring a touchdown, to leap into the end zone stands.
• House of Pain’s “Jump Around”: No Packers gameday is complete without the right soundtrack.
• inShareholders meetings: With so many thousands of shareholders, Lambeau Field holds the annual meeting. Beats a plain office any day.
A slice of technology
Don’t let the team’s age or commitment to tradition fool you; the Packers are as tech savvy as it comes. The team relies heavily on the interconnectedness afforded by tablets and streaming video to help the team run effectively. Case in point: in summer 2016, several of the team’s draft picks were still enrolled in colleges outside Wisconsin. So, with the power of technology, the players were able to attend meetings, have one-on-ones with coaches, and follow Packers’ practices.
Fans at Lambeau Field can also take advantage of the Packers’ commitment to technology by utilizing the stadium’s free, recently enhanced Wi-Fi service, on gamedays and every day.
That passion for technology extends to the fans, too, and the Packers have created one solid app on iOS and Android for Cheeseheads everywhere. With the Packers app, people can:
• Follow Packers’ official Facebook and Twitter accounts.
• Track their fantasy football draft.
• Watch old game clips and press conferences.
• Analyze players’ stats.
• Follow box scores.
They might rock silly hats, or have a penchant for early 90s rap. But there’s no denying the dedication of Packers fans, and the gusto with which they cheer on the team. It’s like a true family, one you can only truly be a part of when you check out a Packers game on your own.