Wrigley Field, the old Yankee Stadium, even Daytona International Speedway and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway all have something in common with Lambeau Field: The aura of history.
It was in December of last year when I first got to witness the mystique of Lambeau Field during a football game. Before this I had seen the stadium up close, having been to Green Bay in 2007 during the Wisconsin State Volleyball Championships next door at the Resch Center, and in 2009 during the NFL Draft I was with friends in the Lambeau Field Atrium as the picks of B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews were announced. In December however, I got to witness my first game at Lambeau Field as we took on the Raiders. Usually December in Wisconsin would lead to bitter cold weather, and probably about a foot of snow either the day of the game or just in general. That was the opposite case as no snow happened and it was a warm 45 degrees at kickoff. The game officially started when longtime Packers favorite Donald Driver being announced to the crowd to a rousing standing ovation and the crowd, at its full sellout capacity.
The game was a dominant one for the Packers, who were perfect at this point of the season, en route to a 14-0 start. The Raiders had always been in trouble playing in Lambeau in late fall and winter due to the cold weather and this game was no different. It began with Carson Palmer throwing an interception to reserve linebacker D.J. Smith and it set the tone for the Packers day. With Ryan Grant breaking through for a 47-yard touchdown, the Packers were not about to lose. The touchdown of the day however may have been a rainbow throw from Aaron Rodgers, soon to be the league’s MVP, to Jordy Nelson for a 45-yard touchdown and Oakland fell behind at one point 31-7. The crowd was one of the reasons to get excited going to this game, with it cheering louder and louder with every big play in the game. At halftime, the crowd roared its approval of the Packers dominance, with another win in certainty. By the end of the game it was 46-14, Green Bay routed the Raiders.
Fast forward to last night, August 16 against the Cleveland Browns in pre-season action. I wanted to go back to Lambeau and it was a first for my parents and brother. I also brought my friend who hadn’t gone in eight years, so it was like a welcome back atmosphere for my friend and I. As kickoff got closer, the crowd filed in. ESPN jokingly talks about the Packers fan base and how energetic and loyal we are, and in ways they tell the truth, because we are the most loyal fan base in football. We have to renovate our stadium and sell stock in the team to keep pleasing the fans and invite more to Lambeau Field. Right now on deck for renovations are 7,000 seats and new scoreboards which look great. When kickoff began, the crowd was a sellout once again, for a pre-season game. While the Packers lost 35-10, the crowd was full of energy and always stayed into the game. At one point they did the wave seven times around the stadium with full support.
Only in Green Bay and at Lambeau Field does any of this still happen. John Madden once said the crowd reminded him of the “Ghost of Greatness” meaning the times of Curly Lambeau, Lombardi, and Holmgren. With the McCarthy times, a Super Bowl 45 title, the league’s Most Valuable Player, and a team always expected to be a contender, the Ghost of Greatness is not only existent in past times, but also on the present times. Lambeau Field may always be changing but is the same with the fan base and in its history.