GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – If you arrived at the crack of dawn, you’d still find yourself behind quite a few fans that stood outside of Ray Nitschke Field Wednesday for day 1 of Packers training camp.
The buzz and energy surrounding the Packers reached peak tension up to the very last day before the first practice of 2021. That tension was eased when the team’s QB1 for the last 13 seasons, Aaron Rodgers, walked through the doors of the facility ready to commit for at least one more season.
You could argue that the question of who’s in the bleachers was more important than who was on the field. After COVID-19 stripped fans of being around their favorite team and players for a whole season, 2021 brings back those fans who love their green and gold.
Some fans came as early as 3 a.m. to be the first ones to sit in the practice bleachers. Some traveled from as close as the Holiday Inn across the way and as far as California to watch their Green Bay Packers in person.
Superfan Bobby Anderson, who moved to Green Bay from Savannah, Georgia to be closer to his favorite team says this year is his time to shine.
“I moved out here in 2019 and built up my image,” Anderson said. “I wanted to go even harder last year, but obviously with COVID we couldn’t go as fans. This year, I’m going to turn up even harder than I did in 2019.”
The ceremonial ribbon cutting outside of Lambeau had fans surrounding behind bike racks as Packers president Mark Murphy and others addressed the fans. Younger fans reminisced about the years past when even more fans would wait outside Lambeau to give their bikes to players as they rode them to practice.
“Kevin King got me a PS5, I’ve played videogames at his house before. He was a cool rider,” 15-year-old Packers fan Andrew Jensen said. “This year, it’s fun to be back but it’s still not the same.”
This time around only 20 players rode bikes. They were brand new Schwinn bikes and none of them belonged to any fans.
Even if it may not feel the same as before, the energy in the air and surrounding Nitschke Field felt fresh. Green Bay is a city that certainly loves its football and you can tell the fans missed the players dearly.
Daily practices, meetings, cuts, injuries, touchdowns, tackles and sacks are all a given at training camp. But after missing out on getting the chance to support their favorite team in person, the fans learned that their chance to support their favorite team is not to be taken for granted.
Aaron Rodgers is back. Fans are back. Packers football is back. Titletown is ready to add to the trophy case.