J.J. Watt and Max Scharping relish their time back in their home state
BY LILY ZHAO
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) — Red and Blue nation invaded the land of Green and Gold.
“I think it’s another stressful environment where you can see how your own players react, and then obviously from an evaluation standpoint, seeing another team’s players up close for a couple days is really helpful,” Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said.
For the first time in a long time, all eyes weren’t glued to the Packers. Instead, they were focused on one Wisconsin fan favorite, J.J. Watt.
“I literally dreamt about this as a kid,” Watt said “To be able to practice on these fields that I watched Brett Favre practice on, not going to be too many days like this in my career, so I’m very thankful and grateful that I got to have it.”
Being able to participate in the iconic Packers tradition of riding a bike to practice was the cherry on top of an eventful day.
“It was pretty awesome until I broke the bike,” Watt joked. “The bike that I was using was not equipped for a 290-pound man and the seat broke off. We have purchased a new bike for the boy. I mean it’s cool. It’s one of the coolest traditions you know.”
Green Bay native Max Scharping may have chosen a smaller bike, but the Green Bay Southwest graduate also relished his time back home.
“‘m happy to be back home,” Scharping said. “Love the weather and great opportunity to play against a great team.”
The Scharping clan, led by Max’s father Paul, made sure this was a practice they couldn’t miss.
“Who would’ve ever thought that when he was that age, starting to play football and stuff like that, that he’d end up in the NFL number one and his first professional game being at Lambeau Field,” his father said. “It’s surreal.”
This moment was also surreal for Watt, who used to watch practice through the fences as a little boy.
“I don’t think I’ve fully wrapped my head around what it means and how special it really is to be playing on a practice field where guys like Brett Favre and Reggie White have played,” Watt said. “I would encourage every kid out there to chase their dreams. When you get the chance to accomplish the dreams you had as a child, it’s one of the coolest things in the world.”
Wisconsinites head to Lambeau to see a local Texan
BY KRIS SCHULLER
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) — Green Bay Packers training camp took on a whole new flavor Monday as the Houston Texans came to town to hold joint practices this week. Local 5 found out many fans flocked to the practice field just to get a glimpse of Wisconsin’s own, J.J. Watt.
At Packers practice, a lot of green and gold and a whole bunch of blue and red. As the Packers and Texans hold joint practices, ahead of their preseason game at Lambeau Field Thursday night. And in the middle of it all former Badgers’ star J.J. Watt, a Wisconsin kid now turned NFL superstar.
“It was good to see him coming out onto the field and the crowd just roared. I just loved to hear it,” said fan Robert Sage.
“I’ve always been a big fan of J.J. since college and when he declared for NFL draft I said I’d root for him and follow him wherever he went,” said Brad Kolpack who drove in from Bowler.
Mandi Adams drove up from Caledonia hoping to catch a glimpse of Watt, known for his fierce play on the field and kind heart in the community.
“It’s great to have someone who is such a good example for your kids to look after, from being little to growing up,” Adams said.
Watt raised $37 million for the victims of flooding in Houston and recently gave $10,000 to the family of firefighter Mitch Lundgaard – gunned down in Appleton while on duty.
“He has a lot of really great qualities that I think parents want their kids to see on a daily basis,” Adams said.
His kindness respected by fans across the NFL.
“No one really matches what he does and I think a lot of people do it for publicity and he does it from the kindness of his heart,” said one young fan.
And now Watt prepares to take on the team he use to watch as a kid, here in training camp.
“He’s just as excited to be here as we are. I think it’s pretty awesome,” said another fan.
Now a three-time defensive player of the year pays a visit back home.
“Just a class act, all around just a great guy,” said Kolpack.
Texans welcomed in Green Bay fashion with bike ride to field
BY CALVIN LEWIS
It’s a tradition unlike any other in the NFL, exclusive to one franchise.
But for two days only, the Houston Texans will get to experience that special bike ride down to practice, selecting one lucky fan’s bike and being welcomed in true Green Bay fashion.
“We just came to see the Texans practice with the Packers and then we’re also going to the game on Thursday,” said Daenen Kehoe, Deshaun Watson/Texans Fan. “Deshaun Watson rode my bike and signed my card. I watched him play for Clemson and win the championship and he got drafted to Houston so I like Houston now.”
The Texans are visiting for a series of joint practices with the Green and Gold. It’s the first time since 2005 the Pack are hosting another team for practice during training camp.
“I’ve been out here for the past two weeks trying to get autographs, meet players, Instagram follows- which has worked pretty well so far,” said Easton Butler, Green Bay Packer Fan. “I came up for the Texans to try and get my dad’s jersey signed.”
The fan favorite among both teams is clearly Wisconsin native J.J. Watt. But there will be another Wisconsinite suiting up against his hometown team- offensive tackle Max Sharping. The second round draft pick out of Northern Illinois will be making his Texan debut on some pretty familiar soil- something his family could not miss.
“It was pretty awesome once he got drafted and we figured out his first professional game was going to be at Lambeau Field,” said Paul Sharping, Max’s father. “How awesome is that? A local kid.”
You ask any of these fans and they’ll tell you they’re ready for some football, but each have got their eye on one special moment. The Packers will host the Texans for another day of practices tomorrow