The Unique Kindness of Packer Fandom

Jarrett Boykin welcomed himself to the fan base after his eight catches for 103 yards and a touchdown.

With the Green Bay Packers’ recent history with the Seattle Seahawks, one could easily imagine that it could have gotten tense at Lambeau Field last Sunday night, especially after the Packers gave up a first half lead and found themselves trailing in the 3rd quarter.  After all, Green Bay is known to have one of the most passionate fanbases in all of professional sports.  However, while there are always a few bad apples in every bunch, a story has been making the rounds showing just how special Packer fans are.

Seattle fan Kim Russell attended that game on Sunday night.  She travels to one Seahawks away game each season, and has remarked that the reception she gets at opposing stadiums is not always sunny.  However, she was blown away by the kindness that she experienced at Lambeau Field.

Russell stated, “I cannot even put into words how gracious, warm, accommodating and amazing the fans and people were before, during AND after their victorious win over the Seahawks.  We spent hours tailgating with so many Packers fans who opened their arms by offering food, talking about the field, about Wisconsin about how they wanted to beat Seattle very badly, but should the best team win.”

In my latest edition of The Best and the Wurst, I took a (small) shot at Packer fans for being generally lackadaisical at Lambeau.  That Packer fans are devoted, no one doubts, but they also are not known for being the loudest or the most eager to stand on a big 3rd down play.  All of that is true, but we see in this little story from a Seahawks’ fan the other side of that coin.

Maybe it’s the fact that Green Bay is the smallest market in professional sports, a Midwestern town with blue collar folks that live at a slower and simpler pace than other fanbases.  Maybe it’s the extent to which the team is ingrained as a constitutive part of the culture, part of the historical make-up of the city and the state.  This, of course, means that season tickets are held not overwhelmingly by young, rowdy men, but by families, grandmas and grandpas who have inherited their tickets and who will pass theirs on as well.

Maybe it’s the polka music, or the beer and brats.  Maybe it’s the fellowship fostered by tailgating for hours before each home game (and even some away games, as well).  Maybe it’s the fact that small family homes sit literally across the street from the stadium, making everything seem cozier and more necessarily family friendly.  Likely, it’s some combination of all of these factors.

Whatever it is, it’s special.  When this story started making the rounds on social media, it was confirmed by anecdotal stories from those who read it.  There are no statistics to prove any of this, but stories like this one are not heard rarely.  Everyone has one, and every time that story is told, it seems to square with most of our experiences at Packer games.

I’ve attended away Packer games in different parts of the country.  I’ve been treated fairly poorly before, but I’ve never seen those types of things happen at Lambeau.  This is part of the reason that the Packers are widely respected by even rival fanbases.  They might be able to make fun of Packer fans as “aw-shucks, don’t chya know” simpletons, but there’s a warmth and kindness that somehow fits with the storied history of the franchise.  Adorning themselves in cheese, Packer fans may not be the most sophisticated, but they’ll certainly never be considered as classless.

In that, I find a lot of beauty.  You will be hard pressed to find another group of people more passionate and devoted and serious about what is, at the end of the day, just a game.  And yet, amidst crying tears of joy or defeat and sadness into their Lenie’s or Spotted Cow, Packer fans as a whole do not turn bitter or mean-spirited.  They love their team and they show respect and love for their neighbors.  Even Vikings and Bears and Seahawks loving neighbors.  And that’s something worth lauding.

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Taylor O\'Neill is a Packer fan born and raised in Oshkosh, WI. He currently lives in Florida and is pursuing his PhD. Taylor is a writer with PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @TaylorONeill87 for more Packer news.

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3 thoughts on “The Unique Kindness of Packer Fandom

  1. Packer fans are the GREATEST fans in the NFL. I’m from near Phila.and all my friends are Eagles fans.I told them about the Eagles Packers game in 2007 opener where at Brett Favre’s steakhouse tailgate party they played the Eagles fight song for them and they couldn’t believe it.I’ve been a Packers fan for 50 years and my daughter and I come out for a game every year.Football fans from other teams have to be scared to wear their teams colors in Phila.They take great pride in that.I told them that’s why you’ll never win a Super Bowl here.What teams players want to play for a crowd who constantly BOO them off the field.GO PACK GO SUPER BOWL 50 will bring the Lombardi trophy to Titletown where it belongs. See you at the Chargers game.

  2. People from all over Wisconsin are kind, generous, and warmhearted, it’s part of what we relocated Wisconsinites miss most. However, the “Green Bay is the smallest market in professional sports, a Midwestern town with blue collar folks that live at a slower and simpler pace than other fanbases…”comment is laughable. First, the Packer fan base runs from coast-to-coast, border-to-border, and the most popular team beyond those boundaries up in Alaska is – you guessed it – the Packers!

    Please do not confuse being gracious, respectful, generous and kind with being “aw-shucks, don’t chya know” simpletons…”. Wisconsin is one of the most highly educated states in the country (at least so far, as the current governor seems hell ben on turning it into Mississippi). Living at a slower pace does not equate to thinking at a slower pace.

    I am not surprised by this story at all – sounds exactly like the Wisconsin I miss!

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