Thursday, June 13, 2013

Guide to Winning Summer: See the Packers

The following is the fourth installment in the "Badger Catholic's Totally Excellent Guide to Winning Summer."
Knock it and lock it; it's time for football.

Say what? See the Packers? That's fall, Steve, not summer.

It's true that football season doesn't begin until the weekend after Labor Day, but that doesn't mean the Green and Gold can't be part of your summer plans. As hard as it might be to believe given the absolutely terrible weather we've had this year, training camp begins in a month.

I thoroughly enjoy Packers training camp. There's that unbridled optimism that comes with a fresh slate, few injuries and new faces. Plus, it's also the best time to look through the schedule, assume with certainty that the Packers play up to their potential all season long and recklessly speculate that they're about to go 15-1 or "at worst 14-2." It's fun and easy. Let's give it a try:
1    Sun, Sep 8    at San Francisco That "read option" crap is a fad. Packers 35-3.
2    Sun, Sep 15    Washington    No RGIII; Packers roll 59-0.
3    Sun, Sep 22    at Cincinnati  This could be a tough game on the road against Andy Dalton and AJ Green. Packers win a shootout 28-24.
5    Sun, Oct 6    Detroit  Those dirtbags haven't won in Green Bay since the 1700s. Packers 31-6.
6    Sun, Oct 13    at Baltimore After starting out 5-0, the Packers might struggle on the road against the Super Bowl Champs. Ravens 24-23.
7    Sun, Oct 20    Cleveland LOLWut? Packers 45-0. Matthews will have 8 sacks. By halftime.   
8    Sun, Oct 27    at Minnesota These teams know each other so well that the game could go either way. Minnesota gets lucky and wins 27-24 in overtime.
9    Mon, Nov 4    Chicago Cutler will openly weep on the sidelines. Packers 28-7 (only because the Bears score a meaningless touchdown late in the game).  
10    Sun, Nov 10    Philadelphia    Philly won't be competitive with a new head coach. Packers 28-21.
11    Sun, Nov 17    at NY Giants    The Packers are due for a win against New York--20-17 in overtime.
12    Sun, Nov 24    Minnesota    The Vikings got lucky last time. Packers get revenge to the tune of a 49-0 beatdown.
13    Thu, Nov 28    at Detroit    Detroit will have another late-season meltdown. Packers win on the national stage 31-13.
14    Sun, Dec 8    Atlanta   Remember the 2010 playoffs? It will be JUST. LIKE. THAT. 48-21.
15    Sun, Dec 15    at Dallas    Just like their last game in Dallas (SUPER BOWL XLV, BABY!), the Packers will defend the Lombardi Legacy! 38-20.
17    Sun, Dec 29    at Chicago    PACKERS RUUUUUUUUULE: 63-0.
There we go: 14-2. If your preseason analysis doesn't look something like that, you're doing it wrong.

OK, so let's consider how to go about getting your fix of the Green and Gold this summer.
Living it Up
If you want to spend some money, one of the best ways to do so is to grab tickets to a preseason game. Right now they're running in the $30-40 range, but I have to believe that price is going to come down--especially if you can wait until the last minute. Season ticket holders are eager to recoup as much of their sunken investment into these "meaningless games" as possible. (Quick side tangent here: is any phrase in sports sillier than meaningless games? It's not like the Super Bowl has any grand existential significance. Just sayin'...)

Don't be deceived by the cuteness or the jersey; my bride is actually a Bears fan.

If you really want to go bonkers, see if you can score seats in a luxury box. Back in 2010, a local apostolate was raffling off some box seats and--if memory serves me correct--the winners didn't want their tickets; they just entered the raffle to support the apostolate. Somehow or another, the tickets made their way to me, and OH MY.

We got to the stadium and the box was filled with food: brats, Mexican food, cold ones, fresh fruit, meats and cheeses. The owner of the box said, "Help yourselves. If there's something you want that you don't see, just let me know."

Not only was every food I wanted there; every food I could conceive of was there. The best part was after halftime when a dessert cart came through filled with every sort of delectable treat imaginable. It was so big that it didn't fit into the box. We had to go out in the hall to choose.

There was a time in my life when I would have scoffed at the idea of a game up in the box. "Real fans sit out in the bleachers!" I would have said.

That part of my life has clearly passed.

For the Budget Conscious

Unless you get extremely lucky as I did, the box is probably not going to happen. But Packers football is one of the most affordable summer activities you can indulge in. If nothing else, just head to practice, which is open to the public during training camp. Your kids can also hawk for autographs after the session is done. It's definitely a spectacle. My dad was working in Green Bay one summer back in the 90s and complained that "The Packer coaches walk out into the streets like they own them!" It turns out he almost hit Andy Reid with his truck back when Reid was an assistant.

I'd recommend Packers Family Fun Night--especially if you've got kids. This year's event will be held Saturday, August 3. Tickets go for $10 and go on sale a week from Monday.

Family Fun Night 2012: Seriously, if you're asked to take a picture for a family, how do you let this happen?

 Now in terms of what you're going to view on the field, don't expect much. It's basically a glorified practice. What you're going for is the Game Day atmosphere. Since we go to a lot of Brewer games and have started to take in the occasional Bucks game, my son asked when we could go to a Packer game together. Since the answer is probably "never," I figured we could get him the experience by going to the Family Fun Night. The experience definitely delivered, and the post-game fireworks are fun as well.

Go Pack.

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