With the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl this weekend, the blog is all about football this week. It has to be this way:
I grew up in three different Wisconsin towns: Port Washington, Appleton, and Green Bay. My family moved from Appleton to Green Bay in 1985. We lived about a mile down the street from Lambeau Field. We didn't have season tickets, but we went to games here and there. When we did go to games, we just walked over to the stadium, no big deal. Looking back, being able to walk from your house to a game was pretty cool. I took it for granted back then, but I realize how special it was now.
Regardless of how bad the Packers were, the Bears game was always a big deal. A buddy of mine from Appleton was a huge Bears fan. His family had moved up from Chicago, so I didn't hold it against him. His dad got him a couple tickets for the game, and he came up to GB for the weekend. I remember walking up Lombardi Avenue to the stadium, talking about selling our tickets for the right price. We half-heartedly bargained with a few guys, but ultimately we decided to go in.
We were inside well before kickoff, so we went down to the front row to watch the players warm up, see if we could get some autographs. At the time, the only thing separating the field from the stands was a waist high fence. There were swinging gates that led onto the field, and the one nearest us was wide open. There was zero security, so we just walked right onto the field. We were on the Packers sideline for a bit, but my buddy really wanted to check out the Bears. We're talking the '85 Bears here, so yeah, I abandoned my team.
We wandered around the Bears sideline, checking out all the guys you'd expect: the Fridge, Singletary, and of course, Sweetness. The guy who stood out the most though was Jim McMahon. Watching McMahon walk up and down the sideline, randomly screaming at the top of his lungs, he seemed more like a mental patient let out for the day than a premiere quarterback.
We eventually took a seat on the Bears bench, and we just sat there, soaking it all in. Right before kickoff, someone from security finally busted us. The guy wasn't mad, he just sent us on our way. We went to our seats and watched the game.
The game itself was especially memorable. It's one of the most notorious games in the Bears/Packers bitter rivalry. It's the game where Ken Stills laid out Matt Suey. It's the game where Mark Lee and Walter Payton went crashing into the Bears bench. It's funny, Lee and Payton ended up pretty much where my buddy and I had been sitting. How great would it have been if we'd been run over by Walter Payton?
There is no way something like this could happen nowadays. Security is way too tight, even in little ol' Green Bay. If you did manage to get on the field, you would certainly be kicked out of the stadium if they caught you. I had fun that day, but I certainly didn't appreciate what a unique experience it was. I do now.