Fans can get up close, personal with Packers
By Greg Seubert
GREEN BAY – It’s not easy being a Green Bay Packers fan while living in the Twin Cities.
Just ask Phil Velsor.
“It’s brutal,” he said. “It’s rough. I can’t get talk radio over there for the Packers, so I have to listen to Vikings talk radio. They’re very optimistic this year. It would especially be hard if (the Vikings) do well again, because they had such a good season last year.”
The Vikings finished a game ahead of the Packers in the NFC North standings last season after handing Green Bay a 20-13 loss in the final game of the regular season, but dropped a 10-9 decision to Seattle at home in the playoffs.
Although Phil now calls Minnesota home, he and his 11-year-old son, Logan, were in Green Bay on July 30 for Packers training camp.
Phil grew up in Hazel Green in southwestern Wisconsin.
“The Packers and the Bears were the big rivals down there,” he said. “The Packers were struggling when I was a kid. My dad and all of his friends would get together down in the basement and watch the games on Sundays. All the basements were decorated green and gold. That’s what I remember growing up in the late ‘70s, early ‘80s.
“I strayed a little bit at times with different teams, but I always came back to the Pack because that’s who I grew up with,” he added. “I remember having a Dallas Cowboys helmet as a kid and getting made fun of. I got it at a garage sale and thought it was pretty cool. They were a good team.”
The Packers’ fortunes turned in the early 1990s. By then, Phil was back on board with the team he grew up with.
“I was in college when they got Reggie White and then Brett Favre,” he said. “It started happening for the team.”
Phil doesn’t mind playing the Vikings twice each season. The two teams will face each other Sunday, Sept. 18, in the Vikings’ home opener at the new U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
“It looks like a really nice stadium inside,” Phil said. “It’s good to have a rivalry. We’ve been whuppin’ them for years.”
Logan is convinced the Packers are a better team.
“They have better players,” he said.
He also doesn’t mind being a Packers fan in a state that prefers purple and gold over green and gold.
“I get to make fun of (Vikings fans) a lot,” he said.
While at training camp, Logan carried a football he was hoping that Packers running back Eddie Lacy would sign.
“Right now, Eddie Lacy,” he said when asked about his favorite player. “He’s big and he’s fast.”
“He slimmed down a little this year,” Phil said. “He looks good.”
Logan will start playing football later this year as a sixth-grader.
“My friends play it and I think it might be fun,” he said.
While the Velsors waited for Lacy to finish practice, Erin Ruth of Sun Prairie stood by while his 7-year-old daughter, Norah, had her face painted in the DreamZone, an interactive area for all ages in the Lambeau Field parking lot.
“I used to come here with my grandparents when I was her age,” he said. “It’s kind of fun to bring my daughter here now. I got James Lofton’s autograph.”
The Packers also practiced in front of more than 66,000 fans on July 31 at Packers Family Night in Lambeau Field.
* Greg Seubert is the sports editor of The Waupaca County Post.