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Articles added: December 12, 2006

Football 101 with the Green Bay Packers

By Rhonda Reigstad

Women have become an increasing segment in the sports world the last 10 years. Look around and you see them participating in and attending more sporting events now than ever. To help capitalize on this growing trend, teams are sponsoring events for women only in hopes to educate and encourage them to learn as much about the games they are beginning to love as much as their male counterparts.

I had the chance to attend an event sponsored by the Green Bay Packers. I found out about it through my friend, Tina, whom I met via the internet and we went to training camp together in July. Tina’s aunt, Barb, was in attendance with us along with about 200 other avid female Packer faithful. They came from all over the state of Wisconsin to learn more about the game of football.

The evening started out with a small reception and registration. We went upstairs into the newer part of Lambeau Field to a reception hall that overlooked the Hutson Center , the Packers indoor practice facility. The program started out with two women who have reported on the Packers since 1992 talking about the game and showing short film about different plays in the game of football. We all had a laminated fold out card in front of us explaining all aspects of the game. After this brief program, we were able to ask them short questions about the game.

The next part was a question and answer with three members of the Packers. Kicker B.J. Sander, backup quarterback Craig Nall and defensive tackle Colin Cole and their wives were on hand for us to ask questions. They gave us sheets on the tables for us to write down questions for the players, wives or all of them. They had some good answers and gave us a nice inside look at the ups and downs of being a professional player and spouse.

One of the more interesting answers came from Craig Nall’s wife. She talked about how she decided to break up with him during their college years when she heard about all the bad stuff that happens in the cities and on the road with the players. She said everything she had heard was totally wrong since she’s been up in Green Bay and is happy to be there.

After the question and answer session, it was off on a “behind the scenes” tour of the facility of Lambeau Field. This is something not everyone gets a chance to do and we were lucky enough to get a first hand look. They took us through many parts of the stadium. We were able to look at the entire workout facility that leads up to the Packers locker room.

Before you knew it, there we were, right inside the Packers locker room. They had it roped off so we couldn’t get to the lockers of the players. They usually take the fans through the visitors locker room instead of the Packers on the tours during the summer.

As we were exiting the locker room, before you knew it, there we were, walking down the corridor across some of the original concrete that was in the old Lambeau Field. Coach Mike Sherman insisted that the contractors put a strip across the new corridor to remind the players of all the greats before them that walked on that concrete. There is a sign to the left of this strip that reminds them. Then the moment that not everyone gets—a chance to walk right onto Lambeau Field itself. It was awe-inspiring to say the least and to get a chance to look around you inside the most hallowed ground in the National Football League was something else. You hear players from opposing teams be asked what stadium they remember going to the most or which one held the most memories for them and they will usually mention Lambeau and for good reason.

After our chilly outdoor tour of Lambeau, we got in our cars and headed over to the Don Hutson Center , the indoor practice facility for the Packers. It is a beautiful facility that holds close to two full football fields.

When we got there, we divided into five groups. The three players and their wives that were at the question and answer session (Sander, Nall and Cole) were there and joining them were offensive lineman Scott Wells and his wife and defensive back Al Harris. We went around in the groups and learned more about the positions these guys play and got right into the action. We were able to field a punt, go against Al Harris on a “bump and run”, went against Colin Cole in a defensive pass rush and threw a football at a net about 20 yards away from us with quarterback Craig Nall.

After we were done with the groups, we huddled up and had a chance to listen to equipment manager, Red Batty. Red has been in the National Football League for 33 years, starting out with the Houston Oilers and has been with the Packers organization for a little over 10 years. He talked about the entire uniform, from head to toe, that the Packers wear. He had with him a helmet that not everyone gets a close look at and that helmet belongs to number 4 himself—Brett Favre.

He explained all the ins and outs of the uniform, padding and shoes. He was asked how much the uniform costs that the players wear on game day and he said it is $1,500. Their equipment budget every year reaches $4 million. Pretty amazing when you consider that a portion of the uniforms and game footballs are donated from the companies that have their names on them. I could have listened to him for hours on end. He was very interesting and informative on all aspects of the game. His daughter showed us how they make a football.

If you think this guy gets a rest on game day, think again. He’s right on the sidelines talking to the guys about everything from how the uniform fits and if they need adjustments. He, along with so many other personnel, spends countless hours at the stadium to make sure everything is okay for game day.

All in all, it was a fun night full of action and plenty of laughs. At the end, we received a wood engraved frame with Green Bay Packers on it and a team photo with the autographs of the players that were in attendance. If I were to rate my experience on a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, I would rate it an 8. I would have wanted to see a little bit more information on the football aspect portion of the program in explaining the game to us.


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