A Face in the Crowd gets his “15 Minutes”
I have been a Packer fan pretty much as long I can remember in my 52 years on this planet. One of my first memories as a child was listening to the “Ice Bowl” on the radio (Home games on TV were blacked out at the time). Growing up in Green Bay, I suffered through the less-than-mediocre 70′s and early 80′s as a die-hard Packer fan. As I became an adult, and moved to the cities of Phoenix, Chicago, and Saint Paul, I cheered for their market’s sports teams, but the Packers, that was still my team. I would frequent many a sports bar to try and find the Packer’s game on television if they weren’t on local television Fast forward to today and the age of social media. On Twitter, I follow several hundred of my fellow Packer fans. My timeline on Sundays is like sitting in a virtual sports bar and watching the game with them. My followers live and die on each play (some of them too much). It is a cheap form of entertainment. I try and interject some positive comments, snarkiness, humor into the conversation, but I never go overboard. My eyes are usually focuses on watching the game.
On Tuesday, October 15th, after the Packers toughed out a road win against Baltimore, I was interacting with a couple fans from on twitter, when out of the blue, I get “followed” by @SNFonNBC. It is the official twitter account of Sunday Night Football broadcast on NBC Sports. I thought, “Hmmmm, that’s kind of wierd.” A couple minutes later, I get a message from them, saying they like my passion for my team and would like to message me regarding possibly becoming a fan of the week The next morning I am on the phone with the marketing company that runs this promotion. All I can remember about the 15 minute conversation is at the end of it, jumping up and down like a little boy on Christmas morning. They wanted me to be one of the 4 ”Sunday Night Football Fans of the Week” for the Packers-Vikingsgame in Minneapolis.
What does it mean to be a “Fan of the Week?” Basically, you act as a social media ambassador for NBC to help promote the game to the fans. To those who follow me, I used the hash tag #snf a lot in the past 2 weeks. A long with the social promotion of the game, NBC drives it Sunday Night Football Bus to every game. It’s the Madden Cruiser on steroids. On this tricked out RV, there are several interactive displays for fans, signed autograph footballs, and a cool display of this week’ s featured players (Rodgers and AP) We were required to make several appearances with the bus over the weekend.
The first was very early Friday morning on KARE11 News Sunrise. We got to see the bus for the very first time, meet the crew on the bus and meet our host, Lindsey McCormick ( @LindseyM_Sports ) as well. Here is the link to our TV appearance. After the first appearance on Friday morning, the bus then came to my workplace, The Washington County Government Center. NBC thought it would be a great idea to show appreciation for what I do in the law enforcement field, and for the employees who work in county government. Judging by the response of 150-200 people who took time away from their duties to come and tour the bus, I would say it was a success. My cheeks hurt from smiling so much.
Later Friday evening, The next scheduled stop was at Sever’s Corn Maze. I was paired with one other Packers fan, and two other Vikings fans for the weekend. Another goal for NBC this week was to show that fans from opposing teams can get along civilly. They sure hit a home run with the four of us. My Packer partner-in-crime was NadineBabu (@nadinebabu ) . She grew up in Racine, and she is a social media guru in the Twin Cities. She has boundless energy and enthusiasm for life. She runs her own social-media marketing company and markets social media to small businesses. Being a University of Minnesota grad, here other passion is Gopher Sports. On Saturday morning, she was kind enough to invite me to her big alumni tailgate party and get me a ticket to the football game.
The Viking’s half of the contingent was equally as nice. Eric Thompson ( @eric_j_thompson) is a technical writer by day, and a contributor to the Daily Norseman, a Vikings blog. He is a new dad to the cutest little 6 month old you have ever seen. His take on the Vikings is surprisingly realistic. The female half of the Vikings contingent was Alissa Stainbrook (@MissAllisaS). She is from the Duluth area. At first glance, she appears to be your typical blonde-haired blue-eyed Minnesota gal. She is very passionate and positive about her team. She reminded me a lot of what it was like to be a Packer fan in the 70′s.
On Saturday night before the game, we made another appearance with the Bus at Bar Abiline in Uptown Minneapolis. When I walked into the bar wearing my new Eddie Lacy jersey , I was soundly booed by some inebriated Viking fans. I felt right at home. The manager introduced himself to us at the bar, and sat the 4 of us down (along with friends) at a reserved table for dinner and drinks. Some wonderful conversation ensued (most of it not about football) There was also another reserve table next to us which appeared to be some older folks. The most recognizable being former Viking’s great defensive end Carl Eller. After having dinner with his other guests, Mr. Eller slid over to our table and engaged us in conversation for about 30 minutes. Mr. Eller is still very sharp for his age. Besides Bronco Nagurski, his hands are bigger than anyone I have ever seen in person. When I had my picture taken with him, he said ” I don’t make it a rule to have my picture taken with Packer fans, but I’ll make an exception.
For game day, we weren’t required to meet the bus until 4:30 pm. We were all downtown by 2:30. We all attended a tailgate party in one of the lots adjacent to the Metrodome. Being in a downtown location, tailgating in Minneapolis pales in comparison to the experience of Lambeau. But this tailgate party had every kind of adult beverage, and tailgate food you could imagine. When we arrived to the bus at 4:30 pm, it was rather chaotic. The bus was parked right in the middle of the Metrodome Plaza. Live music, merchandise displays everywhere. We were treated to a private tailgate party, took more pictures, and did an interview for the NBC.
Finally the game. After a very harrowing opening 13 seconds, the game turned into how I thought it would turn out. The score was 44-31, but it felt more like a blowout. The Vikings were gifted 10 points thanks to some questionable officiating calls, and scored 2 touchdowns in garbage time. Aaron Rodgers continues to amaze me, the running game is getting better, and our defense is improving. The Packer victory was the icing on the cake for a Top-10 weekend in my life, without a doubt.