There are some sports organizations that do their thing bigger and better than others.
With the NFL set to unveil its 2016 Hall of Fame class this weekend, I nod to the league and its teams when I think of businesses that set themselves apart from the rest of the sports world. It maintains immense television ratings in a day when few achieve such dominance and its loyal fan following and media keep the league in the news year-round.
Among this weekend’s HOF inductees is former Green Bay Packers quarterback, Brett Favre. The seemingly indestructible No. 4 continues to attract TV viewers and attracts listeners and clicks each time he’s on a radio show or quoted in a story.
In Wisconsin there are people who love him, love-him-not because Favre finished his career playing for the alien purple people mere minutes away. Despite his time with the Minnesota Vikings, all you have to do is look around hallowed Lambeau Field to see Favre’s influence.
This summer I did a “tourist in your own state” thing when I took my nephews on a tour of Lambeau Field and followed it with time at the storied Packers Hall of Fame. From the moment the Florida boys were born, I did all I could to “raise” them to be come Packers fans. They both bought in early, but one defected around the time that Favre did for others teams. Nonetheless, even he was impressed by a house that if Brett didn’t help build, he contributed proverbial raw materials and grit.
Make no mistake that Packers stars sparkled before and have after Favre, but it was the Kiln, Miss., native that thanks to Packers’ executive Ron Wolf, resurrected a storied franchise that looked like it would never return to the glory days of Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr.
Lambeau Field continues to evolve and the community around it, expand. The development of the adjacent Titletown District is under way and is expected to attract thousands more fans than Lambeau Field already does in-season and off . (In early July I looked wide-eyed at the number of people, many from other states and countries, that lined up for stadium tours.)
As someone that works in sports marketing and publicity, I’m certainly aware that stadiums need to grow and meet ever-changing fan demands. It’s just too easy to stay home and watch games in the comfort of your own home with the best television picture and snacks within arm’s reach. Green Bay is different, though, and the likes of team president Mark Murphy, as Bob Harlan knew before him, are meeting them. While it’s been a few years since the Packers brought home the coveted Lombardi Trophy, fans know that the smallest NFL market indeed enjoys a “Lambeau Mystique” and they cannot get enough of it.
I will think of all of that and more when I watch Favre deliver his Pro Football Hall of Fame speech this weekend. I’ll remember how I followed his field heroics in college, was frustrated when my then-local Atlanta team didn’t play him, but then giddy excitement when in 1992, Wolf took a big chance and it resulted in bigger returns.
Favre is one of many that helped the Green Bay Packers and the legend of Lambeau grow. Appreciate it all today and in years to come.
©Gail Sideman; PUBLISIDE