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Greg Jennings reflects on a great Green Bay tradition

Evan Dietrich-Smith AP

During a summer vacation in Wisconsin when I was 10 or 11, I convinced Mom and Grandma to stop the van in Green Bay so that I could see the Packers sweating through a training camp practice. But what really struck me wasn’t the practice, it was what happened after the practice: Local kids lined up on their bikes and waited for the players, who would hand the kids their helmets and hop on the bikes to ride back to the locker room, while the kids hustled to keep up alongside them. I hadn’t known until that day that it’s a longstanding tradition in Green Bay that the local kids get to interact with the players like that at training camp, but when I saw it my thought was that the kids in Green Bay are the luckiest kids on earth.

Packers receiver Greg Jennings says the players feel lucky, too.

In an interview on NBC SportsTalk, Jennings was asked about his favorite tradition about football in Green Bay, and he answered, “For me it probably is the bikes.”

“Just seeing how you can light up a kid’s day,” Jennings said. “You can impact a life in so many different ways, and you have a 300-plus pound lineman running up to a kid and saying, ‘I want your bike,’ that impression will go a long way and that’s a memory that will last him a lifetime.”

There’s no professional sports team in America that has a relationship with its community like the Packers have with Green Bay.

Here’s the video of Jennings’ interview:

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26 Responses to “Greg Jennings reflects on a great Green Bay tradition”
  1. binkystevens says: Jun 21, 2012 10:40 AM

    There’s also a rule: the fatter the player, the smaller the bike that they have to ride. Poor Raji!

  2. cleverbob says: Jun 21, 2012 10:44 AM

    I will admit that’s pretty damn cool, although as a child I’d be a little nervous if someone as big as BJ Raji chose my bike.

  3. gtrav says: Jun 21, 2012 10:46 AM

    That’s pretty cool.

  4. supermariojosh says: Jun 21, 2012 10:46 AM

    I love the Packers. And Wisconsin for that matter.

  5. longhairdontcare66 says: Jun 21, 2012 10:46 AM

    Best fans in professional sports

  6. sobora says: Jun 21, 2012 10:47 AM

    The simplicity of life and the one-track football mind is what keeps players focused on what’s important in Green Bay. The football. As it should be, too.

    Gotta love it.

  7. Carl Gerbschmidt says: Jun 21, 2012 10:49 AM

    Faith, Family, Green Bay Packers.

  8. medtxpack says: Jun 21, 2012 10:52 AM

    at 27 years old, id have no shame standing there with those kids and my 10 speed just hoping! haha

  9. timunga says: Jun 21, 2012 10:53 AM

    Haters can hate but that is just another reason we feel so passionately about OUR team. The players respect the fans because the fans respect the players. So cut us down all you want, it’s just motivation for us to keep on doing what we do, support our team.

  10. bordner says: Jun 21, 2012 10:59 AM

    I remember back in the 70’s we would take family trips to Green Bay around the time of training camp. I used to get so jealous of the local kids who were able to bring their bikes for a Packer to ride, while mine was sitting at home, 4 hours away.

    I’ll never forget the image of Mike McCoy, #76, a DT who must have weighed around 300 lbs., riding a little kids bike across the parking lot.

  11. Chad Bartel says: Jun 21, 2012 10:59 AM

    I’ll never forget my first experience as a kid either…Standing next to James Lofton and being in absolute awe of his size.

    Good stuff.

  12. souldogdave says: Jun 21, 2012 11:02 AM

    What a great tradition, wonderful story, thank you for sharing it.

  13. tmkelley1 says: Jun 21, 2012 11:11 AM

    The Cowboys marketing team notwithstanding, the Packers are, truly, America’s team.

    And Wisconsin is just great, too. I mean, how can you not like a place whose primary products are football, beer, cheese, and brats.

  14. thankheavenfornumberseven says: Jun 21, 2012 11:40 AM

    This used to happen at Vikings training camp too, but now they have a police line that keeps the fans 40 yards away from the players as they leave the practice field.

  15. granadafan says: Jun 21, 2012 11:42 AM

    Great tradition and a nice story to remind everyone that, while the NFL is absolutely a business, football is still a game and fans love the people playing the game. Keep the next generation interested in the game we all love.

  16. philshady25 says: Jun 21, 2012 11:56 AM

    Reggie White stepped on my foot once… Still hurts when it rains.
    #GoPack

  17. dv5454 says: Jun 21, 2012 12:12 PM

    I remember going to camp when I was 14 or so and a rookie 7th round receiver by the name of Donald Driver signed autographs for hours. A few years later, some buddies and I went to camp as college kids just to watch the team practice. That 7th round receiver had made a name for himself by then, but there he was, still signing autographs for every kid that asked. Most players were like that. God Bless Wisconsin. God Bless the Green Bay Packers. Go Pack Go.

  18. jerrysandusky1 says: Jun 21, 2012 12:17 PM

    Not a Packer fan but this organization just seems to get it right. From the top all the way down.

    Very cool.

    Best cheese i ever ate was in Madison, WI.

  19. mattj425 says: Jun 21, 2012 12:27 PM

    I was one of those kids there with my bike during the Lindy Infante years. The first year I stopped going was Mike Holmgren’s first year as coach. One day I decided to just go by and watch all the other kids waiting for the players to come out of the locker room (by the loading dock). I remember seeing Brett Favre come out. Everyone kind of ignored him because he really was a nobody at that time. I remember saying to myself “THAT’s the guy we traded a 1st round pick for?!?! What was Wolf thinking?!?!” Boy I couldn’t have been more wrong with my first impression.

  20. purpleguy says: Jun 21, 2012 12:30 PM

    I can’t stand the Packers and 20% of their fans, but that’s a great tradition.

  21. marvin1958 says: Jun 21, 2012 12:48 PM

    I live approximately 45 minutes south of Lambeau. My son was maybe 10 years old and BEGGED me to load his bike onto the car’s bike rack so he could get one of the Packers to ride it. I can’t believe I agreed to that but, 11-years later…he still talks about that day.

    Mike McCoy (mentioned previously) was a HUGE man. I stood in line behind him at a church picnic when I was maybe 12 or 13 … he was also a heckuva gentleman too. One of my all-time favorite Packers.

  22. tebowsafraud says: Jun 21, 2012 1:14 PM

    I hear they are thinking of doing this in the Redskins training camp.

    The “fan friendly” Skins would be (after already charging folks to pay to park and pay to watch practice) renting bikes to kids for $10 a session. Then they too can offer up a “Packer experience” as the players ride the bikes to the locker room area after practice. But remember kids–NO bringing your own bike and NO refund if your bike is not chosen by a player.

    But seriously…as someone who grew up going to school with kids whose dad’s were Packer coaches, had Packer players living on my middle class street (that’s when NFL players worked off season jobs and before the middle class was made extinct by Republicans), caddied for players at Oneida, and had out of towner’s pay $3 to park on our lawn and driveway during game days this story makes me realize just how old I am-and how lucky I was to grow up in a place and a time that others can only fantasize about.

  23. stavreafavre says: Jun 21, 2012 3:44 PM

    Packers are insanely deep at WR, but they need to find the money to keep Jennings there. Once Driver is gone, Jennings will become the embodiment of “Packer Person.” He’s class all the way.

  24. dd393 says: Jun 21, 2012 8:07 PM

    Another reason why the Green Bay Packers are the best franchise in professional sports.

  25. dwhitehurst says: Jun 21, 2012 11:59 PM

    Green Bay is very family friendly. We take our kids to Green Bay during training camp every summer for a couple days. Whether a Packer fan or not, it is a great experience–you get so close to the players. Autographs for your kids are relatively easy. And the city of Green Bay has alot to do that is inexpensive yet fun for your kids. They have this dime-a-ride amusement park that is perfect for kids 12 and under. Great places to eat if you like Wisconsin fare and great beer. And beautiful Door County is right next door. For sure, it isn’t up there with Monterey, CA or Breckenridge, CO or Marco Island, FL, but if you’re from the Midwest and want an inexpensive yet fun time for you and your kids, going to Green Bay for training camp is a great experience.

  26. packerfanfordecades says: Jun 22, 2012 1:53 AM

    The humility factor shines very brightly in Green Bay. It’s a very, very attractive attribute that is present up and down and around and through that organization.

    I think that humility must be high up on the check list when the Pack evaluates players for the draft. Amen to that. That’s a big key, IMHO, to the relative success of the Green Bay Packer team.

    May our Lord protect them from injury this season and bless Wisconsin with many more reasons to cheer and celebrate for the Pack.
    .

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