IN CASE YOU WER WONDERING: A Packer fan in a Vikings’ world

Growing up in Minnesota, there are a few things expected of you. You need to be able to handle the cold, you’re supposed to adhere to the “Minnesota Nice” stereotype, and you absolutely have to be a Vikings fan.

For most of my life, I’ve followed two of these three rules. To the great chagrin of my family, I bleed green and gold. Yes, I am a Packers fan.

It all started when I was very little. Everyone in my family was a huge Vikings fan except for my grandfather. Being from Wisconsin, he loved his Packers. Aside from fishing, there were very few things he enjoyed more than watching them play.

I’m not sure if it was just to spite my dad, with whom the Viking-Packer family rivalry was most extreme, but my grandpa had me under his cheesehead spell for as long as I can remember. There were most certainly times when I was tempted my the substantial Vikings presence in my house to switch back and forth. Yet there was something about it being just me and my grandpa and nobody else that made this seem very special to me.

Every Sunday, I had to leave to watch the game somewhere else. There was a rule in my house; you cannot cheer for the Packers or against the Vikings under our roof. It was one of two major rules in my house, with the other being that we are absolutely not, under no circumstances, allowed to waste gravy. What can I say, we love our mashed potatoes.

I was fortunate enough to have neighbors that were also big Packer fans. I would go watch the game either with my grandpa or at their house and wouldn’t have to keep my excitement or disappointment in the game to myself. If the Packers won and/or the Vikings lost, I would walk gingerly through the front door to the safety of my bedroom so my dad and brothers could wallow in peace.

Of course, if the Packers lost and/or the Vikings won, I wouldn’t hear the end of it. There was no rule against making sure I knew what happened, and I can assure you, my brothers never let me forget.

When I was 10, my grandpa passed away around Christmas. It was obviously something that was very difficult for everyone in my family, but I was particularly affected. I lost my football companion. As my family was going through his things, they found a Christmas gift for me. It was a small teddy bear wearing a Green Bay Packers cheerleader uniform.

It was if, even from heaven, he was reminding me to love the Packers. He was reminding me that even without him, I can keep driving my family crazy (which, I must admit, makes it all the more fun). It was on that day that I swore to always remain a Packer fan. I don’t cheer against the Vikings any more (there’s that darn ‘Minnesota Nice’ kicking in), but when people ask me why I’m a Packers fan even though I’m from Minnesota, I remember him and the bond we made through the Packers. I think I always will.