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It was 89 years ago today that my grandfather, then a young druggist in Green Bay, Wisconsin, invested $100 for 20 shares (or 1.3% of capital stock) in a local football team called the Green Bay Packers. He framed his stock certificate out of civic and sporting pride and hung it in his den at home. Today, it hangs in my home office, along with my own stock certificate, which is equivalent to about 1,500 shares. while the market value of those shares has remained at zero through the years, the investment is worth millions in pride and tradition, for a little paper milling town that thought it could compete in the big leagues.

 

Like the legendary Ice Bowl 44 years ago (http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-films-americas-game/09000d5d821e1541/America-s-Game-The-Ice-Bowl), the Green Bay Packers squeaked by the Detroit Lions today, to make their season record 15-1.

I was at the Ice Bowl with my grandfather, in the same seats behind the home bench I hold today. He was in his late 60s, and I was a 24-year-old Army lieutenant on leave. During the game it hit 16 degrees below zero, or a wind chill of 57 below. My grandfather, a Green Bay pharmacist, had been one of the 200 local businessmen who originally financed the team in 1923, Thanks to him, I hold 1,000 voting shares of the Packer’s stock, and have his original 1923 stock certificate framed along with my own.

Go Pack, to the Super Bowl again!

The so-called “Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine” has done a good job of attracting attention, but a bad job, in my view, of educating people with it’s new billboard near the Green Bay Packer’s legendary Lambeau Field in Green Bay, that portrays a death figure with an anti-cheese nutritional message. On the group’s website, they portray the death figure wearing a bright yellow cheesehead, their attention-getting gimmick, but on the new actual billboard, the threat of a lawsuit from the Milwaukee-based company that manufactures the trademarked cheeseheads caused them to remove the popular symbol.

This stunt by the so-called “Physician’s” group, is the sort of distortion that obscures the correct message: that moderation in eating cheese, as in all things, makes sense. See the original “cheesehead” billboard as still posted on the “Physician’s” website: http://www.pcrm.org/media/news/censored-billboard-near-lambeau-warns-of-cheese

The Super Bowl champ Green Bay Packers are one of the most legendary teams in all of professional sports, I think most Americans would agree. And they are owned by what amounts to a community trust — shareholders who can’t sell their shares or their home team. I inherited my shares from my grandfather, a Green Bay businessman who in the 1920s invested to save the team, expecting no return other than keeping the Packers alive, and promoting his beloved Green Bay community throughout the state and nation. Could other professional sports teams and their wealthy owners, who sometimes treat their loyal regional fans not so well, learn something about community loyalty and positive community relations from the Packers? They sure could.

Packer’s PR Director for the past 22 years, Jeff Blumb, has resigned (http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/article/20110321/PKR01/110321061/1231/gpg0202/Blumb-resigns-Packers-PR-director?odyssey=nav%7Chead), and I think the guy deserves a big trophy and the thanks of sports fans (especially Packer fans) everywhere, for successfully managing the fine reputation of that great team over more than a generation. I can relate — I spent 22 years managing public relations for another great brand, McDonald’s, and while it was an honor to be involved with so many terrific people, it was often a demanding burden. I retired early to take a break. Jeff deserves the same opportunity to take a break, with laurels. Here’s a pic of myself in the midst of a winter snowstorm at Lambeau Field. Go Pack!

I don’t vote in Wisconsin, but I own a home, spend a lot of time and care about the people here — after all, my grandfather was one of the local citizens who bailed out the Green Bay Packers in the 1920s. So, why is Walker wrong?

Yes these are tough economic conditions to address, and “shared sacrifice,” as Walker calls it, is called for to address state budget issues. BUT, Walker recently passed more than $100 million in new tax breaks for business, then turns around and asks to help make up for that by cutting the benefits and future negotiating power of the unions representing certain state employees. Of course he exempts the fire and police unions that supported his election campaign, but nails those, including the teachers unions, that didn’t. That is vindictive politics all right, but it’s also asking chronically under-compensated teachers to give up current and future compensation, just when we need better education more than ever. Meanwhile, highly compensated business owners wallow in new tax breaks.

How dumb, how vindictive, how peevishly political, how shortsighted can a so-called leader be! If the Democrats are substantially behind organizing the teachers and other state employees to occupy Madison to make their plight known statewide and nationally, at least their efforts are transparent, while Walker threatens behind the scenes to slash state jobs if those protesting don’t back off and encourage Democrat legislators to cave in.

Not that I’m a big sports fan, but tomorrow’s Packer/Bear NFC Championship game conjures up some memories: sitting in the rickety wooden stands of East High School in Green Bay watching the Packers play, before Lambeau Field was built, meeting Curly Lambeau himself on the bench at Soldier’s Field when he coached the All-Star games in the 50s, walking the stands in the new Lambeau Field with my grandfather helping him pick out his seats in the 8th row behind the home bench, freezing through the legendary 1967 Ice Bowl game there as an Army Lieutenant on leave before shipping out for Vietnam, inheriting those tickets when grandfather passed away, and attending games in the snow at Lambeau in recent years with my older brother John up from N. Carolina before his death last year. I wish tomorrow’s game had been held in Lambeau, either for the chance to attend and add another memory, or perhaps to have made $5 thou a ticket!

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