I’m a Packer Backer dwelling in Bear Country—that’s asking for trouble. If I sport green and gold while strolling down Lawrence or any other avenue, I’m all but guaranteed to be greeted with shouts of “Packers SUUUUCK!” from passing car windows. I retort with a hearty yell of “Super Bowl champions!,” or just point at my ring finger, and walk on.
A little more than 24 hours ahead of the first Packers/Bears faceoff of the season, dressing myself in preparation of dispatching a long list of errands, I donned a Packers T and hit the Windy City streets, expecting my colors to draw the usual good-natured ribbing of home-team supporters. The Chicago fans weren’t bearing down on me in their typical fashion. Instead, every shop I schlepped into, my Green Bay gear got me a thumbs up, a “Go, Packers!” or other gesture of sports-fan solidarity. A waitress in the north side pizza joint I haunted for lunch meandered over from her station to neglect her tables for a good five minutes while we swapped stories of Packer pride. She goes as far as marking every Bears home game against Chicago by stalking the Packer players in the downtown hotel they stay at when they’re playing at Soldier Field, sharing drinks and laughs with the hunky hulks. Her cell phone wallpaper is a photo of the tiny woman, beaming, next to Charles Woodson, the cornerback towering over her.
Turns out, Packers fans in Chitown might be in the minority, but we are everywhere—not just in random, scattered locales across the greater Chicagoland area, but we gather on game day in not-small numbers to at various city watering holes to commune, consume alcohol and cheer for the 2011 Super Bowl victors. Were I not heading to O’Hare to fly off on a business trip tomorrow, I’d be elbow to elbow at a Packers bar, one of a handful in the city, where Green Bay fans dominate the room, much like our team dominates the field. In the beer-and-bratwurst-scented air, we take refuge from the anti-Wisconsin teasing to cheer against the team favored in our hometowns, and cheer for the team favored in our hearts.
About the author: Jenni Spinner is a business journalist, a lifelong Cubs fan and an avid practitioner of sarcasm