The Packers Locker Room
As Packers players cleared out of the locker room after Wednesday's practice, it not only marked the end of June mini-camp, but also the end of an era.
Come training camp, the locker room that has housed the team for 20 years will be no more.
In late July, the players will move into their new digs, a spacious football-shaped locker room in the newly developed east wing of Lambeau Field. From that room, the 2002 Packers will start constructing the stuff of new memories, but more than a few players were mindful of the past, Wednesday.
Before exiting the building, punter Josh Bidwell and kicker Ryan Longwell posed for pictures in front of their neighboring lockers. Offensive guard Marco Rivera got in one last dice game with running back Ahman Green.
While excited about the new and improved locker room, Rivera, a seven-year Packers veteran, said it was somewhat difficult to walk away.
"I've been here since 1996, so it's a little bit sad leaving the locker room," he said. "You see these guys in this locker room and now that's all going to change and it's only going to exist in my memory, but that's something that I can take with me.
"Now when me move into the new locker room, it will be a new era. Now new players will be making names and memories for themselves in the new locker room. But this locker room has a lot of history, a number of great football teams played here, so it's sad to see it go."
The current locker room came into existence before the 1982 season. In unison with that upgrade, the previous locker room space - home to the legendary Lombardi teams, among others -- was converted into what has since been the team's training room, which also will be relocated to the new addition.
Especially in the minds of veteran players, there is history here. Rivera said he will never forget walking into the locker room for the first time as a rookie, casting his eyes on Gilbert Brown and thinking, "Oh my gosh, look at the size of that guy!"
He'll never forget meeting Reggie White for the first time, or seeing Brett Favre's locker and thinking, "Wow, now I'm in the big time."
He can still picture Mike Holmgren's address to the team following the Packers' 30-13 triumph over the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship game his rookie season of 1996.
"It was just over there," he said, pointing, "right in the middle. Coach Holmgren was holding up the NFC Championship trophy and saying, 'We're not done yet, we're going to the Super Bowl.'"
Sixth-year safety Darren Sharper said he wouldn't take any extra time leaving the only home locker room he's ever known in his professional career. He was simply excited about the new facilities.
But Sharper acknowledged that he had many fond memories of the locker room. From players to post-game speeches, there was a history that just couldn't be ignored.
"There's a story for everyone who comes here," Rivera said. "They don't all show it, but they're thinking about it."