Former Players Share Memories At Alumni Weekend

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The Packers have one of the richest-if not the richest-traditions in NFL history. While many teams only concern themselves with their current players, the Packers organization remembers its past and embraces it.

That is no more evident than in an event that has now taken place for 69 consecutive years: Green Bay Packers Alumni Weekend. Many players from several eras were on hand last weekend such as John Brockington and Willie Buchanon of the 1970's, Gerry Ellis and Don Majkowski of the 1980's and Chris Jacke and Don Davey of the 1990's.

Of course, the list extended beyond that as well. Bart Starr, who had many great years in a Packers uniform, was also in attendance as he was honored earlier in the day with a statue at the Bart Starr Plaza in front of the Resch Center.

The activities got started Saturday night when the alumni took a tour through the locker room and into Lambeau Field. The former greats also got an up close look at numerous other areas of the facility such as the weight room and training room. On Sunday, they were announced at halftime of the Packers-Bears game.

The alumni also got the opportunity to take a step back in Packers history when they toured the Packers Hall of Fame. Getting a chance to see all of the old memorabilia, as well as the exhibits and video presentation of the Packers' past, made many players feel more than a little nostalgic.

It wasn't uncommon to hear statements like "I've got goose bumps," "This is so neat," or "I never envisioned how nice this would be."

Clearly many of the greats were in awe of the rich history that was on display in the Packers Hall of Fame. Many took pictures on Lambeau Field as well as in the Hall and some even posed for a few pictures in front of Brett Favre's locker.

Once the tour was complete, the alumni sat down for a dinner on the fourth floor of the Lambeau Field Atrium and reminisced some more about their time as Green Bay Packers.

Much of the conversation among old teammates focused not only on their playing days but also on their family life and what careers they have pursued after football. Among many of the career topics discussed involved real estate, financial planning and insurance.

Brockington, who played for the Packers from 1971-1977, said the fact that the organization holds this event means a great deal to him and his wife, Diane.

"It's great to come back," said Brockington. "The Packers are so embracing and they always invite the old ballplayers back. They've always embraced their ballplayers, which is really a nice thing about the organization. The atmosphere in town is great. It's always wonderful to come back here."

Brockington admitted that the only person more excited than he was happened to be Diane.

"My wife Diane is a big Packers fan," Brockington explained. "She is in heaven right now going through all this memorabilia, going through the Hall of Fame, touring the stadium. She loved going down on the field. It's really great for both of us."

Buchanon, who played cornerback for the team from 1972-1978, said he was most impressed by the new improvements made to Lambeau Field.

"I think it's great," Buchanon said. "For them to keep the stadium the way it was, the actual field part of it, that is the best thing they could have probably done. Never in my life have I seen another stadium with as much activity.

"Every time I come here I see all the stadium tours going on. People are going on tours every 15-20 minutes and it's always packed. I come in the summer and parts of the winter, and year-round, it's always packed. You don't see that anywhere else. That's the aura of Green Bay."

Both Brockington and Buchanon said that it's great to come back for the Alumni Weekend because they don't see each other quite like they used to.

"It's like being in the army," Brockington explained. "You spend time with somebody for maybe four years, like you do in the service, but then when you're done, you can't keep up with them. It's not because you don't want to but it's as if life takes over. You are trying to make a living and you're married, doing this and that and sometimes you don't call enough."

No other team in the league has held an event like this for as long as the Packers and you get the feeling that it would be impossible to duplicate the fun and excitement the event generates among former Packer alumni.

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