*How well do we know the men who make up the Packers roster? Even the most ardent fan - the one who studies every play, knows the 40-yard-dash time of every prospect, is at every practice during training camp - still most likely is familiar primarily with what the players of the Green and Gold are up to on the field.
Packers.com is taking a look at some of the off-the-field interests of the players behind the facemasks that you cheer so heartily for during the football season. This is a chance to get to know the players through a series of questions and answers, some football-related and others having nothing to do with the gridiron.
Let's get to know... Grey Ruegamer.*
Grey Ruegamer served as the Packers' starting center for the majority of the 2004 season after stepping into the lineup in Week 4, when Pro Bowl center Mike Flanagan was placed on season-ending injured reserve due to knee tendinitis.
Versatile and solid, Ruegamer entered last season as the backup to Flanagan, in addition to backing up Marco Rivera at right guard. Entering 2005, the seventh-year Arizona State alum looks to possibly be a starter at left guard with the absence of veteran Mike Wahle and the assumed return of Flanagan.
Originally a 1999 third-round draft choice of the Miami Dolphins, Ruegamer spent time on the Pittsburgh Steelers' practice squad early in 2000 before signing with New England in November of that year. A seasoned playoff participant, Ruegamer has now played in six postseason contests with one start -- including the Patriots' Super Bowl XXXVI victory over the St. Louis Rams.
"Grey is a good person, a great individual," says offensive line coach Larry Beightol. "He does a lot in the community, especially with schools -- he's a model guy. I have nothing but respect and admiration for him. That's the kind of person he is and he'll do whatever it takes, he puts a lot into everything."
Packers.com recently caught up with Ruegamer during some down time in his offseason workouts to let you Packer fans get some more background on #67.
Packers.com: At what age did you realize that you could play professional athletics?
Grey Ruegamer: I always knew that I wanted to play but I was really thinking about playing in college. Once you get to that level you start to think about playing professionally. It's always something you want to obtain. You kind of dream about it when you're growing up, playing Pop Warner football, dreaming of being "that guy."
What were you feeling when you played your first professional game?
I was nervous. I was just hoping that I wouldn't mess up. My first game was with New England and we played the Bengals. I was excited and nervous and just hoping that I wouldn't make an assignment error.
What is the difference between playing in Green Bay versus playing in other NFL cities?
Green Bay is such a small town. It's kind of a microcosm of every other big town in the league. The fans are cool, the people are cool. It's a small town but the entire state supports the Packers. That's what makes it nice. It's not just the town, it's the entire state of Wisconsin that you have supporting you every Sunday.
What is your favorite opposing stadium to play in?
I always like playing in Arizona at Sun Devil Stadium because I went to school there.
Tell us about the last...
...movie you saw.
- Star Wars: Episode III*. It was pretty good.
...big purchase you made.
I don't know, I haven't really bought that many things lately. I bought some land in Montana last year.
...time you cried hard.
When (Mark) Tauscher stole my Ho Hos, but before that it was when I was watching Steel Magnolias.
...time you laughed hard.
This weekend at a charity football camp for kids in Spokane, Wash. We were all goofing around and just having a good time with the kids.
...good meal you had.
When my wife and I went out to dinner with some friends at the Melting Pot in California before we came back to Green Bay in June.
What is in your CD player right now?
An audio book (Shadow Divers), Rage Against The Machine, Dropkick Murphys, Toby Keith and Bob Marley.
What do you see yourself doing in ten years?
I'd like to still be involved in football, either in coaching or another capacity. I'd like to begin a family with my wife, just live life and be happy.
Besides the physicality of the game, what is the most difficult part of playing in the NFL?
Dealing with the business side of the NFL and trying to keep the business separated from the sport, which is nearly impossible. It does get frustrating, but at this level, it's a business, and that's first and foremost.
Fill in the blank: In high school you were voted Mr. __.
What is one thing people should know about your hometown (Las Vegas, Nev.)?
That not everyone works in a casino. Not all moms are cocktail waitresses or dancers and not all dads are pit bosses or dealers.
What is the strangest request you've had from a fan?
There was a kid that wanted me to sign his forehead, both arms and both feet, and he was wearing flip-flops. His mom was standing right there and told me to go ahead, so I signed his forehead.
What is the best thing about being a celebrity?
Even being in a small town like Green Bay, I don't really feel like I'm a celebrity. I'm very fortunate to be in the situation that I'm in. I like to go out and hang out just like everyone else, but I don't really feel like I'm a celebrity.
What is the one thing about you people should know?
Well, they should probably come up and ask me if they want to know me. Don't assume anything.
Who do you think is the greatest clutch performer of all-time?
It's got to be the Boston Red Sox last year. Everyone thought they were down and out and then they came back and proved that anything goes. You should never count anyone out. They were the perfect example of that.
Finish this sentence. I play this game for:
The players, my teammates.
Who is one athlete you would pay to watch them play their sport?
I'd actually like to see more soccer. The entire European soccer league has a lot of good soccer players. It's a fun game. I played a little growing up. It was my first sport before I got into football.
Did you have aspirations of one day becoming a professional soccer player?
Absolutely not. Soccer was just recreational to keep me busy so that I didn't get into trouble.
What is your favorite vacation spot?
Anywhere with nice people, cold beer and decent food.
So the weather isn't important?
Not really. Nice people more than make up for the weather. If I can go to a restaurant or bar and the people are crabby, then I probably wouldn't go back. It's all about the people.
As one of the more animated personalities in the locker room, who would you love to play a practical joke on?
There are a lot of guys that are asking for it. I'll leave them unnamed for now.
What was your major in school?
I was a special education major at Arizona State. My mother has a doctorate in special education and I was kind of familiar with the field. It was easier for me to adjust to that than something like mechanical engineering.
You're also very active in the community, what drives you to do some of those things?
I work with a reading program at Elmore Elementary School in Green Bay. I think it's important because I didn't like school as a kid and I really didn't have a whole lot of incentive. I just like speaking with the kids and letting them know that there is more out there than just school. It doesn't always have to be grudge work. And it's nice to change things up, the monotony of school. We've all been there, we've all been bored at some point. So I like to just help change things up, to keep them interested and wanting to go back to school because they don't know what's going to happen the next day.
What is your most embarrassing moment?
I had a dream that I was running naked through the mall. It wasn't a big deal, I was just walking around shopping, picking out hats, shirts or whatever. For some reason I would buy clothes but I wouldn't put them on. When I woke up, I felt embarrassed. I was just hoping that I didn't really do that.
I can remember sitting down to eat in the food court thinking, "is my butt going to get dirty sitting in this food court chair?" But I was hungry, so it didn't really matter.
What is your strongest asset as a football player?
I don't know about that. But I like playing with the guys on the line, and I just like football. I just go out there and have fun and play hard. I really couldn't tell you what my strongest asset is.
Do you feel the offensive line is one of the least appreciated positions?
Offensive lineman are generally in the background anyway. If Brett or Ahman has a good day, that's great. It will reflect on us at some point, but we're not in a position to be recognized all the time in the headlines. We play as a unit, and if all five guys don't play well together, or if even one guy doesn't play well, it affects the guys that are out there in the headlines by themselves.