DENMARK, Wis.—The Packers eighth annual Tailgate Tour was bathed in sunshine this morning when it left Lambeau Field for a "Field of Dreams"-like visit at nearby Denmark High School. Approximately 1,500 students, grades K-12, sat in the high school football stadium as the siren from the police escort in the distance announced the Packers' arrival to this heartland community.
On the bus were current Packers players Randall Cobb, Jarrett Bush and Alex Green. With them were Packers alumni Aaron Taylor, Frank Winters and Santana Dotson, and Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy.
The event was punctuated by the bluest sky and greenest grass northeast Wisconsin has seen since last October. A brilliant sun bounced off the grain silos that framed Leiterman Field. Yes, indeed, this was the heartland in all its glory, and its heroes were walking onto the field, slapping hands with the Denmark High School students that spilled onto the field in front of the grandstand.
"This is our very first stop," Murphy told the students, for whom this was a surprise visit. Little did they know when they rubbed the sleep from their eyes on Tuesday morning they would meet Randall Cobb, clearly, the most popular of the Packers contingent.
Bush addressed the students on the subject of work habits and Lombardi time, and then the program was opened to questions from the students.
First question: "Can I give you a hug?" Cobb was asked by a girl in front of him. They hugged and he lifted her. It was a moment she'll never forget.
"Go Vikings!" Murphy said, playing off the Denmark High School mascot. "I don't normally say that," Murphy added.
Spring was finally here. The sunshine and the Packers' visit made it official.
Winters, who played 16 years in the NFL, was asked how he became a football player.
With his thick New Jersey accent, in the heartland, Winters spoke of pursuits. "One day, maybe you'll be successful in whatever you do," he said.
"A dream without a plan is nothing," Dotson said. "You have to put a plan of action together to get you to where you want to go."
Cobb, of course, was the star of the show. It was no surprise. Murphy introduced Cobb with an Aaron Rodgers prediction, that Cobb will be remembered as the "best draft pick Ted Thompson ever had."
One of the students asked Cobb if he would play football with him. Cobb obliged by going off to the side and playing catch. Another student, a discus thrower on the Denmark track and field team, challenged Cobb to a race.
"Randall, make sure you loosen up," Murphy cautioned.
Cobb false-started. The kid ran pretty well.
Bush and Green led stretching exercises, and then Denmark Superintendent of Schools Tony Klaubauf presented Murphy a No. 1 Denmark jersey.
"Go Pack Go," came the cheer from the students, their voices carrying across the open fields. For more from the Tailgate Tour, click on the packers.com blog.