It's no secret that Green Bay Packers fans have earned a unique reputation for loyalty to their team. And in the Packers' regular-season finale against their long-standing rival Chicago Bears, with a playoff trip on the line, Sunday's game proved to be another shining example of what makes being a Packers fan so special.
Coupled with an exhilarating win to make the playoffs, Packers fans throughout Lambeau Field found the excitement of a lifetime while attending Sunday's game.
It was only fitting that the Green Bay Packers 'Fan Appreciation Night' fell on the 181st meeting between the NFL's longest rivalry. The Packers organization used Sunday's showdown to remind fans that their commitment to the team has not gone unnoticed.
During the halftime break, the Packers announced the winner of the 'Packers Fan Appreciation Giveaway' contest. John Attey from Portland, Ore., took the field to receive the specially detailed Chevrolet Silverado 1500 extended cab pickup truck valued at $35,000.
The contest, which was created to thank the many dedicated Packers fans, drew more than 51,000 entries. Moments before Attey took the field for his recognition and award, he still was in shock.
"I'm still surprised," Attey said. "Knowing more than 51,000 people entered the contest and I won is crazy. I still can't believe it. It doesn't feel real yet."
Attey, who was making his second visit to Lambeau Field knows that Sunday's game was one he will be talking about for years to come.
"The whole thing is so surreal," he said. "I will never forget this."
For another fan, Sunday's game was long in coming, but one he will cherish for a lifetime. Lifelong Packers fan Rob Ritter of Sioux City, Iowa, attended his first Packers game at Lambeau Field with three generations at his side.
"Not only is this my first Packers game at Lambeau Field, it will be the first time all four generations, my grandfather, father, son, and I will be at a game," Ritter said. "We are lifelong Packers fans and this has been a trip long in the waiting. We haven't had many opportunities to obtain tickets or afford them so I made sure to save up and make this trip possible."
Two other fans earning special attention with an invitation to the game was Robin Rosemeyer, coach of the Gilman High School football team, and Stephen Rux, coach of the Waukesha West high school football team. Both Rosemeyer and Rux were named Wisconsin Football Coaches Association/Green Bay Packers High School Co-Coaches of the Year.
Rosemeyer and the Gilman Pirates finished the season with a 13-1 overall record, a Cloverwood Conference title, and a WIAA Division 7 state championship. Rux led Waukesha West to a 13-1 overall record, a share of the Classic Eight Conference title, and a WIAA Division I state championship.
"This is really special," Rosemeyer said. "To be voted in by your peers, the Wisconsin Coaches Association, and then for the Green Bay Packers to do their part, donating $2,000 to our school is really something. This is really a neat honor. I mean it's not something they have to do but they have been great. I don't think there are a lot of NFL teams that do this."
Rux was not only honored to have been given such an award but was grateful to the Packers organization for making Sunday's recognition so special.
"The hospitality has been great," Rux said. "This is definitely something that we didn't expect, being put up in a hotel, going on a tour of Lambeau Field, being on the field before the game and seeing the players is amazing. This really has been a great weekend.
"I think all of my players were very proud when they found out I had been chosen. Everyone in our organization and community is, too. It's not just one person that made this possible, it's the hard work of everyone. I was lucky enough to be able to come here today to represent our players, number one, our coaches and Waukesha West."
Another fan in attendance Sunday, who has earned a reputation as a bit of a celebrity while being a native of Green Bay, was Jay DeMerit.
DeMerit, U.S Men's National Soccer Team defender and member of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC of MLS, led the crowd in singing 'Roll Out The Barrel' late in the third quarter. And while DeMerit has traveled the world, coming to Lambeau Field is always a thrill.
"Growing up in Green Bay this is what it is all about," DeMerit said. I got a call a few weeks ago asking if I wanted to come to Lambeau and lead the fans in the 'Roll Out The Barrel,' and come down on the field before the game. There was no way I could turn it down. To represent Green Bay and what I do is great. This is about as big of an honor I could get."
And to round out an exciting day at Lambeau for DeMerit, he could only describe the day in one word, "Awesome."
Also Sunday, Counting Crows front man Adam Duritz, was in attendance. Duritz, a friend of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, was thrilled to be a part of the unique Packers gameday experience.
"It's amazing to be here today," Duritz said. "Green Bay has such a unique atmosphere and I think everyone wants a reason to be a Packers fan. It's such a cool thing. I was so excited when I found out Aaron Rodgers got picked up by the Packers, because he went to Cal and he was a friend of mine. I was thrilled when I found out he was going to be a Packer. So now, to cheer for the Packers and be a full-blown Packers fan, I love it."