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Packers excited to get traditional Tailgate Tour back on the road

Current and former players will continue to make stops around Wisconsin in coming days

Green Bay alumni Davon House, Eddie Lacy, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and running back Aaron Jones
Green Bay alumni Davon House, Eddie Lacy, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and running back Aaron Jones

GREEN BAY – The Packers' Tailgate Tour is back.

Running back Aaron Jones and guard/tackle Elgton Jenkins joined Green Bay alumni Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Eddie Lacy, Evan Smith and Davon House, and President/CEO Mark Murphy for this week's trek through the state of Wisconsin, marking the first time current players have participated in the event since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tour, which stopped in Eau Claire on Tuesday night, features visits to schools, hospitals, businesses, retirement homes, event venues and community centers. The Packers hold fundraising events throughout the five-day journey, while presenting donations to local non-profits.

Due to the pandemic, the Packers utilized a modified version of the event, Packers Road Trip, in lieu of the traditional format the past two years. Back under the Tailgate Tour umbrella, the Packers will travel through Rice Lake, Superior, Ashland, Minocqua and Rhinelander before returning to Green Bay Saturday.

As a longtime tour participant, Murphy was thrilled to see the event get back to its roots.

"I think to me it really highlights the uniqueness of the Packers, particularly our connection with our fans, and it's a great way to thank our fans for their support and go on the road and see them," Murphy said. "It's great to have both current and former players this year. One of my favorite parts of this is seeing the beginning of the trip, they really aren't interacting much with each other. By the end of the trip, they realize they have a lot in common."

While Murphy is the only participant with prior tour experience, the event has been a bucket-list item for all six current and former players.

House, who played six seasons in Green Bay, jokingly pointed out it's his first time driving through Wisconsin since taking a midnight car ride with two Packers fans after his flight from Minneapolis was cancelled on the eve of organized team activities in 2017.

As former Pro Bowlers who won national championships at the University of Alabama, both Clinton-Dix and Lacy have been part of their share of meet-and-greets over the years but there's just something special about Packers fans.

"It's a pleasure," said Lacy, who captured NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors with the Packers in 2013. "Just to be able to come back and see some familiar faces and go see cities I've never been able to go to and meet fans in-person for the first time in different cities. I'm really nervous about it because I don't really talk (but) it's going to be a fun experience."

Smith played in 61 games for the Packers from 2009-13 but has continued to reside in Wisconsin in retirement. When the call came to join this year's tour, the former offensive lineman jumped at the opportunity.

"I was telling Mr. Murphy over there, my entire time playing this is something I've always wanted to do as a player. To me, it's an honor to come do it," Smith said. "I've been up north and excited to go kind of see it again and go meet more of the fans and everything. This is right up my alley. I'm really pumped about this."

Former and current Green Bay Packers players Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Eddie Lacy, Davon House, Evan Smith, Aaron Jones, Elgton Jenkins and President/CEO Mark Murphy departed Tuesday on a five-day "Packers Tailgate Tour." The tour bus began the morning with visits at Bridge the Gap in Shawano and Wittenberg High School.

The Tailgate Tour's aim is to thank far-flung Packers fans, many of whom may not get to Green Bay to see on a game on a regular basis. It's also a great opportunity to work with nonprofits to facilitate visits and fundraisers.

It's yet another thing that separates the Packers from the rest of the NFL.

"I think the fans get to have one of the best game-day experiences in the entire NFL," said Smith, who played his last season with Tampa Bay in 2018. "I've been to all 32 stadiums and this is No. 1. It's not even close. This is the standard in the NFL for gameday experience. I don't really think that anybody else could hold a candle to it.

"I think the Packers do probably the best job in the NFL of giving fans everything that they want. If teams want to figure out how to do better, this is where they need to come and figure it out."

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