GREEN BAY – The Packers bus is officially back on the road.
In lieu of the traditional Tailgate Tour due to the ongoing pandemic, the Packers organization is embarking on a special four-day "Packers Road Trip" that includes surprise stops throughout the state of Wisconsin.
This year's event won't include a customary charity tailgate party at the end of each day, but Packers alumni James Jones, Nick Collins, Ryan Grant and Morgan Burnett will present donations and giveaway items to campers, boys and girls clubs, restaurants, hospitals, community centers along the journey.
"Last year, with not being able to do Tailgate Tour, and this year still a couple things going on throughout the world, we decided to make it just a 100% surprise road trip," said Cathy Dworak, Packers director of community outreach and player/alumni relations.
"We have such a great lineup, our Super Bowl XLV guys. They're fired up. It's going to be a fun (trip)."
Former Packers players James Jones, Nick Collins, Ryan Grant and Morgan Burnett departed Thursday on a four-day "Packers Road Trip." The tour bus made numerous stops on Day One, including Brookview Meadows, Bellin Hospital, and Camp Anokijig.
The Packers historically have had three current and three former Packers on the Tailgate Tour. But with training camp less than one week away, the Packers have former members of the Super Bowl XLV championship team representing the organization.
Jones, Burnett, Collins and Grant are all Tailgate Tour veterans. When the Packers approached Jones about the road trip, it was an easy answer for the former Green Bay receiver and current NFL Network analyst.
"To get onboard with Morgan, RG, Nick Collins, it's going to be fun, man. We're going to have a great time," Jones said. "I walked up on there and said, 'This ain't your normal bus trip.' The buses I've been on don't look like this."
Burnett, who retired in March, has been easing his way into post-football life, while enjoying more time with his wife and children. Addressing the media in the shadows of Lambeau Field on Thursday media brought a whole rush of emotions back for the former Packers safety.
"It was a great ride for me," said Burnett of his 10-year NFL career. "The people I met along the way, the relationships that I made and still have now talking with the guys. Being on the retirement side, I enjoy it now. My kids are older. They're playing football, so I help coach and try to teach them a little something."
The Packers Road Trip bus will drive through northeastern, southeastern and southwestern Wisconsin before rolling back into Green Bay on Sunday afternoon.
Collins and Grant are both bus veterans, having participated in the tour multiple times. Back for another go-round, Grant is excited to again meet fans from all corners of Wisconsin.
"This is always good because you get a chance to see fans who really don't get to see (players). It's almost like they're more excited," Grant said. "People forget that Wisconsin is not the most populated state, and automatically assume that you'll see players and stuff like that. There are probably the diehard fans. … For them to get a chance to see us, even former players, it makes them feel good."