LAS VEGAS – As the Packers prepare to play at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas for the first time Monday night, it'll mark a small but meaningful moment for various veteran players on the team.
They get to chalk another stadium off their list, and while that's a regular occurrence for young players, it's an opportunity that gets more and more rare for those who have been in the league for a while. So they take a moment to process what it means.
"We always talk about that all the time, like how many places did you play at?" said defensive lineman Kenny Clark, now in his eighth NFL season. "Remember last year, I'd never played in Miami.
"You always appreciate going to different stadiums, just to take that in. It brings you back to what you're grateful for, traveling around, seeing different things."
Clark's first game in Miami's Hard Rock Stadium last season was on Christmas Day no less. The season before, cornerback Rasul Douglas had never played at State Farm Stadium in Arizona.
Which was ironic, because he was on the Cardinals' practice squad that year before coming to the Packers, but he'd never been activated. Then he went out in his first game there and intercepted a pass in the end zone in the waning seconds to knock off the league's last unbeaten team in 2021.
"Never seen it before, until that year," said Douglas, now in his seventh pro season, of the venue. "First few minutes, I just took and soaked it in like, dang, pretty cool. You're still always a little kid, you know what I mean?
"Everybody in the league has got stadiums they've never played at, and you want to get to play at every stadium hopefully throughout your career."
For the Packers as a franchise, over the last 25 years, they've made two dozen debuts in stadiums for regular- or post-season games, the most recent being last year's trip to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
Unfortunately, that loss marked Green Bay's fourth straight defeat when making a first appearance in a stadium. The Packers were put in a tough spot in both 2016 and '17 as the first regular-season opponents for the Vikings and Falcons, respectively, in their new stadiums.
The Packers' last victory in a stadium debut came in 2015, their first visit to Levi's Stadium in San Francisco.
Here's a chart of all 24 stadium debuts in the last 25 years, which includes road games in opponents' temporary homes. The stadium names listed are current names, not necessarily the stadium name when the game was played.
|'22||Tottenham Hotspur Stadium||London||Giants 27, Packers 22|
|'19||Dignity Health Sports Park||Carson, CA||Chargers 26, Packers 11|
|'17||Mercedes-Benz Stadium||Atlanta||Falcons 34, Packers, 23|
|'16||U.S. Bank Stadium||Minneapolis||Vikings 17, Packers 14|
|'15||Levi's Stadium||Santa Clara, CA||Packers 17, 49ers 3|
|'14||TCF Bank Stadium||Minneapolis||Packers 24, Vikings 21|
|'12||Lucas Oil Stadium||Indianapolis||Colts 30, Packers 27|
|'10||AT&T Stadium||Arlington, TX||Packers 31, Steelers 25*|
|'10||MetLife Stadium||East Rutherford, NJ||Packers 9, Jets 0|
|'09||State Farm Stadium||Glendale, AZ||Packers 33, Cardinals 7|
|'09||Acrisure Stadium||Pittsburgh||Steelers 37, Packers 36|
|'09||Cleveland Browns Stadium||Cleveland||Packers 31, Browns 3|
|'07||Empower Field at Mile High||Denver||Packers 19, Broncos 13 OT|
|'06||Lumen Field||Seattle||Seahawks 34, Packers 24|
|'05||M&T Bank Stadium||Baltimore||Ravens 48, Packers 3|
|'05||Paycor Stadium||Cincinnati||Bengals 21, Packers 14|
|'04||NRG Stadium||Houston||Packers 16, Texans 13|
|'04||FedExField||Landover, MD||Packers 28, Redskins 14|
|'03||Lincoln Financial Field||Philadelphia||Eagles 20, Packers 17 OT**|
|'02||Gillette Stadium||Foxboro, MA||Packers 28, Patriots 10|
|'02||Memorial Stadium||Champaign, IL||Packers 34, Bears 21|
|'02||Ford Field||Detroit||Packers 37, Lions 31|
|'01||Nissan Stadium||Nashville||Titans 26, Packers 20|
|'98||Raymond James Stadium||Tampa||Buccaneers 24, Packers 22|
Some of these stadium debuts were rather memorable for one reason or another.
At the top of the list, obviously, is the Super Bowl XLV victory at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, while at the other end of the spectrum is the infamous fourth-and-26 playoff loss at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
The Packers' first appearance in Pittsburgh's current stadium in 2009, then called Heinz Field, turned into an Aaron Rodgers vs. Ben Roethlisberger shootout, won by the Steelers on a last-second Roethlisberger TD pass.
The franchise's debut in the current Denver stadium in 2007 produced a first-play-of-overtime 82-yard TD pass from Brett Favre to Greg Jennings on Monday Night Football.
The first trip to Gillette Stadium in 2002 to face New England saw a banged-up Packers team upset the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots in convincing fashion. Three years later, the first visit to Cincinnati's current stadium in '05 featured a fan running onto the field and stealing the ball from Favre when the Packers were trying to drive for the tying score in the final minutes.
Whether anything particularly memorable will take place Monday night remains to be seen. But before kickoff, the Packers players entering Allegiant Stadium for the first time – particularly the veterans – will allow themselves to look around.
It's a distraction they don't block out, at least not at first.
"Nah, nah," Douglas said. "You just feel it. You take a few minutes to soak it in."
Attention will turn soon enough to the business at hand.
"Once you look at where the stuff is, like the play clock, seeing the (video) screen, that type of stuff, you get a feel for it pregame," Clark said. "But football's football. Once that whistle blows and you're out there, it's game time."