Rick Steele, of Greensburg Pa., was named the 14th member of the Green Bay Packers FAN Hall of Fame on Tuesday at Lambeau Field.
Steele, whom started as a Cheesehead by marriage, was selected by fans from 10 finalists during a voting period that ran from Jan.1, 2012, through Feb. 5, 2012. More than 100,000 votes were cast from throughout the United States and countries around the world. This year's totals more than doubled last year's votes, which named Steele the winner. Steele's total votes numbered 37,275 and runner-up Rick Wiltzius votes' totaled 33,838.
While visiting Lambeau Field for the first time in 2003 with his wife, Kristi, Steele knew it was love at first sight as he watched the Packers take on the Philadelphia Eagles. Since his first trip to Titletown, Steele has become a diehard fan. He has attended 18 games, three Fan Fests, has dedicated three rooms in his house to his extensive green and gold memorabilia, and even named his son Brett, after Packers alum Brett Favre. His collectables include signed jerseys, cleats, bobble heads, footballs, helmets, and even a used turnstile from Lambeau Field. The Steele household was also the first home, outside of the Green Bay area, to install Packers carpet.
After sending in his nomination letter, Steele was chosen by fans as the 14th FAN Hall of Fame Honoree.
An excerpt of Steele's letter reads,
"I had been a casual football fan my whole life, but there was just something that I absolutely fell in love with about Green Bay and the Packers. That was the start of what has become my life and three full rooms that are dedicated to nothing but the Packers…Even though we are over 700 miles away, win or lose, we are green and gold FOREVER! Go Pack Go."
Steele and his wife currently reside in Greensburg, Pa., where they raise their two children, but dream of moving to Green Bay, Wis.
This year's other finalists included Gary Green, Lake Worth, Fla.; Jimmy Krueger, Euless, Texas.; Joe Kuhar, Janesville, Wis.; Lana Longe, New Berlin, Wis.; Peter Michaud, Milwaukee, Wis.; Lori Mueller, Eland, Wis.; Joe Phillips, Nolanville, Texas.; Mark Stegmeier, Calgary, AB, Canada.; and Rick Wiltzius, Wausau, Wis.
Steele will receive four club seats to a 2012 Packers home game; a $500 Packers Pro Shop gift certificate; a road trip for two to a 2012 Packers away game, including game tickets, air fare and hotel accommodations; and a one-year subscription to Packers Plus and Packer Insider.
The honoree also will have his name permanently displayed in a place of honor in the Packers Hall of Fame.
The Green Bay Packers established the Packers FAN Hall of Fame in 1998 for the purpose of annually honoring a devout and longtime Packers fan.
The 11 prior honorees include Mel Knoke, Appleton, Wis.; Louis Gardipee, Black River Falls, Wis.; Ed Jablonski, Wausau, Wis.; Paul Mazzoleni, Green Bay; Wanda Boggs, Brookfield, Wis.; Sister Isaac Jogues Rousseau, Milwaukee; Dorothy Hanke, Milwaukee; Kathy Lazzaro, Milwaukee; Rich Barbera, River Vale, N.J.; Richard 'Ike' Eisenhauer, Wauwatosa, Wis.; Allan Hale, Green Bay; Jim Becker, Racine, Wis.; and Tom Little, Mount Sterling, Ill.
FAN Hall of Fame sponsors are Goodwill, Mattress Firm, Best Buy, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.