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U.P. Packer fans an enigma/Paul Peterson

October 5, 2011
By Paul Peterson - For the Gazette , The Daily Mining Gazette

It's probably a question I've been asked more than any other over the years.

Why are there so many Green Bay Packers fans in the Upper Peninsula?

Now, I'm talking about a region that supports the Detroit Tigers nearly 100 percent. The same is almost true for the Red Wings and Pistons. And local fans back Michigan and Michigan State the same way on the collegiate scene.

But when it comes to the National Football League, I would conservatively estimate that between 75 and 80 percent of fans up here are rabid Green Packer rooters.

I know this to be absolutely true because I have many friends and acquaintances who fall into this somewhat shady area.

I'm painfully aware that the Detroit Lions - up until this season - have sucked swamp water for a couple of decades. In the first 10 years of this century, they were downright dismal.

But there was a time when the Lions were right there with the Packers in talent.

In the 1960s, they had dynamic players like Alex Karras, Dick "Night Train" Lane, Joe Schmidt and numerous others.

And contrary to the belief of at least one misinformed football fan, Detroit had the very first Fearsome Foursome. Roger Brown, Darris McCord, Sam Williams and Karras were members of that group.

Unfortunately for Detroit, Green Bay had a coach named Vince Lombardi and players like Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, Herb Adderly and Ray Nitschke.

The Packers always managed to stay a step ahead of the Lions in that era, and claimed the glory that came with winning the first two Super Bowls ever staged.

I've often contended that WLUC-TV promulgated the infusion of Packer backers by carrying their games for 30 straight years.

The only times you could see the Lions on Channel 6 was when they played the Packers twice a year. Or drive to Marquette, rent a motel room and tune in Detroit games on a Sault Ste. Marie station that carried the games. No kidding.

I can understand the WLUC factor very well. I was a Packer rooter for a couple of years in my youth - before I was pointedly informed that you should always root for your home state team.

The always sharp Lombardi knew enough, after losing to the Lions on Thanksgiving a few times, to insist on another playing date.

Things will no doubt get more interesting this season as unbeaten Green Bay and Detroit appear to be on a collision course in the NFC North Division.

And their Thanksgiving Day meeting already looks like a classic in the making. A 48-45 game might be in the offing, judging by the defenses both teams have displayed so far.

I'll be wearing my Honolulu Blue and Silver, while the majority of Copper Country fans ... will no doubt be sporting the Green and Gold on that day.

That's just the way it is.



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