The cheapskate Packers and the cylinder of red-hot doom.
Recently the Packers Organization held an auction to unload that formidable Lombardi Street landmark; "The Receiver". Hey Packers, how about a little public relations savvy? To me, it would be a no brainer to donate the statue to the residents of Brown County. That's donate, as in give, like in a gift. Like, you know the 290 million dollars that we the people of Brown County are gifting to the Packer Organization. I mean, gee whiz guys, could they possibly be bigger cheapskates?
I know it's not exactly a great work of art; it's not for example, the Calder in front of Chicago city hall. Or even the orange I-beam asterisk on the end of Wisconsin Ave in Milwaukee. But that kitschy statue is one of the most photographed items in the Green Bay metropolitan area, -- A fact that doesn't especially bode well for this area in general. I mean, that's the most memorable landmark in this city??? But love it or hate it, it is a piece of Green Bay history that should be preserved for the citizens of Titletown.
Yes, as it happened, things worked out okay, with the Packers selling it to a generous gentleman whom will place it in a park overlooking the Ray Nitchski Bridge. And the Packer organization did take its use into consideration, even turning down some higher bids, so apparently they didn't have their heads completely up their jerseys. But jeepers, for the 42,000 dollars they sold it for, I think it would have been worth 10 times that in PR and general good will if they had given it to Brown County directly.
But hey, I'll admit to being overly sensitive because of the strong emotional ties I have with that statue. Hell, I spent 2 long months of solitary confinement in an underground cell because of Mr. Long Legs!
The story centers around my attempt to sign the giant football that our lankly athlete stands upon
As you may recall, back in the late 80's the football had signatures of famous Packer notaries. When I graciously offered to add my signature, the Hall of Fame management stubbornly refused, letting petty jealously and inflated egos overrule good judgment.
With the bitter sting of rejection lingering in me, I decided to handle the matter my own way By getting drunk and sneaking out into the night. I was armed with a chisel point sharpie and a stepladder (needed to scale the imposing 36-inch fence guarding the Plaster of Paris Packer).
As I climbed up the ladder and entered the inner fence area an alarm sounded! Within seconds, 11 Ninja warriors in green cloaks and yellow belts dropped from the sky, swinging nunchulks and tossing razor sharp Packer "G" discs. I had my hands full, I'm tellin' ya. I battled gallantly, for what seemed like hours, but it may have been closer to a few seconds.
I was captured, bound and put into a jet powdered Packer Helmet-car. They drove into the stadium where I was transferred to a Packer "Helmetcopter". From there I was transported to an underground detention center. Judging by the landmarks and the time in flight, I believe it was located just north of Crivitz.
I remained in my small dark cell for 53 days, without human contact, subsiding solely on the two brats with nachos that appeared in the door slot, -- three times daily, barely enough to survive! The only weapon I had against my raging thirst was the 32-oz beer that came with the brats. I pray daily to the good Lord above that I shall never again have to endure such horrific hunger. And such scorching thirst!!!
Throughout my imprisonment, I was left alone in total silence, with one notable exception. On day 53, I heard voices from down the hall! Two voices. It sounded like someone was arguing with well, Vince Lombardi! The other voice, I realized later, was that of Mike Holmgrem. This was weird, because Mr. Holgrem wasn't associated with the Packers back in those days. Of course it was also pretty weird because Vince Lombardi was known to be dead for some thirty-odd years! It was hard to follow the conversation; they spoke in riddles about an unholy pact with Lucifer. Mentioning a quote/unquote "hillbilly". They also spoke highly of a "wolf", and a man/giant who "shall be of the cloth." Also, some nonsense about a butler... A butler???
Suddenly, they began an intense and very strange chant. I guess you'd call it a chant. It was half chant and half like, well a cheerlead! Suddenly a deep, I mean really deep, voice echoed "It shall be number 31" What I found particularly odd was; as I heard the voice say the number "31" the letters "XXXI" registered, make that burnt, inside my brain. "XXXI" ??? What does that spell? It must be some sort of code. Unbreakable, no doubt.
Then everything went dark. I blacked out. When I awoken is was a good/bad news situation. The sun was shining in my eyes; that's the good news. The bad news is; I was trapped in a concrete cylinder. It measured about3 feet across and was about 7 feet deep. It was open at the top. I was up to my knees in warm ashes. What type of diabolical, hellish trap is this? I began to panic, am I to be burnt alive??? The open top of this cylindrical tomb was hopelessly out of reach, about 12 inches away from my outstretched hands If only I could raise, or levitate my body an addition 12 inches, I could crawl out to safety... Then suddenly, I remembered something a grade school gym teacher once shown me. I never thought it would be useful, but now it could save me from a fiery death! With adrenaline surging in my veins, I crouched down on my haunches, and then suddenly sprung forward! My body flung into the air like a rocket! 9 inches, 10 inches, 11 inches off the ground!!! With the upper edge of the cylinder just a mere inch away, gravity took over and hurled me back to mother earth!
Then, I got an idea! Sewn into the lining of my jacket was an emergency supply of Schlitz Malt Liquor. Perhaps, if I were to remove this jacket and shed the weight of the six 40oz bottles, I would be able to bridge the addition inch of, well vertical-ness. With the jacket removed, I crouched down. I sprung forward with all my might. This time I flew into the air with even greater velocity. 10, 11, 12 inches above the ground! The edge was within my grasp! My powerful, 40 oz conditioned hands, clamped firmly onto the upper edge of the concrete vessel! As I climbed out, I began to laugh. My panic may have been a bit overzealous, because I now recognized where I was. I was climbing out of an ash receptacle in the east parking lot of Lambeau Field! There will be no messy and painful, getting burnt alive ordeal for me, no sir-eee. I WAS HOME!
Many, many times, over the years, I've thought about those events, especially the conversation I overheard. The wolf. A hillbilly and a butler? XXXI? A man of the cloth? I have spent many hours trying to figure out what it all meant. Thinking, thinking there must be some significance to it. Wondering if perhaps there was a hidden message Maybe a story that I could break to the world media! But alas, I've come to the conclusion that there is no solution to this puzzle. -- Just a bunch of random information. Perhaps it was all just a ruse that was intended to confuse me, to throw me off the real story I guess I shall never know.
So the saga ends, all that remains my ill fated attempt to sign the big football is a small, painted-over bloodstain, and another fabulous story from yours truly, S Lyle OConnor, sports writer extraordinaire.