Life on the road in the NFL is certainly an eye-opening experience. Different stadiums, different cities and different weather conditions are just some of the things that make it so hectic. KNBR radio host and 49ers sideline reporter Rod Brooks has been through it all, making him an expert on the subject. After each road game this season, Brooks will fill 49ers fans in on what his life on the road is really like in his "On the Road with Rod," column exclusively on 49ers.com.**All of the teams who visit Green Bay stay in Appleton, Wisconsin because there is nowhere to stay in Green Bay. It's about a thirty minute ride from the hotel to the stadium. I heard they called that city the Fox City. I don't know why though – I didn't see any foxes there.
Like all of the cities of the Midwest we have gone to, there is nothing but nice people. One thing I enjoyed was a trip to a bar that is pretty famous. It's called Cleo's and it's famous for having Christmas decorations up all year long. Now, it's not as jarring in the middle of November as it would be to walk in there in the middle of August. But there are a lot of Christmas decorations.
I did that on Friday night and on Saturday I went to Lombardi's Steakhouse for a great meal. It was special too because there was a lot of Vince Lombardi memorabilia. One thing that you notice about Green Bay once you get there is how much they love the Packers. Everything is Green and Gold.
You also see how much they love Vince Lombardi. But, I was unnerved by one thing. This is not a judgment on the people of Green Bay, but just something I found to be weird. There are a lot of things named after Vince Lombardi.
There's Lombardi Drive, Lombardi Steakhouse, and I'm sure there's an aqueduct somewhere around there named for Vince Lombardi.
Inside the concourses of Lambeau Field, there were advertisements just like you would see anywhere but with Lombardi's likeness. There were two advertisements in particular that had Lombardi in them that I noticed.
One was a Coca-Cola add where Lombardi is pictured, smiling, holding the Coca-Cola. It's an iconic photo of him, just as you would remember him, but holding a coke. The advertisement said something like Vince Lombardi likes Coca-Cola, so you should too. Then a little bit further down the concourse there was another advertisement with almost the same picture. This time there was a gas attendant standing next to Lombardi with a Citgo patch on his shirt. This add said something like, "Citgo, winners since 1962."
It clearly implied that Vince Lombardi is a winner, and you will be a winner if you use Citgo gas. It struck me as creepy. I understand hero worship. That's just a part of sports. I get that. I just thought it was weird to use his image to sell Coke and Gas.
Just think, Bill Walsh is just as revered here in the Bay Area as Lombardi is in Wisconsin. I have a hard time thinking that in some point in time, somewhere on some billboard, that Bill Walsh will be holding a can of Coke. I understand the goal of advertising and the use of personality. I just found it a bit different.
When you think of Green Bay, they really love that team, they really love its history, and they really love the people of its history and I wonder if they will ever make peace with Brett Favre. He's such an important part of Green Bay history, and just an important as Lombardi. Favre is just as important in continuing the tradition and carrying it on from Lombardi.
If you ever get a chance to go to Lambeau, then go.
It is as close to a college atmosphere in professional football as you will find. It's a stadium back in time, just like Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, and the Indianapolis Speedway. It's in the middle of a neighborhood. You walk out of a tunnel in Green Bay and you walk 200 yards, and you're in somebody's front yard.
When you walk in to the stadium, there are not seats as we know them, it's all metal benches. Everybody sits there next to each other and they're all having a great time. The stadium has that history because it' been around for God knows how many years. You get that feeling just as you would if you were to walk in to old Yankee Stadium when it was still in form. It's the same with Wrigley Field and the old Boston Garden. You can feel the history. Lambeau Field has been around since the 1920's in some shape or form. You can feel that. It's the way people in Green Bay watch a football game, and it's different than the way people watch in the Bay Area.
At halftime, the Wisconsin Marching Band played, and no one, and when I say no one – no one left at half time when the band played. There were 70,000 people in that stadium and they were in their seats to watch Wisconsin's Marching Band.
I can't say that I've seen that happen at any other stadium – Candlestick Park included. When it's halftime, fans beat it. They go to get food, they go to the restrooms, and they go to do whatever. But I've never seen in my life where people sat there and watched a marching band.
It was the strangest thing I've ever seen.
Prior to the trip, people told me I had to try the cheese curds, but I did not. Listen, I love cheese… but I don't like the word 'curd.' That sounds like an abomination. What I did have was a lot of bratwurst.
I'm a big fan of pork products… huge fan of pork products. We're talking salami, bacon, pork chops and all of that. It doesn't matter, the point is… I'm a big fan of pork products. I had maybe a half-dozen bratwursts over the course of Sunday.
Anytime someone has good bratwurst – I'm there. Give me a brat, some sauerkraut and some mustard and it's going to be really hard to get rid of me. I'm in there like Vladimir.
They even gave more out to players and staff before we left the stadium and got on the plane. I know exactly what I was doing before I got on the bus – I was all about the bratwurst. I had them before the game. I had them at halftime and I had them after the game. I got my bratwurst on!
It didn't do any damage though – I have a cast-iron skillet for a stomach! Matter of fact, I wished I had more.