11:25 a.m. (EDT), May 11, 2011
It was a fire drill, or so the students from Negaunee Middle School (www.negaunee.k12.mi.us/middle-school) thought, that brought them outside in the middle of their morning.
In reality, it was a hoax put on by the school’s principal, Dan Skewis, to surprise the students with a stop by the tour.
After the students returned to the building and assembled in the gym, they heard a plea from Gilbert Brown to do their part to stop bullying.
“Don’t walk away,” implored Brown. “Don’t ignore it, and don’t be scared to go to someone to get help.”
During the question-and-answer session, a Lions fan (yes, there are Lions fans here, too) asked about Detroit’s standout defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh. Josh Sitton told the students that he’s the best defender he has faced.
“I was not excited to face him twice a year, I’ll tell you that,” said Sitton. “It’s a good challenge, though. We’d battle each other and kick each other’s butt, so that’s OK.”
Speaking of the Lions, Mark Murphy said they are an up-and-coming team, and to tease the Lions fans a bit, offered a prediction.
“I think they’ll finish second in the division to us for the next few years,” he said with a smile. The Packers fans in the gym demonstrated their appreciation of the comment with applause.
Other highlights from the Q-and-A were a short rap from Desmond Bishop as he discussed his pregame ritual. The students also learned that he intended on scoring after his fourth-quarter fumble recovery in the Super Bowl.
“I was tackled, though,” he said with disappointment.
Matt Flynn really wanted No. 15 when selected by the Packers, but then learned about a player who previously wore it. “Yeah, I asked Ted Thompson if I could be No. 15, since I really liked it and wore it in college,” recalled Flynn. “Ted said, ‘Well, there’s this guy, Bart Starr, who used to wear it and it’s now retired.’ So, I didn’t know my Packers history, obviously, and I received No. 10. I like it, though.”
Skewis was more than happy to interrupt the kids’ day for a great message from the team. “Bullying is such a buzzword today,” said Skewis. “I think it was helpful for the kids to hear these players remind them that it’s an important issue in life. It’s helpful to hear it from role models other than parents and teachers, too.
“Overall the visit was great. Many of this kids will never make it to Lambeau Field, so to ask these guys questions is a once in a lifetime opportunity, a great experience.”
The tour is moving on and will make a stop at the Hardwood Steakhouse in Covington for lunch.
Tonight’s event at the Ashland Civic Center is to benefit BRICK Ministries Inc. It is sold out.
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