Elkhorn Middle School was the site of the Packers Tailgate Tour Friday night, where a sold-out gathering of more than 600 enjoyed the opportunity to connect with the players.
The walk down the hallway toward the gym brought back memories of Casey Hayward’s own middle school experience.
“We had to walk a line in the hallways at my school,” he said. “It wasn’t a bad thing, just some structure.”
The event benefitted VIP Services, a nonprofit that empowers people with disabilities to explore and experience endless possibilities. It offers employment opportunities, life skills development, transportation service and other assistance to people in the community with disabilities.
Live music kept the crowd entertained while they waited in line for autographs or enjoyed the tasty tailgate food. Associated Bank was on hand to present a check in support of VIP Services as well.
The question-and-answer session again featured some insight into the players careers, with Micah Hyde describing the various ways he contributes to the Packers, including corner, slot defender, safety, return man and a possible new wrinkle.
“I’m trying to put on some weight so I can play linebacker,” he quipped.
Jerry Kramer gave the crowd some insight into Vince Lombardi’s legendary ability to motivate players as he recalled a day at practice when he missed a block and then had a false start.
“He got four inches from my face and said, ‘Mister, college students have a concentration span of five minutes, high school is three, kindergarten is 30 seconds. Where does that put you?’ ”
Later, as a dejected Kramer sat in his locker and pondered his now seemingly dubious future, Lombardi approached.
“He patted me on the shoulders and neck and said, ‘Son, one of these days you’re going to be the best guard in the league.’ Talk about being ready to go.”
Prior to the party, the players had the opportunity to meet several individuals who work for VIP Services when they surprised them during a pizza party. It was clear the group was touched by the visit as smiles as wide as the room accompanied the many hugs and pictures.
“That was fun,” said Bill Schroeder. “I really like how emotional the clients are. You can tell they appreciated the visit.”
Mark Murphy appreciated the opportunity to help VIP and its mission. Over the course of the tours, stops have been made at a handful of such organizations.
“It’s a great program,” Murphy said. “I’m really impressed with VIP. Organizations like this are so valuable to the individuals as it gives them a sense of purpose and have a job and contribute. It’s helpful to the families, too.”
At the post-event dinner, Gilbert Brown wasn’t around to defend himself when Dave Robinson considered the all-you-can-eat items on the menu.
“You’re lucky Gilbert Brown isn’t here,” he said to the restaurant staff.
As the conversation turned to other subjects, Robinson was describing what it’s like to be color blind when Hayward pulled up on his smart phone the famous picture of the “the dress” that was all the rage on the Internet recently. As he passed it around the table, most of those in attendance thought it was either blue and black or white and gold. But Robinson had his own take.
“That dress is red,” he insisted, as the others laughed heartily.
The members of the tour are looking forward to the final day.
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Posted in Tailgate Tour