The celebration began late Sunday evening in the streets surrounding Lambeau Field in Green Bay after the Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31 – 25 in Cowboy’s Stadium near Dallas, Texas. Numerous sports bars and restaurants line the adjacent commercial business district near the stadium, while the opposite side of the stadium borders (normally) quiet residential areas.
Jubilant fans then continued celebrating Monday afternoon when the team arrived back home in Green Bay as more than 35,000 fans weathered single digit temperatures to line the streets of the motorcade of buses as they drove a predefined route from the airport to Lambeau Field, where the team’s offices and locker rooms are located.
All but one of the players made the return trip from Dallas, however, as Super Bowl MVP (Most Valuable Player) Aaron Rodgers departed Dallas for Orlando, Florida where he was honored in the annual Disney World Parade, and then whisked off to New York to make a guest appearance on the David Letterman show.
Watch a local television news story about the Return to Titletown here.
As a consequence to being named Super Bowl MVP and the associated responsibilities and honors, the Return to Titletown celebration was planned for Tuesday afternoon, allowing the entire Packers team and coaching staff to be together to pay homage to their loyal fan base and bask in the glory of returning the Vince Lombardi Trophy back to Green Bay, where it all began.
There is nothing quite like this in the entire National Football League. The smallest city in the NFL (Green Bay, population roughly 100,000) turns out over 50,000 fans in the bowl at Lambeau Field embracing sub-zero wind-chill temperature to pay homage to their team's players and get one last glimpse of the Greatness that accompanies the once-again Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers.
Prior to the team entering the stadium to address the fans, Green Bay Packers President Mark Murphy spoke to the enthusiastic crowd. Most importantly, he began by saying, “We’re proud to bring the Lombardi Trophy back where it belongs, back in Green Bay.”
Following Murphy, Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt stated that “I’ve authorized the permanent renaming of a street that will be called McCarthy’s Way,” as he held up a street sign bearing that moniker. Schmitt was followed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker who proclaimed that “For the entire month of February, it’s the Super Bowl XLV Champion Green Bay Packer month.”
The last of the dignitaries was Senator Herb Kohl, a Wisconsin native, who simply said, “You are associated with the best of our entire country.” “We believe in the Packers now and forever.”
As important as the formal recognition and words were to hear from the influential group listed above, the crowd anxiously awaited to see and hear from the team itself. One by one, several members of the Green Bay Packer organization shared what this experience meant to each of them.
The Head Coach of the Packers came out of the southeast corner of the stadium holding the Lombardi Trophy high in the air with his right arm as he walked along the inside perimeter of the stands, allowing fans to touch the trophy; a symbol that is the highest regarded and coveted team sports award in the world. With that gesture, McCarthy let the fans know how important a role they play in the team’s and organization’s success.
McCarthy solemnly addressed the fans by saying, “I just want to thank the fans. You are the energy force.” He went on to say, “After we lost the Arizona game last year, the players felt very strongly that we had the team to go win a championship. Our path was different, obviously, with the injuries.” “They had great confidence, great resolve, unbelievable support from Packer Nation and we’re going to do it again next year.”
The loudest cheers and applause came from both fans and teammates when Aaron Rodgers (QB) took the stage. Echoing his personality, he humbly told the crowd, “Until two days ago, the greatest day of my sporting career was April 23, 2005, when this organization picked me in the draft.” He followed, “It’s been a great journey the last six years with you guys.” In reference to the crowd, he stated, “I’ve been able to meet some great men and women… We’ve got the greatest fans in the world.”
Watch an excerpt of the celebration as Aaron Rodgers addresses the fans here.
The second most revered player on the team, Charles Woodson (CB), introspectively reflected his thoughts as he said, “This is what you play for. This is something that nobody can ever take from us. I’m never coming down from this high.”
Woodson was followed by Clay Matthews (LB) who simply put things in perspective by saying, “I couldn’t have done it without my teammates, the coaches, the fans. I attribute all the team’s success to everybody that’s been around the organization, and most importantly, you, the fans.”
And, regarding the passionate half-time speech that Woodson gave to the team after having broken his collarbone and ending his day, Matthews reflected, “It was just an emotional heartfelt speech from Charles. He really told us that he was proud of us. He told us to finish the way we know how to.”
Some of the Packers players were literally flabbergasted by the warm reception upon their return. According to Jordy Nelson (WR), “It’s unbelievable. We’ll be remembered forever.”
Donald Driver (WR) added, “Guys believed. When you get guys believe that you can accomplish anything, you can do it. We’ve got the Vince Lombardi Trophy back at home.”
As John Kuhn (FB) stepped up to the podium, the cult-like ‘Kuuuuuuhn’ chant echoed across the stadium bowl at Lambeau. He said, “We play on Lambeau Field, the Frozen Tundra. We’re going to come out here and bear it. We’re proud here to bring the trophy to you.”
The hour-long celebration concluded in harmony with the Packers 2010 season and ultimate victory in Super Bowl XLV. It was a season of potential, challenges, excitement and jubilation; it was a season of destiny in Dallas.