St. Norbert College is somewhat of a melting pot for NFL fans, specifically the NFC North. While there are some Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings fans, the majority of students happen to root for the Green Bay Packers. The campus is the location of the Green Bay Packers training camp every summer and is only ten minutes away from Lambeau Field. Every Sunday, the Green and Gold is worn with pride and not because it’s the color of the mascot, although that really doesn’t seem like a coincidence either. However, there are those non-Wisconsinites that come from Illinois. That means the campus is swarming with Chicago Bears fans. Some professors at the college believe that there is at least one Bears fan in every class if not more.
During the week, the Packers and Bears fans get along. They eat lunch together, laugh, talk, and some even live together in dorms or apartments. They are friends, students, and colleagues who typically get along. On Sundays, when the teams aren’t playing each other, the fans just ignore or tolerate their classmates. When it comes time for their teams to play each other, all the civility goes away. Green, gold, orange, and navy blue dominant the campus as fans try to out do the other. Even the calm and timid fan will throw in an insult or two at their fellow Packer-fan classmates.
Last Thursday, the ante had been upped. It was the first time the Chicago Bears would face the Green Bay Packers in the 2012 NFL season, and it was going to take place on the Packers home turf. Even though it was only the second week, one may have thought it was a playoff game. The atmosphere in Green Bay and De Pere was thick with anticipation, nerves, and plenty of trash talking. Students at St. Norbert declared their side the minute they woke up by donning their favorite jerseys, hats, and various other sports paraphernalia. Bears fans were having the time of their life, letting their Packer fan classmates know that their team had won their first game and the Packers lost their first game. Bets were made, none of them with pleasant consequences. Not so pleasant nicknames were flying around discussions. All of them were in good fun, but there was competitiveness behind the statements. For the fans, the game was a competition for bragging rights and their pride.
The Packers went on to defeat the Bears 23-10 in a tight defensive draw. Throughout the game, the St. Norbert campus was full of animation. While Bears fans started the day with proud energy, their moods plummeted each time Cutler threw the ball to a Green Bay defenseman. The final groan came when Brandon Marshall dropped a touchdown pass that easily could have gotten them back in the game. For Packer fans, the night was much better. Cheers roared across the sky when Tom Crabtree scored the first touchdown on a fake field goal. Each time Clay Matthews sacked Jay Cutler grunts could be heard coming from dorm rooms as students imitated his move.
While the game has always been about the winner and the loser, in a rivalry game, nothing is more important than bragging rights. For the next three months, Packer fans hold those rights. Their team was better than the Bears in every facet of the game. The defense, lead by Clay Matthews’ three-and-a-half sacks, was stellar and much improved from the opening game. When these two teams meet on December 16th, the outcome might be different. It’s hard to say right now. What is certain is that the loyal fans will be at standing on the sidelines, snow or shine, awaiting the outcome of the game and fighting for bragging rights to say their team in the greatest.