Warm Heart In The Frozen Tundra
We left Chicago early Sunday morning, driving north along Lake Michigan, into Wisconsin. When we reached Milwaukee, every radio station was fixated on one thing. Kickoff was at 1:00. We were in Packer Nation. We arrived in Green Bay and the town was painted green and gold. I was wearing red and black. I was a long way from home, but the Atlanta Falcons were much further from theirs. Until that year, I had never seen the Atlanta Falcons win a game on the road or at home in Atlanta. People in Ottawa had warned me about being a visiting fan in Lambeau Field. I scanned the crowd of over 72,000 people for my fellow cheer section. We looked like a thin string of red Christmas lights on a towering green tree. Ten minutes into the scoreless first quarter, I’m making friends with the cheeseheads surrounding me and the Falcons are marching up the field. They score a touchdown on a goal line pass. The Falcons are on the board first and the game is on. A field goal for us and a 44-yard touchdown for the Packers ended the first half with a score of 10-7. Leadership was proven for the Falcons with a 90-yard, 9-play touchdown drive in the 3rd quarter. The Packers answered with a field goal in the same quarter and a touchdown in the 4th, to tie the game with just over 10 minutes to play. Though Packer penalties and special teams errors were the demise of their game, the Falcons proved victorious with strong defense and vision from their rookie quarterback who kept possession of the ball to run the clock and score the winning field goal. After 60 minutes of trying to ruffle the Falcons’ feathers, it was over. I stood up, clapped, and took it all in. As people started filing out of the stadium, a man tapped on my shoulder. I turned and he was standing with a young boy. They were dressed in green and gold and holding their Packer flags given to every person entering the stadium. We said “good game” to each other and he told me it was his son’s first game. I looked at the boy and pondered the idea that he likely lived a short distance and had never been inside. “Are you from Atlanta?”, he asked. I laughed and said, “No, I’m from Ottawa, Canada.” “Well, we’re glad to have you. Do you mind if I get a picture of you with my son so he can remember his first game?” You can imagine my amazement as I sat and posed for our cameras. I couldn’t help feeling that I was leaving the Frozen Tundra with a warm heart.
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