The story of the Green Bay Packers and their fans are famously intertwined.
Davon House’s return to Green Bay in the wee hours of Tuesday morning will be the latest chapter in that relationship.
House was flying from Austin, Texas, to Green Bay, with a stop in Minneapolis along the way. The flight from Austin, however, was delayed by a thunderstorm, meaning he would miss his connecting flight to Green Bay. Since it would be too late at night to rent a car, House went on Twitter while en route from Austin, in hopes of finding a Packers fan willing to drive him from Minneapolis to Green Bay.
“When I got on the plane, I don’t like wasting money (but) I had to buy the WiFi. It was worth it. It was a good investment,” House said after Tuesday’s practice.
Brothers Chad and Mike Johnson answered.
“I went to bed, and I was scrolling through my Twitter and saw he needed a ride,” Chad Johnson told ESPN on Tuesday. “My brother lives in Hudson; I’m in Eau Claire. I tweeted him that, ‘I could come pick you up,’ and in the meantime I texted my brother that House needs a ride. My brother also tweeted him. He was closer, so he swung up to the airport and picked him up, and I met him on Highway 29 so my brother and I could keep each other awake.”
Mike Johnson picked up House at the airport in Minneapolis.
“I got in the car and said, ‘Hey, man, how are you doing?’” House recalled. “He said, ‘I can’t believe it’s you!’ I was like, ‘Yeah, it’s me.’ I said, ‘Man, I appreciate it. You don’t understand how thankful I am for you doing this.’”
Before hopping in the car, House turned into a private investigator and “did my homework” to make sure he was riding with trustworthy people.
“I searched through their page, I saw they were Jesus believers, which was good,” House said. “Family men, which was good. I saw that they retweeted something Mike (Daniels) posted about some Godly stuff, which was good. Then a friend of ours who’s a huge Packers fan named Curt (Cozad). They follow each other. I asked him about and he said, ‘He’s a good guy.’”
House paid $80 for gas and then, at about 3:30 a.m., took the brothers into the stadium. House said he gave them some cleats and gloves and will send them jerseys. He said he was back home by 4:45 a.m. and awake again at 7 to start his day.
House, in his second tour with the Packers, is the veteran of the group at age 27. The leadership role is one he’s taking seriously. He didn’t want to play the my-flight-was-delayed card, for fear that he’d set a poor example.
“Man, I was thinking to myself, I can pull the vet card and say, ‘Hey, my flight is delayed, I can’t make it,’” House said. “And some people are like, ‘Oh, you should’ve done this.’ But man, with the situation I was in last year, I would’ve died to be here. And now that I’m here, I’m not taking any days for granted. If I can make it, I’m going to come. So I’m glad I came. Got better, helped the young guys out. I didn’t want to be the guy who, whenever he could, he’d be gone. To me, that’s not real leadership, so that’s one of the reasons why.”
Coach Mike McCarthy was appreciative of House going, ahem, the extra mile to make it to a voluntary practice.
“It tells you about his commitment, both from our fans and Davon,” McCarthy said. “Cool story. He knows the importance of it. It’s so limited this time of year, and really outside of Aaron (Rodgers) and maybe a couple other guys, you don’t have veteran players that are pre-CBA that clearly understand the importance of nine weeks as opposed to when you had 15 weeks. It’s important, especially when it’s an install day. You never want to miss an install day because you get it going with everyone and the adjustments, and this is the time of year when you can slow things down and teach it in a progression. I think Davon obviously showed that and the importance of being here.”
House might have had another motivation: money. His one-year deal with the Packers included a $150,000 workout bonus. To collect that money, a player must participate in a set percentage of offseason workouts.
“I think we’ve all heard stories similar to that,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “I flew into Minneapolis many years ago – probably six years ago – and they were having a near-tornado experience. They told everybody to get away from the windows and move to the center of the terminal, which was kind of scary. I went over to the desk and asked if the flight, which was delayed at the time, had any chance at about 9 o’clock at night. She said, ‘Probably not.’ Luckily, there was a rental car there so I was able to get home by 2 or 2:30. When it comes down to the end here and you’re thinking about your percentage and making sure you get your workout bonus, you’ll do just about anything to get back here in time for these OTAs.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.