The Packers' regular training camp is upon us. Mike Sherman says he's excited to get things going after what he termed during his first news conference as a "long off-season." The railbirds are ready to roost along the fences at the edge of the practice fields - some of them in full jerseys complete with eye black – and strain their eyes through the chain links, watching everything from the morning stretch exercises through the final scrimmage of each practice day.
They're here to cheer on their heroes even if some of those heroes aren't yet ready to report to camp. They're here to chase autographs. The local merchants are anxious, too. The annual fan pilgrimage to Packerland means plenty of green. And we're not talking about jerseys here.
And then there's us folks in the media. Some of us are excited because football season represents a major part of our livelihood or we just plain enjoy the NFL atmosphere. Others see it differently. Football season means the official end to the summer for the reporters and photographers responsible for covering every practice, every news conference, conducting interviews with every player and trying to come up with some unique angle to every story that emerges from camp. Of course, there are the routine treks all the way to Green Bay from remote parts of the state.
It also means the daily responsibility of developing information that will be both newsworthy and entertaining to the readers, listeners or viewers who make up their audiences. They say that, for every true news story, there are about three good "sidebars" – additional stories developed from the same theme as the original story. Well, I'll tell you that in Packer training camp, sometimes you end up doing all ten of those sidebars. Sometimes a story refuses to die, no matter how many times you write it or broadcast it (Can you say Drew Rosenhaus?).
It would be fabulous if we could just stick to telling football stories. You know, the X's and O's of how well the team will do this season. The personalities who play the game. Brett Favre's amazing streak of NFL starts. The new breed of players who are here to carry on the rich tradition of the Green Bay Packers.
But I'm afraid that era of storytelling died with Vince Lombardi and John Facenda. Don't get me wrong. Pro Football is still a great game with some really great players. And you can count me among those who enjoy covering the team, from training camp right through the playoffs. But I often find myself impatiently waiting for all of the off-the-field distractions to come to a merciful end.
I'm ready for some FOOTBALL - and I know the fans are, too.
Editor's Note: Tom Andrews began covering the Packers in 1974 as a reporter for Milwaukee radio stations WZUU and WOKY. He has been a contributing writer to Packer Report since 1999 and his articles have also appeared in the Green Bay Packers Yearbook, Packer Profiles, Packer Tracker and Sports Collectors Digest among other publications. Andrews is also president of Andrews Media Ventures, a Milwaukee area media and communications consultancy. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.