I've been meaning to go to training camp for a couple weeks, but yesterday was the first evening that the planets aligned in such a way that it was not storming, that I was not working, that I didn't have dinner plans with coworkers and there was an evening practice. Thanks, planets! It was absolutely worth the $0.00 ticket and I will be going again.
In what I believe to be one of the coolest traditions in professional sports, local chill'uns wait outside the locker room exit at Lambeau Field with their bikes. Players then either walk across the street to practice, or borrow the bikes to ride across the street to the practice field, with the kids running along carrying helmets.
Wow, these look awful shrunk down all small-like. They're better actual size, should anyone out there be interested - just click. Or they're on my Flickr.
The local paper reported (yes, this is news up here) that this was the first time in two years that Aaron Rodgers rode a bike to practice. Lucky kid! (Also reported by the local paper - this kid is Aaron Rodgers's Facebook friend. This is the weirdest town in which I have ever lived.)
Then, if they have time, many of them sign autographs. And I do not know why all the players except Donald wear their pads to practice. Also - check out Donald's legs. They're prettier than mine... and probably yours. Unless you're Donald Driver. In which case, hi Donald! Nice legs.
Not only is it cool for the kids, it warms my heart to see huge men riding tiny bikes - some of which are pink.
Pink bikes and extremely small bikes are the best. This kid was sprinting the whole way in an attempt to keep up and it was adorable.
A complete pass to Al Harris!
I was sitting next to a father with his daughter (who was about seven). She had lots (and lots) of questions. My favorite was during this kickoff drill when several players had red bandana-things on their helmets: "Are they wearing those to keep their helmets warm?"
I told her they were. Was that wrong of me?
Lots of people had the same idea I did yesterday. It actually feels like football season - 50s with a chilly breeze. Football weather is my favorite kind of weather. Time to dig out the sweaters.
Then at the end of practice, there's a big ol' team huddle. Awwww.
Some of them come over to the stands and sign more autographs!
They're a TEAM.
Then they ride bikes back to the locker room. Way too cool. Next time I go to practice, I'm borrowing a small child with a bike to bring with me.
(In related news, I'm watching preseason football in the flavor of the Cowboys v. the Titans right now. The new Cowboys' stadium is very cool and impressive, I'll give them that - but I'd rather have Lambeau Field, one of the most revered venues in all professional sports. Tradition, homes. I don't think there's any need for a $40 million TV that blocks punts. How do you build a billion-dollar stadium and put the scoreboard too low?)