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On the Road: Warmer weather for Danny’s return to Wisconsin

GREEN BAY, Wisc. — I watched the sun set from one of my favorite Seattle perches on Sunday, looking over Alaska Airlines field at Husky Stadium alongside two of my college roommates when the clouds took on a soft, undeniably purple glow.

By noon the next day, I was standing outside a veritable cathedral of professional football, waiting to meet up the man who first brought me to Seattle outside of Lambeau Field.

In between there was Alaska Airlines’ overnight flight from Seattle to Chicago, a three-hour drive north from Chicago with ESPN.com’s Mike Sando at the wheel and John Clayton riding shotgun and less than 13 hours after the Huskies wrapped up their victory over Montana, I was in the only NFL town whose population nearly doubles every time there’s a football game.

But before we talk about the bucket-list item that is a game in Green Bay, let me tell you about my friend Tom Kelly.

Well, actually he was my Dad’s friend first. They attended Loyola High School together in Los Angeles, and back in 1987, he took a wide-eyed 12-year-old who lived in Eastern Oregon and flew him to Seattle so I could watch the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels play Iowa in an NCAA Tournament West Regional final at the Kingdome.

There were a number of firsts for me on that trip:

  • First trip to Seattle
  • First time flying aboard Alaska Airlines
  • First time I ever played Nintendo, Tom’s oldest son Charley schooling me on Super Mario Bros.

I like to think that trip gave me a glimpse of what it was like to chase down sporting events across the country. In reality, it was a friend of my father’s doing something exceptionally kind and introducing me to a corner of the country that I’ve come to call home.

Thirty years later, I’m getting to multiple events in a single weekend, and on Sunday, I met up with Tom and his two of sons outside Lambeau Field. They came to Wisconsin on Friday, went to Camp Randall in Madison on Saturday and on Sunday they were at Lambeau Field. Chris, Tom’s youngest son, wore Chad Brown’s No. 94 while Andy had Marshawn Lynch’s jersey on.

No sooner had they parked than they were being offered Jell-O shots, their choice of Packers’ Green or Seahawks’ blue.

Green Bay is simply the most unique location not just in a league of increasingly corporate stadium development, but a country of increasingly homogenous chain-store expansion.

It’s an 80,000-seat stadium in the middle of a 100,000-person town. The kind of place you’ve got to see even if you have to fly all night to get there.