How strangers become Packers fans
Imagine a world where you turn on the television and there are football matches on every sports channel. Imagine a place where you have virtually no access to NFL games, and you don’t even know other people who have any idea what football is, and specific terms spoken in another language are something bit unrelated. Now think of other places where the best NFL games start at 2 a.m. on Mondays.
Supporting the Green Bay Packers comes naturally to people growing up in Wisconsin or even other states in the United States. But that’s certainly unusual for international fans. First, a person must have an interest in football, a marginal sport outside the United States. In most places, football dominates.
Then, after someone falls in love with the NFL, there are 32 options to support, with no geographic propensity. The odds are low. How, then, does a foreign fan start cheering on the Packers? There are different stories from different countries, but the cultural aspect of the team, the ownership structure and the small market are common attractive factors.
“Since the early 90’s, I got along with football and the NFL, through a little game I had on the computer, and soon after on Mega Drive with Joe Montana’s game. The Packers were the one of the teams I enjoyed playing the most.” But it was with the popularity of Brett Favre and the Packers in the mid-90s, and then during my trade program, that I definitely became a fan and started to follow Green Bay more closely,” said said Guilherme Behs, a Brazilian Packers fan who co-founded Fan Page BR cheese heads.
Following the NFL overseas has gotten easier over the past decade with a significant jump in popularity, but just watching games was a challenge a few years ago. In South America, for example, the NFL is not shown on TV, and only people with access to cable TV or Game Pass can watch it. And it was even more difficult 20, 30 years ago.
“I started following the Packers in 1991, when cable TV came to my country,” says Fernando Medeiros, a Uruguayan fan who hosts the Spanish-speaking YouTube channel. CheeseCat. “We had two games a week, both on ESPN/CBS. Majik Man was the QB then. That’s for sure (easier to follow the team now). When I started, and the Packers weren’t playing at prime time, we just had the halftime report with some footage, maybe two or three games, to figure out if we won or not, and the internet wasn’t available yet,” he said. said Fernando, who is the guy pictured in this piece during a visit to Lambeau Field in 2017.
There are also fans who started supporting the team more recently, in the age of the internet. But that doesn’t necessarily mean everything is easy. For Irish fans Daire Carragher, primetime matches in Europe mean late night/early morning matches. Something he learned to love.
“I like to stay up late for games. Maybe that opinion will change as I get older, but the beauty of watching the Packers in the early hours of the morning is that there’s nothing to do. No commitments professional/family will never get in the way of watching prime-time NFL games because when they’re airing, everyone on this island is sleeping,” points out Daire, who covers the Packers for US websites. 247 Sports, Packer Report and PFF.
Near the United States, the reality starts to get more interesting. Eduardo Orvananosfrom Mexico City, followed his father into the Packers fandom and says there is now a large football fan base in the country.
“The (Packers) fan base here is absurdly large. The sport has grown tremendously over the last 10 to 15 years, almost everyone here loves football now. And every time I go out I see at minus one person with some sort of Packers outfit. And to my surprise, most of the time, those are the only colors I see on the street,” Orvañanos said. “The Packers should play a game here at Azteca Stadium before 12 pull out. I guarantee it would break the record for most Packers fans in a stadium.”
The Green Bay Packers will play in London this season, another step towards the internationalization of the brand. But the path is marked: the Packers are a global team.