Everyone has a little smile. Everyone nods knowingly.
Welcome to Green Bay, Wisconsin, where the folks are blissed out because the Green Bay Packers are playing the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV on Sunday.
This is a big deal, of course, but not epic.
Epic was 1996, when the Packers — who had not been to the Super Bowl in 29 years, not since the days of Vince Lombardi — revived the Glory Years. Back in 1996, to anyone under 30, the Packers had always been losers. Anyone over 50, well, they could die happy. The Packers had made it back to the Super Bowl in their lifetime.
There’s no such drama, no such pent-up emotion this time around. It’s been only 14 years since the Packers last made it to the Super Bowl, barely a generation. For most of those 14 years, the Packers have been a decent team.
That said, Packers fans are still getting blissed out.
Butch Vig is one. Yes, that Butch Vig. The much-in-demand producer. The guy from Garbage. He’s from Wisconsin and a passionate Packers fan. He wrote a Packers song and recorded it with two pals. They call themselves the 6 Packers. Really.
Vig wrote “Go Pack Go!” in 2006, the last time the Packers made a run at the Super Bowl. He revised it this year, and now it’s all over the radio in Wisconsin.
“I’ve done Green Day and the (Smashing) Pumpkins and Garbage and whatever, but now I can die a happy man. I’ve had a song played at Lambeau,” Vig told MTV.com.
On the Sunday before the Super Bowl, the Packers’ team store at Lambeau Field was jam-packed. Eight clerks worked the main checkout area. Each clerk had a line that was three to four people deep. Everyone nodded knowingly.
In the plaza outside the stadium, visitors posed for photos at the base of the Vince Lombardi statue. One after another, they stepped up. Everyone had that little smile.
So why just little smiles? Why just nods? Why not let it all hang out?
Because no one can forget the last time the Packers went to the Super Bowl. It was 1997. The Green Bay Packers played for the Vince Lombardi Trophy and lost. That was so not supposed to happen.
No one wants that to happen again. Thus the tentative little smiles, the subtle nods.
What kind of folks do that? Those stoic Midwesterners. Cheeseheads, baby, the pride of Wisconsin.
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In 1996, a trio called C.W.A. — Cheeseheads With Attitude — had the hottest Packers song as their team made it to the Super Bowl. This was it, off their “Straight Outta Wisconsin” CD. It remains a classic, at least in Wisconsin. And, yeah, it seems like everyone was pleasantly stoned then, too.