I’ve been attending Packer games for quite some time. I’ve been lucky enough to see some historic moments and over the years, and I’ve seen the fanbase fall to the deepest depths of entitlement. I have seen the apathy in the stands firsthand.
When Matt LaFleur said he wanted to get the energy up, I knew exactly what he was talking about. The “down in front” crowd on defensive stands, coupled with the people who didn’t know when to shut up so the offense could run a play, had completely robbed Lambeau of any homefield advantage.
LaFleur set out to change that.
I went to the Packers Broncos game Sunday and can tell you that the changes they’ve made to the gameday experience have had a huge impact.
I remember when we would hear Zombie Nation at kickoff, Bang On The Drums after a touchdown and that was it. In those days, fans were excited about a team on the rise and knew how to get loud without prompting.
Winning spoils fans.
Over time, excitement waned. Fans became entitled. Super Bowls were expected, if not demanded. Big plays weren’t enough. Winning wasn’t enough. There was more cheering at Family Night than there was at key division matchups.
Things have changed. I noticed it immediately.
Pregame introductions used to feature guys running (or jogging) out of the tunnel when their name was called.
There was smoke in the tunnel. Sabotage by the Beastie Boys was blaring, fireworks were going off. People cheered. It was loud, it was a party.
Danny Vitale posed in the smoke and strutted. The announcer had voice inflection. The crowd was loud – no more golf claps, real cheers.
And the players responded. You could see it in the way they ran out, in their posture, their body language.
The energy carried over all game. On defense, there was a music clip between every single play. Run DMC, Trick Daddy, Alice Merton, all kinds of amped up tunes plus clips of players telling the crowd to get loud. It worked.
This defense is playing with a swagger that I’m not sure we’ve ever seen in Green Bay. They are feeding off the energy. On offense, things are still coming together, but fireworks after each touchdown get the crowd riled up.
It’s a completely different atmosphere.
This is what home field advantage is all about.
Keep it up.