A SPECIAL DAY AT LAMBEAU FIELD
I've been fortunate to see a lot of amazing things happen at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, and I'd put the events of September 8, 2011 among the best.
The NFL and NBC put on a kick-off show worthy of the Super Bowl and like so many of you, I was damn proud to be from Wisconsin Thursday.
GREEN BAY READY FOR ITS CLOSE UP
I lived in the Green Bay area for almost a decade, 4 years of College at St. Norbert in De Pere and 5 years of working at the CBS station there. I've never seen the City and the area look better, and I've never seen it better presented than the showcase the NFL Kickoff game provided.
That City has a population just over 100,000 people, and they say some 50,000 showed up just for that concert. What an amazing scene! The setting sun, the streets packed with fans, the jumbo screens on stage and Lambeau Field as the backdrop. It reminded me of when U2 played in front of that castle. I imagine football fans from across the country saw that and said, "I gotta visit that place."
Being with the TODAY Show as they went live from inside Lambeau, I was able to see the impressive guests they'd lined up to talk about local fare including cheese and micro brewed beer. The Packers rolled out a glorious welcome mat. I know the folks from TODAY, including Matt Lauer and Al Roker raved about the people, and the way they were treated.
I particularly enjoyed seeing a moment, when Matt was in the stands with the crazies who'd arrived early to be a part of the show. At random, people yelled out, "Thank you! Thank you for coming!" I tell you, I almost got tears in my eyes.
There's nothing that makes we Wisconsinites more proud than being appreciated by others. We're so happy to share the jewels of our communities and our State, and we're just darn glad when someone else takes notice.
Well they did. "No," Lauer replied. "Thank you for having us. We're happy to be here."
NBC CRUSHES IT
Yeah, I know. I work for an NBC affiliate, so what else would I say? Well, I'll tell you. If I didn't believe it, I just wouldn't say anything at all. From gate to gate... I thought NBC owned the day. They helped us with our Daybreak coverage, and then went 3 hours of live features from Lambeau Field on the TODAY Show.
The pre-game concert and show had great vision, and flawless execution.
I generally don't get much into that kind of stuff. Don't need much pre-game. Don't need a concert. Don't need a halftime show. I think a lot of us here in Wisconsin like our football just fine, thank you. Just give me the ball game!
All that said, I loved every minute of the hyped up hoopla before the game. It made the opener a national event, and special like it's never been.
MATT & AL THE REAL DEAL
Given our recent visit to the TODAY Show in New York and now again spending some time with Matt Lauer and Al Roker, people always ask, "What are they really like?"
Again, I just wouldn't say anything if I didn't have something nice to say.
I want to share with you... these guys are genuine. Again they amazed me with their warmth, and outreach toward their fans.
Matt and Al were in the stands at Lambeau taking pictures, signing things. chatting it up with the people. That's in between servicing local affiliates, interviews with newspapers, chatting with guests, and in their free time... live reporting for TODAY!
In free moments, they didn't retreat to a trailer and hide out. They spent every moment with people in any capacity and were giving, helpful, and appreciative for their support.
I know, I know... these guys make millions of dollars to do what they do. Well, yeah, and they earn it. Here's Matt Lauer in Green Bay, Thursday, back out at Ground Zero on Friday. Al Goes from Green Bay to Northeast flooding coverage.
They live those jobs, and they're darn good at them. I salute them, and the TODAY crew.
GREEN BAY SUPER BOWL
Not gonna happen. I think when we dig down deep in our hearts, we know that. Not enough hotel and convention space to start. Frankly, as we also know, Green Bay is a lot less fun in February than it is on a crisp fall night in early September. This event may be as close as Green Bay ever gets to a Super Bowl, and I hope you agree it was a Touchdown.