“I tell you what Green Bay,” Rodgers said. “We’re going to be right here next year doing this exact same thing!”
The fans who braved single-digit temperatures loved every minute of the one-hour “Return To Titletown” celebration. They cheered every proclamation, from Green Bay mayor Jim Schmitt’s authorization to re-name a yet-to-be-determined city street “McCarthy’s Way,” to General Manager Ted Thompson’s question, “It’s a great day to be a Packer, isn’t it?”, to Rodgers’ thoughts of going back-to-back.
The Super Bowl MVP wasn’t the only one who hinted at that, either.
“It’s great to be here,” Head Coach and soon-to-be Mapquest search item Mike McCarthy said. “I just want to thank the fans. You’re clearly an energy force for our football team. Just keep bringing that passion, that energy, and we’ll keep bringing trophies back to you.”
The ceremony included the introduction of the entire coaching staff and their players, position by position, with select individuals on the offense, defense and special teams addressing the fans on stage via questions from emcees Wayne Larrivee and Larry McCarren.
The fans got some additional entertainment too, aside from the closing fireworks. Offensive lineman Jason Spitz performed a bare-chested belly-flop into the snow during a commercial break, and safety Nick Collins ended the celebration by taking a victory lap around the stadium with the Vince Lombardi Trophy, allowing fans in the front row to actually touch it.
“I’ve been chasing this dream for a long time, now it’s finally here, and I’m just glad to be a part of it,” Collins told the crowd.
If there was one overriding theme to the comments being made, aside from the obvious pride in bringing the Lombardi Trophy “back home,” it was about the unity the team displayed, and needed, in overcoming all the injuries and other bumps on the road on their way to the franchise’s fourth Super Bowl title and 13th world championship.
“It was vital,” Thompson said. “There’s no way we could have made it through this without the guys being good teammates. We had new guys come in, we had our core leaders take those guys in. It was a wonderful group experience. It took everybody to win this thing, and it’s just remarkable what these young men did.”
That’s perhaps what has made it so special, that they had to do it, as Collins put it, “as one unit.”
“We’ve been through a lot together,” Rodgers said. “A lot of adversity, guys stuck together the entire season, believed in each other. This is the best locker room I’ve ever been a part of. These guys believe in each other, we love each other, we take care of each other, we pick each other up when we’re down.”
But there was no down, of course, on this day.
“It’s unbelievable,” said receiver Jordy Nelson, who was sporting a pair of crutches due to a leg injury from the game that didn’t seem to slow him down in catching nine passes for 140 yards and a touchdown to help beat the Steelers on Sunday.
“Especially with an organization like the Green Bay Packers, just being able to put our stamp on the history here, being a part of it, and we’ll be remembered forever.”
Two of the loudest ovations were for veteran cornerback/postseason inspiration Charles Woodson and for all-time Green Bay receptions leader Donald Driver, two players who might cherish the Super Bowl title the most even though they got injured during the game and couldn’t finish the season on the field.
“I’m never going to come down from it,” said Woodson, who was able to raise his right arm to salute the crowd but not his left due to his broken collarbone from the game. “This is what you play the game for. We won it, finally got here. This is something nobody can ever take from us, so I’m never coming down from this high.”
The ovation for Driver, who was wearing a walking boot due to the ankle injury that forced his premature exit from the game, was so long he couldn’t speak right away and instead blew a few extra kisses to the crowd.
“We love you guys so much,” Driver told the fans. “Without you guys, we wouldn’t be able to accomplish the things that we accomplished. You guys cheer us on. The 70,000 fans in this stadium every Sunday, the million fans watching on TV, we love you guys. Thank you for your support.
“And guess what? We’re Super Bowl champs, baby.”
Afterward, addressing reporters in the locker room, Driver said he felt "a lot of warm in the stadium" from the fans despite the bitter cold temps.
As for Rodgers’ talk of a repeat, Driver said, “Anything is possible.” No one seemed to disagree.
“We’ve got the team, we’ve got the guys here, we believe in each other,” Collins said. “Like he said, we’re trying to do it again.”