After logging 735 miles, celebrating five tailgate parties and creating thousands of new memories, the 2016 Packers Tailgate Tour completed its 11th year and has now raised more than $2 million for charity.
Tour participants offered some reflections on their experiences.
Mark Murphy: “This year’s tour was different than many of our other tours, because it took place over the weekend and was later in the year. We were able to do some things we don’t often do, such as visit camps and tour on the Ducks. The activities were more summer related than school related, which was a nice change.
“The group was great. The players got along really well. For me, it’s always fun to see how our alumni and current players sit on separate parts of bus at the beginning and by the end of trip they’re all together sharing stories and having fun.”
Sean Jones: “This tour has been a lot of fun. There are things I have done that I wouldn’t have taken the time to do, like riding the Ducks in the (Wisconsin) Dells. I’m going to bring my family back to do that.
“It was great to have the ability to touch people and put smiles on their faces. Many of them wouldn’t be able to go to a game or visit Lambeau Field. We’ve been able to bring that feeling to them and help them create great memories. I say that to my kids, the aspect of making great memories in your life. And the other thing I stress is to ask great questions…otherwise you won’t get great answers.”
LeRoy Butler: “It was fantastic. I enjoyed meeting people that will never get a chance to come to Green Bay to see a game. I enjoyed seeing kids that were impacted that we were able to play with at the hospital. They were thanking us but we were thanking them. That’s the mutual bond.
“We raised a lot of money for charity. They counted on this. To come through for them is awesome.”
Robert Brooks: “It was a great success, great to see the fans. I didn’t expect anything less than great turnout with this fan base. I don’t think any other team could pull off what we did. The fans that watched our teams, their excitement was like yesterday; they remember you and the plays and the times during that era. Makes you feel special.”
Sam Barrington: “This tour is what makes us one of the most prestigious organizations in the league. Not about how much the team’s worth or games won, it’s the ability to have collective heart for the community. That’s what I believe.
“The consistency was reiterated at each event. One was not more enthused than other. Everyone was enthused and happy.”
Jayrone Elliott: “It was a great opportunity for us to interact with the fans and to bond with teammates and meet former players. I learn some techniques from Sean. LeRoy was fun to be with and I learned about business from RB (Robert Brooks).
“It was tremendous how many fans turned out each night. You could see their excitement in their body language. The surprise visits were great, especially at the children’s hospital.”
Jared Abbrederis: “Mean Gene was fun; he was a hoot. We had some fun stops with some surprise twists. Fun interacting with the fans. The highlight of the trip was the children’s hospital. We also enjoyed good food spots around Wisconsin.
“It surprised me how much the older guys goofed around. It was fun to hang out with these guys. I learned something from Robert Brooks: get the scuba gloves for the winter. Get the scubas and you’ll catch 100 balls, he said.”