The Packers’ plane landed at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport late in the afternoon before buses took them to the Omni Mandalay Las Colinas in Irving. There the team was greeted with hundreds of fans cheering them on as they entered the hotel.
“Our players, our coaches, our whole organization is excited to be here,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “It was an excellent week, a very productive week last week in Green Bay. It’s great to get down here and see the setup we’ve been provided here at the hotel.
“It’s been very impressive, and we’re looking forward to this week’s work leading up to the Super Bowl game.”
There were several news crews on hand at the airport to cover the team’s arrival in Texas, and several players also had cameras and camcorders of their own to document the event.
“You have to have a camera, you have to have a camcorder, something that you can store in your memory bank and show your kids when you get older,” wide receiver Greg Jennings said. “This is a great experience, being afforded the opportunity to be down here, representing the NFL, the last two teams standing.
“But bearing in mind that we still have a job to complete and that’s to win the game. You’ve got to embrace the opportunity and just enjoy it while you are down here.”
The Packers also received a hearty send-off with hundreds of fans cheering them on as the team buses departed Lambeau Field for Austin-Straubel Airport at noon.
“It was awesome,” McCarthy said. “Just like everything that involves the fans in Green Bay, it was great. We left the visitors’ locker room, just on the buses for the TSA procedure. I couldn’t tell you how many people were there, but it was great.
“Signs, a lot of excitement, a lot of enthusiasm. The police escort to the stadium, people were lined up along the sidewalks and so forth. Special as always, and we’re looking forward to the return.”
McCarthy conducted a team meeting at Lambeau Field on Monday morning to lay out the schedule for the week, which includes Media Day at Cowboys Stadium on Tuesday morning.
“I plan on enjoying it,” linebacker A.J. Hawk said. “I think that is kind of what we have heard from guys in the past that have been here that just don’t ever get fed up or anything with all of the activities that we have to do and that they push you through.
“They said just kind of take it for what it is and enjoy it. Try to enjoy every day and that’s what I am trying to do. I am having a good time. I am excited to actually get on the practice field.”
The Packers will take to the practice field for the first time this week on Wednesday, but just where they will be doing that is still in question. Green Bay has the use of Southern Methodist University’s outdoor stadium for practice, but with the forecast in Dallas calling for a wintry mix on Tuesday and a high temperature of 22 on Wednesday, the Packers could choose to move to an indoor facility at a local high school.
“It’s something I’m actually going to look at tomorrow,” McCarthy said. “I’m going to both facilities and look at the setup. Doug Collins, our director of security has been here. We talked about it on the plane ride down here today, and we discussed it earlier in the week.
“With the weather and the indoor facility and the surface and so forth, we’ll probably make that decision sometime later tomorrow.”
Seen it before
Hawk can speak to Ben Roethlisberger’s abilities probably as much as anyone on Green Bay’s roster, having seen him in action several times during his collegiate career.
Hawk’s older brother, Ryan, was a teammate of Roethlisberger’s at Miami of Ohio. Both were quarterbacks for the RedHawks, entering the school the same year in 2000. Roethlisberger redshirted his freshman season while Hawk’s brother saw limited action in his first year.
“Ben is just a winner,” Hawk said. “I think that is one of the best things you can have in a quarterback. He wins. I watched Ben play at Miami of Ohio. My brother was actually in school at the same time, so I have seen Ben since he was a freshman in college.
“I remember watching him do that in college, how well he played. It seemed like he had so many come-from-behind wins, so many game-winning drives that he would come down at the end and win the game for his team. It’s crazy to see him go to the NFL and keep doing it.”
Ryan Hawk transferred after his sophomore season to Ohio University, where he finished his college career.
A former college teammate and friend of A.J’s, Rams linebacker Bobby Carpenter, shared some thoughts on playing in Cowboys Stadium. Carpenter, a first-round draft choice of Dallas in 2006, played at the stadium in its first year (2009) before being traded to the Rams this past May.
“I just kind of asked him how it was and he said it was amazing and to have a good time down here,” Hawk said. “He hasn’t sold his house yet. I’ve got a couple of buddies staying at his vacant house during this week. We’re getting some use out of it.”
Linebacker Clay Matthews finished second in voting for The Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year behind a player the Packers will see on Sunday, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu.
Polamalu won the award with 17 votes, just two ahead of Matthews, who received 15 votes. Steelers linebacker James Harrison checked in third with eight votes with Bears defensive end Julius Peppers next with six.
An erroneous Twitter post from an NFL writer that was then reported by others said that Matthews had won the award, but the official announcement came on NFL Network early Monday evening that Polamalu took home the honor.
Polamalu matched his career high with seven interceptions on the season in 14 games as part of the top-ranked scoring defense in the NFL.
Matthews and Polamalu both attended the University of Southern California.
The Packers’ defensive linemen made themselves right at home on Monday by dressing in cowboy boots, cowboy hats and accompanying jackets for the trip south.
Some of the linemen had hinted that they might sport some special outfits for the Super Bowl trip. At the team’s Welcome Back luncheon back in training camp, a handful of offensive players, including quarterback Aaron Rodgers, wore cowboy hats and bolo ties to signify their desired goal of advancing to the Super Bowl.
“I had no idea that the (defensive linemen) were going to do that,” cornerback Charles Woodson said. “It’s a good look for them, I think.”
Additional coverage - Jan. 31