In the year 1959, I was a senior at Menomonie High School in Dunn County. My three brothers and I, farm kids all, begged and cajoled our dad into getting our first television set, a black and white with rabbit ears antenna.
Before the purchase of that first television set, the four boys would gather around the radio on Sunday afternoons after church and listen to whatever game was being carried that was within our reach.
We would mostly hope that we could get a broadcast of the Baltimore Colts games because Baltimore had this big fullback named Alan Ameche who had played for the Wisconsin Badgers and we remembered his scoring heroics in "the greatest game" played on December 28, 1958, against the New York Giants - the first nation-wide televised NFL game that Baltimore won in another first, an overtime victory!
What made it all the more special for us Badger fans is that Alan "the horse" Ameche scored the winning touchdown from one yard out. So in 1959, we were Baltimore Colts fans. But the dramatic "greatest game" was our strongest talking point when we begged dad to get a TV. We didn't want to not SEE the next "greatest game"!
And then a miracle happened in little Green Bay, Wisconsin. A coach named Vince Lombardi was hired. He made us quickly forget about the Colts. The highlight of my senior year was when Lombardi sent many of his players out to the hinterlands of Wisconsin to speak to high school students. Menomonie High School was assigned to one of Lombardi's ends, Gary Knfelc, who gave a very entertaining and in-depth look at what was happening under the new coach.
We were hooked! From then on, every Sunday after Mass, we would rush home and turn on the TV, to watch the Green Bay Packers and maybe get a glimpse of Gary Knafelc.
Every Thanksgiving brought with it the hard-fought games against the arch enemy Detroit Lions - dinner was planned around the game. And so it has been ever since. I still miss the loss of that traditional Packer/Lion Turkey Day game. And Ray Scott.