Cheesehead Origins: How Jersey Al Became a Fixture of the Packer Blogosphere

Learn more about CHTV's editor-in-chief.

Welcome to Cheesehead Origins, an offseason series geared toward showcasing Packer fans with interesting fandom origin stories! CheeseheadTV is devoted to Packer fans worldwide, and we want to hear (and share) your stories. 

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Throughout the course of this series so far I’ve talked to people of all ages and backgrounds. Some of them have been Packers writers or podcasters, others have been barely connected to the online community.

This week’s feature is someone who has been embedded in the Packers blogosphere since its early days and who has influenced many who enjoy writing about the team and discussing it online. It’s CHTV’s editor-in-chief himself, “Jersey” Al Bracco.

“As the nickname would imply, I am New Jersey born, bred and raise,” Al said, “Thought I was actually conceived in Italy and then took a prenatal boat ride when my parents immigrated to this country.”

Al has owned his own IT company for more than three decades, and will be retiring in just over a year, leaving the company behind to his key employees. More time to focus on the Packers, yes, but also his two children and four grandchildren (all under the age of three). 

“I can’t wait to spend more time with them and be there for all their key life milestones, sports games, etc.,” he said.

Al has never been a Wisconsin resident and doesn’t have any family connections to Wisconsin or the Packers. And as the child of immigrants, it’s not as though he had the fandom in his bloodline. So how did he become a Packer fan to begin with?

“The first full football game I watched on television was Super Bowl I,” said Al. “As an impressionable 10-year-old at the time I naturally gravitated toward the winning team and their legendary coach and collection of future Hall-of-Famers. Perhaps if the Chiefs had pulled of the unthinkable upset, I’d be a Chiefs fan today.”

Al notes there is a larger presence of Packers fans in northern New Jersey and southern New York than one might expect, especially within his age demographic, thanks to Vince Lombardi’s roots in the area. Lombardi, of course, spent a couple decades coaching in the area at the high school, college and professional levels.

For many people, their fandom is influenced by their parents, grandparents or siblings. But Al found his own way in the fandom, and was influenced primarily by the players and figures of the sport, particularly Lombardi and Bart Starr.

“I remember scouring my town library (way pre-internet) for books about these Packers legends,” Al recalled. “Reading about their values, morals and off-field personas shaped them as my early Childhood role models, shaped me as a person, and solidified that I will always be a Packers fan.”

As Al entered his teenage years, he started to find other ways of exploring his fandom.

“I finally had a little spending money from working in a pizzeria and weekend painting jobs. I remember walking down to our local ‘candy store’ on weekends and leafing through every football magazine on the shelves (there were a lot of them back then). All I was interested in was if there were any full-color pictures of Bart Starr in them. If I found one, I took it home, ripped out the Starr picture and added it to my Bart Starr wall.”

Starr remains, to this day, the only role model Al has outside of family members to whom he ever chose to give that distinction. Unfortunately, he never got a chance to meet Mr. Starr and shake his hand, but he left an undeniable imprint on Al’s life.

Of course, as Al got into his teenage years and adulthood, the Packers entered their own dark ages. Despite arriving at the tail-end of the Lombardi era and witnessing just a year or so of greatness, Al’s fandom never wavered, and he found any way he could to stay up to date with the team.

“One day a year (the Monday after the draft) I would buy a copy of the New York Times simply because they listed every player selected in the entirety of the draft, so I could see who the Packers drafted in every round. Of course, I knew nothing of the players in the later rounds, but just knowing their position seemed to be enough.”

The Packers were a bottom-barrel franchise at the time, so there wasn’t much national interest in writing about them, especially given the tiny market. Al had to get creative to find ways to get his hands on Packers content. 

“Somehow I discovered ‘Ray Nitschke’s Packer Report,’ a weekly newspaper-type publication that would bring me news about my beloved Packers,” Al said. “The only catch was that it would take a good 10 days to get to me. That meant that during the season, the Packers would have already played another game as I get news of a game 10 days ago. Still, it was way better than nothing and at least I would eventually learn something about the players the Packers had drafted.”

Al has been fortunate enough to make the trek out to Green Bay to see the Packers play many times. He notes the major difference in the atmosphere of a playoff game in particular, having been to four playoff games in person (three victories). He also saw the Super Bowl victory in person.

His absolute favorite in-person game, he says, was the January 2008 “snow globe” game against Seattle.

If you’ll recall, the team went down 14-0 early after a pair of Ryan Grant fumbles, then came back (in part behind a big game from Grant) to absolutely blow out Seattle in thee snow.

“I went with a friend of mine, both of us Italian, and we sat next to a couple of Wisconsin farm boys from somewhere in the middle of the state,” said Al. “The Sopranos had just ended in 2007 and because we were from Jersey and Italian, our farm boy buddies kind of assumed we lived a similar lifestyle.”

Of course, Al and his friend had to play it up, and talked frequently about breaking kneecaps, Jimmy Hoffa and other such-things. The groups hit it off and enjoyed plenty of beers together. 

The game experience was also incredibly memorable. 

“The snowflakes were big and wet and falling gently from the sky, which was just a big blur from the top of the stadium upwards,” Al described. “It felt like an out-of-body experience where your entire world did not extend past the confines of that stadium, or that you had been transported to another dimension in some Twilight Zone episode. I still get goosebumps thinking about what I was feeling during those moments. Maybe this was a sneak peek of heaven for Packers fanatics?”

When watching the games from home, it’s a completely different experience for Al. He has to cut himself off entirely so he can stay focused, and avoid having to explain why the Packers are struggling to do something.

“Admittedly, my patience is zero in those situations and my replies will be curt, snippy and sarcastic,” he said. “There’s no reason to subject family or friends to that bad behavior, so for their sake, I choose to watch games alone. It’s better for everyone.”

It should come as no surprise that someone who went to great lengths in the 1970s and 80s to find content about his Packers would eventually become one of the earlier “content creators” in the Packers blogosphere. 

Al had always had an interest in writing about the team, and one day about 15 years ago stumbled across Bleacher Report, which at the time allowed anyone with an interest to sign up and start writing about sports. While this accessibility was great, it was also a doubled-edged sword, as for every great content creator there were swaths of bad ones. 

For Al, though, writing for the site proved to be a great starting point, and soon he decided to go all-in by starting his own blog, JerseyAl.com (which later became AllGBP.com). 

“So much has changed since those early days when Packers blogs numbered less than 10,” said Al. “There has been a proliferation of outlets all competing for eyeballs. Frankly, it’s sensory overload at this point.”

Al particularly bemoans the clickbait articles from sites that have little to do with the Packers or the sport in general, but regurgitate news they take from other sites to manipulate Google algorithms. The idea of an explosion of quantity driven by algorithms is one of the reasons why he takes such pride in the qualify of content produced at Cheesehead TV, where is is the editor-in-chief, and his own personal project, PackersTalk. 

“We have writers who do it simply because they love the Packers and love to write,” he said.

Al doesn’t actually follow too many content creators closely outside those that he works with at CheeseheadTV and PackersTalk. There are, however, a few shoutouts he gives.

“One of my favorites has always been Matt Bowen,” Al said. “He can explain complex scheme concepts in a manner that makes it seem obvious. Not many can do that.”

Ie also mentions Andy Herman and Aaron Nagler, saying: “I wish I could produce that volume of talk and have it all sound so logical and entertaining at the same time.”

On Andrew Brandt, Al says: “He always has thoughtful commentary and I’m still waiting for him to write a “Summer of Favre book. Andrew knows where the bodies are buried.”

And with regard to Packer media members and members of the beat, he specifically points to Rob Demovsky, Pete Dougherty, Bill Huber and Matt Schneidman as personal favorites.

Looking ahead to this season, Al is excited for the Packers’ defense and its possibilities.

“Being a bit old school, I’m really excited to see if this defense gels,” he said. “The personnel is there to be a top 5 defense on paper, but can they all get on the same page and can the coaches make the right calls at the right time?”

He’s also looking forward to the evolution of young receivers, and which rookies and up showing the most promise in their first game action.

In closing, i always ask my subjects to provide a shoutout, story or anything else they want to share. Al left us off with a bit of advice geared toward anyone looking to get into sports writing as a career.

“Write every day. Write several times a day, if possible. Don’t worry about getting paid at first. Find other writers whose work you enjoy and think about how they present their articles. And keep writing. Those who have come through the digital halls of my sites that went on to actual careers all had that one thing in common: an undeniable work ethic. There is so much competition now that only those who work at it EVERY DAY have a chance of success.” 

 

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Big thanks to Jersey Al for joining me for this week’s edition of Cheesehead Origins! Have a great long weekend and see you all back in this space next week.

 

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Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

10 points

Comments (51)

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NickPerry's picture

May 26, 2022 at 06:41 am

“Admittedly, my patience is zero in those situations and my replies will be crt, snippy and sarcastic,” he said. “There’s no reason to subject family or friends to that bad behavior, so for their sake, I choose to watch games alone. It’s better for everyone.”

You and I both Al, especially if the Packers are losing at the time...It really is better for everyone! LOL!!!

I've been a fan of Jersey Al's websites for years, since I first found allgbp.com. Bearmeat, Since '61, and many others followed Al over to CHTV years ago and have made THIS, CHTV our favorite site.

Thanks Tim and Al!

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Since'61's picture

May 26, 2022 at 06:48 am

Nick we’ve been at this for quite awhile now but thanks to you , Bearmeat, Dobber, Jersey Al and so many others it’s been a great ride. Stay safe. Thanks, Since ‘61

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NickPerry's picture

May 26, 2022 at 11:14 am

Absolutely my friend, and it's been a blast along the way. Folks like yourself, dobber, Tundraboy, Bearmeat, Savage57, and so many many others help make this the best Packers site on the internet.

And...IT'S FREE!!!

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Since'61's picture

May 27, 2022 at 09:51 am

Yes, I've always felt that we have a great sense of community on this blog. Looking forward to keeping it going.
Thanks, Since '61

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greengold's picture

May 27, 2022 at 11:51 am

Totally agree, Since & Nick. This place is the best. CHTV.

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Swisch's picture

May 26, 2022 at 03:51 pm

Nick, as a relative newcomer, I'm glad to get some history about some of the pioneers here at CHTV as followers of JerseyAl.
With genuine sincerity, I salute all of you -- with appreciation for your comments and camaraderie.
[What year was the migration made from JerseyAl's former site to CHTV?]

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Since'61's picture

May 27, 2022 at 12:43 am

Switch, IIRC the merger with CHTV took place in either 2013 or 2014. Thanks, Since '61

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Since'61's picture

May 26, 2022 at 06:45 am

So great to see Al’s story here. Although I started following the Packers a few years before Al we have similar stories in our Packers fanship. The first NFL game I watched was the Packers defeating the NY Giants 37-0 in the 1961 NFL Championship game.

Instead of New Jersey I am NYC born and raised, specifically in The Bronx. Like Al I. Followed the Packers via whatever medium was available throughout those pre-internet years.
I would flip through and eventually buy Pro Football Weekly which led me to the Packers Report. I also purchased The NY Times for the list of draft choices. And I began acquiring and reading any book or article I could find about the Packers.

Eventually the internet came along and I found my way to Jersey Al’s AllGBP. The first and only blog I participate with on any topic.

Al I’m happy to hear that you will be retiring soon. I have already reached that milestone and I can assure you that spending time with your grandchildren is the best way to spend your retirement days.

It’s been a great ride. All the best Al and I look forward to your articles here at CHTV. It’s great to know that you’re such an important member of this blog since we both share a long time, long distance relationship with the Packers and and we are both from the greater NYC area. Stay safe.
Thanks, Since ‘61

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Savage57's picture

May 26, 2022 at 08:51 am

That youse guys from outside Packerland stayed loyal to the team through thick and thin is testament to your love of what's good about football.

That you've been able to enjoy another 'thick' period is the reward for that loyalty.

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Since'61's picture

May 27, 2022 at 12:58 am

Savage57 you are one of the core mainstays since the AllGBP days and its always a pleasure to read your posts. The 70s and 80s were difficult years for those of us from the NYC area because there are 3 local teams;
the Jets, the Giants and the Eagles. In addition to the 3 local teams we had to deal with fans who jumped on the bandwagons for the Cowboys, the Steelers, the Raiders and then the 49ers in the 80s.

Speaking for myself I held onto the Lombardi era days and always remained proud of the Lombardi Packers through it all. I also really liked the fact that the Packers are a non-profit, fan owned team. It keeps the Packers unique in sports. As a result I have participated in all 3 stock sales since the late 90s.

FYI, "youse guys" is a Bronx expression. Where are youse going? What are youse guys doing? Did youse eat yet? Used it all the time growing up and still use it to this day. Stay safe. Thanks, Since '61

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greengold's picture

May 27, 2022 at 09:06 am

LOL. Love it, Since.

The stories going back in history are something else. 3rd generation season ticket holders, green & gold. My wife’s grandmother was the Elementary School Principal in Green Bay as a stylish widow raising 2 boys alone. Dated some players, bought her season tickets way before Lombardi, and owned a house a half block down the street from the Lombardis when they moved into town from NY.

She likely taught some parents & grandparents of posters here who grew up in GB.

My Father-in-law, funniest dude ever to live and greatest man I ever met, RIP, used to hop the fence at City Stadium as a kid and carry player’s helmets in before games… Their hangout? Kroll’s East.

When one of his business friends passed away, he asked the newly widowed wife at the funeral if he could buy the deceased friend’s season tickets. In the receiving line… at the funeral... OMG, what a character.

Green. Gold.

LOL

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Since'61's picture

May 27, 2022 at 09:55 am

Great stories greengold. Love to hear those stories about Packers fans going back over generations. The team. its fans and our blog are all just filled with great stories. Thanks, Since '61

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greengold's picture

May 26, 2022 at 02:09 pm

That’s great stuff, Tim & Al.

Packer Report. Reading the full listing of draft picks from a newspaper, and, keeping that for weeks. Bart Starr. Ray Nitschke. There was a different magic there.

Run To Daylight. All of you here at CHTV, content producers, friends & fellow fans, Run To Daylight.

Funniest part of all is when I'd get both my Packer Report and my Onion in the mail on the same day...

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Slim11's picture

May 26, 2022 at 08:03 am

You discovered the Packers about the same time I did.

Living in Virginia, I also had a shortage of Packers related news sources. The teams I heard about most frequently were the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Colts. The only time I paid any attention to those teams was when they played the Packers.

My grandmother's second husband (the only grandfather I ever knew.) was a Green Bay native born in the late 1890s. He left Green Bay during WWI serving in the Army as a MP. He returned about the time the Packers became a team and eventually became a season ticket holder. The rest is another story.

I used a local college library archive and scoured Life, SI and The Sporting News magazines to learn more about the Packers. The more I read, the more I learned about the players of that era and the community they lived in. I have been to Green Bay several times but not for a game. That's on my bucket list.

When Lombardi came to Washington, my mother suggested I follow the Redskins because Lombardi would make the team better. She was right about that except for one thing...Lombardi wasn't a Packer at that point and I told her so. That surprised her.

Your work covering the Packers is much appreciated and I hope to see you continuing this in your retirement.

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croatpackfan's picture

May 26, 2022 at 08:19 am

I must say that Al story is very interesting. I already recognized his professionalism in running this blog, web page, discussion forum, call it how you want. I started with allGBP.com and followed Al here. I remember that I was afraid of losing that intimate Packers articles from allGBP.com through the merger, but, thank God, it become even better. It must be something conbected with Al's job he is doing on this site.

To all of contributors I want to thank for so good content. Keep up the job you are doing. It is special.

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Pantz_Burp's picture

May 26, 2022 at 12:04 pm

Wow, what a truly cool article! Definitely going to go back and reread to let it sink in more.

“The snowflakes were big and wet and falling gently from the sky, which was just a big blur from the top of the stadium upwards. It felt like an out-of-body experience where your entire world did not extend past the confines of that stadium, or that you had been transported to another dimension in some Twilight Zone episode. I still get goosebumps thinking about what I was feeling during those moments. Maybe this was a sneak peek of heaven for Packers fanatics?”... that right there is some awesome details of a special moment(s)...you can almost taste the words!

All I can say is thanks so much Al for this opportunity to learn and voice our thoughts on the Packers. Enjoy the moments ahead and thanks again for this Packer gift that keeps on giving.

You look great at Vince's desk...👍

*What I love is hearing the stories you all have shared regarding the Lombardi years. It is before my time but I can't get enough of those! Like NPerry mentioned, CHTV is free! (Thanks!) And, now I am learning who has been with Al through the years...kinda like the Ring of Honor of CHTV (and before) enthusiasts.

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Guam's picture

May 26, 2022 at 08:42 am

Thanks Tim for an excellent article and thanks Al for sharing your story. It is always fun to hear about other Packer fans and how they came to love our team. I also can't begin to thank Al enough for developing a platform that allows all of us to read and share Packer information.

I grew up in a small town forty miles from Green Bay and was a Packer fan before Lombardi arrived. I had plenty of Packer news from the local media until I graduated from college and started my lengthy diaspora from Wisconsin. My career took me to many places in the United States and eventually overseas (Asia). Searching for meaningful Packer information in Japan (pre-internet) was challenging and frustrating. My final career stop was Guam where I ran a communications company that spanned a number of Pacific Islands. My great joy was bringing DirecTV's NFL package to these islands so I and others could watch our favorite pro football teams. There is a Packer fan club on Guam by the way! I also discovered CHTV while on Guam (hence the moniker) and shared the site with other Packer fans there. We were thrilled with a quality source of great Packer information.

I am now retired and moved back to Wisconsin, but my best source of Packer news is still CHTV. Thanks Al!

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mjbrogno's picture

May 26, 2022 at 08:44 am

After reading this article about Jersey Al there are a lot of similarities to my indoctrination with the Packers. I’m Jersey City, NJ born and bred . I’m 63, and have lived in California for the past 40 years. The first game that I watched was the “Ice bowl” with my dad. Yes, the lean years were real tough, but the last 30 years have been easier to take with the more than occasional heart break. . I’ve been to six games at Lambeau Field. . Personally, for me, spending quality time with my five grandchildren has been priceless. Jersey Al, I know the feeling, congrats on your up coming retirement. I enjoy following you , GO PACK GO!!!!!

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Savage57's picture

May 26, 2022 at 09:01 am

I feel kind of guilty now, being baptized into my Packers fandom during the Lombardi era and living a few miles from Green Bay.

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Bearmeat's picture

May 26, 2022 at 09:05 am

Cheers, Al!!!

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lou's picture

May 26, 2022 at 09:26 am

Thanks for the great story on Jersey Al. I can remember in the early years of Cheeseheadtv Al would personally reply to several of my comments which I really appreciated and he would act as the "referee" when things got contentious especially with the comments from a blogger named "Stroh" who would be taken off the site then came back on with new names. Best of luck in retirement Al, like yourself, I spent 35 years in the IT business working for IBM.

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NickPerry's picture

May 27, 2022 at 05:44 am

Wow Lou, you've been around a long time yourself if you remember Stroh. Keep coming back!

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lou's picture

May 27, 2022 at 12:03 pm

Stroh was a piece of work, you could call him the Eddie Haskell of Cheesehead/tv.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

May 27, 2022 at 04:31 pm

Stroh got booted from many sites. As soon as the site lost patience.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

May 27, 2022 at 04:31 pm

Stroh got booted from many sites. As soon as the site lost patience.

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greengold's picture

May 27, 2022 at 10:35 pm

OMG. Stroh has always been like that, everywhere he posted. I don’t even wish I could say I miss him.

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packerbackerjim's picture

May 26, 2022 at 09:49 am

More often than not, I’m in agreement with much of what Al writes. As for watching alone, I have two cocker spaniels that will run to me when I start yelling and swearing at a Packer gaffe, wondering if I am angry with them. So,alone it is, unless with Packer buddies.

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marpag1's picture

May 26, 2022 at 10:01 am

As much as I detest Roger Goodell and the "Corporate NFL" and a number of jackass team owners, there is one thing the NFL does on the business side that I am very happy about. Even though I live in a Third World country where American football is unknown, I can stream NFL Gamepass on my laptop without much trouble. At about $150 for the entire season - every game of the year, every team, recorded for playback as much as I want - it's really a great deal for fans living overseas.

Oh, and CHTV is nice too. ;) Cheers, Al.

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studlyduffman's picture

May 26, 2022 at 10:08 am

Always have been a fan of Al's work dating all the way back on the bleacher report. As one who wrote many packer articles from 2009-2011 on bleacher report, I was constantly frustrated with how the site was more concerned with a quantity over quality mindset when it came to determining who got featured. I have always respected Al's work - each article of his always had something insightful and never felt like a waste of time reading. He is still the main driver of why I keep coming back to this site to read more articles.

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Ya_tittle's picture

May 26, 2022 at 10:20 am

Great Story, Jersey Al. As a Manitowoc native I got to meet and talk to Starr twice. Once as a snot-nosed 10-year-old in the parking lot before practice trying to get autographs which I still have. He took the time to ask me and my brother how we were doing in school, our names, etc. Contrast that to the famous coach wearing that jacket you always see him snarling, "After practice, boys" which of course didn't happen.

The other time was when we were both on a flight from Green Bay to Chicago after I moved to California. He was seated right next to me. This was after he'd been fired as coach, and I got the chance to talk about how much he inspired me to play QB in high school football, and his motto "Anything worth doing is worth doing well." He was his usual talkative self, a class act all the way.

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Pantz_Burp's picture

May 26, 2022 at 11:37 am

Thanks for sharing YA...what a flight! 👍

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Tingham's picture

May 26, 2022 at 12:15 pm

I was very fortunate that when I was growing up in Chicago we had close family friends who lived directly across from Bart on Chateau drive in GB. Every year in the late 60's and early 70's we would get invited to a game and spend the night before the game with Bart and his family at his house. He would tease me and say I must be a Bears fan since I lived in Chicago. In 2003 I was checking out of a hotel in New York city and Bart was checking out at the same time. (Al, where were you?) Of course being the gentleman he is after check out he and Cherry spent 30 minutes talking with me and my wife. He gave me his business card and said to contact him for any memorabilia.
Like Al I will be retiring next year at the age of 68. I'm also here because I followed Al
Thanks for such a great read.

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Dragon5's picture

May 26, 2022 at 10:40 am

JERSEY AL = CLASS ACT

My one question would be, if you had to choose an Italian descent actor that your persona most resembles, who would it be?

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CheesyTex's picture

May 26, 2022 at 11:17 am

Thanks Tim, and thanks Jersey Al for all you do.

Packers fan by marriage -- wife bought her first season tickets in 1950 using baby-sitter money.

Much different back then -- she was able to have dinners with Vince and Marie Lombardi, date Hornung, and rub elbows with most players who were "just part of the Community".

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Swisch's picture

May 26, 2022 at 01:31 pm

It'd be great for your wife to write about her story as a Packers fan; I'd be enthusiastic to read about it, perhaps at CHTV.
I don't like gossip, and am very concerned about not trashing others; but it seems it can be a good thing to share experiences we've had with other people, both the positive and the negative.
It can be a delicate balance as to where to draw the line in talking about others, and I don't always know how to handle it; but I hope we share such stories in a spirit of all of us having our good points and bad, and all wanting the best for each other.
Wow! Here's your wife having had dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Lombardi, dating Paul Hornung, rubbing elbows with other Packers players in a somewhat casual manner as them being mostly regular townsfolk.
I hope I'm not being nosy in being fascinated by that.

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CheesyTex's picture

May 27, 2022 at 12:06 pm

Thanks, Swish, not nosy at all.

Many, many stories including a fun one: When we built our retirement home in 04, she asked to have a wall removed between what was intended to be two rooms so she could have her" Packers room". We did it and now the 26' by 14' room' s walls are ceiling-to floor with Packers memorabilia. You're even greeted by a life-size Brett Favre upon entering.

Thanks, Swish.

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Swisch's picture

May 27, 2022 at 01:18 pm

Good stuff, CT, a little piece of Packerdom in Texas.
Say hi to Brett for me.

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Lphill's picture

May 26, 2022 at 11:25 am

I am a born and raised New Yorker I find that there are a large amount of Packers fans here and possibly after the Giants and Jets the Packers are right there , as mentioned the Lombardi era had a lot to do with it and the fact Lombardi had roots here in NY and NJ .

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Swisch's picture

May 26, 2022 at 02:05 pm

As a former Midwesterner, it's easy for me to miss the point of the Lombardi family probably feeling as though going to Green Bay was like going to Siberia.
It may have been the only way that Vince Lombardi could have gotten a head coaching position in pro or college football due to discrimination against him as an Italian.
So very far away literally and figuratively, yet Lombardi would lead Green Bay to the center of the NFL universe, with the further irony of doing so against the team from the most gigantic of cities, from whence he had come as an assistant coach, and even where he had grown up.
***
Also, the mighty Giants of the 1950s-1960s -- with a championship won in 1956, and five more trips to the championship game (albeit in defeat) through 1963 -- were perhaps the most famous team in America.
It was just at the time the NFL was bursting into amazing popularity in America, and the stars of the Giants -- the likes of Gifford, Huff. Robustelli, Summerall, Rote -- would presumably be celebrities not just in the area of New York, but nationwide.
Then it just so happens in 1961 and 1962 that an obscure and miserable franchise from nowheresville in northern Wisconsin beats these Giants to become Titletown.
Great theater, is it not?

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murf7777's picture

May 26, 2022 at 11:35 am

Cheesehead TV is simply the best, keep’em coming Jersey Al and Thank you. All the best for your retirement.

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Swisch's picture

May 26, 2022 at 03:55 pm

All the best to you, Jersey Al, and a hearty thanks for your role in providing this wonderful forum of CHTV. I'm so glad to have had this as a place to come to for the past few years -- a sort of virtual pub for devoted Packers fans to swap opinions and share camaraderie.
Our stories seem somewhat similar. Although my dad grew up in Milwaukee and my mom in Cedarburg, our family left Wisconsin when I was three for suburbs near Houston, Philadelphia, and Chicago (while coming back for vacations).
I'm sad to have missed all of the Lombardi Era, but was fortunate that my first year of following the Packers closely (at age 10) was the 1972 season, in which we won the division with a 10-4 record (the climax being a huge defeat of Fran Tarkenton and the Vikings to clinch).
In the down times that followed, I stayed true to, and even passionate about, the Packers. My dad seemed to marvel at my loyalty and enthusiasm, which were much greater than his although my ties to Wisconsin were much less.
***
Even though I had never seen Bart Starr play, I had a poster of him in my room through high school (and I think I even brought it to college to hang up in my room as a freshman).
I, too, learned about the Lombardi Packers through reading, plus television retrospectives.
I was thrilled to visit the old Packers hall of fame a couple of times in the 1970s, and remember having a sort of breakdown trying to decide how to spend my $10 at the gift shop (with my mom sweetly calming me down).
Later, after surviving college amidst Bears fans, while working for small newspapers near Chicago with more Bears fans, I even withstood the days of the Ditka Bears, with the Super Bowl Shuffle and William "The Refrigerator" Perry scoring touchdowns against us.
***
What I understand and believe more fully now is that the Packers of the Lombardi Era are the most legendary team in the history of the NFL as a combination of personal excellence and personal character in group cooperation for shared success.
That era of the 1960s has elevated the mystique of the Packers franchise before and since, and the team of today would do well to learn the lessons of Vince Lombardi and his men.
What we can take away for ourselves is not only how to be champions in the contests of the arena, but in all areas of life.
Yes, we fall short, but there is nobility and even glory in the striving.
It was Lombardi who said that success is making the most of however much we've been given, and that greatness is not in never being knocked down, but in always getting up again.
***
As a young quarterback whose career was going nowhere in the NFL, Bart Starr was thrilled to hear his new coach say that the Packers would be going after perfection, even knowing they would never reach it, but in the process attaining excellence.
Even as Lombardi coached up Starr into the greatest quarterback of all time (in my opinion), Starr helped Lombardi to reach greater heights by softening him somewhat and executing his vision of excellence on the field.
Perhaps that's the most awesome aspect of team sports: people building each other up to be more than what we can be on our own.
It is perhaps in this sense most of all that those Lombardi Packers are not only a team to be admired by fans of football, but to be celebrated by all of society as emblematic of the best of America.
***
P.S. The NFL Channel is airing a two-part biography of Vince Lombardi tomorrow (Friday) at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Eastern time. I highly recommend the setting of DVRs accordingly.

4 points
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Packers0808's picture

May 26, 2022 at 01:56 pm

Role Model, Bart Starr, has to turn out to be a good fellow. No one better to choose! Met Mr Starr once and in my 77 years don't think I met a nice and more humble person.

6 points
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Swisch's picture

May 26, 2022 at 02:24 pm

My cousin as a teenager in the 1980s caddied for Bart Starr in a charity event for cancer at North Hills Country Club near Milwaukee.
He recently told me that Starr was wonderful in taking a personal interest in him.
Plus, his mom (my aunt) was suffering from a cancer at that very time (which would soon take her life). In a speech at the event, Starr kindly noted her struggle in a way to boost the spirits of my cousin.
It was so uplifting to me to learn that one of my favorite football players of all time had come through in the clutch for a dear member of my family.
God bless you, Bart Starr!

3 points
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JerseyAl's picture

May 26, 2022 at 02:34 pm

Wow, I'm kind of floored by some of the comments and to hear from some of you who were there at the beginning of my blogging journey. I appreciate the kind words and the support! Go Pack!

5 points
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BirdDogUni's picture

May 26, 2022 at 03:33 pm

I remember running into you way back, when Bleacher Report was actually a decent place to discuss the Packers. Long time ago. We had some fun discussions back then. You've always done a great job here.

My advise: "Take two weeks off and then retire..."

Good Luck Al!

GPG!

3 points
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Swisch's picture

May 26, 2022 at 03:48 pm

After reading the comments, I'm more confirmed in my belief that something special about the Lombardi Packers has attracted good people from across the country, and even overseas, to become fans.
As long as there is a connection to the excellence and character of that legendary but also real era, all who are associated with Packers will have something unique that is worth holding onto.
I truly believe that the more we tap into that spirit, the greater the Packers will be going forward on and off the field.
In a flawed world, we look to good examples to lift us up. Though those Packers of the Sixties weren't perfect, they sure did show us much of the best of America.
To me, the Green Bay Packers are America's Team.

1 points
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greengold's picture

May 26, 2022 at 03:56 pm

Al, we’re you on the first JSO Packer Forum when they first started?

Man, that 14.4 dialup blaring & croaking meant some magic was going to happen: you now can discuss your favorite team with people from all around the world.

And, it wasn’t a fax!

Friendships were made with people there that I still hook up with to this day. It made me feel connected to home in Milwaukee from so far away, after I moved to Arizona. Been back in the motherland the last 18 years. I appreciate all the local coverage so much more now…

Ever hit x4 & Zbud’s shortly afterwards?

I know you meet a lot of people, but we met at a tailgate with a bunch of those original forum guys about 15-17 years ago at a tailgate. Always a true pleasure to read your work, thoughts & perspectives.

Congrats on your upcoming retirement!

2 points
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PatrickGB's picture

May 26, 2022 at 03:28 pm

Al, we have been blessed by you and your hard work. I appreciate all you do. I have been following you for quite some time!

2 points
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PackfanNY's picture

May 27, 2022 at 06:08 pm

The Ray Nitschke Packers Report was clearly one of the most influential Packers fan newspaper of its time. I knew the mailman in Queens, NY and it was always a few days late. He was an old guy but he would always tell me if it was here yet. I was a young kid and he would talk about two things the fortunes of the NY Mets ( hey it was Queens) and the Green Bay Packers. Handing me the Packer Report he would often say the Pack is looking good. Of course at that time that wasn’t always true.

I couldn’t wait for August when it would publish weekly. No internet so even 10 days later that preseason/camp recap was pure GOLD! Anyone else remember Ron Paque the anti Packer comment guy? Good memories. I do remember a fellow Packer fan here in NY telling me about “some guy in Jersey” who had Packer content. That was years ago. Keep up the good work Al and thank you for being a great fan.

2 points
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greengold's picture

May 27, 2022 at 10:33 pm

I have to laugh, PackFanNY. The late arrivals is so spot on…! I’d be hitting that mailbox too back then, same way.

2 points
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barutanseijin's picture

May 28, 2022 at 08:58 am

I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again: Al is the best.

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