Cheesehead Origins: Just Who Is (Are?) the Packer Ranter, Anyway?

The background of "Robert Greenfield" and "Franklin Hillside" and how The Packer Ranter continues its ongoing mission to seek out new snark.

 

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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Been following along with the Cheesehead Origins series this offseason?

Well, today we’re going to do something completely different.

So far, this series has covered fans of a variety of ages, locations and demographics and their stories about how they became fans. We’re doing something similar today, but our featured person (or rather, people) is a pseudonym. 

You may be familiar with the Packer Ranter. Still a sizable presence on Packers twitter (@PackerRanter), they got their start on a blog approximately 15 years ago designed to add some levity and snark into the blogosphere.

The site (and its remaining Twitter account) was run by a pair of buddies who went by pseudonyms of their own: Franklin Hillside and Robert Greenfield.

I reached out to the account to inquire about their willingness to participate in this series. I definitely didn’t know the full backstory of the account and their long-dormant website, I didn’t know who exactly was operating it these days, and I had no idea how personal they’d want to get, given they run the account under layers of pseudonyms.

But “Franklin,” who does most of the tweeting these days, was eager to take part, and managed to get “Robert” to jump aboard as well. What follows is the set of interview questions I gave them to answer, and their responses–which come both in and out of character (I’ll let you decide which is which). 

I figured with two subjects, it would be easier to give this article in interview format rather than the narrative style I’ve tended to use with previous subjects leading up to this point. Plus, I’d rather let the Ranters’ words speak for themselves.

I think you’re going to enjoy this.

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Tim: Introduce yourself/selves to anyone who might be unfamiliar with you.

Robert: I’m co-founder of the Packer Ranter. My now-extinct blogger persona is that of a free-wheeling transportation driver with a passion for obscure action movies and tailgating innovations who resides somewhere on the cusp of the Greater Green Bay-area grid. In real life, I work at a small ad agency near Milwaukee, coach kids’ soccer, own no khakis, and have a passion for tailgating innovations.

Franklin: I am the other half of the currently-on-hiatus-or-possibly-maybe-defunct Packers blog, The Packer Ranter. My blogger alter ego, Franklin Hillside, worked in a library repairing/restoring books, may have inhaled too much binding glue, and spent his breaks watching VHS tapes of ‘90s era Packers games on a black and white TV his boss didn’t know about. The line between my Batman and Bruce Wayne begins to blur with my affinity for Keanu Reeves and sauerkraut. In the real world, I have migrated to the Minneapolis suburbs and spend my time wrangling kids and dogs, curling, grilling various meats, coaching basketball and soccer, educating myself about youth hockey culture, and lacking the determination to finish any tv series I start. I have one pair of khakis, but not like nerdy, old-man khakis, comfortable, fashionable khaki-colored pants that I spent most of the pandemic in. Maybe they are chinos? I don’t really know.

Tim: Tell us: what was the genesis of The Packer Ranter?

The Ranter: Did we write about the Packers because we were crazy or were we crazy because we wrote about the Packers? Truly, the only meaningful chicken or egg question of our time. There was only so much #analysis we could handle in the blogosphere. It seemed like everyone was competing to be the Packers' true authority. It was very annoying, like those people who always try and one-up your stories. Feeling we could bring a different perspective, we went the opposite direction, combining our love of the team with memes and started the Packer Ranter (it’s got a nice ring to it, eh?). For 10 years, we brought little to the intellectual debate in the blogosphere, but man, I think we offered something to chuckle about in between on our website. Our Twitter account is the remaining force still standing and is primarily run by Franklin.

Tim: How did you become Packer fans, and was there anyone in your life who influenced your fandom growing up?

Robert: Growing up in Appleton, the Packers are just part of the culture. I was lucky that my dad took me to a lot of games and experienced the transition from what seemed like a minor-league team to an epic franchise. And if Favre takes over when you’re in middle school like me, much like the Juggernaut, there’s almost no stopping the momentum.

Franklin: Does one choose to breathe air? Does water choose to find the lowest point? Does a Bears fan choose to be disappointed? Growing up in Central Wisconsin and becoming a Packers fan, much like Thanos, is inevitable. Shoutout to my uncle Steve for the Packers Zubaz for Christmas in 1990.

Tim: Do you get out to Lambeau for games? If so, how often, and what is your routine?

Robert: We go about once a year and make a weekend out of it. Saturday may involve fishing, bonfires, shenanigans, and sometimes a questionable lodging compromise. On gameday, we tailgate and later end up on an unnecessary bar crawl.

Franklin: Heavy on the unnecessary. I swear, one of these years we are going to stay in proper accommodations worthy of gentlemen of our societal stature. We’ve gotten our car broken into and Robert has gotten a piece flashed at him if you were wondering just how questionable our lodging locations have been.  

Tim: What are some of your favorite memories from your Packer fandom?

Robert: It’ll be hard to ever top the 1996 NFC Championship for me. Freezing, exhilarating, Reggie, etc. I’ve yet to experience the same collective energy in a game since. It felt destined from kickoff we’d win. Everyone knew what was at stake - the first Super Bowl appearance in 30 years. The closer victory got to reality, the more frenzied the stadium became.

I also once had the opportunity to briefly meet the legend and gentleman, Bart Starr, at the Pro Shop. I gave him a small gift and despite the crowd swarming him, he made it a point to thank me, shake my hand, and volunteer to pose for a picture. What a class act.

Franklin:  I can confirm that meeting Bart Starr was an absolute delight. That same weekend we had accidently ended up in the players’ parking lot trying to take a “shortcut” which, looking back, still makes me laugh (if it wasn’t a shortcut, it would just be the way). I once grilled an eight-foot bratwurst at tailgate. 

After Ben Rothlisberger’s final pass of the Super Bowl was broken up by Tramon Williams, I was an integral part of a three-man jump hug in the middle of the now-closed Herkimer Pub, a fantastic Packers bar in Minneapolis. Beer sprayed over everyone. It was glorious. Robert also had the first exclusive interview with someone who didn’t get their seat at the same Super Bowl due to Jerry Jones’ negligence. Don’t let anyone tell you we never broke news. 

Lastly, we attended Brett Favre’s first game back at Lambeau, and while not an enjoyable outcome on the scoreboard, it is an experience I now look back at with fondness. This is not Detroit, man. 

Tim: What do you see as the Packer Ranter's place or niche on the Packer twitter/blogosphere? Where does the Ranter go from here?

Robert: I’m as passionate as ever but just not as active as I used to be, so feeling a little like the Blockbuster franchise personally. I see us always resonating with those who care more about the total, ludicrous experience of being a sports fan rather than the outcome of any given game. It’s hard to say where the Ranter evolves, if at all. Let’s see how this profile turns out.

Franklin: Our blog tagline: “No real analysis, but at least we’re pretty” still stands. As Robert said, I’m not sure where we go from here. I occasionally get the urge to write something longer than 280 characters, but then I get distracted by a shiny object or my procrastination takes over and I sit with a folder full of half written drafts. I’ve had an idea for a podcast bouncing around in my head for awhile, but I’ve heard there are already one or two of those. I’m sure I’ll continue spreading the Gospel of Keanu Reeves and extolling the health benefits of bratwurst and cheese on Twitter while also holding semi-annual meetings of the Tracy White Fan Club in my garage. 

Tim: What is your top pet peeve in the Packer fandom?

Robert: Why do some fans spend their time watching games and default to perpetual pessimism - especially when in the company of others? Can’t I just enjoy the game without your negative comments, Janice!? It’s lazy, dismissive, and sucks the joy out of the experience.

Franklin: I cannot stand the “Sit down!” people at Lambeau. My attorney has advised me to not comment further. 

Tim: What are you most looking forward to about this coming season?

Robert: I’ll be reminiscing about #17 for the first few games. But with so many good players coming back from injury, I’m excited about a lot of positions on both sides of the ball. I don’t think it’s too optimistic to think we can be top 10 in offense and defense if healthy (and a WR emerges). As far as ST, I pretend they don’t exist so if they show up it’ll feel a little like Christmas morning. Maybe more like St. Nick’s Day.

Franklin:  I have a renewed interest in the draft this year which is kind of enjoyable. All your wide receiver are belong to us. I’m excited to see the defense with another year under Joe Barry, as well as LaFleur and Rodgers’ evolution without Davante, whom I will miss tremendously. I am anxious to get together with Robert in Green Bay and attend a game again. Finally, I’m maybe not excited, but rather morbidly curious, to see if the special teams can avoid actively and aggressively sucking to the point I become suspicious enough to do a cursory investigation as to whether any members of said unit have ever played peewee, junior high, varsity, college or pro ball with Calvin Ridley.

Tim: Anything else? Stories, shout-outs, etc.

Thanks to you and the entire team at CHTV. You’ve always been good friends to us over the years, and we appreciate it! Corey, we’re stopping by for a cocktail when we’re in town, and one of these days we hope to see Aaron too, it’s always a pleasure meeting our fans. 

FInally, shout out to Railbird Central and The Packers Lounge. We are all lesser for not having Brian’s voice and Alex’ Suck List in our lives. {fist bump}
 

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This one was really unique and a lot of fun. So thanks very much to “Franklin” and “Robert” for taking part! Be sure to follow along with their wittery at @packerranter on Twitter.

Next week: an old middle/high school friend who's a massive fan with a sick Packers shrine.

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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.

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Comments (8)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
PatrickGB's picture

April 14, 2022 at 08:31 am

I liked the reminder to enjoy the game regardless of outcome. I admit to being way too pessimistic at times. Thanks!

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murf7777's picture

April 14, 2022 at 09:03 am

It's a great reminder Patrick....regardless of outcome, I've always enjoyed the Packers football game. The hope for a win is always present.

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BirdDogUni's picture

April 14, 2022 at 04:15 pm

Quit it!

"I admit to being way too pessimistic at times."

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Spock's picture

April 14, 2022 at 09:21 am

I used to read the Ranters blog and wondered what happened to them. I don't do Twitter, but it's nice to know they are still doing their unique and irrelevant stuff somewhere.

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greengold's picture

April 14, 2022 at 09:57 am

We've got a "sit down," lady directly behind us, next to the G on the tunnel. OMG. I mean, just typing that makes the hair stand on end.

I feel Franklin's pain...

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Ruppert's picture

April 14, 2022 at 10:28 am

I have celebrated the Packer Ranter going back to the web site with the exquisite in-article links to meaningful photos. Nice to see this exposé. And might I add that there is a time and a place for khakis: Office Space 1999. Thank you.

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greengold's picture

April 14, 2022 at 10:52 am

Way to go, Tim! Nice piece on the Ranters that brought back a lot of fond memories...

I was taken back to the PackerPalace days. My friend Scott, BeerMan, worked for SONY, and crushed the most incredibly fun animation videos and graphics for the next week's opponent. Funny as hell. I miss him immensely. He left this world way too early... What a DUDE.

My guess is Robert & Franklin knew Scott too, as do others here.

As a matter of fact, in his honor, I'm going to use one of his images as my icon...

Props to either Robert or Franklin on the bold mullet. Top shelf. Thanks for the great work again, Tim.

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TarynsEyes's picture

April 14, 2022 at 11:16 am

I welcome the mix of thoughts/feelings while watching a game. It allows for the opposing banter that sports are meant to derive from their fans.

The problem with optimists is they want to shut themselves into a safe space where only their thoughts/feelings are allowed to exist. That makes you more susceptible to controlled bias which is often displayed by some here, the automatic downvoters and the safe space being afforded to them with the anonymity provided by this site.

The Packer Ranter often went against the grain, and now one wants to eliminate it at games. It's a, What's good for me here is not allowed for you there.

Optimists want a game experience where only they decide Who, What, When, Where, and Why is allowed to be called out. If that's what you expect, then stay home and watch the game in your safe space alone or with your ilk. In fact, close the door and stay inside, period.

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