Rodgers wants Lambeau theatrics despite no fans


GREEN BAY, Wis. — Fans will find out Sunday night if Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers got his wish: a return of the old Lambeau Field fan favorites, including Roll Out The Barrel and the beer bottle races on the videoboard, even though the stadium will still be without fans.

After the team’s last home game, a dull Sunday afternoon win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Rodgers and Packers coach Matt LaFleur lamented the lack of energy in the stadium for the second straight game. The previous home game, an upset loss to the Minnesota Vikings, had a similar feel.

Rodgers even suggested that his former teammate, fullback John Kuhn, who now serves as the team’s sideline reporter, take off his shirt to fire up the players.

The Packers announced this week that up to 500 people — team employees and their immediate family members — will be allowed in the stands for Sunday night’s game against the Chicago Bears, but paying ticketholders will not be allowed yet.

“I am a big fan of ‘Roll Out the Barrel,'” Rodgers said Wednesday when asked if his requests were considered. “I can’t say the sentiment is echoed by every one of our coaches and players, but s—, I’m one of the old guys so I enjoy the traditions like that. I hope they do that. I hope they put up the beer races. I hope we can get more than 500 or 600 down the stretch fan wise.

“Shoot, it’s going to be nice having anybody in the stands besides John Kuhn. I did want to mention he reached out to me and said he would not be taking his shirt off for the games regardless of temperature or money that myself and [former teammate Mark Tauscher] might be able to put together.”

The Packers are coming off a 34-31 overtime loss at the Indianapolis Colts, who had 12,495 fans at Lucas Oil Stadium. There was a strong contingent of Packers’ fans in the building. Packers players have said after several road games that they’ve fed off the limited number of fans in attendance.

It was after the Jaguars’ game that LaFleur said of the team’s lack of energy: “I’ve got to do some investigating, obviously, and look at myself first. But that wasn’t good enough, there’s no doubt about it. In terms of just the energy, the passion. We’re playing football. These guys are playing a kids game and getting paid for it, man. It’s disturbing to me. And it starts with myself and our staff. We’ve got to bring more energy for these guys.”

LaFleur backed off slightly on those comments in the days that followed, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a topic this week for the Packers (7-3), who play three division games over the final six weeks including two against the Bears (5-5).

“I think our guys are going to be ready to play,” LaFleur said. “Obviously, any time you’re playing a division rival, specifically a team that’s a really good team, I think they’re vastly underrated in terms of, I know they’ve won five games and they’ve hit a little bit of a rough stretch, but we anticipate getting their best shot. This is, I know, you know, specifically talking about their defense and getting a long look at their defense, I feel like this is the best defensive unit we’ve played. So, I mean, our guys have got to be ready to play”

If there’s anyone who can help bring some energy, it might be tight end Robert Tonyan. After his touchdown catch against the Colts on Sunday, he nearly knocked over LaFleur during a sideline celebration.

“Matt was just trying to give a regular high five after a score, and I’m like, ‘He’s not feeling this energy right now, he’s not feeling what’s really happening,’ so I just shoved him, and then he went for a shove back, and then I just kept shoving him,” Tonyan said. “That was a good vibe, though. It’s always fun when you score to celebrate with the team, so just trying to get coach involved a little bit more, you know rough him up a little bit.

“I’ll try my best, I’ll try to amp it up a little bit more. It’s something that we have to do, especially at the home games, create our own energy, and even at the away games. It’s nice when we have fans in the away stadiums because a lot of them are Packers fans, so that’s cool too. But at a home game, we’ve just got to come out fast and finish all the way through.”

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