Posted by Tim Cigelske on May 17, 2010
From 1997 to 2002, Whiskey Mike witnessed 25 games at Lambeau Field — and the Packers won 23. Today he’s a fan with a Vince Lombardi tattoo living in exile in Houston, Texas. In an interview with this blog, the man they call Whiskey Mike relives the good old days — after the jump.
First of all, how did you get the name Whiskey Mike?
Back in the mid 90s, a bunch of us met at a bar every Monday for Big Ass Tacos. They were either a buck or a buck twenty five, and it was as big as your head. Or ass, considering the name. One night a bunch of us were all sitting at the bar eating our tacos. Tony J the bartender turned around and yelled “Hey Mike,” and everyone looked up. We looked around and realized we were all named Mike. That’s when nicknames were doled out. I don’t remember most of them, but mine stuck.
What Packers memories do you have from growing up in Port Washington?
Oddly enough, not many. For reasons unknown to me, my parents kept buying me Cincinnati Bengals stuff. It wasn’t until 5th or 6th grade that I was given a Packers jersey, and I have no idea what name or number was on it. It wasn’t until I moved to Milwaukee in 1992 that I started following the Packers. However, every game at Lambeau Field I went to, we would always stop at Sundance on the way up at 6am for good luck drinks.
What’s it like now being a Packer fan in Houston?
Weird. It’s like being a Packers fan in Vegas and a Packers fan in Tampa/St Pete. Vegas wasn’t so bad, but Bucs fans are rabid, even when their team stinks! I was spoiled in Wisconsin by having every Packers game televised. When I left Milwaukee in 2008, I saw part of one Packers game in Vegas. Last season I visited Tampa when the Packers were in town. Tampa had a winless season until we got there and the loads of crap everyone gave me was like being a Packers fan in Pittsburgh. But this past season aside from Monday games, there were only 2 Sunday games televised in Houston. Working graveyard shift, I wasn’t able to see any of them.
Do you have a favorite Packer game of all time?
One of the most memorable games was a preseason game against the Raiders. While the Packers lost, it was so spectacular. That day my friends were running late and the Lambeau lot was full. We ended up driving down Stadium Drive and saw signs for parking on lawns. $20? No. $15? No. What’s that? “Park. Toilet. Grill. $10″ We parked on their lawn, brought out the grill, and started grilling. The owners of this house were so generous, I had never seen anything like it. If you had to go to the bathroom, you’d just walk right in their house and use their bathroom. After the game, we still had a lot of food. We asked the wife of the house if we could grill out and offered her some. She said it wasn’t a problem. A few hours later traffic had died down, and she came up to us and said, “if you guys are too tired to drive back to Milwaukee, we have a spare bedroom and you can crash here and leave in the morning.” While we didn’t accept the offer, since then, I never parked anywhere else. Just standing on their lawn and seeing Lambeau Field less than half a block a way… Words can’t describe it!
How about a favorite Packer player?
I’ve always been a fan of the team, and while I’ve had several players that stand out, it’s impossible to pick a favorite. It seems like all of the big name players these days, when they have “outgrown” Green Bay, don’t realize how good they had it. Reggie White going to Carolina, Favre going to the Jets, then Vikings, because he couldn’t get his way anymore. It’s disheartening. If I had to pick a favorite, I would have to say Tony Canadeo. While I always swore I would never get a player (or number) tattooed, I made an exception. I had it scheduled to meet with him, get a copy of his favorite player picture, and I was going to get that tattooed. Sadly, he died a week before the meeting was to take place.
How did you get tickets to games?
I got so sick of hearing people saying “you can never get tickets to Lambeau.” Every time I went up I went through the gates whether I had a ticket on the way up or not. One year I went to every single game. This guy Pete I know (from going to so many games) would always have tickets and he scalped them by Stadium View. He’d ask me what games I wanted to go to, I’d tell him, select the tickets, he’d give them to me, and I’d pay him the next game. There’s so much camaraderie up there. Anybody that says you can never get tickets has never tried getting tickets. If you have the will, you have the way.
Do you have any game-day rituals?
I used to stop at Koppas the day before and pick up a bunch of boneless chicken breast, burgers, home made Polish sausage, load up the cooler that night, leave Milwaukee at 5:30am to hit Sundance in Port Washington at 6am, then drive the rest of the way. Whenever we had 2 shots of Wild Turkey (ugh!) a piece, they always won. We used to get there super early just to spent time with Tony and Lorrie on Stadium Drive because they were such great people.
How did you decide to get a Vince Lombardi tattoo?
I always knew Vince Lombardi was an incredible man. I also knew that too many quotes that are attributed to him he didn’t say (or at least ‘invent’) but it wasn’t until I read When Pride Still Mattered by David Maraniss that I realized he was even more incredible than I had thought. From the stories of him getting beat up in the shower for being black, to telling a hotel that his players aren’t black or white, but that his players all bleed green and gold… It was so touching. I scheduled the tattoo not too long after, and it turned out so detailed there’s no question of who it is. It’s on my right arm, and I’ve attached a recent picture of it, taken by a Cowboys fan. There will always be respect and admiration for Vince. My first game after getting my Vince tattoo, I ran into St Vince outside. Showed him the tattoo and he actually started crying, then blessed the tattoo.
So what’s the story behind your ‘Fuck Dallas’ t-shirt?
It’s funny you mention this. In the 90s (and earlier) it seemed nearly impossible to win at Texas Stadium. It was more frustrating that Dallas declared themselves America’s Team. It was a November game in 1996 where Green Bay went to Dallas, and someone at the bar brought down a box of Fuck Dallas t-shirts. I managed to get one even though they were all sold in 10 minutes. 1997 resulted in Dallas coming to Green Bay for the first time in who knows how long. A few nights before, some good friends were sitting around and we decided to have a pig roast. Not just a pig roast, the Fuck Dallas Pig Roast. It stuck and went on every year for years to come, whether or not Dallas and Green Bay were playing that year. I wore that original shirt every year, with barbecue sauce stains permanently ground in to the shirt. The sauce? Spicy Hick o’ Fuck Dallas Sauce. Everybody (except Dallas fans) loves the shirt!
Anything else you’d like to add?
About 10 years ago my friends and me stopped at a friend’s house in De Pere. It was a huge house, and we had to pick someone up for the game. Someone said, “Dad, get the box!” I had no idea what she meant. He came down the stairs with a cedar box, and a G emblazoned in jewels on top of it. He handed it to me and said put it on. I found out later he’s on the Packers Board of Directors, and the content of that box was a Super Bowl XXXI ring. Absolutely speechless! Green and Gold forever!