Green Bay Packer Superfan Steve Tate, aka “The Owner”, is a ubiquitous presence in Green Bay. Go to just about any Packers-related event and you’ll see Steve there in full Packers uniform wearing his “The Owner” cheesehead. Here is his story:
When did you first become a Packers fans and what is the background story behind it?
I have been asked this question a number of times and I have two basic answers.
1) As long as I can remember I have been a big Green Bay Packer fan. I think it all goes back to that we were fairly poor when I was young and there was not a lot of entertainment or trips and my dad was gone working long hours. But every time the Packers were playing we would listen, or watch them. In the 60s the Packers were the NFL’s best team and they became the first and real America’s team.
2) From this background I have tracked back to when I first became a Packer fan and that goes back to April of 1957. I was born in January of 1958.
What are your earliest memories of the Green Bay Packers?
Winning, family and the guys flying with the backpacks that made them airborne in Super Bowl II!
How did your Packer fandom evolve into the persona “Steve Tate, NFL Owner”?
I have always wanted a Green Bay Packer share of stock. I did not think there would be another stock sale so I wanted to buy one that was issued to someone else for my personal Packer collection. I started my Green Bay Packer memorabilia collection when I lived in Nebraska for 3.5 years when a friend gave me two Packer rookie cards in 1992.
Therefore, when the Packers had another stock sale in 1997, I jumped at the chance to contribute to the Packers and become a shareholder. I just got my share of stock near the end of 1997. The Packers were Super Bowl XXXI champions.
On January 4, 1998 the Packers were hosting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a playoff game in Lambeau Field. I turned 40 on January 3, 1998 so my mother went out and purchased four playoff tickets for my wife, sister, brother and I to go to our first Packers’ playoff game. The tickets were in the first and second rows in the north end zone. My sister decided to make up a banner to hang over the wall in front of us. While she was making up the banner I brought my cheese wedge over and, on the fly while she was making up the banner, I asked her if she could put NFL on one side and OWNER on the other side (in green) on my cheese wedge.
Since I had never been to a playoff game I was not aware of how much press would be at the game. Being in the front row, and with the stocks just being issued, I was interviewed and photographed a number of times during this Packer victory over the Bucs.
I have become known as the OWNER because I have worn an NFL OWNER cheese wedge to Packer games ever since and to a number of other Packer events. I was able to attend the Packers’ Monday night game after 911. At this game I placed a United States of America flag on the front of my wedge. The flag is now part of my cheese wedge. I was also able to purchase from the Packers’ Chris Gizzie’s shoes that he wore when he ran out with the US flag at this game (the shoes have little metal flags in the laces on both shoes and are signed by Chris).
Over the years I have also purchased the actual Green Bay Packer game pants, game socks and shoes. Therefore, I wear a full Packer uniform with my OWNER cheese wedge.
You have met quite a few Packers players. Which player would you say that you know the best?
Yes, I have met quite a few past and current Packer players.
I do not know any of them very well, but here are a few events and moments that I have had with some of them.
1) I have met Bart Starr at a Fan Fest signing, at the Lombardi Classic golf outing a few times and at Canton, OH during the 2009 Hall Of Fame (HOF) weekend. Bart is one of the kindest, genuine, professional and true gentlemen that I have ever met. He is friendly and has a presence that allows you to be comfortable while knowing he is a leader. I have been very impressed and grateful every time I have been around Bart.
2) Donald Driver has such passion and an inviting personality that makes me, and others, glad when we have had some time with him.
3) Al Harris has been very friendly and the one that got me more involved in taking photographs. Al was one of the first players that I gave my photos to. He thanked me and seemed really glad to have received them. Then he posted some of them on one of his older web site versions. Al has since upgraded his web site and the new site does not contain any of my photos that I gave him. Al will stop and say hi to me when he sees me. Thanks Al!
4) This past year I was able to golf with Jerry Kramer, Doug Hart and a friend of mine because of a charity event for Buckets for Hunger. We were able to hang out, play golf and have lunch for about 7.5 hours. It was very nice to discuss the old days and new days that included football and other topics. Jerry and Doug are great guys and really down to earth.
5) Dave Robinson is a Packer and outstanding man. I have been able to hear him speak at a number of events and he is one of my all time favorites. Willie Davis is also great to be around and to listen to.
6) AJ Hawk is a football player that you can see enjoys all aspects of Green Bay and football. He is always fan friendly and a person that I root for.
7) Ryan Grant, Ryan Pickett and Brandon Jackson have been very friendly to me and other fans. I believe these guys get what it means to be a Packer in Green Bay, WI! Donald Driver also is in this group.
I know that you got to meet my childhood hero, Bart Starr. Please recount that story for my readers.
Because of the recent player issues I had decided to wear Packer legions’ jerseys. I decided to mostly wear Bart’s Ice Bowl jersey, which the Packer Pro Shop just started to sell.
I have had the privilege to meet Bart Starr on a number of different occasions, which I have outlined a little bit above. The first time I met him I said “Hello and thanks for all the years, Mr. Starr.” Bart said right away, “Please call me Bart.” My fondest memory of Bart took place in 2009. I was in Canton, Ohio for the Pro Football Hall Of Fame (HOF) weekend in August. I was in Canton because I was up for being drafted into the Pro Football Ultimate Fan Association (PFUFA: www.pfufa.org) as the OWNER.
Part of the PFUFA activities on Saturday was for ultimate fans to participate in the Canton parade on the HOF float. Then after the parade we came back to the HOF to do a signing for kids (mainly the local Boys and Girls Club). Just as I was getting ready for the kid signing I was told Bart was down at the Hall.
Because I was in my full Packer uniform and wearing Bart’s Ice Bowl jersey I walked over to where I was told Bart was. When I got there I was told that Bart had just left. I then saw Cherry Starr, but I did not see Bart. Cherry saw me and said “Bart, you need to see this.” Bart got out of the car and saw Darth Packer and me. Bart was behind a temporary fence and he said, “Come on over here and take some photos with me.” The security opened up the fence and we were able to take a number of photos with Bart and chat with him a little.
The next day I was inducted into the PFUFA during the Sunday breakfast in the HOF in the NFL Film room. What a joy it was to meet Bart when I was wearing his jersey and to be part of the experience of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and become a member of the Pro Football Ultimate Fan Association.
Because PFUFA members do charity events, we have cards. My PFUFA card is the picture of Bart and me outside of the HOF in 2009. This meeting with Bart and the photo made the weekend so very special. Bart is a great Packer legend and a greater man. I hope all Packer fans get a chance to meet Bart!
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell pointed you out at the Packers’ Shareholders Meeting. How did that feel?
I was shocked, amazed and a bit embarrassed (not in a bad way). What I mean is that it was surprising to me that the commissioner of the NFL was coming to the Green Bay Packers’ Shareholder meeting. Then to have him ask me to stand up during his Q & A time really was surprising. I was amazed and embarrassed because, while it is fun to be noticed as a Packer fan, I know a lot of great Packer fans and I know there are so many more that I will never meet, so to be singled out is really an honor. I really do see myself as a typical Wisconsin kid that has a lot of passion for the Packers and I enjoy being a part of the Packers experience, which mostly is being with other Packer fans.
You seem to have quite a collection of Packers pictures. Is photography a hobby?
Yes, this is a hobby. I am a novice when it comes to really knowing how to operate a camera. What I do have is a good eye for what to photography, or what may happen and the joy of trying to capture “the shot”.
I upload most of my Packer photos to Facebook (game and events along with other football activities): http://www.facebook.com/skinslove2130?ref=notif¬if_t=friend_confirmed#!/StevetheOWNERTate?v=photos
What would you consider your favorite Packers moment?
Wow, favorite, just one???…
Being at the Seattle playoff snow game, going to an NFC Championship game at Lambeau Field, seeing Reggie’s last game as a Packer at Solder’s Field, watching Packers break records, Al Harris’ playoff interception for a TD win against Seattle, meeting all of the other Packer fans and other teams’ fans, going to my first playoff game with my family, for a number of years going to Family Fun Night with my family (up to 20 some family members per year), or meeting Bart at Canton the year I became a PFUFA member (www.pfufa.org)…
My favorite moment is: Today, here and now, enjoying today as a citizen of the US, living in my home state, Wisconsin, near friends and family, as a Packer fan with fond memories of the past and the anticipation of another Championship in Titletown. As Vince said, and I have this saying on the top of my cheese wedge, “God, Family and the Packers!!”
What is the most unusual Packers-related item you own?
I was given a black and white photo by friend that has Bart, Paul and Jim sitting on the bench. I have gotten Bart and Paul to sign it. Paul said that he had never seen this photo before.
While a lot of people have player jerseys that are signed by the players (which I have some), I also have players’ pants and shoes signed by players.
My NFL OWNER cheese wedge :-).
To me my most unusual item is the first year practice jersey of Donald Driver when his number was 13. I had him sign it in between his first and second year. He signed it and put number 13 & 80 on it. This was also before he established his current double D autograph. You can make out Donald very clearly with this signature.
Which current Packer player would you most want to sit down to dinner with?
Donald Driver, because of where he came from (childhood) to being the Packers’ all time leading receiver at Lambeau. He is what I believe a GREEN BAY PACKER is, on and off of the field.
I would like to know more about his faith.
Oh, and the meal has to be good :-)!
Go Pack Go!!
You seem to be at EVERY Packers event. How do you find the time?
I have a lot of energy and a full life. When I meet people they think I live in Green Bay. I do not live in Green Bay, but if I ever get a northern (second) home it will be in the Green Bay area. I do a number of day trips (all day) to Green Bay because I live just outside of Madison.
I work full time, I volunteer in the community, I am involved with my family and I golf. I am amazed at times how full and blessed my life is. Life is GOoD!!
Go Pack Go!!——————
Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.