GREEN BAY, Wis. - The Blind Ref in Green Bay, Wis., is a quaint restaurant located a 3-wood from Lambeau Field.
It sells, naturally, the Blind Ref burger and cheese curds, a staple of true Wisconsin culture.
The restaurant opened today, or perhaps saying it will open today is more appropriate. I've been sitting in here filing stories for the last two hours or so, and the only activity has been the countless snowplows going up and down the road clearing out the five inches and counting of snow that's fallen on Green Bay over the last eight hours.
The restaurant is much like every other shop around Lambeau Field - it has a particular niche (call it stadium food) but it's all catering to fans coming and going from Packers games.
The owners are warm and friendly, if not a bit rushed due to their opening, which was initially scheduled for a week from now.
Dwayne, the owner, figured why not get the doors open before a big Packers home game?
That's of particular interest for Dwayne, who happens to be a Steelers fan.
Steeler Nation is a broad and vast empire, and one powerful enough to penetrate even the most staunchly loyal of towns. There is nothing in this city that does not celebrate the awesome history of the Green Bay Packers. Even Dwayne's restaurant, understandably so, pays homage to this Mecca of the National Football League.
But his loyalties are still firmly entrenched. With temptation to switch sides being ever so appealing - like a recovering alcoholic hanging out at a keg party - it'd be understandable how one could get swept into Cheeseheadedness.
The support for the Steelers in Pittsburgh is strong, nearly unbreakable. It's at least that here in Green Bay, arguably moreso. It's the kind of support that's so deeply rooted in their DNA they welcome opposing fans warmly. Of course, there's some good-natured ribbing, but all seem hooked on the same phrase - "If we all rooted for the same team, it wouldn't be much fun."
I heard that from Dwayne's sister, another employee of The Blind Ref, from a gentleman I chatted with at the gas station and from a bartender I spoke with last night.
Dwayne roots for the Steelers "ever since I could pull up my trousers," and he said that will never change, but he gets how one might get caught up in the culture here. Maybe he even has a little bit.
That doesn't take the sting out of Super Bowl XLV, something that, today, seems eons ago, but it does bring about a sense of connection outside the lines of our own nation.
Dwayne's restaurant will blow up on game days in the future. Reasonably priced stadium food all within a very close distance to the stadium. Like every other business around here, it will thrive on parking revenue, which almost seems like was the exact plan of city designers decades ago. He'll keep rooting for the Steelers, particularly today, he just won't advertise it in his business.
And that seems right. Valid.
- Steelers vs. Packers: Everything you need to know
- The Standard is The Standard pregame podcast
- 5 reasons the Steelers will beat the Packers
- Steelers vs. Packers: How to watch today's game
- Live from Green Bay: Snow is the third opponent
- Prospects to Watch for in Saturday's Bowl Games
- Invasion Green Bay: BTSC will be at the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field Sunday
- Are the Steelers developing into contenders?
- Play Money: Exploring Steelers CBs and NFL salary cap
- BTSC On Demand: Behind Enemy Lines on Packers Talk