The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Packers stop by


Ian Minielly/Daily Globe

GREEN BAY PACKERS team president Mark Murphy talks to the students at the Hurley K-12 School Thursday morning. Behind Murphy, from left, are retired players Ahman Green and Robert Ferguson. The group, along with former kicker Ryan Longwell, discussed the benefits of playing multiple sports, keeping healthy and the future of the current team.

The Green Bay Packers Tailgate Tour passed through the area Wednesday, somewhat in secret, as team officials kept their local schedule close to the vest.

The team left Ashland, Wis., Thursday morning and had an event in Houghton Thursday night. In between they made three stops on the Gogebic Range Wednesday morning.

The first stop was at the Hurley K-12 School, where school officials had tried to keep the news of their arrival a secret. The younger kids went to the gym, where they interacted with three current players - linebacker Jake Ryan, backup quarterback Brett Hundley and fullback Aaron Ripkowski - as part of the National Football League's Play 60 initiative. The kids rumbled, bumbled and stumbled around an obstacle course with the players providing encouragement.

Former Packer running back Ahman Green, wide receiver Robert Ferguson and kicker Ryan Longwell, as well as current team president Mark Murphy, met the older students in the auditorium where they told stories and took questions before throwing out Packers gear.

The Packers have raised over $2 million in the past 12 years doing the tailgate tours, according to Murphy. He presented the school with a check for $2,000 to buy athletic equipment promoting health and fitness.

One of the Hurley coaches asked Murphy about athletes focusing on a single sport verses playing multiple sports. Murphy said he prefers athletes that play multiple sports, because he notices a difference in the ability to learn with multi-disciplined players and to be better teammates.

Murphy also said when he was an athletic director, the kids who focused on a single sport had parents that were overly involved in the future of their kids, but when the kids play multiple sports the parents cannot burrow in and get as involved.

Before the Packers left Hurley, Murphy recognized the family of Sue Thomas, who was an avid Packers fan and expressed condolences on behalf of the team for her passing.

Next, the team headed to Ironwood Plastics in the Ironwood Industrial Park and met with workers and took questions.

Then it was off to the Bessemer Plywood plant, where they met and interacted with more workers.

Hundley told the Daily Globe that while he was disappointed being a fifth round selection, he was happy to come back up Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. In his assessment, the best quarterbacks in the league, with the best longevity, usually start out as back ups first, learning the NFL, before becoming the primary signal caller.

Hundley said he is feeling great. He is healthy and confident he will have a successful preseason.

Green, the Packers all-time leading rusher, said he is coaching fast pitch softball and working with running backs and the media in Green Bay where he settled down full time.

Ferguson is helping with two adult daycare centers in Houston, while Longwell recently moved to the Bahamas where he is helping prepare athletes for IMG.

The team is traveling in a leased bus that is decorated with a specially commissioned "bus wrap," emblazoning it in Green and Gold.

Bus driver Terry Suttner is a retired police officer who spent 25 years on the force. Once he retired, he drove full time all over the country, but now at 77 he elects to only drive one or two days a week, except for the Tailgate Tour, which he does every year.


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