Green Bay Packers fans gather at Curly's Pub on Thursday to watch the NFL draft at Lambeau Field. / Lukas Keapproth/Press-Gazette Media
Steve Tate watches the NFL draft at Curly's Pub at Lambeau Field on Thursday. / Lukas Keapproth/Press-Gazette Media
During the 2013 NFL Draft, the only place to be for some Packers fans is Lambeau Field.
Some fans started there at 11 a.m. Thursday, waiting eleven hours for the team to make their 26th round pick at 10 p.m.
For the team's annual draft day party, Packers fans gathered at Curly's Pub to watch the first round of the draft with fellow cheeseheads, restless and excited. Their eyes glued to the dozens of television screens inside the restaurant, as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made the announcement of the Packers’ selection.
But upon the selection of Datone Jones, a University of California-Los Angeles defensive end, the applause was timid as some in the crowd were unfamiliar with him prior to the pick.
Most wearing green and gold, many brought laptop computers and tablets to monitor draft selections. When Jones was chosen, many frantically grabbed their electronics to learn more about the Packers' newest player.
“It’s inconsistent with Thompson’s policy,” said Russ Cherney, of Brillion. “He generally picks the best available, today he went with a specific position.”
But not all fans were disappointed.
“He’s a good pick,” Chuck Bernhagen of Madison said. “We need help on the defensive end. He’s much like Clay Matthews, and they’ll be great bookends to each other.”
Before the team's selection, audience were asked if they wanted an offensive or defensive pick, and overwhelmingly applauded and cheered for a defensive pick. When asked if the team should draft Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, who made headlines following the realization his girlfriend was a fraud, the fans filled the room with loud boos.
Kicker Mason Crosby and linebacker Brad Jones signed autographs for fans and posed for photos.
Before the pick, Head Coach Mike McCarthy addressed the crowd before heading to the draft day “war room” and explained what the team needed for the first pick.
“Fit with current players on roster” is important, McCarthy said. “Fit covers a lot of different areas. Is he fit physically, the skill set, fit with offensive and defensive special teams? How is he going to fit in our locker room. In Green Bay, we have standards on and off the field.”
Each year, the draft and the team’s needs are different, he said. He’s happy with their 26th pick, but said they prefer the 32nd.
Terry Geurink said he last attended the Packers’ Draft Day party in 2005, “the year Aaron Rodgers was selected.” He waited in line to get autographs from Crosby and Jones.
“It’s nice being together with other Packers fans,” he said. “It’s great night out. It’s like typical Packer tailgating, watching the game and drinking a few beers.”
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