MANITOWOC - Douglas Junk never expected to see his photo in the newspaper after attending a Green Bay Packers game in 2011. He also did not expect to see that photo in the Pro Football Hall of Fame more than five years later.
Junk, a Manitowoc native, now a resident of Scottsdale, Arizona, with his wife Debbie and son Augie and two daughters Noel and Brianna, have been Packers fans their whole lives. Since the family moved out West 22 years ago, they have never changed their football loyalties.
As Packers fans, they are always looking for an opportunity to hit up Lambeau Field back in their home state. In 2011, they got the opportunity to go to the last regular-season game of the season, when the Packers played the Bears on Jan. 2 in a nail-biting, low-scoring game.
The only touchdown of the game was a 1-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers to Donald Lee early in the fourth quarter, bringing the Packers up to edge the Bears 10-3 after a field goal from Mason Crosby.
Donald Lee did as any Packer would — he ran up to the end zone and made his Lambeau Leap, right into the arms of Douglas and Augie.
Photos were taken and history was made, as this was the game that launched the Packers into their 2011 Super Bowl victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Junks and Debbie’s brother, Steve Schroeder, had gone to the game as a guest of Doug's employer in one of the stadium suites. The company was celebrating the last game at the field before they terminated their occupancy of the suite.
During halftime, Doug and Augie got to settle into two of the front-row seats in the end zone, which were part of the suite package. Shortly after they sat down, they had Donald Lee flying up into their section.
“We were so excited,” Junk said. “We never expected that to happen.”
The owners of his company said they had never had a Lambeau Leap near their seats during the last 10 years of holding those tickets.
The next morning, the family visited Late’s in Manitowoc for breakfast and saw their photo on the front page of the USA TODAY section of the newspaper.
“I was a little cropped out, but my son was on the front page,” Junk said.
Augie had been wearing a cheese cowboy hat during the game, which fell off during the leap, and some of the photos had blocked out Augie’s face as the hat was falling off his head.
Junk was able to find the original photographer, Mike Roemer, who was able to give the Junks a photo with Augie’s face showing in a different frame.
The whole day was very exciting, and the Junk family had an awesome memory to share for a lifetime, with a number of news publications to prove it. However, just a month later, Sports Illustrated published a Super Bowl XLV Champions Commemorative Issue, and on a full-page spread, Donald Lee’s leap is printed with Augie and Doug right beside him.
The photo has been a staple for the Junks, who have it enlarged and framed in their Arizona home. Friends and neighbors have a hard time believing the photo is authentic, and openly wonder if Junk doctored the photo.
However, its true authority in sports photography was made apparent to Doug in August while on a work trip to Ohio, when he found a surprise waiting within the walls of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Walking through the Hall of Fame, Doug was looking at a display and noticed a huge, 7-foot-tall photo of the Green Bay signature Lambeau Leap move. Seconds later, he realized it was the photo of him and Augie.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Junk said. “Out of all the Lambeau Leap photos, I have no idea why this one was chosen to be featured in the Hall of Fame.”
Doug had a photo taken of him with the photo and sent it to Augie, who was starting his freshman year at Arizona State University.
“He thought it was pretty cool,” Junk said. “We had no idea the photo was there, and it was shocking to see it so large.”
Roemer, the photographer, did not even know it was in the Hall of Fame.
"I think it's cool that it's in the Hall," Roemer said.
Roemer is a Green Bay-based commercial and editorial photographer, and is a three-time winner in the Pro Football Hall of Fame photo contest. You can see more of his work at www.roemerphoto.com.
The five-year-old photo has been — and will be — an interesting talking point for the Junk family for years to come.
“Even though our kids were born in Arizona, they consider themselves Cheese Heads,” said Doug’s wife, Debbie. “We always will be fans of the Packers.”
Alyssa Bloechl: 920-686-2152, email email@example.com, Twitter @alyssabloechl