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Packers 'Bike Brigade' one of the most beloved training camp traditionsSubmitted: 07/26/2013
Story By Lyndsey Stemm


GREEN BAY - Of all the traditions that make the Packers franchise special for fans, one activity stands out as one of the most unique in the NFL. And it's thanks to some of the players youngest fans.

Day one of training camp kicked off today... Newswatch 12's Lyndsey Stemm takes us to the Bike Brigade.

Training camp is much the same for all NFL teams: weeks of grueling practice in the summer heat; players showing off what they've built on during the offseason; it's where starters are made and jobs are earned. But in Green Bay it all starts on teeny... tiny... bikes.

"We were way over there by the Oneida Nation gate and there was like this open area where all the Packers came out. And we just stood there with our bikes. And you could ask all the Packers to ride on your bike," says Jason Yaeso, from Shawano.

"Getting picked out of everyone else here; I think that's just a rush of adrenaline," says Jonathan O'Connell, from Suamico.

Legend has it nearly fifty years ago Vince Lombardi saw some of his players riding local kids bikes out to the practice field. He decided it should be a daily training camp ritual to help players connect with fans. And in true Packer form, connect with fans they did... and have been doing ever since.

"The kids really like it. They get to be with some of their favorite football players; riding bikes with them. I think it's a great tradition. I'd never seen anything like it when I came in as a rookie," says Bryan Bulaga, Packers Offensive Tackle.

They lined up by the dozens this morning to taxi the men in green and gold to practice.

"I got number 69 to ride my bike, and I think his name was Brian. And we talked about how old I was," says Madison Fellons, from Winchester.

"(We talked about) how I play baseball and football and basketball," says Ethan Sauer, from Green Bay.

"I had M.D. Jennings ride my bike because he rides my bike every day, because he's my permanent rider," says Callie Vanlaanen, from Ashwaubenon.

Some players pick new kids every time. But some form a bond that first time and become permanent bike buddies.

"I just raised my hand and he picked me," says Vanlaanen.

The hilarity of seeing a grown man on a bike with training wheels has never gotten old. But some players operate on the theory that the bigger the man, the tinier, and pinker the bike.

"It's tough for anybody to ride a bike like that. I think I saw James Starks with a bike like that and he just had the little girl ride it and he walked next to her. I think I had one of those my rookie year too," says Bulaga.

No matter the size of the player, the kid, or the bike, this tradition gives the teams youngest fans an experience they'll remember forever.

"We get to see Packer players in person and not on a TV screen," says Sauer.

"It's pretty cool. I get a Packer to ride my bike every day," says Vanlaanen.



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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 06/27/2016

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We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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PHILLIPS - Police want to figure out what caused the death of a 16 year old girl in Phillips.

Officers were called to an apartment in downtown Phillips with a report of a medical emergency.

The call was made about 6:00 Thursday morning, after the girl was found not breathing and unresponsive.

She was determined to be dead, but there was no apparent cause.

An autopsy was requested by the Price County Coroner.

No foul play is suspected, but the death remains under investigation.

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MILWAUKEE - A former Uber driver in the Milwaukee area has sued the ride-hailing company in federal court, seeking overtime pay, tips and other expenses on behalf of all current and former Wisconsin drivers.

Lamont Lathan is asking the court to "properly classify" Uber drivers as employees, not as the independent contractors Uber says they are.

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WOOD COUNTY - A motorcycle crash seriously hurt a man late Saturday night.

According to the Wood County Sheriff's Office, it happened around 11 p.m. in the Township of Biron.

Police think the motorcycle driver was making a slight turn on County Highway U and passed another car. 

That's when the motorcycle driver lost control, went off the road and hit a tree. The driver was thrown off the 
motorcycle.

Crews took the man to St. Joseph's Hospital with serious injuries, and they don't yet know the status of his condition. No other people were on the motorcycle.

Police also think speed and alcohol could have played a part in the crash. They are still investigating and will not yet release the name. 

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MINOCQUA - Things don't always go well out on the water. That's why Oneida County has a specialized dive team ready to respond whenever there's an emergency.

But funding the dive team is expensive. Saturday, community groups came together to help raise money for the team at the Minocqua Swim Challenge.

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CRANDON - Pounding rain, howling winds, and flashing lightning�"not the most ideal conditions for camping on Saturday night.

In fact, Saturday night's bad weather couldn't have picked a worse time for thousands of people to set up camp at the Crandon Race Track.

"We were holding onto the awning last night," said Keegan Kincaid, a racer from Crandon. ."It was pouring."

"Our canopy [got] rained [on] so much we had to keep pushing it up so it wouldn't collapse," said Paul Posbrig, a fan from Green Bay.

"It was coming in all over," said Jessie Braden, a fan from Richfield.

But for Crandon fans, the rain certainly didn't dampen the weekend.

"But we made the best of it," said Braden, who comes to Crandon every summer for the Brush Run.

"We had a canopy at one point and put up tarps on the walls as we got downpoured on and it was all windy," Braden said. "If we're going camping, it's going to rain!"

The fans also got their fair share of noise because the rain didn't really affect the race schedule.

"We just had to wait a little bit longer before we could put crews out on the track," said the raceway's announcer, Dave Mullins. "So needed it to dry off a little bit first. But really it was only about a half hour."

But it certainly changed the racers' strategy.

"And so you'll see a lot of changes in trucks and driving styles," Kincaid said.
"Figure out the track, sort out where the grip is, where it's wet, where it's dry," said Arie Luyendyk, Jr., a racer from Arizona.

But Crandon's track is pretty resilient.

"Most tracks we wouldn't be able to race on it the next day, but Crandon has a lot of clay," Kincaid said.

"Because this is a clay track, it doesn't absorb the water as much, it makes it more like a mud pit," Mullins said.

Sunday's nice weather quickly brought the track's conditions back to normal.

"I thought we were going to be racing in the mud, but turns out because of the sun and wind we're actually going back to our setup we had yesterday," Luyendyk, Jr., said. 

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PRICE COUNTY - A truck versus train crash killed a woman late Saturday morning.

According to the Price County Sheriff's Office, it happened at the intersection of County Road D and the Canadian National Railroad tracks in the Township of Knox.

Police think a 76-year-old man was driving the truck with a 76-year-old woman in the passenger seat, and the truck and the train collided.

Several different agencies responded, including Canadian National Railroad investigators.

Crews took the man to St. Joseph's Hospital in Marshfield, and they took the woman to Aspirus Hospital in Wausau where she later died.

Police are still investigating and will not yet release the names.

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