Tailgate Tour opens Ty's eyes

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Josh Flickinger/Beloit Daily News Packers running back Ty Montgomery smiles at fans outside the Pontiac Convention Center in Janesville Thursday night.

JANESVILLE, Wis. - Any doubts as to the dedication of Green Bay Packers fans has been erased in the mind of running back Ty Montgomery over the past three days.

Montgomery is one of three active players (joining LB Blake Martinez and DL Kenny Clark) on the annual Packers Tailgate Tour, which made a scheduled stop Thursday night at the Pontiac Convention Center.

It was day three of a six-day jaunt through Wisconsin and Montgomery, entering his fourth season with the team, said the fan support is unwavering.

"What we have with these people goes beyond fandom, I would say," Montgomery said. "Being able to come out and see the joy that people have when they get to come and see us, it's amazing. You can tell it's really deep and it's really genuine."

The love affair between team and community was shown early on in the evening, when a mother took the mic during a question-and-answer session.

"I'll never forget when my life as a Packer fan really began," she said. "It was when I met Reggie White. I brought my son here today, and his name is Montgomery. Ty, you're his favorite player, and it would be great if you could meet him tonight."

Montgomery climbed down from the stage, gave the 88-jersey clad youngster a hug and brought him on stage for awhile to hang out.

"That stuff means a lot," Montgomery said. "You always think about the fame and fortune of having this job. For awhile as a kid, it was all about the fortune. I didn't really know any better. But now, with the fame, there's so much influence that I can have, so many connections I can make. Moments like that, you don't have to be rich to appreciate that."

Montgomery is one of the more community-minded Packers, having recently founded his own foundation, which he named My 10 Percent, which focuses on the importance of foster care, among other causes.

"It's something that has evolved over my career," Montgomery said. "I always knew there was something that I was supposed to be doing. I felt like me being in the NFL was part of God's will. I kind of always knew I would be here, and through all of the injuries, the downs, the position changes, still being able to be successful and having an influence, it's been amazing."

Montgomery's path has been anything but conventional. Originally selected in the third round out of Stanford, Montgomery had a promising start to his rookie campaign before being sidelined by an ankle injury in week six of the season.

In the middle of his second season in 2016, the Packers, out of sheer necessity after a run of injuries, put Montgomery in the backfield. He validated that decision by averaging nearly six yards per carry as the Packers' leading rusher despite starting just three games.

Fast-forward to 2017, when after being installed as the starting running back to begin the year, Montgomery broke his ribs in week four against Chicago and started just five games. With the emergence of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, there are some questions as to what role the versatile Montgomery will play in 2018.

"I'm just looking to have a lot of fun this season," Montgomery said. "I look for us to get very creative on offense and do a lot of different things. As long as I can stay healthy, I think it's going to be a great year."

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