By now everyone knows the Wisconsin Badgers and LSU will meet at 2:30 p.m. Sept. 3 at historic Lambeau Field in something called the Carmex College Football Classic.
What you probably don’t know is that contest isn’t the first time college teams have squared off in the Packers’ backyard.
St. Norbert College twice hosted Fordham University at Lambeau in the Vince Lombardi Memorial Classic, winning both games against the legendary NFL coach’s alma mater. The Green Knights beat the Rams 14-10 on Nov. 20, 1982 and 18-9 on Nov. 19, 1983.
Beloit Catholic High School graduate Jerry Lang was a defensive back and team captain for those Green Knights. Following the 1983 game, a parent snapped a photo of Lang and four other seniors, who had just played the final game of their careers. In addition to Lang, the photo includes Dennis Lueck, Todd Schroeder, Tom Famree and Joe Doucette. Thirty-three years later, on July 30, they recreated that photo at Lambeau.
Lang graduated from St. Norbert in 1984 and went on to medical school at UW-Madison. He’s an orthopedic surgeon/associate professor at the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison.
Lueck, an Appleton Xavier High School graduate, has been a high school teacher and football coach for 30 years in suburban Chicago. Schroeder, a Manitowoc Lincoln High School grad, followed Lang and went to medical school at UW-Madison. He is a radiologist in Manitowoc. Famree, from Luxumburg-Casco, is vice president of Wells Fargo Bank in Green Bay and Doucette, from Niagra High School, is a software sales representative in Minneapolis, Minn.
Here’s a Q&A session with Lang about those fateful games.
BDN: Explain what it was like playing at Lambeau:
Lang: “It was awesome. I remember playing there in 1982 (the year the NFL was on strike) and 1983. It was a perfect day for football. A little rain and seasonal temps. The field was perfect. The goal posts were much narrower than college at that time. The hash marks were also different.”
BDN: What was the atmosphere like?
Lang: “Fun and exciting. Playing a strange team from out east was also different.”
BDN: What was the feeling, walking off Lambeau Field having won the game 18-9?
Lang: “Pure joy. I was with my buddies doing something really fun. We all knew this was it. Our athletic careers were finally over. The picture says it all. I think we had 13 seniors on our team out of about 25-30 that we started with as freshmen. This was Don LaViolotte’s first season as coach and things were a little new. He was great.”
BDN: Who’s idea was it to recreate the photo taken at Lambeau?
Lang: “Mine. I live in Madison and when it was announced that the Badgers were going to play at Lambeau they noted that it had been a few years since a college game had been played there. I knew that I was there. I had lost that picture, but Tom Fameree has it and randomly posted it on Facebook. That’s when I got the idea.”
BDN: Do you all stay in touch?
Lang: “I stay in touch with Dennis Lueck (#67) as we were co-captains and best man at each other’s weddings. I have been in contact with the other three, but less regularly. Tom Famree (#34) and I bonded over running as we both qualified and ran in the Boston Marathon. Todd Schroeder (#12) and I went to medical school together and have the medical thing in common. Joe Doucette (#84) was the most friendly and gregarious of the lot, but he has been a little hard to track down. I saw him in person last year for the 1st time in 10-15 years. We did speak on the phone however.”
BDN: The Packers have used St. Norbert as their training camp home for 59 years, the longest such relationship between a college and a pro football team in the NFL. Your thoughts on the relationship between the Packers and St. Norbert? Lang: “I remember we would start two-a-days about the time they were ready to break camp. We saw them around campus. We also could count on one or two meals from the Packer food left-overs. Man was that good. Shrimp and steak – the good stuff.”
BDN: What do you remember most about your time spent at St. Norbert?
Lang: “My friends and transition from a young kid to a young man. It was great. I owe a great deal of my person success to my involvement in sports – particularly football at St. Norbert. It has really shaped me in a positive way.”
BDN: Any final thoughts?
Lang: “This is truly one of my favorite pictures. We were so young and innocent. You can see the joy in our faces. We have all done well. Little did we know that we were part of St. Norbert College and Lambeau Field history that would still be relevant today.”