Both young, older Packer fans can be found in Coeur d’Alene

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  • Courtesy photo Bill Hughes shows off his Packers memorabilia, including a Lombardi Trophy replica.

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    Coeur d’Alene native Braeson Richmond (facing camera) assists during a Green Bay Packers practice session. Courtesy photo

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  • Courtesy photo Bill Hughes shows off his Packers memorabilia, including a Lombardi Trophy replica.

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    Coeur d’Alene native Braeson Richmond (facing camera) assists during a Green Bay Packers practice session. Courtesy photo

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Weary and just plain exhausted from Sunday’s party.

But hey, it isn’t often you get to celebrate a 100th birthday.

Indeed, the Green Bay Packers were founded on Aug. 11, 1919 when Curly Lambeau and George Whitney Calhoun managed to scrape up $500 from the Indian Packing Company for uniforms and equipment.

And the rest, as they say …

Well, you know.

Here’s the thing, though — I have a deep connection to the Packers even though I’ve never lived or worked in Wisconsin.

I was privileged to write the team’s 75th anniversary commemorative book, and followed that with a book on Brett Favre.

Since we’re definitely in Seahawks country around this part of the world, it seemed sort of logical that I might be the only one in the area with such deep ties to the Pack.

Not counting Jerry Kramer up in Sandpoint, of course.

Um …

I was seriously mistaken.

At least two other people were honored to be part of No. 100 for the Packers — both from Coeur d’Alene but representing very different generations.

THE REAL surprise was finding out 22-year-old Braeson Richmond, a Coeur d’Alene High grad, actually works for the Packers.

Yes, really.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin native Bill Hughes (“I was born in Milwaukee, but I lie and say Green Bay …”) is still so passionate about his boyhood club that, even at 67, he’s keeping the flame alive with a mind-blowing shrine to the Packers at his home.

Young Richmond played football in high school, realized he probably couldn’t go on to a higher level, and decided to find a way to stay involved with the sport he loved.

“I went to Washington State because I was a Cougar fan,” he said, “but it didn’t work out that I could do any job with the football program.”

Richmond DID find a school that wanted his enthusiasm, though, and he wound up transferring to UNLV.

His gig?

“I held up those signs on the sideline to call the defenses,” he said. “It was great to be back on the field. Eventually, I moved up to the press box and charted plays.”

Richmond, though, wanted to make a living in football — somehow, some way.

He sent out emails and feelers to pro clubs, but nothing happened for, like, five months.

“I’d sort of given up hearing from anybody when I was contacted by Red Batty, the Green Bay Packers equipment manager,” Richmond said.

Batty, who has been in the job for 25 years and is now part of the furniture at Lambeau Field, actually drove from Salt Lake City (where he was dropping off a car) to Las Vegas — just to interview Richmond.

“We got along really well,” Braeson said, “so then they had me come to Green Bay, and I got hired.”

His job this time?

Do anything and everything that might be needed.

“I didn’t care,” he said. “When we had the first preseason game at home (last weekend), the whole place was magic. It was unbelievable.”

BILL HUGHES comes up with those same words and phrases to describe pretty much everything about the Packers.

Hughes has a building behind his garage in north Coeur d’Alene, and perhaps only the Hall of Fame in Green Bay has more memorabilia than Bill’s temple honoring his Packers.

It’s hard to imagine Hughes making his annual pilgrimage to see a game at Lambeau and not coming home with more photos, ash trays, autographed jerseys and assorted items — to the point that they now almost fill the building.

There is a place of honor for a street sign that says: “Lombardi Ave.”

Every Packer fan buys one of those, right?

But wait …

Hughes has a REAL sign, which once was on a pole at the Oneida Avenue cross street.

“We were driving right behind this huge 18-wheeler,” he said, “and the guy cut the corner too tight. The truck knocked the sign right to the ground.”

Hughes wanted to have his son grab the sign on the spot, but he decided on caution. Police cars came and went, maintenance vehicles showed up … but they all left the main part of the sign untouched.

“Eventually we just threw it in the back seat of the car and took off,” Hughes said.

NOW REALLY, how many fans have an actual street sign from Green Bay?

Of course, Bill has every other sort of tribute to the Packers — including a gorgeous replica of what is now called the Lombardi Trophy.

Bill chose the trophy from the very first Super Bowl.’

“Nobody can have one before that,” he said.

Naturally, Hughes — who spent decades as a high school basketball coach — is following Braeson Richmond’s new career in Green Bay.

You get the feeling that Hughes wouldn’t mind working the Packer sidelines himself.

“I know Braeson’s father, Brad,” Hughes said. “Their whole family has been Seahawk fans, but that’s going to change.

“Once they visit Lambeau Field and feel the history and atmosphere …”

Hughes leaves the rest unsaid.

If you have any connection to the Green Bay Packers, well …

You know.

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Steve Cameron’s “Cheap Seats” columns for The Press appear on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Steve also contributes the “Zags Tracker” package on Gonzaga basketball once monthly during the off season.

Email: scameron@cdapress.com

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