Cheesehead Origins: Greg Meinholz’s Packer Passion Evident in Trivia Knowledge, Memorabilia Collection

Greg Meinholz is this week's choice for Cheesehead Origins.

Welcome to Cheesehead Origins, an offseason series geared toward showcasing Packer fans with interesting fandom origin stories! CheeseheadTV is devoted to Packer fans worldwide, and we want to hear (and share) your stories. 

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So far, most of the people I’ve featured in this segment are people I have not actually met in person. I did meet both Big B and Mark Oldacres at a Packer game this past season, and shook the hand of the Mayor of Green Bay Kyle Cousineau in Lot 1. 

For the most part, though, these are folks who I’ve only interacted with or admired online.

Today’s feature is a bit different, then. Not only do I know this person in real life, but I have known them since I was in 6th grade (though it’s been years since our paths last crossed in person). 

Today I’m profiling Greg Meinholz, who I knew through band in middle and high school. He was a trumpeter, I was a saxophone player, and we both had an affinity for classic rock and the Green Bay Packers. 

I’ve only seen him in person maybe once or twice since high school, but we continue to interact online, our mutual interests having grown to include craft beer (frequently purchased from our local Woodman’s). Today, Greg describes himself as a happily married 35-year-old with two sons (one two years old, the other eight months old). He works as a Systems Engineer (whatever that means, I’m a humanities guy) and lives in the MIlwaukee suburbs, and, most importantly, is a massive Packers fan. 

Now, Greg has been a big Packer fan as long as I’ve known him, and really that stretches back to his birth. I asked him if he could pick out any of his earliest memories of watching the team, and his memory definitely stretches back farther than mine, even though he’s only a year older than I.

“I very vaguely remember a quarterback with the number 7 on his back playing in a Packers uniform that would’ve been Don Majkowski when I was still figuring out what football and the Packers really were,” said Greg. “Once my fandom had gone from just being entertained by this cool game on the TV to really knowing what I was watching, it was seeing Brett Favre throw touchdowns to Sterling Sharpe.”

Greg’s fandom blossomed throughout childhood, and as with many of us, it was largely due to the influence of immediate family members. He and his brother Jeff used to watch every game together and go nuts for every big play, or lose their minds at every bad play. They also both developed a habit of picking up football cards at every opportunity.

“Every trip to the local card shop was never to see if we scored the most valuable card in the pack,” he remembered. “It was always to just grow our collection of Packers cards. We didn’t care what the worth was. If it was a Packers player we didn’t have, we wanted it.”

For every Favre, Sharpe, Reggie White or LeRoy Butler, the Meinholz brothers would also pick up the occasional Vai Sikahema (one heck of a pull). So long as it was a Packers card, the two wanted it.

Greg’s fandom was also significantly influenced by his dad and his frequent tales of the Packers of the Lombardi years.

“I have a lot of love for the former players that I wasn’t even alive to see play,” he said. “Bart Starr, Ray Nitschke, Paul Hornung, Jerry Kramer. Listening to my dad talk about how great those teams were always made me look at that era as if they were the unstoppable Packers, the greatest teams and players that ever worse the jersey.”

There are some kids who just get into football more than others. For them, it goes beyond a passing interest or a game you play with your friends at recess. It becomes an obsession. I was one of those kids, and I was unsurprised to find out Greg was too. During a time in the early to mid 90s where it wasn’t completely cool yet at grade school to be a Packers fan (lots of supposed 49ers and Cowboys fans), Greg always wore his Packers gear proudly, and he became a font of knowledge about the team.

“I started to notice every kid that cared about football would come to me about the Packers,” he said. “My name and Packers would get constantly mentioned, I memorized the 1996/1997 roster and kids would quiz me on player names and numbers and I never faltered. It was at that point, kids started calling me the biggest fan.  I never really thought of myself as THE biggest fan, but I started to realize that I was a lot more invested than most, and it hasn’t stopped since.”

As the years have gone by, there have been plenty of moments that stand out to Greg. The Super Bowl wins, of course. But other smaller moments too. The Robert Brooks 99-yard catch on Monday Night Football against the Bears. Every Gilbert Brown Grave Digger celebration. The Aaron Rodgers Hail Mary in Detroit. The Randall Cobb touchdown catch against the Bears to clinch the NFC North and a playoff berth on fourth down. 

But there are more special memories as well.

“Outside moments in games, I have to say the first time I put anything Packers related on my children.  For both of them it was a little Packers hat while they were in the hospital after being born that sent my Green and Gold heart through the roof each time. “

The Packers also played a role in Greg’s wedding.

“When my wife and I were married in 2020, about a half hour after the ceremony the Packers were set to play the Vikings in the season opener.  I made sure to have a TV set up ready to watch the game immediately when it started, and I will forever remember the final score of the Packers defeating the Vikings 43-34.”

Greg does his best to get out to Packer games whenever he can in person, but since becoming a parent it’s become much more difficult (I can relate), and he hasn’t been to a game since 2018. But he’s had some great experiences in the past, managing to meet a few Packers in the process, including Paul Hornung, Willie Davis, Jerry Kramer and more.

Most of his love for the team is displayed in a Packer man cave in his home. He recently moved to a new home where his setup isn’t quite as large as what he had in his previous home, but it’s still quite impressive. It’s the result of a lifetime of collecting memorabilia.

“My Packers man cave started out in the second bedroom of my old apartment back in 2011,” said Greg. “ It began as just a place for me to hang up and enjoy all of the Packers autographs I’d collected over the years.  A friend of mine joked that it was my Man Cave, so the name stuck, and I vowed to have a bigger one when I bought a house.  So two years later I bought a house and it had a nice basement area with a small bar and I thought, this is it, this is where I will build greatness. “

He has a ton of autographed memorabilia, many of which came from going to player signings and meetups. But he’s also sought out certain autographs just to have them in the collection.

What are the crown jewels of this collection?

“Probably the most rare or valuable would be the Brett Favre and Paul Hornung signed jerseys,” he said. “I also have signed photos from Bart Starr, Aaron Rodgers, Ray Nitschke, Jim Taylor, Tony Canadeo, Brett Favre, Paul Hornung, Herb Adderley, the list goes on.  I love when someone asks me if I have a certain past player and then they look at me in shock when I say ‘Yes.’  I also might be a little spoiled because when they ask me if I have a popular player from the last five years I almost want to say ‘Please, give me a challenge!’ haha.”

As his family grew, the setup of his old home no longer worked out well for having multiple small children. So he took down his collection, and was eventually able to get it set up again when he moved to his new home. Check out the photos below.

Looking ahead to this year, Greg feels pretty positive about what he sees out of the Packers.

“I feel like we finally have a coach in Matt LaFleur that doesn’t just rely on Aaron Rodgers to carry us to victory,” he said. “ If Rodgers is having an off-game we could still win with Aaron Jones or AJ Dillon running the ball, or the defense could win us a game or two. Having Aaron Rodgers basically helps carry that team over the top.  I’m obviously a little concerned about the WR position, but only for the fact that I feel we only right now have the guys to get us down the field with 10-15 yard plays max, I feel like we still need that big play WR to break it wide open or I fear a good defense could suffocate us.”
 

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Thanks to Greg for taking part! You can follow him on Twitter at @gmeinholz, and sooner or later you’ll see his writing at PackersTalk.com!

 

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Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Comments (1)

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RedRight49's picture

April 21, 2022 at 06:50 am

An excellent fan feature article Tim, enjoyed it!

Greg has a very nice collection of Packer's memorabilia, nice to see the pics,

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