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Long Winter Begins in Green Bay

January 26, 1998

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) _ As she shoveled snow off the bleachers at Lambeau Field on Monday, Penny Welch tried to get over her ``total disbelief.″ The Green Bay Packers lost the Super Bowl.

``It’s similar to when your favorite pet runs away. It hurts,″ said Welch, 26, of Green Bay. ``How do I deal with it? All you can do is look forward to next year. Everything is easier to deal with in time.″

Gene LeBoeuf, 73, of Green Bay wore a black arm band over his green Packers sweatshirt, mourning the 31-24 loss to Denver on Sunday that denied his team back-to-back championships.

``I just thought I had to do something that was different,″ LeBoeuf said.

Added Mike Tearman, 37, of Janesville: ``Last night, I was just in a daze. I was beside myself. It was like an out-of-body experience.″

The team was expected to return to Green Bay on Monday on a charter flight from San Diego, said Don Hoeft, director at Austin Straubel International Airport.

No welcome-home ceremony was planned there. The team was to bus from the plane to Lambeau Field, Hoeft said.

Twenty-four people getting $7 an hour shoveled the bleachers at Lambeau Field for a welcome-home party Tuesday.

Some 45,000 people are expected for the program of speeches by team executives, coaches and players, said Aaron Chelberg of Promotion Management Inc.

William Kemp, 38, of Green Bay said shoveling the snow from the seats in 25-degree cold and freezing drizzle helped him cope with his frustration.

``I think we were cheated,″ he said. ``Bring them here and we’ll settle the score.″

Jay Nesvacil, 39, said the mood at Dean Pickle and Specialty Products where he works was subdued. Nesvacil, who has had season tickets for 20 years, likened his disappointment to losing a job.

``It’s kind of like a dark cloud following me all day,″ he said.

Cheryl Dorner, manager of Kroll’s West Restaurant, a long punt from Lambeau Field, estimated business was 10 percent below expectations because of the loss.

``You don’t see as much Packers clothing on,″ she said.

Jean Karnas, 77, of Green Bay came to the eatery wearing green-and-gold beads.

``It hasn’t sunk in,″ she said. ``We just felt we would win. When I woke up this morning, I didn’t want to get out of bed.″

Nick Paparella, 38, of London, Ontario, drove 700 miles with some buddies to be in Green Bay for the Super Bowl.

``It is going to be a long summer,″ he said. ``How do we get over it? We tried the drinking part last night.″

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