“You kind of try to keep it in check without getting too high,” Paul said. “After the draft a couple of my buddies said, ‘Can you wipe that smile off your face?’ It’s really unbelievable to think that a kid from Allouez, going through the Allouez Buccaneers and Southwest, ends up here.”
Scharping was one of the first to emerge out of Lambeau Field’s visiting locker room Monday. He chose a small bike, training wheels and all, to drive down to practice.
Speaking to reporters after practice, Scharping was all business. He acknowledged it was cool to be back in Green Bay – “I love the weather” – to practice against his childhood team, but he kept his focus centered on improvement and the task at hand.
When pressed, however, Scharping admitted there is a small part of him that remains a Packers fan at heart.
“First of all, I’m a Houston Texans fan,” said Scharping with a smile. “But it’s buried deep down in there somewhere.”
Paul and Jackie, decked out in Texans’ garb, had a more difficult time keeping their poker faces intact. Prior to Monday, they’d never been this close to an NFL football field before.
The sight of their son walking over to them after practice left a permanent smile on both of their faces, as did their visit with him Sunday evening after the Texans flew into the area.
Jackie even brought a suitcase of Max’s possessions with them for him to bring back to his apartment in Houston. She plans on bringing one suitcase with her to every Texans home game to help complete her son’s move.
The family is expecting a good turnout for Thursday night’s preseason opener at Lambeau Field, an almost surreal reality that’s slowly setting in as the game draws near.
“It’s obviously a kid’s dream come true and a dad’s,” Paul said. “He took advantage of his situation there both academically and obviously football-wise and kept his nose to the grindstone and look where it’s gotten him. You can work hard and have that dream.”
Scharping wasn’t the only Wisconsin native who enjoyed participating in the Packers’ bike tradition for the first time Monday.