The Pro Football Hall of Fame is in Canton. But the most sacred ground of any active NFL stadium resides in Green Bay. The old stadiums are gone (the good ones anyway). And don't tweet to me about Soldier Field. Even the most die-hard Bears fan will acknowledge that the facility they use now hardly resembles their famed edifice after the elaborate remodeling job more than a decade ago.
Vince Lombardi walked the sidelines at Lambeau. The Ice Bowl was played there. It's in its 60th year and was the first stadium built specifically for an NFL team. It's also, along with Fenway Park and Wrigley Field, one of the three oldest professional sports stadiums in the United States. Don't talk to me about the L.A. Coliseum. The Rams left there in '79 to go to Anaheim and are only using it now as a rental.
There is only one NFL team that has never lost at Lambeau and that is your Houston Texans. Okay, so it's only a 1-0 record but if the Texans win Sunday they'll keep the title for another eight years!
The Texans faced the Raiders on Monday Night Football in Mexico City.
The first visit is burned in my brain. When people ask me what was my all-time favorite road game the answer is always Cincinnati in '11. Last year's wins at the Bengals and Colts were unforgettable as well. But Green Bay in '08 is number one in games in which not as much was on the line.
After all, that was a rough year. Hurricane Ike struck before week two and threw the season into turmoil. The Rosencopter' game put a stamp on an 0-4 start that was finally broken with a Matt Schaub TD run with no time left, a week later. Schaub would miss time with an injury and at 3-7 the Texans started the long climb back to .500 thanks to a couple of good starts by Sage Rosenfels.
Then, the pilgrimage to Green Bay. I'll never forget the team bus trucking through a little neighborhood when Lambeau Field suddenly appeared. Even in its grandeur it still has a high school stadium feel to it because this is the town's team. It's in the middle of everything.
The game was a thriller. Schaub returned to throw for over 400 yards against first-year starter Aaron Rodgers (who went 6-10 that year). Steve Slaton ran for over 100 yards. The Texans got the ball at their three-yard line for the final drive which was capped by Kris Brown's 40-yard winning field goal as time expired. Bliss.
Now, there's plenty on the line. A loss will drop the Texans in a tie for the division lead. Rodgers is one of the top three quarterbacks in the league and coming off a surgical win at Philadelphia. The drama is set to unfold and the backdrop will be the great stage of the NFL's oldest and most revered stadium.