Jeff and Sylvia Passow of rural Peterson stand in Jeff's Green Bay Packers Room, also affectionately called "The Man Cave."
Jeff and Sylvia Passow of rural Peterson stand in Jeff's Green Bay Packers Room, also affectionately called "The Man Cave."
A green-and-gold light hangs above a green-and-gold pool table. Walls and shelves are laden with Green Bay Packers memorabilia. The outline of two nearly life-size football players in a game graces one section of wall. A green-and-gold recliner with a "G" on it sits stacked with goodies, waiting for a Packers game on the big-screen TV.

Leaving nothing to doubt about the loyalties of this football fan, a big green, white and gold "G" is inlaid in tile in the floor, greeting all who come to this basement haven of Green Bay Packerhood.

Jeff Passow is the lucky guy who calls it "home" all football season.

"You can take the boy out of Wisconsin, but you can't take the Packers out of the Wisconsin boy," laughed Sylvia Passow of rural Peterson.

Jeff, her husband, is originally from Cochrane, Wis., and a lifelong Packer fan. While he's had to deal with life in the land of Vikings since 1990 - and the recent move of longtime Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre to those very same Vikings - this new sanctuary certainly helps make pro football sweet.

"It's always been a dream of mine," he said of the room.

Lambeau Field arrives

It became a reality after the couple added onto their home, which is located on a farm above the bluffs of the Root River valley. In 2008 they decided to add on to provide room for Sylvia's mother, Gesina Bruegemann, formerly of Wykoff.

"The house was kind of small," said Jeff. He grinned. "We added a complete house onto our little house."

The addition included a master bedroom with nice bathroom, a bedroom and bathroom for Gesina, a living room, a kitchen and - yes - the Packers Room.

"I wanted a big-screen TV, but was told I couldn't have one unless we added on," he noted.

When Sylvia asked what the wall colors would be in that new room, Jeff immediately answered, "Green and yellow." He said they've always been favorite colors, including the use of John Deere equipment for his custom manure hauling business - and also the color of Rushford-Peterson School teams.

The inlaid "G" at the foot of the stairs might be the crowning glory of the room, but there are so many excellent Packers features that it's hard to say. The couple's daughter and son-in-law, Anna and Bruce Nelson, did the work on the floor. Bruce works at a tiling company and did this in his free time.

Not only is there a "G" but there are white hash marks in tile at each "yard" and fully extended white lines across the room every five "yards." With the "G" in the center of the room on the imaginary 50-yard line, the playing field... err, tile floor... stretches each way to what would be considered the 20-yard line. Kids would have a great football scrimmage.

Sylvia credited Anna with a lot of the plans for the room, saying, "She's really creative, with a decorative eye."

Anna also placed an impromptu phrase in green on the yellow wall to help keep everybody in line: "Packer fans welcome... all others tolerated!"

Pleasant Packer surprise

Jeff spent the last two weeks of January in Texas on a hunting trip. He was amazed to return home and see the Packer Room had moved along with the items up on the walls. Sylvia had gotten inexpensive frames for things, but still it had run over $100.

She said, "I brought out all the stuff in rubber totes and laid it on the Packer Table (as she referred to the pool table). I thought, 'There's no way all that will fit.'"

Other family members and friends helped with the mission of getting the sacred items up on the walls or shelves.

Upon arrival home, Jeff said first he was really surprised and thought it was perfect. Then he thought, "I really had this much stuff?!?"

The recliner, pool table and light above it all came from Stansfield Vending in La Crosse. Originally going there to replace a cue ball for another table, Jeff quickly realized it was the promised land of Packerdom. A later trip saw the items heading off to Passow's. Sylvia laughed, "I wanted a pinball machine. If it would have been Packers, you'd see it here."

It's easy to buy gifts for Jeff, of course. Some nieces and nephews gave him a poster with a collage of Lambeau Field and Packer photos. Upon looking closely, Jeff was happily surprised to see it also included a shot of him - in a fun photo taken of him with a Packer uniform. In the whole spirit of fun, he autographed the poster. It now has a proper spot in the Packer Room.

Watching a Green Bay Packers game keeps Jeff thoroughly involved and pretty much oblivious to anything else going on. He said, "People come to watch me watch the game."

The family has hosted many exchange students over the years, and, in fact, has a couple right now. At one time a Norwegian exchange student videotaped Jeff watching a game and sent it home.

Jeff also has moving stories from years of watching and occasionally making the trip to Lambeau Field to see the Green Bay Packers play in person. Once he took grandson James Bearbower to a game exceptionally early in the morning to watch the players arrive. They were able to get a number of player signatures on a football that's now kept in its own case.

"James would watch football before that, but didn't think he wanted to play. After getting the signatures, there was more passion," said Jeff. And remember, James can be found in the green-and-gold colors of Rushford-Peterson.

Vikings

Jeff is a true fan of not just the Packers, but also of quarterback Brett Favre. He was sad to see the Packers did not want Favre back and after the QB's year with the Jets, he was both happy and a bit apprehensive to see Favre join the Vikings.

"All the Vikings ever needed was a good quarterback," Jeff stated. "I thought the Vikings would be tough."

He did not burn his Favre gear. But he did hear about the quarterback's move from the pastor at his church, who knew Jeff bled green and gold, and asked how he felt. Jeff answered, "I wish him the best. I only hope he loses two games a year."

Sylvia said she's conflicted on Green Bay and the Vikings, as she wore Packer pants with a pink Favre Viking jersey for the interview. Of Jeff, she noted, "He's walking stats. It's more interesting with him around. And he is more fun to watch than the game."

Jeff and Sylvia both noted the Packer Room is still a work in progress, including the small bathroom. It will feature Packer trivia, with the questions and answers written and scattered about on the walls, and a muted green sink. The custom toilet seat lid - complete with a requisite "G" - is already setting the mood for joyous Packer spirits by proclaiming: "Best seat in the house." Although the fan in the Green Bay Packers recliner in front of the big-screen TV across the floor/field on the "30-yard line" might argue the point...

Whatever the case, Jeff Passow is set for Green Bay Packers fun for years to come.