CHIPPEWA FALLS — When Paul Coffman is at home in Kansas City, Mo., he says he’s just a regular dad and relatively unknown.
“We come to Wisconsin, and we’re Packers again,” Coffman said with a laugh. “It’s fun to talk football. Packer fans have an unconditional love for the team.”
Coffman, 62, was a tight end for the Green Bay Packers from 1978 until 1985, catching 322 passes and 39 touchdowns for the team, according to the Packers website. His 56 receptions in his second season broke Ron Kramer’s record for most catches by a tight end.
Coffman was greeting visitors to the Lambeau Field Live exhibit Wednesday at the Northern Wisconsin State Fair. An artificial turf field was laid in the center of the grounds, and trailers filled with Packers’ exhibits and memorabilia surrounded the mini-football field. Coffman took time to chat with people and pose for pictures.
“They ask what it was like to run out on Lambeau Field and what the whole experience was like,” he said. “This helps promote the Packers, and we appreciate them — the fans kind of connect with us.”
Coffman said he participates in seven or eight Packer alumni events each year, usually golf tournaments and other charitable events. He said he likes to offer encouragement to young athletes.
Juel Smith, 81, of Altoona was wearing a Packers shirt. He was impressed with Coffman in his short meeting with the former player.
“I remember watching him play — it’s quite an honor to meet him,” Smith said. “I’m really pleased they came here.”
Joe and Shirley Haas of Withee brought their 7-year-old granddaughter, Elsa Harlestad, to the fair. Elsa posed for a picture, pretending she had done the Lambeau Leap onto the top of the wall.
“This was something we didn’t expect,” Shirley Haas said. “The props are really nice.”
Joe Haas called Coffman “one of the great tight ends in the league for many years.”
“It was nice to meet him and ask him a question,” Haas said. “It’s nice this came to Chippewa.”
Elsa said she liked walking on the artificial turf and putting on virtual reality visors that made her feel like she was in the game.
Michelle Litke of Holcombe took video of the Packers drum line performing in the center of the field.
“It’s pretty impressive,” Litke said. “The drum line is pretty awesome. You don’t see that around here.”
Among the displays were helmets and jerseys of greats such as Bart Starr and Aaron Rodgers and the old leather helmet worn by Arnie Herber.
Annette Schlewitz of Altoona is working at the Lambeau Field Live booth this week. She saw an ad that they were hiring for the five-day event.
“You’re going to pay me to talk about the Packers? Sign me up,” she said with a laugh.
Schlewitz said fairgoers who stopped by the exhibit took lots of pictures and that the display had received a positive reaction.
“What they really like is they can come in here and it doesn’t cost anything,” Schlewitz said.
The Lambeau Field Live experience is making five stops in the state this year as part of the football team’s 100-year anniversary. Coffman will be back at the fair today but will be replaced by former Packers quarterback Lynn Dickey at the exhibit Friday.