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Stories from the stands: NFC North

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Chicago Bears
Mike Detrick

Mike Detrick got a new leash on life, thanks to the Chicago Bears.

Detrick was with a friend at a Bears-Packers tilt in 1998 at Lambeau Field. They ran into two women, one in Green Bay garb leading a Bears fan around with a dog collar and a leash. The Bears fan in the dog collar eventually became Detrick's wife, Lynne.

"I called her about a month after (the Packers game) and she didn't remember me," said Detrick, 46, a shipping manager and Bears diehard who, believe it or not, lives but a short drive from Lambeau in De Pere, Wis.

"Later, on our first date, I arrived at her house early, and she told me to drive around for a half hour because she wasn't ready."

The wait was well worth it. A proposal eventually was extended.

"We went through a drive-through place in Vegas," Detrick said of the couple's nuptials. "Played the wedding march on a boom box."

Detrick said living in the backyard of his team's archrival has its challenges, but he does not get hassled much.

As a lifelong Chicago fan who grew up in Homewood, Ill., Detrick said nobody could take the place of Sweetness, Walter Payton. But his favorite Bear now is safety Mike Brown.

As for the leash and dog collar, "Oh yeah, we still have it downstairs," Detrick said. "We just couldn't part with it."

— Tony Guadagnoli

Detroit Lions
Ron Crachiola

Ron Crachiola has a song -- and a certain football team -- in his heart.

"I love life, and I love the Lions," said Crachiola, 56, of Macomb Township, Mich.

Sometimes the one they call the "Crackman" can't help but burst into song. When he does, the tune is always "Gridiron Heroes," the Lions fight song.

"I just can't contain myself," Crachiola said. "I sing the song every time the Lions score."

He fell in love with the Lions in 1955, when his father, Tony, first took him to Tiger Stadium.

"Right away, I started bleeding silver and blue," said Crachiola, who crows to anyone who'll lend an ear that the Lions are celebrating their 75th season. His family has held season tickets since the mid-1960s.

Crachiola, who has worked as a Detroit Edison lineman for 28 years, is proud to take his act on the road, as well.

"I went to six away games last year," he said. "I sang 'Gridiron Heroes' at every one of them."

Sing it, brother.

— Doug Ward

Green Bay Packers
Kathy Lazzaro

How would you like to be on the receiving end of this compliment?

"I finally found the living definition of the ultimate fan."

Strong sentiments, to be sure.

It was that language in a letter that drew the attention of Packers officials to Kathy Lazzaro when they were accepting nominations in 2005 for the Fan Hall of Fame. They would soon come to agree, making Lazzaro their eighth inductee into the exclusive club.

"I love them, I support them, regardless of their record, regardless of the weather," explained Lazzaro, 69, of Milwaukee, a former executive administrative assistant in banking finance. "I'm a die-hard fan."

A Packers devotee for 41 years, she's been attending games for 15 years and a season-ticket holder the last five seasons.

Win or lose, even at 35 below zero, Lazzaro said, "I will not leave until the game is finished. I feel they are out there playing for us and the least we can do is cheer from them."

And don't expect her to leave the room when the Pack is playing on TV, either. Not gonna happen.

Her home is a veritable shrine of green and gold to beloved Packers past and present. What started out being confined to an office is now "spilling out" into other rooms.

That's not hard to imagine, considering all things Packers she possesses, including toy cars, birdhouses, a snowman, Mr. and Mrs. Claus, slippers, even a clothes hamper … and all those photos of Brett Favre and Bart Starr lining the walls.

"I love my B&B, and not bed-and-breakfast -- Brett and Bart," she said.

You know an interview like this couldn't go far without a question about the departure of Favre to the Jets. Her thoughts?

"It makes me sad. I realize it's a business for both sides," she said. "People ask me, will I continue to be a Packers fan? I was a Packers fan before Brett was even born. I will always be a Packers fan."

Enough said.

— Brett Pauly

Minnesota Vikings
Syd Davy

Most Vikings fans heading to the Metrodome just need to bring their tickets, but Syd Davy also needs his passport.

This Purple People Eater diehard and his wife, Susan, hail from Winnipeg, Manitoba, and drive about 500 miles to and from each home game in Minneapolis.

The 50-year-old engineer with the Canadian Pacific Railway began rooting for the Vikes when legendary coach Bud Grant left the helm of Davy's beloved Winnipeg Blue Bombers for purpler pastures in Minnesota.

He's been hooked ever since.

If Davy's odometer isn't proof enough of his fanaticism, then the full Nordic regalia he dons as his alter ego, "100 percent Cheese Free," surely is.

Face painted purple with a yellow mustache, the muscular Canadian is a hugely popular figure patrolling his personal Valhalla around his end-zone seats.

He sports purple camouflage pants, heavy chain mail, a horned helmet with golden braids and a sleeveless Vikings T-shirt that reveals big, tattooed arms.

"I get mobbed everywhere I go and can't walk 10 feet without taking pictures," Davy said.

But he's certainly not complaining. Neither are the Vikings.

— Christopher Klein

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