GREEN BAY – Jay Ross has fond memories of Green Bay.
In particular, the fans made a lasting impression.
“They’re the greatest,” he said. “Everyone knows that. I got to see it.”
The Packers signed Ross, then an undrafted rookie free agent, to their practice squad on Oct. 20, 2010. The young defensive tackle was eager for another chance after being cut by New Orleans six weeks earlier.
What he got was a front-row seat to Green Bay’s spectacular Super Bowl XLV run. He also got a Super Bowl XLV ring for his efforts.
“Those were great times,” Ross said. “I got a lot of excellent coaching from (defensive line) Coach Turk (Mike Trgovic). It really gave me a chance to improve individually, which was crucial as a young player.”
“I also got to watch us develop into something special and eventually go all the way,” he added. “The atmosphere inside and outside the locker room was truly awesome. The fans were cool, too. They’re very supportive, and they’re why Lambeau Field is a tough place to play.”
That’s Jay Ross.
In two weeks, he will begin trying to crack the Buffalo Bills’ roster. However, he remains respectful and appreciative of his opportunity with the Packers. He hasn’t forgotten it. He never will.
Until last week, many Packers’ fans didn’t recall Jay Ross though. That was understandable because practice squad players tend to be forgettable, especially the defensive tackles.
What is more difficult to grasp was the way some “so called” Packers’ fans were unmercifully critical of Ross. The firestorm began when they discovered Ross was auctioning his Super Bowl XLV ring. They didn’t know why. They didn’t care. They just skewered Ross via social media, which come to think of it, isn’t necessarily all that social.
Some branded him as disloyal. Others were incredibly mean-spirited without knowing Ross or his reasons, even if that was his business, not theirs.
“It was pretty harsh,” Ross said. “I really didn’t expect that reaction. But I will say this – they’re passionate about their team, and they take everything to heart.”
Ross, who is listed fourth at defensive tackle on the Bills’ depth chart, isn’t guaranteed of making the final roster.
His salary is minimal. His heart, however, is much greater than that.
Why did he decide to auction off the ring? Some of it is to pay bills. Much of it, he says, is to inject capital in his charity. He sees the growing troubles in his old neighborhood in Wilmington, N.C., and he wants to be a force of change for good.
He has the will. He lacks the wherewithal.
Auctioning off his Super Bowl XLV ring will change that.
The ring could bring more than $50,000 at auction.
“I’m hoping to raise enough to give parents a start toward making our neighborhood a better place,” he said. “I can see that (parents) want to make things better, but they need help.”
Ross admits now that he probably underestimated the potential reaction from some Packers’ fans.
“They’re great fans and they’re protective,” he said.
Ross’ ring is going to be auctioned Aug. 2 as part of Heritage’s Platinum Night auction at Camden Yards in Baltimore. It is likely that a Packers’ fan will be the eventual highest bidder.
“Packers’ fans are the greatest,” he said. “I wasn’t there long, but my time in Green Bay is very special, and the fans are a big reason why That’s something that will never change.”
Chris Havel is a Packers News expert and national best-selling author. His latest book is Lombardi: An Illustrated Life. Havel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. CDT on WDUZ FM 107.5 The Fan, or on AM-1400, as well as Fan Internet Radio (www.thefan1075.com). Havel also hosts Event USA’ Player Autograph Parties the evening before home games.