Former Packer in the minority locally

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Local football fans will gather in front of television screens across the Augusta area tonight to watch Super Bowl XLV.

While many area fans have spent the past two weeks deciding whether they'll pull for the Pittsburgh Steelers or Green Bay Packers, one Augusta resident chose his team more than 45 years ago.

"My blood's green," former NFL offensive lineman Steve Wright said. "This is going to be something that's fun for me to sit there and watch it."

Wright, who moved to Augusta after completing a football career that included time at Alabama with legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant and nine years in the NFL, played his first four pro seasons with the Packers.

Green Bay won the first ever Super Bowl in 1967 over the Kansas City Chiefs in the Los Angeles Coliseum.

"You look at the seats in both end zones and they were empty," Wright said. "It's grown a little in popularity since then. ... In fact, I'm absolutely convinced that had (Joe) Namath and the Jets not won the third Super Bowl, they wouldn't have had another one for many years. That's what made it so big back then."

The 68-year-old Augustan said he'll watch the big game at a friend's house.

Augustans have many options of locations when it comes to watching the Super Bowl, including several organized gatherings at local churches and sports bars.

Judging by fan turnout during the regular season and playoffs, Wild Wing Cafe general manager Adam Wise predicted Steelers fans will outnumber Packers fans in Augusta's local sports bars tonight.

"I don't know why, but Pittsburgh has a huge following in Augusta," Wise said. "Green Bay does, too, but as far as (NFL) fans go here, it's Falcons then Steelers."

And don't expect a subdued crowd at any of the usual sports-watching spots in the area like Somewhere in Augusta, Hooters and Malibu Jacks.

"They are diehard fans," Wise said of the local Steelers followers. "They're always in here, and they don't come in regular clothes. They're in their jerseys. You'll see them everywhere."

Pregame coverage of Super Bowl XLV is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. on Fox-Ch. 54 with game coverage scheduled for 6. Kickoff is set for 6:30.


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