Rams fans gear up for fake-food cheeseheads

Sunday, January 20, 2002

Even in the middle of our nation's heightened security, it's great to see that the National Football League hasn't barred cheeseheads from our nation's stadiums.

There was concern that Green Bay Packers fans might be banned from wearing their trademark foam cheese hats at today's playoff game with the Rams in St. Louis.

But Rams spokesman Rick Smith says that cheeseheads will be treated like any fan wearing a large hat. "They would be subject to a security check as any other person wearing a large piece of headgear possibly could be subjected to a security check," Smith told reporters.

When you're a spokesman for an NFL team, you have to be willing to field the tough questions.

Never mind the down and distance, it's all the cheesiness that counts.

Joni and I have a friend who is a cheesehead. She lives in Cape Girardeau and doesn't have a ticket for the game. If she did, she'd risk the security checks to don her cheesehead and root on the Packers.

Frankly, these cheese hats are huge. You could hide small children in them or the entire military of a Third World country.

To Packer fans, there's no finer headgear than a piece of fake cheese.

Now, I like cheese as much as anyone. Preferably, with a fewer crackers. But I don't want to put it on my head.

Let's face it, cheese is no substitute for a good hat or plenty of hair.

Our family isn't big on hats (we have hair), although Becca and Bailey have been known to don a few dress-up hats and even paper sacks. But I've never seen them wearing cheese of any kind, unless you count the food stains on Bailey's shirts.

But then that's not so surprising for a 6-year-old.

It's an entirely different matter when adults settle on fake food for headwear. At the very least, Packer fans should bring the real cheese so Rams fans won't go hungry.

Those Wisconsin residents live in a state where cheese isn't just for salad bars.

For them, it's a major industry made possible by Anne Pickett, who in 1841 established the state's first cheese factory using milk from neighbors' cows.

Soon the state was full of cheeseheads and Green Bay Packer fans who couldn't resist those big wedges.

Rams fans don't have a food fetish on their side.

We have horns and head-butting to draw on, but no cheese or even pizza headgear to make us feel good about being football fans.

Fortunately, St. Louis fans don't have to cover their heads in food, real or fake. We can hold our heads up high. If necessary, we will sport Rams horns. But we steer clear of anything that looks like it belongs on a buffet line.

The biggest cheese lover in our family is Bailey. She loves Parmesan cheese, but it doesn't make for football-fan headwear although it might be fun to sprinkle it on obnoxious Packer fans.

Thankfully, today's game won't be decided by cheese of any kind, even the stinky stuff.

It will be decided between two professional teams sporting standard football helmets which bear no resemblance to food items of any kind.

Packer fans think they'll have an edge with those cheese wedges. But Rams fans aren't troubled.

We know how to cheer without having to rely on a slice of fake food.

So today, we'll cheer on our team without the badgering headwear favored by Packer fans.

In this game, there will be plenty of time to horn in on the cheese.

Mark Bliss is a staff writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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