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Monday, June 20, 2011
Faces of lockout: Tom Crabtree's ring tour

By Kevin Seifert

The NFL lockout has put players and owners in limbo. The ripple effects also are felt by people whose lives or businesses touch their teams. Here are their stories:

You've heard of NHL players taking the Stanley Cup on tour? Last Friday, Green Bay Packers tight end Tom Crabtree took his Super Bowl ring on a tour through Green Bay. (Packers players received their rings during a Thursday night ceremony.)

Tom Crabtree
Tight end Tom Crabtree said he felt his Super Bowl ring was "just as much [the fans'] ring as it is ours."
Crabtree announced via Twitter that he was heading to Bay Park Square Mall. "I'll be the tattooed freak with a Super Bowl ring on lol," Crabtree tweeted.

As Michelle Tuckner of WBAY-Ch. 2 chronicled, Crabtree doesn't have a lot of arm space left for new tattoos. But the lockout gave him plenty of time to roam the mall in a low-key and fun way. Crabtree mingled with fans, encouraged them to try on the ring and explained the significance of the design.

"I feel like it's just as much their ring as it is ours just because of the support they give us," Crabtree said, "and what they do for this team on Sundays when that stadium is packed. So it's important to give back to the fans."

I guess a cynic could find any number of alternative reasons for cruising the mall with your Super Bowl ring, but I prefer to consider this as a genuine gesture of egalitarianism that probably wouldn't happen in other NFL cities.

(Other cynics might ask, "Who is Tom Crabtree?" Short answer: He is a reserve tight end, originally signed to the Packers' practice squad in Dec. 2009, whose playing time escalated following Jermichael Finley's knee injury. He caught four passes in the regular season but scored a critical touchdown in the Packers' wild-card playoff victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.)

Earlier: The lockout is a good thing for semi-pro football players. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has accelerated work on his music label.