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The 2011 Packers Tailgate Tour stopped at an Upper Michigan elementary school Wednesday.

Awkward silence, anyone?

The 2011 NFL lockout may be in full swing, but that didn’t stop Green Bay Packers players and brass from spending five days on a bus together this week for the annual Packers Tailgate Tour across Upper Michigan and Wisconsin.

According to The Associated Press, coach [intlink id=”67″ type=”category”]Mike McCarthy[/intlink], general manager [intlink id=”20″ type=”category”]Ted Thompson[/intlink] and several other staff members saw the bus off Tuesday. McCarthy and Thompson shook hands and chatted briefly with the players, with whom they’ve had virtually no contact since the lockout began.

Coaches and front-office staff are banned from having contact with players, with the exception of charitable events like the tour.

The players on this year’s tour are right guard [intlink id=”90″ type=”category”]Josh Sitton[/intlink], linebacker [intlink id=”492″ type=”category”]Desmond Bishop[/intlink] and quarterback [intlink id=”84″ type=”category”]Matt Flynn[/intlink].

Both sides insist it won’t be uncomfortable or strange being on the bus until it returns to Green Bay this Saturday.

“I don’t think it will be awkward at all,” Murphy told the AP. “I miss the players, and to spend some time with them will be great. I’m sure we’ll have some discussions about the current labor situation, but I think everybody realizes it’s kind of above us all.”

Uh, right. I call major B.S. here.

Murphy can crow about team unity and missing players all he wants, but there’s GOT TO be some tension there. At least a little bit. And at least at first.

Maybe some “I Spy” and “Slug Bug” will lighten things up, but Sitton was a bit more forthcoming about the sticky situation.

“That was a little awkward. I haven’t seen ’em since the Super Bowl,” Sitton said on arriving the first day. “We haven’t talked for 50-some days now, so I didn’t know the protocol. It was a little weird.”

Like I said, “I Spy” and “Slug Bug.” That and moonshine are guaranteed to make any road trip better.

All kidding aside, I’ll tell you what I think is great here. I love that Packers players and staff are willing to at least try to put aside this stupid pissing match to focus on the people who matter most — fans. Especially Green Bay fans.

We pay your salaries, we decide whether Lambeau will be expanded again and we’ve been there through thick and thin (read: the ’80s). The least we deserve is a little face time with players and staff.

I expect no less from the Packers organization, but it’s good to see them put it to practice in petty times like this. Puts other teams to shame.

This year’s Tailgate Tour kicked off in the U.P. and was in Ashland, Wis., on Wednesday. Stops are planned in Eau Claire on Thursday and Wausau on Friday before the group returns to Green Bay on Saturday.


Sarah is a writer and editor living in the Twin Cities, a lifelong Packers fan and an ardent supporter of all things anti-Vikings.