GREEN BAY, Wis. — Eddie Lacy has never attended a New Orleans Saints game.
That will change Sunday.
However, he will be doing much more than merely attending the game. The Green Bay Packers second-year running back gets a chance to head home and play the Saints in a critical NFC showdown. This marks the first time Lacy will play a professional game near his hometown.
Growing up in Gretna, Lacy wasn’t a football fan.
“Because I was outside playing, I wasn’t inside watching it,” Lacy, a former Dutchtown standout, said.
He didn’t root for the Saints as a kid. He says he doesn’t know anything about the franchise’s history. He didn’t even own a Saints T-shirt.
“I don’t think I even had sports shirts,” Lacy said.
Lacy’s first and only experience playing in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome came while he was a sophomore at Alabama. Lacy had 11 carries for 43 yards in the national championship game as the Crimson Tide beat LSU 21-0 on Jan. 9, 2012.
“I think now on this stage it will be a lot different,” said Lacy about playing at the Superdome as a professional. “At the end of the day, it’s the same crowd noise. We still have to focus and go out and play.”
Lacy is excited to get home and play in New Orleans. It’s a city that still means a lot to him.
“That’s where I was born and raised. I’ve been through a lot there — good things, bad things,” Lacy said. “It’s my roots.”
When the NFL released the team schedules this season, Lacy quickly noticed the Packers were traveling to New Orleans.
“I didn’t circle it, but I was definitely looking forward to it to go back home,” Lacy said. “It’s just going to be fun. Different atmosphere where, of course, we’re probably going to get booed when we come out, but that doesn’t matter. It’s going to be real fun.”
Lacy is anticipating about 14 family and friends will attend the game. It’s the first time this season his family will be able to watch him play in person.
Packers tight end Brandon Bostick and running back DuJuan Harris said they gave Lacy all their tickets for the game.
“He always talks about his family in New Orleans, and he’s happy to be going back there,” said Bostick, who has become Lacy’s good friend. “I think it’s going to be big, especially for his mom, to see him in New Orleans. He’ll also be able to hang out with his family.”
Besides seeing his friends and family, there’s one thing in particular Lacy would like to do: see the house he built for his parents. Lacy’s parents haven’t lived in a house since Hurricane Katrina wiped out their Gretna house nine years ago. The family moved to Geismar following the hurricane and stayed in a trailer. It wasn’t the most ideal scenario.
Once he got to the NFL, it was Lacy’s goal to give his parents a more stable shelter. The house, which is in Geismar, was finished at the end of August. However, Lacy hasn’t had a chance to see the final product.
“He’s talked about it to me before, talking about his house and how big it is to get back home,” Bostick said. “I think it’s a blessing for Eddie to be able to do that for his family.”
Lacy now has the peace of mind that his parents are more relaxed and comfortable and not crammed into a tiny trailer.
“It’s a great feeling, especially me coming home, I don’t have to worry about coming home, standing on the trailer and sleeping on the sofa no more,” Lacy said. “I get to come home to a house (with) air conditioning and everything’s working. Sofa, my own bed. It’s just a homely feeling now.”
If Lacy doesn’t get a chance to visit the house this weekend, he’ll be able to head back down when the Packers are on bye next week. Lacy knows he’s heading to New Orleans to win a football game.
“It’s a business trip, but it means more than just a business trip to him,” Harris said. “He’s able to get more family to come to the game. Not a lot of family can come up here at times, so that will be great from them to be there and support him.”
The reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year got off to a slow start this season. Lacy rushed for just 161 yards and one touchdown in the first four games. However, in the past three weeks, Lacy has 208 yards rushing and three scores.
Lacy wants to continue running well this weekend against the Saints. If he doesn’t have enough motivation heading home, he gets to face off against his former Alabama teammate, Saints running back Mark Ingram. The two are still close friends.
“We’re actually in a group message, me, him and our college coach,” Lacy said. “I’m pretty sure there’s going to be a lot of trash-talking coming up pretty soon.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, the friendly banter hadn’t started.
“Probably (Thursday) or something like that, or as it gets close to the game,” Lacy said. “I’m sure of it.”
Lacy is hoping to have the final word against Ingram on and off the Superdome turf.