Scott Tolzien was ‘black sheep’ growing up as Packers fan in Illinois

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Scott Tolzien was born into a family of Chicago Bears fans. Living in Rolling Meadows, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, that made sense. But Tolzien — who started two seasons for the Wisconsin Badgers and is now a member of the Green Bay Packers’ practice squad — always rooted for the team his family hated most.

“I grew up a Packers fan,” Tolzien said Monday inside Green Bay’s locker room. “Some would say, ‘Well, that’s just because you’re here now,’ but that’s the truth. My family was Bears fans, but I was the black sheep in that aspect.”

Released by the San Francisco 49ers on Aug. 26, Tolzien was signed Monday by the Packers as part of Green Bay’s backup-quarterback overhaul. Vince Young was cut Saturday and B.J. Coleman was released early Monday, making it appear temporarily as if there was not a No. 2 quarterback behind Aaron Rodgers. But Young and Coleman were soon replaced by Tolzien and veteran Seneca Wallace.

Tolzien traveled to Green Bay while a member of the 49ers for Week 1 of the 2012 season, but that wasn’t his first time to Lambeau Field. His first trip took place more than 14 years earlier.

“I went to a game in 1996,” Tolzien said. “Playoff game against the (Tampa Bay) Buccaneers. It was cold. I remember the tailgate scene was incredible. The Packers ended up winning the game and it was an awesome atmosphere.”

Tolzien almost had all the details right. The game he attended was on Jan. 4, 1998 (when Tolzien was 10 years old), a divisional-round win for the Packers over Tampa Bay in which Brett Favre threw for 190 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

Tolzien remained a Packers fan into his adult life. Five weeks after Tolzien led the Badgers to the 2011 Rose Bowl (a game that Wisconsin lost to TCU, 21-19), he watched Green Bay win Super Bowl XLV.

“Obviously it’s contagious in this state, so you kind of caught the fever and felt like you were part of it,” Tolzien said.

Now that Tolzien is wearing the green and gold colors that he used to cheer for from the stands, the now-25-year-old doesn’t want it to be short-lived. Of course, it’s possible that the Packers are looking to use the knowledge that Tolzien gained after playing two years for San Francisco to have an advantage heading into the Week 1 matchup with the 49ers.

“You go in hoping that it’s not that,” Tolzien said. “But that’s out of my control.”

Coach Mike McCarthy didn’t deny the benefit of adding a player who knows San Francisco’s offense so well, but he also didn’t make it sound as if that was anywhere near Tolzien’s top responsibility this week.

“I think any time players are from a former organization, there’s always, (people think) immediately they’re going to tell you everything about the 49ers,” McCarthy said. “Scott and Seneca both are more focused on getting ready for the game; they definitely can give you insight.”

McCarthy seemed excited, though, about adding Tolzien to the quarterback room, regardless of which team he used to play for.

“I think he’s an excellent fit for us,” McCarthy said. “I really felt his preseason tape of this year and last year was impressive, in particular this year. We’re excited that he was available. That’s why you have a personnel department, and they’re on top of things like that, and obviously the coaching staff trusts the personnel department. We had a lot of conversations, particularly about the quarterback group.

“We feel fortunate that Scott is here.”

Whether Tolzien’s NFL playing days are over in a couple weeks or in several years, he doesn’t plan to put his degree in consumer affairs from the University of Wisconsin to much use. He does, however, plan to use his background as a quarterback to find work.

“I’d probably stay in football,” Tolzien said. “Get into coaching.”

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