GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Paul Scharping's favorite picture was taken 20 years ago just before his son, Max Scharping, turned 3. There was little Max, outfitted in a Brett Favre No. 4 Green Bay Packers jersey, walking hand in hand with Paul toward Lambeau Field for the first-ever Family Night practice in 1999.
Paul might have a new favorite photo now.
In this one, there's big Max in the middle, with his left arm around his dad and his right arm around his mom, Jackie, after Monday's practice across from Lambeau Field.
Perhaps the only thing better would have been if they all would have been wearing green and gold, but Paul admitted that he never allowed himself to think that his hometown team would draft his son.
Seeing Max practice as a rookie offensive lineman for the Houston Texans in the first of two joint workouts with the Packers was more than good enough. It was good enough for Max, who got to practice 2.7 miles from his high school (Green Bay Southwest, which is located, of course, on Packerland Drive). It was good enough for Paul, whose business, A-1 Vacuum and Radon, is walking distance down Oneida Street, which borders Lambeau Field. And it was good enough for Jackie, who could barely hold back the tears after watching her son practice.
"It's obviously a kid's dream come true," Paul said. "And a dad's. It's surreal."
As steeped as the Packers are in tradition, the NFL's smallest city isn't exactly known for producing pro football players.
When the Texans picked Scharping No. 55 overall, the offensive lineman from Northern Illinois became the first graduate from a Green Bay city high school to be drafted in the NFL in 31 years. Bud Keyes, a quarterback from Wisconsin via Green Bay West high school, was the last as a 10th-round pick of the Packers in 1988. (It's worth noting, however, that Kahlil McKenzie -- a sixth-round pick of the Titans last year -- also attended Green Bay Southwest but left after his sophomore year when his father, Reggie, became the Oakland Raiders' general manager.)
Even members of the Packers knew the historical significance of Scharping.
"Knowing the area, I knew about him before today," said Packers defensive lineman Dean Lowry, who went against Scharping in practice. "It's a great story. I can imagine how cool it is for him to be five minutes away from where he played in high school. It must've been a pretty cool day for him."
As Scharping waited to speak to reporters after Monday's practice, he described where his house was to a Texans staffer by saying it was one exit before the team got off the highway to head to the hotel.
"It's amazing to be back home," he said.
However, he wasn't in that much of a mood to reminisce. He has a starting job to win. He's battling sixth-year veteran Zach Fulton for a starting guard job.
Max will make his preseason debut Thursday against the Packers at Lambeau Field and will try to treat it like any other game.
"I think you have to take a second any time you go out before a game and relax your nerves," he said. "At the end of the day, it's my job. It's what I'm here to do. Just trying to get better and play the best I can with the guys next to me."
And, of course, his family will be there to watch.
"It is very emotional," Jackie said. "You'll notice that I'll get very emotional about it. I think just because he's Max to me. He's just Max."
Monday was actually the first time they've seen him in action since the Texans picked him. They didn't go to Houston for any of the offseason practices because they couldn't get away from work. Paul said more friends and family will attend Tuesday's practice and they've lost count of how many tickets they had to corral for Thursday's preseason game.
After they posed for pictures on the practice field, Paul quickly told the story of the picture from 20 years earlier. He didn't know at the time that it was being taken because it was shot from behind.
"They never told me, and I got it for that Christmas," he said. "It's one of my most precious Christmas gifts. Now to have him playing in the NFL; his first game's going to be at Lambeau, his home stadium, I mean, how much more surreal can it get?"