Every story the fifth head trainer in Green Bay Packers history tells about his Illini experience must begin with the White Horse Inn, back when it was on Green Street.
“A fine establishment to get not only a cold beverage but also a good chicken wing,” says former UI kinesiology major Bryan ‘Flea’ Engel (BS ’98). “It is also where a good friend of mine introduced me to her best friend, which she had been threatening to do for months.
“Twenty years and three sons later, we still think about the White Horse Inn.”
Other C-U spots on Engel’s favorites list:
— Freer Hall. “We had several classes there each semester, but it was also where we met with our advisors. Kathy McGreal was my advisor and I was very fortunate that she was.
“Kathy made sure I was always moving in the right direction, whether it was choosing the right course work or helping direct me toward the right internships.”
— The Main Quad. “To me, it was and is the perfect picture of the university: the history of the buildings that surround it, the Alma Mater statue, the paths criss-crossing through the middle of it and certainly all of the people.”
A 23-year Packers staffer, Engel joined the team in Year 6 of the Brett Favre Era as a season assistant athletic trainer (the same job he held with the Patriots for one season) and was promoted to the top spot in Year 8 of the Aaron Rodgers Era.
As for the nickname, it came courtesy of the Packers’ former All-Pro center, Frank Winters, who marveled at how much Engel looked like Michael Balzary, aka “Flea” from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.