Monday, December 31, 2007

Ice Bowl Morning

On this 40th anniversary day of the “Ice Bowl” NFL championship game played on December 31, 1967, we present more images form NFL Films’ coverage of the contest. First, we see cars arriving off the Ridge Road entrance to the Lambeau Field parking lot. In the distance, the stadium can be seen with the open north end zone and the team’s administration building, which also housed the Packers’ locker room facilities.

Shown above are several images of fans and Lambeau Field personnel coping with the extreme cold of that day.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Ice Bowl Early Morning

Today we take a look at several images from the early morning of December 31, 1967 — the morning of the “Ice Bowl” NFL championship game. Shown above is the famous rotating bank time/temperature shot captured by NFL Films that showed the temperature that day.

Here we see the Dallas Cowboys disembarking from their chartered buses outside the visitor’s locker room at Lambeau Field — obviously wondering what they’ve gotten themselves into.

Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi arrives that morning, carrying his rubber boots that he brought from home. He is looking through the open North endzone of Lambeau Field out towards the playing field, probably wondering if his heating system has worked properly to keep the field from freezing (it didn’t).

Vince Lombardi at a closer up view as he passes in front of his car and heads into the Packers’ administration building at the North end of the stadium.

And lastly for today, we see an NFL Films crew shooting as they drive west on Highland (now Lombardi) Avenue towards the stadium parking lot entrance.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Saturday Before

Since the 40th anniversary of the Green Bay Packers franchise-landmark game is Monday, today we begin our series on the “Ice Bowl” championship game played at Lambeau Field on December 31, 1967. In town for the NFL title game that weekend were the Dallas Cowboys — the team the Packers had also beaten for the 1966 NFL world championship.

For this series, we will rely mainly on images culled from the NFL Films coverage of the game. Most of the photos you see from the game have been used over and over through the years, with very little “new” images being released. By going back to the film footage of that weekend, we will be able to show images that most people have not seen.

To start off, we show at the top of today’s blog entry an image of the NFL mid-field logo on the definitely “frozen tundra” at Lambeau Field.

Here we see a photo of Green Bay as it appeared in December 1967. This view is looking across the Fox River.

An aerial view of Lambeau Field — the site of the next day’s championship battle — as it rested quietly on Saturday, December 30th.

Another large view of Green Bay, Wisconsin as it looked in 1967.

On Saturday, the day before the game, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith is shown cupping his hands after being asked how he thought the game would go on Sunday. He cupped his hands together to say that the Cowboys winning was going to be “easy money.” But that was before the cold front moved in overnight.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Ice Bowl Cometh

Monday marks the 40th anniversary of the famed “Ice Bowl” NFL championship game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers. On New Year’s Eve — December 31, 1967 — the two teams met in horrible weather conditions. Conditions that were worse than that which the 2007 Packers faced in their 35-7 loss in Chicago last Sunday. Some argued that the game should be postponed. But NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle decreed that the game be played, since the winner needed to be decided for the second annual Super Bowl game to be held in Miami, FL on January 14, 1968. The AFL champion was to be decided later that day as well.

Starting tomorrow, “Packerville” will feature photos and stories from that game for many days. For just how long this special series lasts is undetermined at this point. Enjoy the look back at this monumental game in Packers history.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Santa Watches the Packers

For Christmas Eve and Day, we have another Packer-related photo of Santa Claus. The caption for this photo reads:

“Tom Lagers, dressed as Santa Claus, watches the Green Bay Packers on television, December 12, 1960. Green Bay Packer fans are so well known for their loyalty to their team that even Santa is a fan! In 1960, Paul Hornung led the NFL in scoring with 176 points — 15 touchdowns, 15 field goals, and 41 extra points. Although they lost the NFL championship to the Eagles, the Packers were rated first in the NFL West with a record of 8 wins and 4 losses.”

Source: The Green Bay Press-Gazette Collection of the Neville Public Museum of Brown County.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Santa at City Stadium

Completely ignoring what happened in Chicago today, we present a photo of Santa in the Packers’ stadium in the old days. The original caption to the photo reads:

“Santa Claus visits Green Bay’s City Stadium while children, parents, and the news media look on in this circa 1950 photograph. Since Clement Clarke Moore wrote the poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas", in 1822, Santa Claus has been associated with Christmas. During World War II and after, Santa became the most popular symbol of the season. Cards, songs, and decorations revolved around the figure, while crowds of children attended Christmas events just to speak with him.”

Source: The Henry Lefebvre Collection of the Neville Public Museum of Brown County.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Bears at Wrigley

As the Green Bay Packers prepare to meet the Chicago Bears tomorrow at Soldier Field, we present a photo of the two teams playing in the 1960’s at Wrigley Field. We’re not exactly sure of the year, but the players are obviously from the Lombardi era.

Chicago player Doug Atkins (#81) has apparently pulled in an interception — perhaps on a deflected ball — and is in a scrum at the line of scrimmage. Now having become “defenders” are Packers’ offensive players Forrest Gregg (#75), Bob Skoronski (#76), Bart Starr (#15), and Ken Bowman (#57). Since the youngest of the Packer players is Bowman, this photo is no earlier than 1964, his rookie season.

Let’s hope that no such play — a Bears’ interception — will come to be in tomorrow’s contest. Having been beaten once already this year by Chicago, we do NOT want to be “swept” by them in this highly surprising 12-2 season while we’re on our way to the Playoffs.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mud Bath with the 49ers

While the Packers have had some recent famously muddy games with the San Francisco 49ers (1996, 2001 Playoff games at Lambeau Field), today we feature a photo of Packers’ Hall of Fame running back Jim Taylor during a game with the 49ers in 1960. In those days, it was customary for Green Bay to play their last two or three games on the West Coast to avoid the frigid Titletown winter weather.

On the day this photo was taken, the Packers beat San Francisco 13-0 in front of 53,612 wet fans in Kezar Stadium in 49° weather. Taylor gained 161 yards on 24 carries, and had one pass reception for six yards.

The Packers would finish with an 8-4-0 record, winning the Western Conference. They met the Philadelphia Eagles in Lombardi’s first championship game with Green Bay, but lost that contest 17-13.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Least-Remembered Championship

63 years ago yesterday, the Green Bay Packers won the 1944 NFL Championship, while World War II raged in Europe and the Pacific. Here is an account of the game:


By PFRA Research

Mostly it was the war. Patton was doing his end-run through Europe, the Marines were plunging across the Pacific, and long bombs were what the Air Force dropped on Berlin and Tokyo. Football — even a championship game — didn't seem all that important to most Americans. A diversion. No more.

Moreover, many of the stars who might have lifted the 1944 NFL Championship Game out of the commonplace were wearing khaki. That made it hard to gauge the Packers and Giants. How would they have fared against some of the pre-war powerhouses? Not too well, most people agreed.

Even the pairing was pedestrian. Baseball had been lucky. 1944 was the year the St. Louis Browns won a pennant, lending an aura of the unusual — even the bizarre — to the World Series. But the Packers and Giants? That was old news. The championship game ALWAYS had the Bears or Redskins or Packers or Giants. Was it an NFL rule?

Four decades later, it takes a good trivia expert to recall which teams played in 1944. If he can remember who won, he gets an orange wedge.

It's a shame really. The teams were actually pretty good, despite the loss of so many players to the military.

The Packers had Hutson, of course. Irv Comp, the passer, was no Cecil Isbell but he could get the job done. Ted Fritsch made a first-rate fullback and Lou Brock could scamper. The line had big Baby Ray, Buckets Goldenberg, Charley Brock, and Larry Craig. They ran off six straight wins to start the season and then coasted home at 8-2-0.

The Giants caught them relaxing four weeks before the end of the regular season and zapped them 24-0, then knocked off Washington twice in the final two games to nose out the Eagles and Redskins. A typical Steve Owen concoction, the New Yorkers played tough defense. During the season, they shutout half their opponents enroute to an 8-1-1 mark. Frank Cope, Al Blozis, Len Younce, and Mel Hein did the tough work in the line, and blond Bill Paschal was the league's best runner. In a "human interest" story, long-time Packer thrower Arnie Herber came out of retirement, paunchy and graying, to give New York its best passing in years.

A large and loyal New York crowd of 46,016 showed up at the Polo Grounds on December 17. They hoped Paschal could still go despite an ankle injured in the final regular season game against the Redskins. They prayed Hutson could be held to some ordinary mortal stats by tough Giant double and triple-teaming. They wanted a win.

In the push-and-shove first quarter neither team gained an advantage. New York defenders covered Hutson like a coat of whitewash. That was the good news for Giant fans. The bad news was that Paschal's ankle made him nearly immobile. About all he could do in the backfield was act as a decoy.

Early in the second quarter, Green Bay gained decent field position with a punt return to the New York 48. On first down, eleven-year veteran Joe Laws slashed through the line for 20 yards. Before the Giants got their bearings, 210-pound Ted Fritsch rumbled for 27 more to put the ball at the one. New York's tough defense stiffened and held off the Packers for three downs, but on the fourth Fritsch smashed over behind Goldenberg's block for a touchdown. Hutson kicked the PAT and Green Bay led 7-0.

New York still couldn't get any offense going. Late in the second period the Packers started another drive at their own 38. On third and three, Hutson worked clear of the Giant defenders and Comp hit him for a 24-yard gain to the New York 30. Three downs gained only two yards and only a little over a minute remained in the half. Everyone in the Polo Grounds knew it was "Hutson time."

At the snap Hutson moved to the right and virtually every Giant on the field (and probably some on the bench) moved with him like a herd of lemmings. Meanwhile, Ted Fritsch strolled through the line, looking for all the world like a guy out on his Sunday constitutional. None of the New Yorkers paid him a mind. He would have had to have insulted their mothers to get a glance. Everyone was after Hutson.

But once he was past the line of scrimmage, Ted put on speed and for a big guy he could motor pretty well. When Comp finally launched his pass, it wasn't to Hutson loping through a Giant team meeting to the right. Instead it went straight down the middle to Fritsch, the lonely guy at the five. Once Ted clutched the ball he could have sung two choruses of the Packer fight song and still walked over the goal line before any Giant could have caught up with him. Hutson kicked the extra point to put the score at 14-0, but he deserved credit for the touchdown too.

Down by two TDs as the second half began, the Giants had to pass and Green Bay knew it. Old friend Arnie Herber was playing against a stacked deck and a couple of his tosses were picked off — Joe Laws had three interceptions on the day — but he kept pitching. With Paschal unable to run, there wasn't much else in the New York arsenel.

Late in the third stanza, Arnie hoisted a long one to Frank Liebel for 41 yards to take ball to the Packer one. Another ex-Wisconsinite, Marquette's Ward Cuff, smacked over for the score on the first play of the final quarter. Ward had spent eight years as a New York wingback, but he took this one in from tailback — one of those little adjustments necessitated by Paschal's injury. Ken Strong, who'd been kicking since Walter Camp was around, knocked the football through the uprights to make the score 14-7.

Giant fans screamed for just one more big pass from Herber's ancient arm. Arnie did his best to accommodate them. A final desperation drive late in the period was going pretty well. But suddenly Green Bay's Paul Duhart was in the right spot at the right time — the Packer 20 just as a Herber heave descended on that spot. It was Green Bay's fourth interception and New York's last gasp.

All things considered, it wasn't a bad game. It broke all play-off game records financially with a gross gate of $146,205.15 and a net gate after taxes of $121,703. Each Packer got $1,449.71; each Giant $814.36. There was lots of great defense and a couple of big plays. It almost had a great comeback, and it did have some human interest in Arnie Herber versus his old team. It was Al Blozis' last game. It even had one of those screwy twists people like to remember — the biggest offensive threats for both teams, Hutson and Paschal, were used almost exclusively as decoys.

But you never hear fans fondly reminiscing about the "Decoy Game." Instead it's "Who played?" "Who won?" "Who cares?" Fans forget a lot of games, of course, even championships, but — if such a thing could be measured — this one would win the cup as least remembered. And they'd probably forget to inscribe it.

Mostly it was the war.

Sunday, December 17, 1944, at New York
Polo Grounds - Attendance 46,016


Don Hutson (LE)
Baby Ray (LT)
Bill Kuusisto (LG)
Charley Brock (C)
Buckets Goldenberg (RG)
Paul Berezney (RT)
Harry Jacunski (RE)
Larry Craig (QB)
Irv Comp (LH)
Joe Laws (RH)
Ted Fritsch (FB)


Neal Adams (LE)
Frank Cope (LT)
Len Younce (LG)
Mel Hein (C)
Jim Sivell (RG)
Vic Carroll (RT)
Frank Liebel (RE)
Len Calligaro (QB)
Arnie Herber (LH)
Ward Cuff (RH)
Howie Livingston (FB)

Substitutes: E- Ray Wehba; T- Tiny Croft; E- John Weiss, Verlin Adams; G- Pete Tinsley, Glen Soren; T- Al Blozis; G-Chuck Avedison; B- Lou Brock, Don sian; B- Bill Petrilis, Bill Perkins, Paul Duhart. Paschal, Carl Kinscherf, Joe Sulaitis, Hub Barker, Ken Strong.

Green Bay Packers 0 14 0 0 - 14
New York Giants 0 0 0 7 - 7

2nd Quarter
GB - Fritsch1 run. (Hutson PK) 2:26
GB - Fritsch 28 pass from Comp. (Hutson PK) 13:43

4th Quarter
NY - Cuff 1 run. (Strong PK) 0:03


Rushing GB- 47-184-3.9: Laws 13-72-5.5; Fritsch 18-59-3.3; Comp 7-42-6.0; Duhart 7-15-2.1; Perkins 2-(-)4-(-)2.0.

Rushing NY- 27-101-3.7: Cuff 12-76-6.3; Livingston 12-22- 1.8; Paschal 2-4-2.0; Sulaitis 1-(-)1-(-)1.0.

Receiving GB- Hutson 2-46-23.0; Fritsch 1-28-28.0.

Receiving NY- Liebel 3-70-23.3; Cuff 2-23-11.5; Livingston 2-21-10.5; Barker 1-0-0.0.

Passing GB- 11-3-74-3: Comp 10-3-74-3; L.Brock 1-0-0-0.

Passing NY (Herber)- 22-8-114-4.

Punting GB- 10-38.5: L.Brock 6-36.8; Fritsch 4-41.0.

Punting NY (Younce)- 10-41.0

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Knafelc’s Ride Off the Field

Gary Knafelc (pronounced Knaw-full with a “hard” K sound) was a Packers’ receiver from 1954-1962, with his career culminating in two NFL championships under Vince Lombardi.

In the photo we have today, Knafelc is shown following a touchdown catch to win the season-opener against the Detroit Lions at old City Stadium on September 25, 1955. On the game’s last play, according to the 1960 yearbook, “Knafelc went straight downfield for 10 yards and then cut sharply directly in front of the goal post on the eight yardline. (QB Tobin) Rote’s bullet was high, but Knafelc stretched to make a sure “klutch” catch as Jack Christianson and Yale Larry hit him from both sides. He burst out of their grasp and went in standing up. The east stands emptied onto the field and Knafelc was given a shoulder-ride, while the officials, some smiling, stood around and wondered how to clear the field. It was a 20-17 Packer win.”

Knafelc, upon retiring from football, remained in Green Bay as a businessman, and became the Lambeau Field public address announcer from 1963 until he retired from that duty just a couple of seasons ago.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Little Packers

We came across a youth league in Indianola, Iowa which features teams named and dressed after NFL teams, including the Indianola Packers. According to their website: “Our youth football program teaches basic fundamental techniques along with high school formations and plays. It was started by one man and had four teams when it began in 1992, the Bears, Dolphins, Packers and Raiders. Indianola’s other two teams are the 49ers, which was added in 1997 and the Colts, which was added in 2000. The league has grown to consist of 18 teams from eight different communities and is run by a 12 member board of directors along with a 12 member auxiliary board. Each team is made up of 23-25 players from the fourth, fifth and sixth grades. Games are played each Sunday beginning at 1:00 p.m. and lasting approximately to 5:30 p.m. Check our schedule to find out where your favorite team plays as there are several sites. Joining the Indianola teams are the Milo Chiefs; Norwalk Buccaneers; Winterset Cowboys, Steelers and Falcons; I-35 Patriots and Jets; Osceola Lions and Redskins; Van Meter Broncos; and the Perry Giants and Titans.”

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The First Win Over the Raiders

After today’s fine 38-7 win over the Oakland Raiders to clinch the 2007 NFC North Division title, we present a photo from the first time the Packers beat the Raiders — in Super Bowl II. That game pitted the AFL champions vs. the NFL champions for the second year in a row, and Green Bay prevailed by a score of 33-14 in Miami’s Orange Bowl on January 14, 1968.

In today’s photo, running back Donny Anderson (#44) follows the blocking of Gale Gillingham (#68) and Jerry Kramer (#64) in the classic “Packer Sweep.” Super Bowl II would be coach Vince Lombardi’s final game on the sidelines for Green Bay.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The End of An Era

As the Lombardi-era players finished up the 1968 campaign in the last home game of the season, the fans spontaneously stood and gave them a standing ovation near the end of the game — realizing that it was the end of an era in Green Bay. The Packers lost to the Baltimore Colts that day 16-3. Before the start of the game, today’s photo was taken. The original caption from the Green Bay Press-Gazette read: “With the Vietnam War being waged half a world away, Packers fans show their patriotism by waving U.S. flags at the end of the national anthem at the Dec. 7, 1968, home finale against the Baltimore Colts. Three Green Bay women — Annabell Dollar, Annette Fuller and Janet Santaga — organized the tribute, and local merchants raised $6,000 to buy the flags. Harry Hulmes, the Colts’ general manager, said: “I seriously doubt if this sort of thing could be held any place in the country except Green Bay.”

Source: Green Bay Press-Gazette archives

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Bowling with Don Hutson

Going back a few years, we have today a photo of Packers Hall of Fame receiver Don Hutson during the off-season following the 1941 football campaign. The original caption reads: “Don Hutson assists an unidentified young woman at the Packer Playdium, February 7, 1942. During the Green Bay Packer's early years, many of the players were employed in second jobs during the off-season. Don Hutson ran two well-know Green Bay businesses — the “Playdium” and Don Hutson Motors. According to the 1945 Packer Press Book, other players worked outside the field as well. Arnie Herber operated a soft drink company in De Pere, Don Perkins drove a truck at Leicht Transfer and Storage, and innumerable players joined the army.”

Source: The Press-Gazette Collection of the Neville Public Museum of Brown County.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Day After

I think I speak for 99.99% of Green Bay Packers fans when I say that the sooner they tear down Texas Stadium, the better.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lombardi’s Office — 1963

The blog updates have been infrequent of late, but here’s one for today... a nice shot of something we’ve rarely seen. It is coach Vince Lombardi’s office in 1963. As the original caption reads: “Coach Vince Lombardi sits at his desk in his spacious office in the Packers’ new $175,000 administration building in September 1963.”

Unless you were a player of that era coming in to ask for a raise (a frightening situation, according to many accounts) or an employee of the team, chances are you’ve never seen this office. When the old administration building was torn down in 2002, then head coach/GM Mike Sherman had the door frame of Lombardi’s office installed in the new building — as the doorway of the head coach’s office.

Source: Green Bay Press-Gazette archives

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving 1962

After a wonderful win over the Detroit Lions yesterday, we’re very thankful for the Packers’ unexpected 10-1 record — their best record since this week 45 years ago. At that time, however, they ran into problems in their Thanksgiving Day contest with the Lions, as this article from the Detroit News recalls:

DETROIT (Nov. 22) — A picture hanging outside the locker room of the Lions' practice facility in Allen Park frames a special moment in time. It depicts an overpowering display of defensive dominance on Thanksgiving Day in 1962. Bart Starr, the Packers' Hall of Fame quarterback, is surrounded by a group of charging, swarming defenders. Starr is helpless, with no protective pocket of blockers near him. Starr went down on that play and was sacked 10 more times as the Lions atoned for a loss to the Packers earlier in the season with a 26-14 victory at Tiger Stadium.

There have been other big games, and great performances, in the traditional holiday game. It began in 1934 and continues today with the Lions playing the Packers at Ford Field. The 1962 game — 45 years ago today — is the pinnacle. For one day, one game, they were superior to Vince Lombardi's Packers. It was the Packers' only loss in the '62 season, in which they went 13-1 and won a second straight NFL championship.

Roger Brown, a defensive tackle who played the first seven of 10 pro seasons with the Lions, led the defensive charge that smothered Starr. "I don't think a Sherman tank could have stopped us that day," Brown said in a telephone interview from his home in Portsmouth, Va. Brown was in on seven of the 11 sacks, including five solos. He also trapped Starr in the end zone for a safety. "They were getting the jump on us something awful," Lombardi said after the game.

In 1962, the Packers were the gods of pro football as Lombardi, the legendary coach, was building a dynasty. The Packers won the NFL championship in 1961, the first of five under Lombardi. The Lions finished second to the Packers in the Western Division for three straight years, 1960-62. By 1962, the Packers-Lions rivalry was as fierce as any. The rivalry was fueled partly by the Thanksgiving matchup. The Packers were the opponent for 13 straight years, from 1951-63. After that, the NFL began rotating opponents.

The Lions were tired of being second-best. In the fourth game of the season at Green Bay, they led 7-6 late in the fourth quarter. On a third-down play, the Lions tried a pass. The receiver, Terry Barr, slipped. Herb Adderley got an interception and a long return to set up a field goal in the last minute for a 9-7 Packers win. Seven weeks later came the rematch. The Packers were 10-0. The Lions were 8-2.
"I think we were fired up the whole month, the whole week," Brown said. "Ever since that game in Green Bay, we looked forward to Thanksgiving so we could vindicate ourselves."

The onslaught began early. On the Packers' fourth play, Alex Karras broke through on a running play to throw Tom Moore for a 3-yard loss. On the next play, Darris McCord, Joe Schmidt and Karras sacked Starr, but the play was nullified by a delay-of-game penalty. It didn't matter. Brown sacked Starr for a 15-yard loss on the next play. A short punt put the ball at the Packers 39, and three plays later, Milt Plum passed to Gail Cogdill for a touchdown. The rout was on.

Starr was sacked eight more times in the half, and the Lions had a 23-0 lead at the intermission. The Lions coasted through the second half and won easily. After the game, Schmidt, the Hall of Fame middle linebacker, seemed in awe of the performance. "I've never seen anything like it," Schmidt said. "We killed them."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Packers Running Back Elijah Pitts

Elijah Pitts, shown in today’s blog posting gaining yardage in Super Bowl I (where he would score two TDs), spent 25 years in the National Football League. He played 10 seasons with the Packers, from 1961-'69 and again in '71. He was a member of five NFL championship teams with Green Bay and finished his Packers career as the 20th-leading rusher in franchise history, with 1,684 yards in 479 carries, an average of 3.5 yards per carry.

He later was an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Rams, Houston Oilers and the Buffalo Bills, where he spent a total of 16 seasons — including their four consecutive Super Bowl losses. In October 1997, Pitts was diagnosed with stomach cancer, which claimed his life nine months later at the age of 60. Pitts' son Ron Pitts is currently a sportscaster for the Fox television network, and also played for the Packers from 1988-1990.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Hall of Famer Jim Ringo Dead at 75

Jim Ringo, a Hall of Fame center who played 15 seasons for the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles, died Monday morning after a short illness. He was two days shy of his 76th birthday.

Former Packers teammate Willie Davis said Ringo, who lived in Chesapeake, Va., had been battling Alzheimer's.

"One minute, you're reliving an experience," said Davis, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame with Ringo in 1981. "And the next minute, he'd be asking, 'Who's this?"'

The Packers drafted Ringo out of Syracuse in the seventh round in 1953, and he became one of the league's best centers despite being undersized at just over 200 pounds.

"But what tenacity he had as a center in the NFL," Davis said. "Probably, no one was better."

But Ringo turned his relatively small size into an advantage, leading the way on the power sweep that made the Packers' offense so effective.

"As Vince Lombardi once observed, Jim epitomized the toughness and determination needed to not only play the center position but to become one of the game's most dominant offensive linemen of his era," said Steve Perry, president/executive director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. "On behalf of all of us at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I extend my heartfelt condolences to Jim's family."

Ringo played for Green Bay through 1963, but a contract dispute led Ringo and Lombardi to part ways. According to Packers folklore, Ringo had the audacity to bring an agent with him to negotiate a new contract -- and Lombardi traded him to Philadelphia on the spot.

"The story goes that Jim came in with a representative to visit with coach Lombardi about his contract," Packers historian Lee Remmel said. "Vince excused himself, came back, and said 'You now are a member of the Philadelphia Eagles."'

As far as Davis is concerned, the story is true.

"Jim was probably not out of place," Davis said. "But at that point, Lombardi was not prepared to have an intermediary."

Agents, of course, now are an accepted part of the today's game, something Davis said Lombardi would have struggled with.

"I don't think he'd be a very happy camper," Davis said.

It wasn't the first time Ringo didn't see eye to eye with a Packers coach. In fact, his Hall of Fame career almost was over before it started.

Remmel said that as a rookie in 1953, Ringo decided training camp was too tough and simply walked out one day. Then-coach Gene Ronzani sent one of the team's scouts all the way to the East Coast to pick him up.

"It's fortunate that he did, because he went on to become a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame," Remmel said.

Ringo played for the Eagles from 1964-67. He was voted to 10 Pro Bowls and was chosen for the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1960s. He started in a then-record 182 consecutive games from 1954-67.

Ringo later went in to coaching. He replaced Buffalo Bills coach Lou Saban part of the way through the 1976 season, and the Bills lost their last nine games. He returned the following year, and the Bills went 3-11. Ringo was fired after the season and replaced by Chuck Knox.

Ringo's death comes just a month after the death of former Packers receiver and broadcaster Max McGee, making for a tough couple of weeks in what has otherwise been a joyful season on the field the Packers.

"It does," Davis said. "While each one kind of has its place, you can't be oblivious to the McGee and Ringo kind of disasters. As far as I'm concerned, one of the best things that that could happen is for the Packers to go on and get into the Super Bowl."

Ringo's wife Judy said her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 1996, and the couple moved to Chesapeake about 10 years ago. He lived at home for much of that time until moving to a treatment unit in nearby Virginia Beach, she said, and he had recently developed penumonia.

"It's just a terrible disease," she said of Alzheimer's. "I wouldn't wish it on anybody."

Calling hours will be held at Rupell Funeral Home in Phillipsburg, N.J., across the street from Phillipsburg High School where Ringo graduated. Final funeral arrangements were pending, owner Lewis Rupell said.

Source: Associated Press

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Curly on the Cover

Today’s posting after a fine victory over the Carolina Panthers (9-1!) features a cover of the “Packer Pictorial Review” from a game played against the Chicago (later St. Louis, much later Arizona) Cardinals. The contest was held at the Milwaukee State Fair Park on October 10, 1948. The person who bought the program that day wrote the final score right on the cover for our benefit (Cardinals 17, Packers 7), and unfortunately Green Bay lost that day. Curly Lambeau would only coach the team one more season before he was forced out.

Friday, November 16, 2007

1966 Touchdown Pass Play

For today’s blog posting, we have a photo from 1966, showing — as the caption states — “Carroll Dale escorting Marv Fleming on a touchdown run against the Lions.” This was in the October 2, 1966 game at Lambeau Field which was won by the Packers, 23-14.

Marvin Fleming, from the University of Utah, played for the Green Bay Packers from 1963-1969. He later played with the Miami Dolphins. He is the first player in National Football League history to play in five Super Bowls — with Green Bay in Super Bowl I and Super Bowl II; with Miami Super Bowls VI, VII, and VIII.

Carroll Dale played college football for Virginia Tech, and was named second-team All American in 1958 and 1959. After college, Dale was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams where he played for five years. In 1965, Dale was traded to the Green Bay Packers. Dale also played in Super Bowls I and II with Fleming. Dale retired from the National Football League in 1973, having amassed 438 receptions for 8,277 yards and 52 touchdowns. He was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1979 and into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1987.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hornung’s First and Last TDs

For today’s blog entry, we have photos of Green Bay running back Paul Hornung’s first and last touchdowns as a Packer. The first, on the left, was in 1957, while the final TD came on October 16, 1966 against the Chicago Bears. A pinched nerve in Hornung’s neck severely curtailed his playing time in 1966, and he did not see action in Super Bowl I when the Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10. Hornung was selected in the 1967 expansion draft by the New Orleans Saints, who later traded for Hornung's backfield mate at Green Bay, former LSU all-American Jim Taylor. Hornung never suited up for the Saints, as the neck injury forced him to retire during training camp.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

1967 Television Schedule

After a few days of not blogging because the Packerville staff was in Green Bay to attend the Packers-Vikings game (34-0!!!), we are back with our usual look to the past. We have for your perusal today a listing of the Green Bay Packers games for 1967 and the broadcast schedule of those games. WBAY-TV in Green Bay is still WBAY, in fact, we drove past their studios on Saturday. If we’re not mistaken, this is also where “The Vince Lombardi Show” was filmed each week during the 1960’s football seasons.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Packer vs. Chiefs — 1967

For today’s Blog posting, we thought we’d follow up last Sunday’s victory over the Kansas City Chiefs with an image from a more important victory — Super Bowl I. The Packers defeated Kansas City 35-10 in that game.

After both teams traded punts on their first possessions of the game, the Packers jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, driving 80 yards in six plays. On the last play, Bart Starr threw a pass to reserve receiver Max McGee, who had replaced injured started Boyd Dowler earlier in the drive. McGee slipped past Chiefs cornerback Willie Mitchell, made a one-handed catch at the 23-yard line, and then took off for a 37-yard touchdown reception. On their ensuing drive, the Chiefs moved the ball to Green Bay's 33-yard line, but kicker Mike Mercer missed a 40-yard field goal.

Early in the second quarter, Kansas City marched 66 yards in six plays, featuring a 31-yard reception by receiver Otis Taylor, to tie the game on a 7-yard pass to Curtis McClinton from quarterback Len Dawson. But the Packers responded on their next drive, advancing 73 yards down the field and scoring on fullback Jim Taylor's 14-yard touchdown run with the team's famed "Power Sweep" play. With a minute left in the half, Mercer kicked a 31-yard field goal to cut the lead to 14-10.

At halftime, it appeared that the Chiefs had a chance to win. Many people watching the game were surprised how close the score was and how well the AFL's champions were playing. Kansas City actually outgained the Packers in total yards, 181-164, and had 11 first downs compared to the Packers' nine. The Chiefs were exuberant at halftime. Hank Stram said later "I honestly thought we would come back and win it." The Packers were disappointed with the quality of their play in the first half. "The coach was concerned" said defensive end Willie Davis later. Lombardi told them the game plan was sound but that they had to tweak some things and execute better.

On their first drive of the second half, the Chiefs advanced to their own 49-yard line. But on a third down pass play, a heavy blitz by linebackers Dave Robinson and Lee Roy Caffey rushed Dawson's throw, and the ball was intercepted by Willie Wood, who then returned it 50 yards to Kansas City's 5-yard line ("the biggest play of the game," wrote Starr later). On their first play after the turnover, running back Elijah Pitts rushed five yards and gave the Packers another touchdown in a 21-10 blowout to that point.

The Packers defense would then dominate the Chiefs offense for the rest of the game, only allowing them to cross midfield once, and for just one play. The Chiefs were forced to deviate from their game plan, and that hurt them. The Chiefs' offense totaled 12 yards in the third quarter, and Dawson was held to 5 out of 12 second half pass completions for 59 yards.
Meanwhile, Green Bay forced Kansas City to punt from their own 2-yard line after sacking Dawson twice and got the ball back with good field position on their own 44. McGee subsequenlty caught 3 passes for 40 yards on a 56-yard drive that ended with his 13-yard touchdown reception.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Starr completed a 25-yard pass to Carroll Dale and a 37-yard strike to McGee, moving the ball to the Chiefs 18-yard line. Four plays later, Pitts scored his second touchdown on a 1-yard run to close out the scoring, giving the Packers the 35-10 win. Also in the fourth quarter, Fred Williamson, who had boasted about his "hammer" prior to the game, was knocked out when his head collided with running back Donny Anderson's knee, and then suffered a broken arm when Chiefs linebacker Sherrill Headrick fell on him. Williamson had three tackles for the game.

Although Starr was named MVP, much of the Packers' success during the game can be attributed to McGee. During the regular season, McGee had only caught a total of four passes for 98 yards and one touchdown, but he ended up recording seven receptions for 138 yards and two touchdowns in the Super Bowl. Paul Hornung was the only Packer not to see any action. Lombardi had asked him in the fourth quarter if he wanted to go in, but Horning declined, not wanting to aggravate a pinched nerve in his neck.

The Green Bay Packers were each paid a salary of $15,000 as the winning team. The Chiefs were paid $7,500 each.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Down Go the Goalposts!

Today’s posting of the ol’ Blog is an image of the Lambeau Field goal posts being torn down by jubilant fans after the end of the 1965 NFL Championship game, played on January 2, 1966. The Packers defeated the Cleveland Browns 23-12.

After four inches of snow softened the Lambeau surface, the Packers used their running game to rally past Cleveland, and a crowd of 50,777 celebrated the team's third championship in five years. Jim Taylor (27 carries for 96 yards) and Paul Hornung (18 carries for 105) amassed 201 yards rushing helping the Packers overcome an early 9-7 deficit.

Packers defenders, meanwhile, allowed only 50 yards to Cleveland's Jim Brown, the league's leading rusher with 1,544 yards during the year.

In the third quarter, Bart Starr finally settled the see-saw battle, escorting the Packers on a 90-yard, 11-play drive, ending when Hornung scored on a 13-yard sweep around the Browns' right perimeter. Kickers Don Chandler and Lou Groza booted five total field goals.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Fourth and 51

Work has made updating the blog daily a hard thing to do this week, but we’re here for today anyway.

Much has been written/said about the “4th and 26” at Philadelphia a few years ago, and without re-hashing that again, we present a fourth down situation that the Packers were on in the old days that is more fun to read, and with a better outcome.

“The scoreboard wasn’t playing tricks in the second quarter of the Packers-Lions game at Green Bay’s City Stadium (soon to be called “Lambeau Field”) on November 8, 1964 when the lights flashed “fourth down and 51 to go.”

But that was the situation early in the second quarter with the Packers leading 17-0.

The Lions had a first and 10 on their own 49 but on the first play they were found guilty of holding on (Lion’s QB) Milt Plum’s six-yard pass to Gail Cogdill.

The officials put the ball back on the Lions’ 25 and the Detroiters tried another first down. Willie Davis promptly threw Milt Plum for a seven-yard loss and it was second down on the 18. Plum went back to pass again and this time Hank Jordan and Davis threw him for a nine-yard loss to the nine.

On third down, Plum tried another pass but it was incomplete, and the audience of 42,327 let out a big cheer for the Packer defense as the Lions were actually 51 yards away from a first down. Yale Larry punted from behind his own goal line and Willie Wood called for a fair catch on the Detroit 45.

Thus, with the help of the defense, the Packers moved down for a 19-yard field goal by Paul Hornung… and a 20-0 lead. The Packers won the game 30-7.”

Source: 1965 Green Bay Packers Yearbook

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Fuzzy Sells Socks

Today’s just-prior-to-game time posting features a 1964 ad for Ripon socks, which appeared in the Green Bay Packers Yearbook that season. Packers’ guard Fuzzy Thurston is the player in the ad, which probably got him some good-natured ribbing in the locker room. Thurston played for Green Bay from 1959 (Lombardi’s first year as coach) through 1967 (Lombardi’s last year as coach). He currently resides in Green Bay and runs “Fuzzy’s 63,” a bar on Mason Street, as well as a Packers game tickets & travel business.

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Starrs in the Airport

Well, the busy week sometimes prevents the daily update schedule of the blog, but we’re back today to share an image from 1961. Here we see the team returning to Austin-Straubel Field in Green Bay from a road game. There to pick up Packers quarterback Bart Starr is his wife, Cherry Starr, and their young son Bart, Jr.

As was customary in those days, the fans flocked to the airport to greet the team upon their arrival home and show their community support. We’ve also read that another custom was for the people of the city to turn on their porchlights in support of the team, who would see the brightly-lit city from the air upon flying back to land in Green Bay after a road game.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Gerald Ford — Football Player

Today’s Packers artifact is a 1935 letter from Curly Lambeau to college prospect Gerald Ford, who was a student and football player at the University of Michigan at the time.

Ford attended Grand Rapids South High School and was a star athlete and captain of his football team. In 1930, he was selected to the All-City team of the Grand Rapids City League. He also attracted the attention of college recruiters. Attending the University of Michigan as an undergraduate, Ford played center and linebacker for the school’s football team and helped the Wolverines to undefeated seasons and national titles in 1932 and 1933. The team suffered a steep decline in his 1934 senior year, however, winning only one game. Ford was the team’s star nonetheless, and after a game during which Michigan held heavily favored Minnesota (the eventual national champion) to a scoreless tie in the first half, assistant coach Bennie Oosterbaan later said, “When I walked into the dressing room at half time, I had tears in my eyes I was so proud of them. Ford and [Cedric] Sweet played their hearts out. They were everywhere on defense.”

Ford himself later recalled, “During 25 years in the rough-and-tumble world of politics, I often thought of the experiences before, during, and after that game in 1934. Remembering them has helped me many times to face a tough situation, take action, and make every effort possible despite adverse odds.” His teammates later voted Ford their most valuable player, with one assistant coach noting, “They felt Jerry was one guy who would stay and fight in a losing cause.”

During the same season, in a game against the University of Chicago, Ford “became the only future U.S. president to tackle a future Heisman Trophy winner when he brought down running back Jay Berwanger, who would win the first Heisman the following year.” In 1934 Gerald Ford was selected for the Eastern Team on the Shriner’s East West Crippled Children game at San Francisco (a benefit for crippled children), played on January 1, 1935. As part of the 1935 Collegiate All-Star football team, Ford played against the Chicago Bears in an exhibition game at Soldier Field. The University of Michigan retired Ford's #48 jersey in 1994.

At Michigan, Ford became a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity and washed dishes at his fraternity house to earn money for college expenses. Following his graduation in 1935 with a degree in political science and economics, he turned down contract offers from both the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers of the National Football League in order to take a coaching position at Yale and apply to its law school. Each team was offering him a contract of between $100 and $200 a game, but he wanted a legal education. Ford continued to contribute to football and boxing, accepting an assistant coaching job for both at Yale in September 1935.

Monday, October 29, 2007

There WAS Color Back Then...

Today’s blog entry features a gorgeous color photo of Packer legends Don Hutson and Earl “Curly” Lambeau on the practice field sometime in the 1940’s. Most of the images you see from this era are black and white, which is what makes this one so special.

Hutson’s professional career, all spent with Green Bay, spanned the years 1935 to 1945 and 116 games. A graduate of the University of Alabama, Hutson played both End and Defensive Back in a time when even the great players went “both ways” for the whole game.

Before moving on to just the coaching responsibilities on game days — in which capacity he’s seen here — Curly Lambeau played in 77 games as a Back from 1921-1929.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

One More Max Photo

Today, as the funeral for Max McGee is going on in Minneapolis as we post this, we present a page from the 1967 Green Bay Packers Yearbook. It is a photo of a grinning McGee giving a glance to two Kansas City Chiefs defenders after scoring on a 37-yard pass from quarterback Bart Starr to give the Packers a 7-0 lead. He would go on to catch another TD pass in the game which Green Bay won, 35-10. McGee retired after the 1967 NFL season to become a successful businessman, which he was until his death last Saturday.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Lombardi in the office

Today’s image is from the 1964 Green Bay Packers Yearbook, showing head coach and general manager Vince Lombardi gazing out over a decidedly more rural Highland Avenue setting than it appears today. The street was renamed Lombardi Avenue a few years later in his honor. This is one of the few photos that we’ve come across over the years that shows Lombardi in this setting, giving us the chance to see things “behind the scenes.” The photo was taken around the holidays when the season was over, as evidenced by the Christmas cards on the window sill.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Lombardi Barks at the Troops

Today’s blog posting is a classic image of coach Vine Lombardi urging his players to hit the sled harder during an unspecified training camp. It is probably from 1966 or 1967, as the publication it appeared in was put out after his stepping down into the general manager role after the ’67 season.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Vince Lombardi — The Player

Today’s blog entry features a side of Lombardi that people rarely think about... Lombardi the average football player. Vince Lombardi, back when he was being yelled at by the coach instead of doing the yelling. In 1933, Lombardi accepted a football scholarship to Fordham University in the Bronx to play for new head coach Sleepy Jim Crowley, one of the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame in the 1920s. Lombardi was an undersized guard (5'8" 185 lb.) on Fordham's imposing front line, which became known as “The Seven Blocks of Granite.” It held Fordham's opponents scoreless several times during a string of twenty-five consecutive victories. Frank Leahy, future head coach at Notre Dame, was Lombardi's position coach. In the classroom, Lombardi was, at best, a slightly above-average student. He was awarded his bachelor's degree from Fordham in June 1937, five days after his 24th birthday.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Packer Coaches — 45 Years Ago

Today’s blog entry features a photo of the Green Bay Packers’ coaching staff from May 1962 — 45 years ago. In this photo, head coach Vince Lombardi runs the projector as he and his coaches review films in the offseason. From left are assistants Bill Austin, Red Cochran, Norb Hecker, Phil Bengtson and Tom Fears. Much in the same manner as today, the assistants on pro football’s successful teams often became head coaches in their own right. Many of Lombardi’s coaches had opportunities with other teams because other clubs wanted to hopefully have some of Lombardi’s success rub off on their teams.

Bill Austin later became head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1966 through 1968, compiling a 11-28-3 record. He also served as interim coach of the Washington Redskins after Lombardi’s death in the 1970 season, accomplishing a 6-8-0 record. He retired from football after that season.

Red Cochran, originally brought to Green Bay in 1959 by Vince Lombardi, served the organization 42 years in all, 12 as an assistant coach and the last 30 as a college scout. He was still working for the Packers as a scout at age 82 when he died in 2004. Cochran also served as an assistant coach for the St. Louis Cardinals (1968-69) and San Diego Chargers (1970). Dan Devine brought him back to Green Bay as offensive backfield coach (1971-74), a role in which Cochran tutored John Brockington, currently the team's third all-time leading rusher. All told, Cochran was an NFL coach for 18 years, including three seasons with the Detroit Lions (1956-58).

Norb Hecker played for the Los Angeles Rams from 1951-1953, and the Washington Redskins from 1955-1957. Hecker was one of 12 players who founded the National Football League Players Association in 1956, briefly serving as the Redskins’ representative. He coached in Green Bay from 1959 through 1965. He was hired as head coach by the expansion Atlanta Falcons in 1966. With Atlanta, he endured season records of 3-11-0 and 1-12-1 before being fired mid-way through the 1968 season. He served as assistant coach later with the New York Giants, Stanford University, and the San Francisco Forty-Niners. With San Francisco, he won four Super Bowl rings, eventually moving into a front office position until his retirement in 1991. Hecker closed out his career in 1995 with the Amsterdam Admirals of the World League of American Football, handling both coaching and front office duties. He died of cancer in 2004.

Phil Bengston was one of the first four assistants hired in Lombardi's first week with the Packers in early February 1959. He would be the only assistant coach to stay during the entire nine-year tenure of Lombardi (1959-1967). Bengtson replaced Lombardi following the 1967 season.His Packers were 20-21-1 in his three seasons as head coach. After a 6-8 record in 1970, he was relieved of his duties, replaced by Missouri head coach Dan Devine for the 1971 season. Bengtson resurfaced with the San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots, becoming the interim head coach of the Patriots in late 1972. Later, he was named the team's Director of Pro Scouting, staying through the 1974 season. He died at age 81 after a long illness at his home in San Diego on December 18, 1994.

Tom Fears was named as the head coach of the expansion New Orleans Saints in 1967, and spent nearly four years at the helm of what became a perennial losing franchise — an exercise in frustration. His record with the Saints was 13-34-2, and he was 1-5-1 in 1970 when he was fired on November 3rd. Fears’ last head coaching job was with the fledgling World Football League's Southern California Sun in 1974. He spent the last four years of his life with Alzheimer's disease, dying in 2000.

Photo Source: Green Bay Press-Gazette archives

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Max McGee: His Packer Career

Yesterday, we lost Packer great Max McGee in a tragic home accident. For those of us too young to remember much of his playing career, we remember the many, many radio broadcasts we listened to with Max and his partner Jim Irwin on WTMJ radio in Milwaukee. If you couldn't get the Packer game on television, you listened to the AM radio, if you were fortunate enough to live close enough to Milwaukee.

In his rookie season, McGee led the NFL in punting yards while also catching 36 passes for 614 yards and nine touchdowns. He missed the next two seasons to serve as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force, but returned to become the Packers' leading receiver from 1958-62. McGee was one of the few bright spots on the 1958 Packers team, which finished the season with a league worst 1-10-1 record. During that season, he lead the NFL in yards per catch average (23.2), punting yards (2,716) and net yards average (36.0).

After Vince Lombardi took over as the team's head coach in 1959, McGee helped the team to six NFL championship appearances, five NFL championship wins, and two Super Bowl wins during the remaining years of his career. He also was a Pro Bowl selection during the 1961 season. In his final two seasons, injuries and age had considerably reduced his production and playing time. Ironically, these two seasons would be the ones for which his career is best remembered. In the 1966 season, McGee caught only four passes for 91 yards and a touchdown as the Packers recorded a 12-2 record and advanced to Super Bowl I against the Kansas City Chiefs. Because McGee didn't expect to play in the game, he violated his team's curfew policy and spent the night before the Super Bowl out on the town. The next morning, he told starting receiver Boyd Dowler, "I hope you don't get hurt. I'm not in very good shape."

However, Dowler went down with a separated shoulder on the Packers' second drive of the game, and McGee, who had to borrow a teammate's helmet because he couldn’t find his own on the bench, suddenly found himself thrust into the lineup. A few plays later, McGee made a one-handed reception of a pass from Bart Starr, took off past Chiefs defender Fred Williamson and ran 37 yards to score the first touchdown in Super Bowl history. By the end of the game, McGee had recorded seven receptions for 138 yards and two touchdowns, assisting Green Bay to a 35-10 victory.

The following year, he recorded a 35-yard reception in the third quarter of Super Bowl II that set up a touchdown in the Packers 33-14 win over the Oakland Raiders. McGee retired shortly after the game. He finished his 12-season career with 345 receptions for 6,346 yards and 12 carries for 121 yards. He also scored 51 touchdowns (50 receiving and 1 fumble recovery). On special teams, he punted 256 times for 10,647 yards, an average of 41.6 yards per punt, and returned 4 kickoffs for 69 yards.