Thursday, April 26, 2007

Packerville on Break

“Packerville, U.S.A.” will be on break through May 6th, as we will be in our nation’s capitol on a well-deserved vacation. On the bright side, we’ll be away from work and the daily drudgery involved in such things. On the other side, we’ll pretty much miss all of the 2007 NFL Draft being held this weekend. Being out in Redskin country, or native American country as it were, we’ll have to catch up on the Packers’ draft and have some commentary about it all when we return.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Early Lambeau at Night

Today we have a nice preseason night game image of Lambeau Field, probably while it was still called “City Stadium” in the early Sixties. Ahh, a nice warm summer evening spent watching a meaningless game in which you get to see players that you probably will never see again all season, or players who will not last until the regular season. We here at “Packerville, U.S.A.” will see the Packers play the Seattle Seahawks in a game such as this on August 18th. One of life’s many pleasures.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Will He or Won’t He? Part II

Our previous “Will He or Won’t He?” posting was in reference to Brett Favre deciding whether or not to play in 2007. This edition of the same question applies to Randy Moss. Will he or won’t he end up in Green Bay as the result of a trade between the Oakland Raiders and the Packers? The media have quieted down on this subject since it was the hot topic of conversation and columns a few weeks ago. We believe that if it were going to happen, it would happen this weekend or just prior to this weekend — around the annual NFL Draft (April 28th & 29th).

What do we think if it were to happen? If Ted Thompson feels that he, i.e. Moss, can still contribute at a high level after 10 years, and if Brett Favre thinks he wants to have another weapon to throw to, and if both outgoing team President Bob Harlan and incoming president John Jones think that it will not have a long-term adverse reaction with the fans, then we say go for it. Still, we have reservations about his being an inherent idiot, knowing full well that he will do something to upset the fans, the team, the League, and give the media something to say “we told you so” over.

Former General Manager Ron Wolf said recently in an interview with WTMJ radio in Milwaukee that if he were still in control, he would sign Moss “in a minute.” He also was recently quoted in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel as saying that he should’ve drafted Moss, regardless of what he thought about his character.

Hopefully, if they do sign Randy Moss, he isn’t “used up” as far as physical ability goes. We shall see what happens.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Marcol Scores a TD

The 1980 season-opener against the Chicago Bears had an ending that is remembered yet today. Here is the original game coverage from the Milwaukee Sentinel:

Packers felt fate finally was on their side
By Bud Lea, The Milwaukee Sentinel
September 8, 1980

Green Bay — They came into this 60th league opener as the laughing stock of the NFL. Just a week ago they left Lambeau Field only to be told, "you stink." Just four days ago, their defensive line coach, Fred vonAppen, represented, in the extreme, all of the frustrations and quit the team. Still fresh from an 0-4-1 preseason record, the Green Bay Packers were patching and grouping and trying to put together something that would pass for a team. "Did you hear the latest?" a fan said in the parking lot. The story was that quarterback Lynn Dickey had suffered an injury in Saturday's practice and wouldn't play.

So the Packers, masters of adversity, were thrown into the breach against the archrival Chicago Bears Sunday. The only issue involved, a lot of people thought, would be the Bears' margin of victory. Think again. In one of the biggest turnarounds in pro football, the Packers jolted the unsuspecting Bears, 12-6, in overtime when Chester Marcol ran — not kicked — 25 yards for the winning score. The big play came six minutes into the overtime. There was an angel perched on Marcol's shoulder when he lined up for a 35-yard field goal attempt. There had to be. Marcol, who had kicked field goals from the 41 and 46, was low this time. The ball hit Bear lineman Alan Page in the face, bounced right back to Marcol, and Chester took off for the races while 54,381 fans and the Packers went crazy.

So in the Packer locker room, they talked about fate finally turning their way. "It was the most dramatic win I've ever been associated with," Coach Bart Starr said, forgetting for the moment his winning touchdown against Dallas for the NFL championship in the 1967 "Ice Bowl" game. "We were way overdue for a break," said an exhausted but happy Larry McCarren, trying to make himself heard over the din of excitement. McCarren started at center for the first time since undergoing hernia surgery, Aug. 14.

McCarren talked about a special player meeting last Thursday night at a local watering spot when 30 players got together and discussed the sorry state of the Packers. "It was a good turnout, and indicated that we have a solid corps of players who are together," McCarren said. "Almost everyone had something to say. We became banded together by adversity, and we were ready," Steve Luke, the veteran safety, said the meeting lasted three hours. He said the players were angry as they talked about the frustrations and disappointments that had strangled this team since training camp started. "We've got the kind of people you can win with," Luke said. "The meeting settled a lot of things." It was a gripe session, to be sure. But if the gripes sounded sour, the point is that the players came down hardest on themselves. The residual effects took hold quickly. Luke was so positive that the Packers could beat the Bears that he guaranteed a victory after Saturday's practice.

The customers, like the Bears, didn't know what to expect. Only a few bed-sheet signs were hung around the stadium. One read: "Bears can't catch poison Ivery." The author knew something. Eddie Lee Ivery, who went out for the season with a knee injury in the Bear opener last year, danced around all day — until he injured his knee again in the third quarter. Again, luck stayed with the Packers. Ivery came back in the fourth quarter and finished as the game's leading rusher with 73 yards on 15 carries, clearly overshadowing Chicago's renowned Walter Payton, who picked up 65 yards on 31 trips for a 2.1 yard average. It was the first time in years that the Packers have stopped Payton.

The Packers did some unusual things on defense. They kept the Bears guessing by jumping in and out of sets, and it worked. They swarmed all over Payton, stopping him on a crucial fourth and one play from the Packer 14 when Mike McCoy nailed Payton for a 10 yard loss. The Bears clearly showed they were concerned about Green Bay's defense when they ran seven-straight running plays with 4-1/2 minutes to play. They went into a shell and played for the tie instead of a win.

All summer-long, Starr has tried to keep a positive attitude. Only Friday he said, "we're going to play a very good game Sunday." A quote can't play a game. But the message stuck. So did Madame Fortune, for a change.

One footnote: The Bears got their revenge and beat the Packers later that season, 61-7.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

4th and 26

Just in case anyone’s forgotten it, today we bring up the play that essentially ended the Packers’ 2003 season in the NFC Divisional Playoffs. It didn’t end the game in and of itself, but it changed the momentum of the game and set the Packers back on their heels when they should have won.

It is good to look back at these types of things to make us reflect on what might have been, and to realize that, yes, we all do recover after such seemingly cataclysmic events to cheer on the team for another season.

The famous “4th and 26 Play” (for fourth down and 26 yards to go) is the play that occurred on January 11, 2004 at Lincoln Financial Field during the fourth quarter of a divisional playoff game between the visiting Green Bay Packers and the Philadelphia Eagles.

The NFC East champion and top-seeded Eagles were coming off an opening round bye while the fourth-seeded, NFC North champion Packers were the visiting team. The Packers had the Eagles well under control for most of the game, scoring two quick touchdowns on Brett Favre passes to take a 14-point lead early in the game. The Eagles were held scoreless for the first and third quarters, but were able to score a touchdown in the second quarter and fourth quarter to tie the game at 14 apiece.

The Packers regained the outright lead on a 21-yard field goal by Ryan Longwell, leaving the Eagles less than two minutes to score. After three plays pushed the Eagles back to their own 25 yard line, the Eagles were faced with a daunting fourth down with 26 yards needed to convert a first down with 1:12 remaining and no timeouts available — failure to convert would allow the Packers to run out the clock and win the game.

The play called for a 25-yard slant running route for wide receiver Freddie Mitchell, and saw Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb toss a perfect 28-yard strike to Mitchell deep into the Packers secondary. Mitchell was supposed to be covered shallow by Nick Barnett and deep by Darren Sharper, but Barnett was distracted by a tight end and didn't cover him and Sharper stayed well past the first down markers, playing it for an interception. Packer safety Bhawoh Jue saw Mitchell running free and ran over to deliver a hit, but he was too late. Mitchell completed a leaping reception and was brought down at the Packers 46, giving the Eagles a first down and giving new life to the stadium.

The play set up David Akers' 37-yard field goal after McNabb ran for another first down. The field goal was good, and the game went into overtime, where Eagles star safety Brian Dawkins was able to intercept a Packers pass and set up another Akers field goal. The 31-yard kick split the uprights, giving the Eagles a dramatic 20-17 victory in sudden death overtime. The play helped send the Eagles to their third straight NFC Championship Game.

In Philadelphia, limited edition T-shirts were made immediately following the game, with "FOURTH AND 26" emblazoned on the front and "BELIEVE" printed on the back. However, the Eagles went on to lose the NFC Championship game to the Carolina Panthers. This would be the Eagles' third consecutive NFC Championship loss and the second consecutive NFC Championship loss at home.

Meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers fired defensive coordinator Ed Donatell less than a week after this game was played. Although head coach Mike Sherman denied that this play factored into his decision, the failure to stop the Eagles on 4th and 26 did essentially result in the end of the Packers season, and this fact was not lost on commentators.

Source: Wikipedia

Friday, April 20, 2007

First Game at New City Stadium

Today’s photo is an aerial shot of the new City Stadium on September 29, 1957 — as the Green Bay season ticketholders got their first look at the facility. The Packers did not play any preseason games in the stadium, as all those games that year were played in Miami, FL (vs. the Chicago Cardinals), Austin, TX (vs. the Cardinals again), in Milwaukee (vs. Philadelphia), Boston, MA (vs. the New York Giants), Winston-Salem, NC (vs. the Washington Redskins), and in Minneapolis, MN (vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers). It was common in those days to play NFL preseason games in cities around the country which did not have an NFL team — providing wider exposure for the league, but making it inconvenient for the participating teams.

At the time, the stadium was located “way out” on the city’s West side, whereas the old City Stadium was located on the East side, closer to downtown. In due time, the area around what would later become “Lambeau Field” would spawn businesses and subdivisions which would eventually surround it.

On this day, the Packers handed a victory to coach Lisle Blackbourn by beating the visiting Chicago Bears 21-17 before 32,132 fans in the season opener.

Remembering Ray Nitschke

“Remembering Ray Nitschke”

By Ed Gruver
The Coffin Corner, Volume XX, 1998

He was idolized by Hall of Famer Dick Butkus, which speaks volumes about the kind of middle linebacker Ray Nitschke was. And he was idolized by thousands of Green Bay Packers fans, which speaks volumes about something infinitely more important than football, and that’s what kind of man Ray Nitschke was. Millions of American men and boys who grew up in the sixties followed the Packers because of men like Nitschke, Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, and Willie Davis. Green Bay, like Notre Dame football and Brooklyn Dodgers baseball, inspired a national fan base that crossed all economic and sociological lines. There was something special about this championship team from a tiny Wisconsin town. It was indefinable and magical. It was a feeling, a state of mind, and a generation of Americans warmed their competitive fires by the accomplishments of Vince Lombardi’s Packers.

Ray Nitschke knew what this feeling was all about. In an interview less than one year before his sudden and untimely passing on Sunday, March 8, 1998 from a heart attack, Nitschke spelled out what separated the Lombardi Packers from every other team of its era, what made them the team of the decade. “It was the character of the Packers, man,” he said over the phone in a raspy voice that sounded like crunching gravel. “We played for sixty minutes. We let it all hang out. There was no tomorrow for us. We got the adrenaline flowing, and we just let it go, man.”

No one on the Lombardi Packers played with more adrenaline, more emotion than Number 66. Fran Tarkenton, who quarterbacked the Vikings and Giants during the sixties, said once that while Nitschke may not have been the defensive captain of those great Green Bay teams, he was their undisputed field general. Added Tarkenton, “I think other players were afraid not to play well with Nitschke around.” Fear was part of the Nitschke legend. He wielded it like a padded forearm, inspiring teammates and intimidating opponents. In truth, Nitschke, like so many of his Packer teammates, was a walking contradiction. They were angelic assassins. Backup quarterback Zeke Bratkowski said once that Starr, a southern gentleman away from the game, became in the heat of battle a warrior perfectly willing to cut the opponent's heart out and show it to them. It was a statement that applied to all the men of Lombardi, none more so than Nitschke.

Off the field, he was mild mannered and a solid family man, given to wearing thick glasses and dark business suits. He could have been mistaken for a banker or lawyer, and when he appeared on the TV show “What's My Line” just hours after being named Most Valuable Player of the 1962 NFL championship game, his quiet and dignified manner stumped the celebrity panel.

There was no mistaking Nitschke on Sunday afternoons, however. He replaced his false front teeth with a gummy mouthpiece that lent a cruel downward curl to his wide mouth. He covered his balding head with a battle-scarred gold and green Packers' helmet, and wrapped his huge forearms in yards of padding and tape. The transition from businessman to block bully became complete when Nitschke stood poised over the center before each snap, his hawkish features forming a frightening visage as he peered his full-cage facemask like a man peering through the bars of a padded cell. Kansas City Chiefs’ Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson recalled walking to the line of scrimmage for the opening play in Super Bowl I and coming face-to-face with Nitschke for the first time. To Dawson's surprise, Nitschke seemed to be foaming at the mouth. Said Dawson “I thought to myself, ‘This is the meanest-looking man I have ever seen.’”

Wielding his padded forearms like a scythe, Nitschke punished opposing linemen and cut a wide swath through blocking schemes. “Nitschke takes you on with that forearm,” Minnesota Vikings' all-pro center center Mick Tingelhoff said at the time. “He tries to punish you, and he does.” Some opponents believed Nitschke hit harder than his contemporary, Butkus. Preston Pearson, a running back for the Colts, Steelers, and Cowboys recalled once a blow by the balding enforcer that left him reeling. It occurred in a 1971 game, when a Pittsburgh lineman had missed his block, allowing Nitschke to flow unimpeded to Pearson on a Steeler sweep. Out of the corner of his eye, Pearson saw Nitschke flashing towards him a second before impact. Like Dawson, Pearson said Nitschke had a wild look in his eyes, and was foaming at the mouth. “It was the kind of hit,” Pearson said, “that can break a man’s back.”

The image of Nitschke as a foaming, wild-eyed madman made for good publicity in the sixties, but it also caused CBS sportscaster Tom Brookshier some anxious moments in an interview following the epic 1967 Ice Bowl. Brookshier jokingly introduced Nitschke to a national viewing audience as “Green Bay’s madman” but he froze with fear when Nitschke fixed him with an angry stare. “I'm not a madman,” he snapped. “I lust love to play football.”

Nitschke not only intimidated offensive players and sportscasters, but defensive peers as well. His Hall of Fame career lasted from 1958-1972, spanning the golden age of middle linebackers that included Bill George and then Dick Butkus in Chicago; Joe Schmidt and Mike Lucci in Detroit; Sam Huff with the New York Giants; Tommy Nobis in Atlanta; Nick Buoniconti in Boston and then Miami; and Willie Lanier in Kansas City. Nobis said Nitschke fit the part of a ferocious defender as if he had been culled from central casting. He added that Nitschke not only looked like a football player, he sounded like one as well. During games and on the practice field, Nitschke kept up an incessant chatter. His raspy voice reverberated throughout the field as he shouted defensive instructions. On occasion, his constant talk irritated Lombardi. “Hey, Nitschke,” the Green Bay boss would say. “Yes, coach.” “Shaddup.”

There was no stifling Nitschke on Sunday afternoons, and his actions always spoke louder than words. He was the linchpin in Green Bay's 4-3 lineup, and defensive coordinator Phil Bengston shielded him from offensive linemen by pinching his tackles inside to foul blocking schemes. When he wasn’t unimpeded by linemen, he broke through their blocks with a f1ailing forearm. At 6'-3" and 235 pounds, Nitschke was fast for his size, and he used his lateral quickness and mobility to cover the field from sideline to sideline. Though he excelled as a run-stopper, he was also an excellent pass defender, with 25 career interceptions.

Nitschke’s nose for the ball and his knack for deciphering plays made him the focal point of every offense in the league. “Whenever we played the Packers,” Dallas Cowboys all-pro tackle Ralph Neely said, “our first concern was, ‘How do we block Nitschke?’” Few teams were successful, and running backs during the sixties were left echoing the Motown tunes of Martha and the Vandellas — like the song said, there was “Nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide.” The late George Allen, who built the Rams’ famous “Fearsome Foursome” defenses of the sixties, said once when Nitschke got wound up he was capable of taking a defense apart by himself. “He was almost impossible to contain,” Allen said. One of the leading defensive tacticians of his era, Allen was so impressed by Nitschke he paid him the ultimate compliment by naming a defense after him, “47 Nitschke.” The scheme copied the way Ray played a certain position. What impressed Allen most about Nitschke was his ability to step up and make a big play in a big game. He was a money player, Allen said, on a team that a1ways had the stakes piled high on the table.

In the frigid, minus-20-degree wind chill of the 1962 NFL title game, he recovered two fumbles to key a 16-7 Green Bay win over the New York Giants. His performance that day on the hallowed but frozen ground of Yankee Stadium inspired a young University of Illinois middle linebacker named Dick Butkus. Watching the game on TV, Butkus was thrilled when Nitschke was named game MVP. “If he had asked me,” Butkus said later, “1 would have gladly served as the chauffer for the sports car they gave him.”

In the 1965 NFL championship game, he keyed on Cleveland's great fullback, Jim Brown, and held him to 50 yards rushing on a snow-swept field in a 23-l2 Packers’ victory. He also made the defensive play of the game when he sloshed 30 yards through the icy mud in one-on-one coverage with Brown and made a lunging deflection of a sure TD pass three yards deep in the end zone.

In January of l968, Nitschke’s lateral pursuit overwhelmed the Oakland Raiders’ power running game in a 33-l4 Green Bay triumph in Super Bowl II. A review of the play-by-play reveals Nitschke made six unassisted tackles in the sun-splashed Miami Orange Bowl, and set the tone for the afternoon when he flipped fullback Hewritt Dixon heels-over-helmet on the game's first play from scrimmage.

"I think the Lombardi teams enjoyed and wanted to get into the big games,” Nitschke said. “We had a great record in our post-season games. We lost the first (championship) and never lost another.” “I think it was the preparation and every thing Lombardi represented, you know, about hard work and that every game was important. So when you get to the real important games, you were ready to go. Every game was a championship game, and that made it easier when we got to the big games because we weren't awed by it, we weren't nervous about it. We were more relaxed than the opponents, and in those particular years, we always played to our experience. That's how we handled it. That’s what you work all season for, to get into the playoff games, and you don’t want to blow it.”

Nitschke's no-nonsense approach was perfectly suited for the sixties, an era when games were played before howling mobs in grass cathedrals, and he covered himself with equal parts mud and glory. “Lambeau was always special, and so was Milwaukee,” he said. “Packer fans have always been very loyal, very supportive. Since I’ve been around, Packer fans have always been unreal.” Nitschke's rough but clean play earned the respect of fans not only in Green Bay but across the country. Though he was a Hall of Famer, he never allowed his star status to interfere with his relationship with fans. Long after his playing days were over, character remained a guiding principle with him. “It was another day to go to work, and try to play and play well,” he said of his career. “One of the great things I've loved about football is that you don’t cancel the qames. It shows a little about yourself and the character of yourself. Everybody can play in fifty degree weather, but can you play in a hundred degree weather? Can you play in a wind chill of fifty below? It's a test. It's a test of your character and your team's character, and you have to make adjustments. It’s like life, you know. Things don't always go your way. And you have to make the right adjustments.” Nitschke made the adjustments. Having lost his father when he was three and his mother when he was thirteen, the one-time rowdy settled down and became a dedicated parent to his own children, Amy, John, and Richard.

To millions of Packer fans, Ray Nitschke remains forever a part of Green Bay's family. He never refused an autograph, and never accepted money for one either. When he attended card shows that called for several Hall of Famers to sign as many as 500 items, Nitschke was usually at about number 150 when his colleagues were done. The reason? Ray took time to talk with everyone who came to see him. His daughter Amy said recently her father considered it an honor, a privilege when someone asked for his autograph. During the course of the phone interview, the doorbell rang in Nitschke's home outside Green Bay. Telling his caller to “Hold on a minute,” Nitschke answered the door. Five minutes later he returned. “There's a blizzard here,” he said, “and the guy drives out to get my autograph on a helmet and a football.” He issued a raspy laugh, but one tinged with unmistakable appreciation. “Packer fans are nuts, man.”

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

“What It Takes to Be Number One”

Today we have the famous “What It Takes to Be Number One” speech that Green Bay Packers’ coach Vince Lombardi would often deliver at speaking engagements:


"Winning is not a sometime thing; it's an all the time thing. You don't win once in a while; you don't do things right once in a while; you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

"There is no room for second place. There is only one place in my game, and that's first place. I have finished second twice in my time at Green Bay, and I don't ever want to finish second again. There is a second place bowl game, but it is a game for losers played by losers. It is and always has been an American zeal to be first in anything we do, and to win, and to win, and to win.

"Every time a football player goes to play his trade he's got to play from the ground up — from the soles of his feet right up to his head. Every inch of him has to play. Some guys play with their heads. That's O.K. You've got to be smart to be number one in any business. But more importantly, you've got to play with your heart, with every fiber of your body. If you're lucky enough to find a guy with a lot of head and a lot of heart, he's never going to come off the field second.

"Running a football team is no different than running any other kind of organization — an army, a political party or a business. The principles are the same. The object is to win — to beat the other guy. Maybe that sounds hard or cruel. I don't think it is.

"It is a reality of life that men are competitive and the most competitive games draw the most competitive men. That's why they are there — to compete. To know the rules and objectives when they get in the game. The object is to win fairly, squarely, by the rules — but to win.

"And in truth, I've never known a man worth his salt who in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn't appreciate the grind, the discipline. There is something in good men that really yearns for discipline and the harsh reality of head to head combat.

"I don't say these things because I believe in the 'brute' nature of man or that men must be brutalized to be combative. I believe in God, and I believe in human decency. But I firmly believe that any man's finest hour — his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear — is that moment when he has to work his heart out in a good cause and he's exhausted on the field of battle — victorious."

— Vince Lombardi

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Hornung Goes at #1

The posting for today is the original Milwaukee Journal article from November of 1956 — when the Packers picked the Heisman Trophy winner, Paul Hornung of Notre Dame, with the “bonus” number one draft pick (the draft in those days was held the November prior to the 1957 season). Hornung, of course would go on to play nine seasons for Green Bay, winning the league scoring title three years in a row (1959-61), and setting the single season scoring record of 176 points which stood until the 2006 season. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986.

Hornung 'Tickled' Over Choice
Milwaukee Sentinel
Published Nov. 27, 1956

Notre Dame's Paul Hornung and Michigan's Ron Kramer were as happy to be picked so high in the National Football League draft Monday as the Packers were to get them.

"I'm tickled to death about being the bonus choice," said Hornung, the 6-2, 210 pound quarterback who has sparkled for the Irish this season despite their mediocre record.

"I was just talking to Coach Druze (Marquette's John Druze) tonight, and he told me how wonderful all the fans are to the Packers in Green Bay," said Hornung via telephone from South Bend.

He revealed the Packers had told him a week ago they would choose him if lucky enough to win the bonus pick. "I saw them beat Detroit on TV and they really looked good," Paul commented.

Hornung said he definitely intended to play professional football, but his choice between the Packers and a Canadian team would have to await specific offers. He reported a Vancouver official contacted him Monday night and a Toronto official talked with him previously. Neither mentioned terms.

The versatile star prefers to play quarterback, but "will do whatever I'm told."

Speaking via telephone from Ann Arbor, Kramer said: "It's a good deal. Green Bay is close to my home town (Detroit) so I'm happy the Packers drafted me."

The rugged end had just returned from New York where he appeared on a television program with other members of Collier's All-America team.

Kramer said he had received a telegram from the Packers Monday informing him he had been their draft choice, but that Green Bay officials had made no contact previously.

"Of course," he said, "I talked with Roger Zatkoff (Packer linebacker and former Michigan star) last week and I know all about the setup at Green Bay."

The Packers will have to wait until next spring to sign the all-around athlete. He is a captain of the Wolverine basketball team and may go out for track. He's one of the Midwest's best high jumpers and has paced the basketball team in scoring two straight years.

Kramer declined to comment on whether he had been contacted by any Canadian football teams, but his tone of voice made it obvious he had.

"Every player would rather be in the National League instead of Canada," he said. "It would be an honor to play in the NFL. I like the wide open style of play. Of course, much will depend on the contract offered, and I won't discuss money until after I'm through competing here."

The rugged end, who saw a little action at halfback for Michigan in practice, said he doesn't care where he plays in pro ball, but naturally prefers end. "Green Bay has a great quarterback in Tobin Rote, and they picked a dandy in Paul Hornung."

Monday, April 16, 2007

Lombardi at Dinner

The photo for today is another image from the Wisconsin Historical Society — an image of former Green Bay Packers football coach Vince Lombardi, being interviewed at the professional football writers dinner in Milwaukee, February 10, 1969.

If this is indeed the date, it was taken not long after he announced that he was taking the head coaching position with the Washington Redskins. He had spent the 1968 season as General Manager in Green Bay, but from all accounts, was miserable after retiring as coach. He jumped at the chance to not only coach in Washington, but to also have a stake in team ownership as well. Unfortunately, he would be dead from cancer in a year and a half.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Bart Gets a New Car

Today’s posting is another photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society, in which, for an unknown reason, Bart Starr is being presented with a new Ford Falcon. The photo caption reads:

“Bart Starr of the Green Bay Packers receives a new 1961 Ford Falcon from a Green Bay Ford dealer. The compact Falcon was introduced by Ford in 1959 to appeal to drivers seeking better mileage. It was available in several styles in addition to the four-door sedar seen here including convertibles and station wagons, and it was immediately popular with car buyers. The Falcon also served as the framework for the Ford Mustang. Production of the Falcon in the United States ended in 1970.”

The caption tells us plenty about the car itself, but nothing about why Starr received it. My guess is that is was a promotional or advertising deal, as Starr had an association with the Ford Motor Company for a number of years.

Friday, April 13, 2007

City Stadium — 1952

The photo for today is an aerial view of old City Stadium in 1952, four years before the Packers stopped playing at that field. As mentioned before, Green Bay’s City Stadium was located behind East High School, and is still in use by their football team to this day. The grandstands were torn down decades ago, but the field remains the same.

The team could not remain a viable long-term franchise in the NFL while playing at the older field (and using the high school locker room for the visiting teams), so a drive was initiated to get a new stadium built, which happened in time for the 1957 season.

While the old City Stadium field was home to stars of a bygone era like Arnie Herber, Johnny Blood, and Don Hutson — a few of the Lombardi years stars played there as well, including Bart Starr.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Classic Foursome

Today’s posting is just an interesting photo from several years ago. Former Packers Reggie White, Bart Starr, and Willie Davis posed with current quarterback Brett Favre for a poster photo shoot. The defensive linemen of the Lombardi and Holmgren eras together with the quarterbacks who have totalled three Super Bowl victories, and six World Championships overall.

Unfortunately, Reggie White died a couple of years ago, but Starr and Davis are healthy and in their Seventies — and they often come to Green Bay for alumni or other promotional events for the team. I met Starr a few years ago at the Lambeau Field renovation groundbreaking, and he was, as everyone says, a class individual all the way.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

2007 NFL Schedule Released

Today the NFL released the 2007 regular season schedule, giving everyone a reason to anticipate the coming of Fall... and with the weather here today in the Midwest, it feels like Winter all over again already.

Several of Green Bay’s recent “nemesis” teams are on the slate, including Philadelphia (who has to come to Lambeau this time), and Dallas — where the Packers will play in Texas Stadium for the last time, as a new stadium will be completed in “Big D” for the 2008 season. With some of the 1990’s Playoff nightmares that happened down there, not too many Green Bay fans will lament the wrecking ball leveling the place.

Thankfully, the Packers won’t be playing on either Christmas or New Years this year, but they will be playing in the early game on Thanksgiving in Detroit.

Those of us who are former “Milwaukee” ticket holders (the “Gold” ticket package) will see Seattle in the preseason, with San Diego and those idiots from Minnesota in the regular season.

The Packers schedule for this season is as follows:

2007 Schedule

Sep 9 — Philadelphia — 12:00pm
Sep 16 — @ N.Y. Giants — 12:00pm
Sep 23 — San Diego — 12:00pm
Sep 30 — @ Minnesota — 12:00pm
Oct 7 — Chicago — 7:15pm
Oct 14 — Washington — 12:00pm
Week 7 BYE
Oct 29 — @ Denver — 7:30pm
Nov 4 — @ Kansas City — 12:00pm
Nov 11 — Minnesota — 12:00pm
Nov 18 — Carolina — 12:00pm
Nov 22 — @ Detroit — 11:30am
Nov 29 — @ Dallas — 7:15pm
Dec 9 — Oakland — 12:00pm
Dec 16 — @ St. Louis — 12:00pm
Dec 23 — @ Chicago — 12:00pm
Dec 30 — Detroit — 12:00pm

(All times are Central Time Zone)

Next up: The Draft — April 28-29.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

1961 NFL Title Game

Since we’ve set up the 1961 championship game with the previous two days’ postings, today we have the Milwaukee Journal’s original coverage of the game:


Packers Rip Giants, 37-0, As Pvt. Hornung Scores 19 Points

By Bud Lea, The Milwaukee Sentinel
January 1, 1962

Green Bay — Why, it was as easy as taking candy from a baby. The powerful Packers ran the Giants off the property Sunday, 37-0, and proved to the football world that they are the very best.

It was a tremendous performance by Vince Lombardi's National Football League champions, a great tribute to Green Bay and a wonderful reward to 39,029 customers who finally saw a title game in pneumonia gulch.

For a couple of magic hours on a cold December afternoon, the Packers time and again were "fustest with the mostest." Instead of heading into the "valley of destruction," the Giants should have stayed away. A forfeit in this bruising business is a much more respectable 1-0 score.

This 29th championship game supposedly matched two superb teams in the most important game of the year. The Giants tried mightily at first, but became a tired team which was shocked by a 24-point salute the Packers fired in the second quarter.

Battered and reeling under this heavy assault, the Giants never recovered. The Packers, on the other hand, never gave up and continued to play crisp, intelligent and nearly perfect football.

Pvt. Paul Hornung, "loaned" to the Packers by Uncle Sam during "title week," scored a record 19 points on a six-yard touchdown run, three field goals and four extra points. He also took rushing honors with 89 yards in 20 carries and caught three passes for 47 yards.

The old record for points scored in a championship game was 18 by Cleveland's Otto Graham in 1954 against the Lions.

The performance earned this remarkable athlete a fire-engine red sports convertible for being named the game's outstanding player. That's just what he wanted for Ft. Riley maneuvers.

Green Bay, however, had much more in its arsenal than the fabulous Hornung. It had sharp shooting Quarterback Bart Starr, who fired 10 bullseyes in 17 passes despite the 20 degree weather.

Three went all the way, Ron (The Tank) Kramer twice tore through congested New York lanes like a runaway beer truck with touchdown receptions of 14 and 13 yards.

Boyd Dowler, another amazing athlete who returned to Green Bay on a holiday leave from Ft. Lewis, Wash., grabbed Starr's third touchdown strike - another shorty from the 13 which necessitated a brilliant stretching catch.


The Packers also had a gallant fullback in Jim Taylor, who disregarded a painful back injury to add 69 yards rushing. It was Taylor's 33-yard run that set up Hornung's last field goal from the 19, thus enabling Paul to break Graham's record.

Lombardi's strategy changed from the 20-17 victory achieved earlier this month in Milwaukee. Instead of running the Giants ragged on sweeps, the Packers ran and passed up the "gut" and ended with a 19-6 edge in the first downs, a 181-31 yard advantage rushing and 164-119 passing.

The Packer offensive line was at its blasting best.


While the offense cut the Giants' famed defense to shreds, it was the Packer defense which clamped the lid on the Big Towners. The front line of Willie Davis, Dave Hanner, Henry Jordan and Bill Quinlan went after those tired old men - Y.A. Tittle and Charlie Conerly - ruthlessly.

Linebackers Dan Currie, Tom Bettis, Bill Forester and Ray Nitschke, another soldier on leave from Ft. Lewis, shut out New York's running game and defenders Josse Whittenton, Hank Gremminger, Johnny Symank and Willie Wood stuck to the receivers like burrs.

The turning point for the Giants came late in the first quarter when they failed to go in from the Packer six. Thereafter, they looked tired and even more inept.

Tittle started, but backfired with two interceptions which Green Bay converted into touchdowns. Then Conerly, wearing sneakers, tried his luck until Y.A. returned late in the third quarter.

Tittle, bothered by a tremendous rush and butterfingered receivers, ended with only six completions in 20 attempts for 65 yards. More disturbing, though, was the fact he had four passes intercepted.

Conerly hit four of eight for 54 yards, but like Tittle, couldn't bring his gang home. The leading ground gainer for the Giants was Alex Webster, who dented the Bay bruisers for 19 yards in seven trips.


The overwhelming championship victory earned each Packer $5,195.44 - not bad for two hours, 20 minutes of huffing and puffing in winter's wonderland. Each losing New Yorker received $3,339.99 - not bad for being disgracefully shut out.

The victory margin, was the biggest since Detroit whipped Cleveland, 59-14, in 1957, and the "snow job" marked the first shut out since the Eagles blanked the Rams, 14-0 in 1949.

The mercury nudged over 20 when 42-year-old Packer Ben Agajanian started the show with a short kickoff that Joel Wells returned 15 yards to his 30. The Giants missed a first down by three yards and Don Chandler punted 41 yards to Wee Willie Wood, who squeezed out four yards before he was clobbered on the Packer 26.

Three straight blasts by Hornung missed a first down by a yard and Dowler punted 55 yards, despite a low pass from the center. However, the Packers jumped the gun and Dowler responded with another boomer, which Wells caught on the New York 11. He was collared by Elijah Pitts on the 15.
Rote Drops Pass

The first first down of the game now occurred when Webster gained two yards after Wells ripped through for eight. Tittle then attempted his first pass. It was on the button, but dropped by Kyle Rote on the 50.

Five plays later Rote dropped the another Tittle pass on the Packer 10 and Chandler had to punt again. This one sailed into the end zone and the stage was set for the Packers' first touchdown march.

Hornung hit for four. Max McGee couldn't hang onto Starr's bullet on the Giant 35, but Hornung took one over the middle on third down and scampered 26 yards to the 50.

Methodically, the Packers inched closer as Taylor and Hornung banged away for five yards at a crack. From the Giant 20, Starr went to the air and the first break of the game came the Packers' way.


Defender Erich Barnes was called for interfering with Dowler and the Packers had a first down on the 7. Taylor got a yard as the first quarter ended.

But from the six, it was duck soup for the trim 214-pound Hornung, who zipped over defensive left tackle like a robot. Hornung tacked on the extra point with four seconds of the second quarter played and Green Bay, as it was to turn out, had the game all wrapped up.

Wells took Agajanian's kickoff on his 16 and returned 10 yards. THe Giants gained four yards on a draw by Webster when ... boom ... disaster struck.


Jordan deflected Tittle's pass, Pvt. Nitshcke swiped it on the Giant 43 and returned nine yards. It took the Packers six plays to go in for their second touchdown.

Hornung first tried an option pass which McGee couldn't control on the 20, then Starr overthrew the Taxi in the end zone. On the third down, however, Starr hit Kramer over the middle for a 16 yard gain to the 18.

Taylor picked up five yards in two tries and the touchdown came like a flash from the 13 when Starr hit Dowler, streaking towards the end zone. Hornung converted at 4:19 and the Packers led, 14-0.


Three plays after the kickoff Tittle, from his 32, fired his second interception. Gremminger snared it on the Giant 49, returning 13 yards.

Again Starr stuck to the ground, sending his tankmen Taylor and Hornung up the middle. When the attack reached the 14, Starr fired over the middle to Kramer.

Sam Huff, Joe Morrison and Jim Patton were bolted over like ten pins as the 245-pound Packer end charged in for the touchdown at 10:04. Hornung kicked the extra point for a 21-0 lead.

This prompted Coach Allie Sherman to go with Conerly and the 40-year-old veteran of 13 seasons responded with a drive from the Giant 39 to the Packer six.

A 35-yard strike to Rote put the Giants in position on the 15. Phil King gained seven and Webster added two to the six. Needing a yard to go for a first down, Wells was nailed in his tracks.

Then Conerly went for the option with Bob Galters tossing to Rote in the corner of the end zone. Rote was wide open, but couldn't hit his mark. THe Packers took over and the Giants had lost their drive and spirit.


Time was running fast and so were the Packers, who quickly scooted from their 20 to the Giant 10 in five plays. A five yard off side penalty against New York stopped the clock and set up Hornung's first field goal from the 17. It sailed over perfectly as the gun sounded - giving the Packers a magnificently easy 24-0 first half advantage.

Nitschke returned a short second half kickoff 18 yards to the 36 before organized chaos prevailed. From his 37, Starr on second down ran to the Giant 40 where his fumble was recovered by Patton. The officials lost complete control of the situation when, after a brief discussion, decided to give the Packers a two yard penalty and better yet, a first down.

Four plays later, however, the Packers had to punt. Cliff Livingston partially blocked Dowler's boot and Larry Hayes returned three yards to the Giant 38, fumbled but it was recovered by teammate Mickey Walker.

With Conerly calling the shots, New York gained to midfield and, on fourth and one, decided to punt. Chandler's kick drifted out of bounds on the 15 and the Packers couldn't get out of the hole.

Dowler then punted and another mighty one sailed over Morrison's head on the Giant 25. The New York retriever lunged for the loose ball, fumbled and Forrest Gregg recovered on the Giant 22.

Tom Moore, subbing for Taylor, gained six. Hornung fumbled but recovered for no gain and then the mitten-clad Barnes goofed when he dropped Starr's pass for an easy interception. So on fourth down, Hornung dropped back to the 22 and split the uprights at 9:55, boosting Green Bay's lead to 27-0.

Again the Giants failed to pick up a first down in the third quarter with Conerly and the Packers got a break when Gene Johnson failed to see Wood signal for a fair catch on a punt and tripped into Willie. The penalty gave the Bays a first down on the Giant 43.

In five plays, the Packers scored again when Starr hit Kramer in the end zone with a perfect lob from the 13. Big Ron had Morrison trailing him, but he faked the defender out of the way.

Hornung kicked out the PAT at 12:12 and it was now, 34-0.

Tittle returned to the war after Wells ran back Agajanian's kickoff 25 yards to the 35. The Giants in four plays were on the Packer 30 as the fourth period started.

Following an incompletion Hanner, Quinlan and Davis lowered the boom on Tittle back on the 30. The Packers took over, but four plays later punted again.

Morrison made a fair catch on Dowler's kick on the Giant 21. Tittle then went for the bomb to Del Shofner. Whittenton stayed with the speedy Giant receiver and came up with a spectacular interception on the Packer 38.

Like after the previous breaks, Green Bay responded with more points. Taylor, on a draw, broke through for 33 yards to the Giant 14. Hornung lost six on a mixed up assignment, Starr tossed up the middle to Hornung eight yards and then Starr's pass to Kramer in the corner was broken up by Morrison.

Hornung then booted a 19-yard field goal at 6:48 in the fourth quarter. It was Paul's 19th point for a new playoff record.

As the fans counted off the remaining seconds, Tittle bowed out by throwing his fourth interception - this one to Herb Adderly, kneeling on the Giant 30. Adderly sprung up and reached the 16 before he was put down for keeps.

John Roach, subbing for Starr, held on to the ball as this old town went wild as the gun sounded.

The Packers were the toast of the football world New Year's Eve .... The Giants were probably in for a roasting when they arrived in New York.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The 1961 Championship Game Field

As we saw in yesterday’s posting, the field surface of the then “City Stadium” was covered with hay overnight before the 1961 NFL title game, to keep the turf from freezing. Today’s image shows the hay being removed on Sunday morning, December 31, 1961. According to the official photo caption from the Wisconsin Historical Society: “A Farmall 460 tractor with windbreaker and no. 46 baler is removing twenty tons of hay from Green Bay’s City Stadium (now Lambeau Field) at 9:00 a.m. on the day of the National Football League (NFL) championship game between the Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants. The hay, which formed a one-foot padding on top of the field tarpaulin, had been on the field to protect it. The Packers went on to defeat the Giants 37-0. This image was printed in International Harvester World magazine (Feb. 1962).”

Sunday, April 08, 2007

City Stadium — 1961

Today’s photo is of “City Stadium” on the night before the first NFL World Championship game ever to be played in Green Bay — on December 31, 1961 (four years before the stadium’s name would be changed to “Lambeau Field”). The field has been covered by hay to keep it from freezing in the frigid weather. The Packers went on to clobber the New York Giants 37-0 in their first “home” championship game. Two more NFL title games would be played in Green Bay (1965 and 1967) before the NFL merged with the AFL and moved the title game — the Super Bowl — to a “neutral” site each year.

Incidentally, the New York Giants were somewhat like the Buffalo Bills in their time for losing NFL title games. They lost in 1958 (Colts), 1959 (Colts), 1961 (Packers), 1962 (Packers), and 1963 (Bears).

(Photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society).

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Starr Gets Sacked

Today’s posting depicts Packers’ quarterback Bart Starr getting the worst of an encounter with a member of the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive unit at Lambeau Field. Obviously, everything didn’t go Green Bay’s way all the time in the storied days of the 1960’s teams.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Ice Bowl

The posting for today is an image from the celebrated “Ice Bowl” game — the NFL Championship game — which was played on December 31, 1967. The Dallas Cowboys came into Green Bay before the weather turned cold, and were confident that they had a great chance to avenge their loss to the Packers in the championship game in Dallas the year before. In the image, Packers’ quarterback Bart Starr is ready to take the snap from center, with tackle Forrest Gregg (#75) and tight end Marv Fleming (#81) prepare to take care of the right flank.

In the book “The Ice Bowl — The Cold Truth About Football“s Most Unforgettable Game” (1997), Ed Gruver set the stage: “In his room at the Northland Hotel, CBS broadcaster Tom Brookshier awoke to the loud ringing of his bedside phone. Reaching out from beneath the covers, Brookshier picked up the receiver and heard the sweet voice of the hotel operator deliver a wake-up call he has never forgotten. “Good morning, Mr. Brookshier. It’s seven o’clock and it’s 13 degrees below zero.” The same message was delivered over and over to the other hotel guests on the morning of Sunday, December 31, 1967. The day had dawned bright but cold in Green Bay, a small midwestern city that christened itself “Titletown, U.S.A.” after the Packers beat the New York Giants 37-0 in the 1961 championship game. A mass of arctic air had settled over the region and temperatures held steady at minus-13 degrees Fahrenheit, while 15-mile-per-hour winds dropped the wind-chill factor to minus-38.”

This year will be the 40th anniversary of the “Ice Bowl,” and hopefully, there will be a fair amount of commemorative television specials, books, etc. to mark the occasion. Towards the end of the year, Packerville will focus much more on this anniversary, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Vocal Vince Lombardi

Today’s posting is nothing special... just a fine photo of coach Vince Lombardi yelling at his troops from the sideline during a rainy home game. I’m sure this was “Lombardi in his natural habitat” for any player who played on the 1959 to 1967 Green Bay Packer teams.

In the words of defensive tackle Henry Jordan, “He treated us all the same — like dogs.”

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

TIME Magazine — December 21, 1962

The Packers and Vince Lombardi were featured on the cover of TIME Magazine in December of 1962, before the NFL championship game in which they defeated the New York Giants 16-7. Following are some excerpts from that article:

"Nowhere does the game generate more excitement than in Green Bay, Wis., a city of 63,000 that has been hooked on pro football since 1919, when only sissies wore helmets and the mark of a player was the gap between his front teeth. Green Bay has much to be proud of. It has its Neville Public Museum, its Service League, and its 65-piece symphony orchestra. Its paper napkins wipe the mouths of 93 million Americans. Its citizens are kind to animals and hospitable to strangers; they even manage a polite chuckle when visitors joke about the city's 139 bars and its unsavory reputation as a gangster hangout during Prohibition. But on two subjects the town has no tolerance: the Green Bay Packers are the best football team in the world, and Vince Lombardi. 49, is the world's greatest football coach."

"Few rah-rah college towns can match the unbridled devotion of Green Bay for Lombardi and his doughty athletes. There has not been an empty seat in City Stadium (capacity: 38.663) since 1959; the only way anyone gets to see a game is by buying a season ticket — and even that, like joining a country club, takes years of waiting. Green Bay's youngsters save their pennies in kiddy banks in the shape of green-and-gold-suited Packers. Portraits of Packer players hang on soda fountain walls; restaurant diners eat their soup off "Know-Your-Packers" doilies. The pastors of some Green Bay churches end their sermons with a short, earnest prayer "for our Packers," and the police force feels the same way. "The only crime here." says Chief Elmer Madson, "is when the Packers lose."

"The Packers are the current wonder team of football, a group of superstars romantically molded out of a gang of has-beens. Four years ago, they were the lowest of the low; now they are world champions."

"As of last week it was certain — barring a last-game loss to the last-place Rams — that the Packers were heading for one of those classic challenges of sport: a return engagement with the New York Giants, in the title playoff Dec. 30. Last year, it was the Packers who were on the way up, feeling mean and hungry; they had lost the 1960 playoff to the Philadelphia Eagles. This year it is the Giants who yearn for revenge— for last year's crushing 37-0 defeat."

"Last year Lombardi also had the impressive services of Paul Hornung. a wondrous halfback who, in the day of the specialist, can run, pass, kick or block — and proved it by scoring a record 176 points in 1960. This year Hornung wrenched his knee badly, sat it out on the bench half the season — when he was not posing for ads. The loss would cripple almost any other team. Yet, filling in for Hornung at halfback. Tom Moore scored seven touchdowns, averaged 3.1 yds. every time he carried the ball. Handling Hornung's place-kicking chores, Guard Jerry Kramer booted nine field goals, 36 straight extra points."

"With that kind of trained talent, Lombardi can go easy on the extra razzle-dazzle. His game is disconcertingly simple. Or so it appears. ''We always hit them at their strongest point," he says. "We attack their best men in an effort to break their morale. If you can bring down their best men, it's all over." Opponents respect the tactic. On defense, explains Philadelphia Linebacker Chuck Bednarik, "the Packers just hand you the ball and say, 'Here it is, see what you can do with it.' " On offense, says Pittsburgh Quarterback Bobby Layne, "everybody knows what's coming, but the point is that you can't stop it anyway.' "

"Back in 1959 — in desperation — the Packers turned to Vince Lombardi, a bristling, brooding bear of a man who was supposed to know football but had never held a major head coaching job before. He seemed hardly the type to coach in a bumptious, boisterous north woods town. He was a city man, an Easterner born and bred in Brooklyn and fiercely proud of it. Until he was 20, Vincent Thomas Lombardi had never even been west of the Hudson."

"Lombardi hit Green Bay so hard the grass is still quivering. He demanded absolute authority — the power to hire and fire, to set salaries, even to design Packer uniforms. Once the whip was in his hand, he set it singing. "This is a violent sport," he told the Packers, "To play in this league, you've got to be tough —physically tough and mentally tough." He chased grandstand kibitzers off the training field, declared the rowdier Green Bay taverns off-limits, slapped $25 fines on players who showed up as little as one minute late for practice, $50 fines on those who broke his 11 p.m. training-camp curfew. He ordered injured Packers to run in practice ("You're preparing yourselves mentally"), and slackers found themselves heading out of town on the evening train. "Don't cross me," Lombardi warned Quarterback Bart Starr. "If you cross me a second time, you're gone." Self-pity provoked only scorn. "When Lombardi came," recalls Center Jim Ringo, "I told him I wanted out. I said I wanted to play on a winning team. He looked at me and said, 'This is going to be a winning team.' You know his voice. You know his eyes. If he said so, I knew it must be true."

"Vince Lombardi, the architect of it all, gets an estimated $50,000 a year in salary. He lives in a comfortable $35,000 home whose den is filled with trophies won by Daughter Susan, 15, an accomplished horsewoman, and Son Vince, 20, a 195-lb. fullback for Minnesota's College of St. Thomas. If anybody in Green Bay had a $1,000,000 house, Lombardi would be that man. When he walks down the street, people greet him as some sort of demigod. After home games. Vince and his wife Marie eat dinner at Mancie's restaurant — in ''the Lombardi Room," of course. The hottest selling item in Green Bay bars is Macnish V.L. Scotch. Everywhere else, the V.L. stands for "Very Light," but in Green Bay it stands for Vince Lombardi. And the worst rumor that can sweep Green Bay is that Coach Lombardi might not stay on forever, that he might some day move on to another city and another club."

"No one, least of all Lombardi, wants to predict how long the Green Bay Packers will stay on top of their brutally tough sport. "We're tired," he says. "Jim Taylor's down to 204 Ibs., and he should weigh 220. Everybody's feeling the strain." If the weary Packers win their way into the N.F.L. playoff, they will face a New York Giants team, coached by canny Allie Sherman, that is far stronger and far fresher than the squad they trounced last time around."

Monday, April 02, 2007

Baseball Season Opens

Today’s image of an empty Lambeau Field on the day many baseball teams begin their 162-game season makes us miss football season that much more. Baseball season just doesn’t have the immediacy that football season does. If your team loses the first three games in baseball, nobody much cares... you’ve got a whole bunch more to play. But if your favorite NFL team starts 0-3, the sports radio talk shows are calling for the coach’s head and speculating that the season is already “over.”

There’s nothing wrong with baseball. We just can’t wait for football season to start again. Baseball’s hold on the position as “America’s Pastime” could be debated, and is annually about this time.

What do we football fans have? We’ve got the NFL Draft coming up the weekend of April 28-29. Other than that, the schedule is due to be released shortly, and we already know that Thanksgiving’s turkey may not taste as good as it might if the Packers lose at Detroit in the early game that day.

Training Camp opens in about three and one half months.

We can’t wait.