Thursday, May 31, 2007

The 1964 Philadelphia Card Set

Today we have a card set produced by the Philadelphia card folks. This set is missing only the Bart Starr card, which we couldn’t round up to show you. Apparently, it is a rare card to find. This year, we see both Willie Davis and Herb Adderley showing up in the “card worthy” category.

Willie Davis, who played college ball at Grambling State University, suited up for the Packers from 1960-1969 and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was drafted by Cleveland and obtained through a trade with the Browns after the 1959 season. Davis was an offensive lineman, but was switched to defensive lineman by Lombardi, who saw his true talent.

Herb Adderly, from Michigan State, played in the green and gold during almost the same years, 1961-1969. Adderley was drafted by the Packers in the first round in 1961 as the 12th draft pick, and was projected to be a halfback or flanker, but soon saw that his playing opportunities would be limited on offense behind veteran Packer stars Paul Hornung and Jim Taylor. He was first moved to cornerback to replace an injured teammate. In 1962 the move became permanent and Adderley went on to become an all-NFL selection five times. He won two Super Bowl rings with Green Bay, and one with Dallas in Super Bowl V.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Packers’ 1963 Topps Set

The posting for today features the Topps' set of cards for 1963, again featuring most of the same players, but with a few additions. Ron Kramer, Willie Wood, and Ray Nitschke show up in this season’s Topps’ edition as newcomers to the status of “card worthy” players.

Ron Kramer (no relation to guard Jerry Kramer), a tight end from Michigan, played for the Packers in 1957, and again from 1959-1964; Safety Willie Wood, a free agent who wrote a letter to Lombardi for a tryout, played for the team from 1960-1971 and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame; and infamous linebacker Ray Nitschke, who played from 1958-1972, is also an NFL Hall of Famer.

These cards feature great photos of some of the greatest players to ever put on a green and gold uniform.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A Management Bombshell

Today’s posting is about the surprise announcement today that previously-thought-to-be-retiring Packers’ President Bob Harlan will stay on past his retirement deadline of the end of this month. The reason being that his hand-picked successor, John Jones, will be taking a leave of absence. For anyone who follows the inner workings of the Packers front office (anyone besides me?), this is a major announcement... one that could affect the operations and success of the team for years to come.

According to the Associated Press, Jones will be taking “an indefinite leave of absence from the team because of "management concerns." Jones had open heart surgery last year, and has been observed previously as not really being strong enough to take over the reigns from Harlan. The “management concerns” are what concern me as well.

Also from the AP, “In a hastily arranged news conference, Packers executive committee member Peter Platten said he could not provide specifics about the nature of the concerns. But I will tell you that they did not involve personal conduct or ethical violations," Platten said.”

I would assume logically then that the problem might lie with concerns about his health. The Packers would not comment on this, however.

If the problems have something to do with the Board of Directors not having confidence with Jones taking over from Harlan as we got down to the wire, then we have big problems on our hands. Harlan picked and groomed Jones to take over the presidency upon Harlan's turning 70 years old, at which point he must retire, according to the Packers’ corporation by-laws. If for some reason it was decided behind closed doors that “they” think Jones is not “the man,” where do they go from here?

The president of the Green Bay Packers acts in the same manner that owners of other teams do, as far as running the team, attending league meetings, etc. Bob Harlan was a master at the job, and was almost universally well-liked in both Green Bay and throughout the League. If we are now at the point of picking a new person after spending several years grooming Jones, we’re in trouble. Bringing someone in from “the outside” with no working knowledge of what being in Green Bay means will bring many interesting issues in the future.

I guess we’ll just have to wait to see what else comes out information-wise about this whole issue. I just find the timing of it very, very interesting... and troubling.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Your 1960 Packers

O.K., we’ll stay on the football card theme for a few days. Today, we have the 1960 Topps’ card set, featuring many of the same suspects that were on the 1959 set. Oddly enough, Topps apparently still couldn’t scare up a photo of Jim Taylor in a Packers’ uniform, as he’s still depicted in the LSU red jersey; the other thing to note would be that Forrest Gregg appears on his rookie card.

This is the team that would win the Western Division for Vince Lombardi and lose to the Philadelphia Eagles 17-14 at the end of the season — the only championship game that Green Bay would lose until Super Bowl XXXII in January 1998. But that’s another story.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

1958 Aerial View

The posting for today is a fine 1958 aerial view of the still-under-construction Green Bay Veterans Memorial Arena — later to be known as the Brown County Arena. In the background is Green Bay City Stadium, which only opened the previous year. As we have seen in previous photos, most of the land way out where the new Packers’ stadium was built was still pretty much farmland at the time. A few houses here and there have sprung up around the stadium where today there are solid residential neighborhoods.

Across the street at City Stadium (later Lambeau Field), we see that there is only the one building at the south end (the team would not move their headquarters to the stadium until 1963), which housed the locker rooms for both teams. Also apparent is the lower “bowl” area which is actually below ground level. At this time, the upper grandstand seats are only along each sideline. There would not be a demand to enclose the stadium seating at both ends until the team started to win in 1960.

The Veterans Memorial Arena is still in use, although not as much since the new Resch Center was opened a few years ago. It was and is used for trade shows, concerts, local basketball/hockey games, and a few Packer stockholders meetings. The Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame was started with a few exhibits in the Arena concourse, and later grew to its own building to the right of the square building. Once the Lambeau Field reconstruction was completed, of course, the Packer Hall of Fame moved across the street into the lower level of the Atrium.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Team Photo — 1960

For today’s posting, we have a team photo from coach Vince Lombardi’s second season, 1960. This team, after finishing 7-5-0 in 1959, went on to play at Philadelphia for the NFL Championship. Unfortunately, they lost that effort by being stopped only nine yards short from scoring as time ran out, 17-13. For the 1960 season, they finished with a record of 8-4-0, and won the Western Conference — their first Divisional title since 1944.

Some notable players in the photo are #71 Bill Forester, who just died recently; #84 Gary Knafelc (pronounced “Knawful”), who a couple of years later would become the Lambeau Field PA announcer until just recently when he retired; #17 Lamar McHan, who was looking to be the starting QB before being beaten out for good this season by #15 Bart Starr; #45 Emlen Tunnell, whom Lombardi brought in from his previous New York Giants teams to provide leadership and experience to his young team in Green Bay; and 1960 draft pick #25 Tom Moore.

Other later stars for the Packers are also present: #75 Forrest Gregg; #66 Ray Nitschke; #87 Willie Davis; #5 Paul Hornung; #85 Max McGee; #76 Bob Skoronski; #74 Henry Jordan; #86 Boyd Dowler; #64 Jerry Kramer; #63 Fuzzy Thurston; #31 Jim Taylor; and #24 Willie Wood.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Lombardi in Tiger Stadium — Detroit

Now that the Brett Favre/Ted Thompson media circus and festival of misunderstanding is over — for the time being, at least — we turn our attention back to the past. Green Bay Packers history is the one overall continuing theme of this blog, as you will see over time. We have an extensive archive of Packers printed material — magazines, programs, books, etc. — and we’ll be sharing many images, articles, and old ads from this collection in the months to come. More specifically, as we get towards December and the 40th anniversary of the famed “Ice Bowl,” we will concentrate on that to mark the occasion.

Back to today’s posting... we have an image of Green Bay head coach Vince Lombardi on the field during pre-game warmups in Detroit’s Tiger Stadium. There is a lack of visual clues to determine the exact year of the photo, but let us just say that over the years, this has been one of our favorite photos of Coach Lombardi.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Damage Control

Well, what a whirlwind of activity surrounding the Packers and Brett Favre in the last day or so... and we’re sure neither party wanted it to happen in full view of the public. There were definitely some upset stomachs, angry phone calls, and emergency meetings between Mississippi and Green Bay yesterday despite it being Mother’s Day. Just think of the upset mothers and wives left alone yesterday in the wake of this latest bombshell that happened because Brett Favre spouted off to a reporter, and/or told too many other people in the League about his feelings on the Randy Moss deal. Make that the lack of a Randy Moss deal.

Apparently, Favre thought the Packers should do everything humanly (and financially) possible — and he offered up cash from his coffers to pay Moss. For whatever reason, Ted Thompson, outgoing president Bob Harlan, and incoming president John Jones elected to let New England lure Moss to their team the weekend of the recent NFL draft. From the reports we read, Favre was so angry the day after the draft that he instructed his agent “Bus” Cook (who used to have Moss as a client) to call Thompson and demand that Favre be traded. He apparently was mad that the Packers didn’t appear to want to win as much as he does. Thompson told coach Mike McCarthy to call Favre, but depending upon what you read, Favre didn’t talk to anybody in the organization for a week.

After this all blew up in atomic proportions across the state of Wisconsin on Sunday, both Favre and the Packers were working overtime on damage control of the situation. The Packers released comments from Thompson trying to downplay the situation, and Favre today was backpedalling very fast with statements saying that he was just blowing off steam and then that he wasn’t coming to mini-camp this week, but it’s not because he’s still mad.

I’d have loved to have been a fly on the wall for the conference calls that took place between Favre, Thompson, Harlan, Jones, and Bus Cook last night and today. My guess is that both Favre and Cook got some good tongue-lashes from “management,” and that within the organization, there was plenty of finger-pointing and hurriedly-called-together staff meetings.

What does this all mean? Firstly, it means that this whole situation is something that does happen — and should only happen — behind closed doors within the team. Favre was wrong to vent his anger at the team through the media, and management was wrong for letting it fester two weeks or more after the draft without calming Favre down and talking it all out between the principal parties involved. Secondly, players — no matter who they are — should not be making demands about which players the team should get. That is why they have “management” and many people in the personnel department. Whether or not Favre is right and Thompson is wrong, Thompson is Favre’s boss. You don’t tell your boss what to do. Just because he’s “Brett Favre,” he does not run the team. The team has been afraid for too long to upset Favre or to do anything against his wishes — a major problem, we think, during the Mike Sherman years. The Green Bay Packers will be here long after Favre retires, and they need to tell him that he is not “above the law.”

Now, the best thing that could happen would be for Moss to blow his knee out in the first preseason game so that we don’t have to hear all season about how the Packers missed out on such a still-spectacular player. If this 2007 Packers team starts out slow or falters mid-season, all we’re going to hear about is how Brett Favre wanted to be traded. And boy, is he going to be sick of answering questions about this whole matter all season.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Old City Stadium Last Remains

In today’s posting, we have Part IV of our photos from the Green Bay Press-Gazette Collection of the Neville Public Museum of Brown County. The caption reads: “Ferrari Wrecking Company demolishes the old Green Bay City Stadium press box while Ted Fritsch, Jug Earp, and other ex-Packers and fans watch. While the Green Bay Packers began playing games in the new City Stadium in 1957, the old City Stadium remained intact until the week of July 11, 1966. A small group of mourners came to watch as all but the surrounding wall of the stadium was razed. Unlike the launch of the new stadium, there was very little media coverage about the event.”

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Packer Pep Rally — 1980

Today we have Part III of images we’re posting from the Green Bay Press-Gazette Collection of the Neville Public Museum of Brown County. The caption reads: “Coach Bart Starr speaks to more than 2,000 fans as team members, cheerleaders, and band members look on, October 26, 1980. The Green Bay Packers have always relied on their local fans for support as well as their fan organizations. Both the band and the cheerleaders were originally informally organized by local citizens, and Green Bay Packers fan activities continue to be some of the most well attended events in the area.”

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Packer Legend Don Hutson

Today’s posting is Part II of a set of images from the Press-Gazette Collection of the Neville Public Museum of Brown County. The 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.”

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Packers at St. Norbert College

Today we start off a five-part series of images from the Brown County Historical Society collection of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. The Green Bay Packers’ tradition of housing their players at St. Norbert College in De Pere, WI continues to this day. The photo caption reads: "Green Bay Packer players walk between buildings on the St. Norbert College, De Pere, campus, circa 1958. During the 1940s, the Green Bay Packers held training camp at Rockwood Lodge, a piece of land that was purchased for use as a training facility by Curly Lambeau. In 1950, Rockwood Lodge burned, necessitating an alternate training facility. One was finally established at St. Norbert College in 1958. Despite past coaches' interest in moving the Packers to another training camp in the 1980s, the camp location has remained popular for fans, generating numerous stories about the player's high jinks despite the camp's strict rules. The College continues to serve as the team base for the housing and meeting needs of all training camp activities.

(The Press-Gazette Collection of the Neville Public Museum of Brown County).

Monday, May 07, 2007

Packerville is Back

Well, the vacation was wonderful... and, we did pretty much miss the entire NFL Draft while traveling to Washington, D.C. But, from reading the online reports and the various “grades” given the Packers by “the experts,” it looks as though Green Bay’s draft is not exactly being hailed around the League as a monumental one. By most accounts, General Manager Ted Thompson “reached” too high to take Defensive Tackle Justin Harrell (Tennessee — 6'4" / 310 lbs.) “It’s a position that the Packers are well stocked at,” they say. Well, we’ll see. Not being experts on college football, our standard answer to the question “how do you think the Packers did in the Draft?” is: “We’ll tell you in three or four years.”

Harrell wore #92 at Tennessee, but with that being Reggie White’s number — and a retired number by the Packers, at that — he will wear #91 for Green Bay.