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.