Monday, December 31, 2007

Ice Bowl Morning

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

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

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Ice Bowl Early Morning

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Saturday Before

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Ice Bowl Cometh

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

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

Monday, December 24, 2007

Santa Watches the Packers

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

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

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

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Santa at City Stadium

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

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

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

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Bears at Wrigley

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

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

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

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mud Bath with the 49ers

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Least-Remembered Championship

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


By PFRA Research

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mostly it was the war.

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Punting NY (Younce)- 10-41.0

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Knafelc’s Ride Off the Field

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Little Packers

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

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The First Win Over the Raiders

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

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

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The End of An Era

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

Source: Green Bay Press-Gazette archives

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Bowling with Don Hutson

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

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