Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Pitchout

Continuing with our irregular blog updates, today we present a great photo of a Packer running play taking shape in Chicago’s Wrigley Field — the home of the Bears. Quarterback Bart Starr (#15) takes the snap and turns to pitch the ball to fullback Jim Taylor (#31), who is going to then take off behind the blocking of guard Jerry Kramer (#64) and tackle Forrest Gregg (#75) around the right side of the line of scrimmage. Just an outstanding shot of some early 1960’s away-game action.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Some Vintage Color for Christmastime

Today we offer up an image from either 1935 or 1936 (our estimate) of the Packers playing the Chicago Cardinals. We don’t have much more to offer, information-wise, so just enjoy the snapshot of football in the olden days.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

City Stadium — 1931

Keeping up with our irregular schedule of updates here (sorry), we today have a really nice aerial shot of Green Bay’s City Stadium at East High School during a 1931 game. As we’ve mentioned before, the field is still there, minus all the stands and the surrounding walls, etc. We were fortunate enough to attend a Packers Training Camp practice held there a couple of years ago... our first chance to enter the facility rather than just peering through the gates.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Packers at Chicago — 1962

In celebration of the Packers’ victory in Chicago today, we present a few photos from another Green Bay-Chicago game 47 years ago in 1962. On that November 4th afternoon, Vince Lombardi’s men were also victorious 38-7 in Wrigley Field with 48,763 football fans watching. Above, QB Bart Starr (#15) goes back to pass as RB Tom Moore (#25) stays back to protect him, and FB Jim Taylor (#31) swings out to the left.

On this play, Moore takes the hand-off and heads through the line.

Starr has again handed the ball off, but the unidentified ballcarrier (probably Taylor) doesn’t look to have much room.

Going the other way, Starr barks out the signals for another offensive play.

The Packers’ defense or special teams have stopped the Bears from any further gain.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Taylor in the Mud

Our visual treat for today is a beautiful shot of Green Bay fullback Jim Taylor (#31) fighting for yardage in the mud of the 1965 NFL Championship game against the Cleveland Browns. The day was New Year’s Day — January 1, 1966 and a heavy snowfall rendered the Lambeau Field playing surface quite a bit less than frozen. The Packers triumphed that day for championship No. 3 under Vince Lombardi. Also visible in this photo are Jerry Kramer (#64), Boyd Dowler (#86), Ken Bowman (#57), and Paul Hornung (#5) on the ground, while Bart Starr (#15) watches the play after handing off the ball to Taylor.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Willie at Work

In a photo from the same game at Philadelphia that we described in yesterday’s post, we see Packer great and NFL Hall of Famer Willie Davis covering his area along the line of scrimmage. Who wouldn’t want to have a player of his caliber on their team today?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

McGee and Thurston Block

In today’s photo, we see long-time Packer receiver Max McGee (#85) and guard Fred “Fuzzy” Thurston (#63) out blocking in front of an unidentified ballcarrier. This action is from a game in Philadelphia’s Franklin Field. We’re almost certain this is the November 11, 1962 contest which saw Green Bay demolish the Eagles 49-0, providing some measure of revenge for the 1960 NFL Championship game loss — Vince Lombardi’s only postseason defeat in his tenure in Titletown.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Jerry and Vince

In today’s little slice of Packers’ history, we have an image of Green Bay guard Jerry Kramer (#64) with head coach Vince Lombardi at a game in Chicago’s Wrigley Field, where the Bears played until 1970. Kramer, who many think should be in the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, played for the Packers from 1958-1968 after playing his collegiate football at the University of Idaho.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Holiday Time in Packerville

The Christmas holidays are upon us, and today we have a photo of the Packerville Headquarters “Packer Tree,” which always stays up as long as Green Bay’s season lasts. This year, that could be as early as January 3rd, or as late as February 7th. Later would be better, obviously.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Your 1943 Green Bay Packers

In our first post-Thanksgiving post here on the “Packerville” blog, we feature a fine team photo of the 1943 Green Bay Packers squad. In the organization’s 23rd season in the National Football League, the Packers finished with a 7-2-1 record under coach Curly Lambeau. This earned them a second place finish in the Western Conference. The Chicago Bears won the conference that year with an 8-1-1 record, while the Detroit Lions (3-6-1) and Chicago Cardinals (0-10-0) finished behind Green Bay.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Coach and Bart

After returning from our second Packer game in as many weeks, we have a photo for you of Coach Vince Lombardi and Quarterback Bart Starr, quite possibly from the same game as yesterday’s photo. We don’t know about you, but we can’t get enough of these images from that era.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

On the Bench; In the Stands

In today’s photo, we see two great aspects of Packerville in the mid-Sixties. We see a fascinating shot of the team’s bench area along the western side of the City Stadium playing field, with players resting and getting some footwear adjustments. Most notably, QB Bart Starr (#15) sits at right, intently watching the performance of the Packers’ defensive unit.

Also interesting to see is the mostly older crowd in the stands immediately behind the Packers’ bench. It is obviously a later-season game, which is indicated by the fans’ attire (love those hats!). Also strikingly different than today’s crowd is the fact that no one in the photo is wearing officially licensed Green Bay/NFL merchandise. That was a phenomenon that wouldn’t hit our wallets until much later. Even in the late 1980’s it was not easy to find a fine selection of Packers’ merchandise even while in Green Bay.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hornung on the School Playground

Today’s image is a fine shot of Green Bay legend Paul Hornung playing with some kids on a school playground. We assume this is in conjunction with a visit to a local school by the Packers’ star running back in the mid-Sixties, as the players do to this day for special functions. These kids are now grandparents, but we’d love to hear their stories of this day — and of growing up in Titletown during the “Glory Years.”

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cowboys in Green Bay

On the day after your “Packerville” editor attended the Packers’ victory over Dallas, we present two images from the Texas team’s first visit to what later became known as “Titletown.” On Sunday, November 13, 1960, the two teams squared off in Green Bay’s City Stadium under sunny skies and 51-degree temperatures — very similar to yesterday’s conditions at game time. Before 32,294 fans, Vince Lombardi’s third-year team thrashed the Cowboys 41-7. Above, we see fullback Larry Hickman (#37) plunging for a couple of yards after taking the handoff from quarterback Bart Starr (#15). Tight end Ron Kramer (#88) can be seen blocking in front of him, as well as center Jim Ringo (#51), still on his feet and keeping a Cowboy out of the play. Note also the smaller height of the endzone grandstands in the background, which at that time were basically below ground level.

In this second photo, the Packer defense is on the field, and we see defensive tackle Dave “Hawg” Hanner (#79) pursuing the back coming out of the backfield, while what appears to be fellow lineman Henry Jordan (#74) is stopped in his effort at getting the quarterback, Don Meredith.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Update from Green Bay

As we’re in town for the Cowboys-Packers game tomorrow afternoon, we present an image of “old” Lambeau Field, as it appeared in the 1990’s. The famous green corrugated metal exterior has given way to the retro-brick of the renovated stadium and atrium, but the field and stands mostly remain the same, with some more seats added during the process.

We apologize for the irregularity of the updates to our little green-and-gold slice of the internet here, but keep checking back, as we have much more material to share with fellow Packers history lovers.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Lee Roy Caffey Gets an Endorsement

Today we have a 1969 advertisement for Rexall® drug stores that featured Green Bay Packers’ linebacker Lee Roy Caffey. And, as an added bonus, we present the Caffey story to provide some Sunday afternoon reading after the Packer game:

Blessed with the body of a lineman, but the speed of a running back, Lee Roy Caffey was a unique athlete. His special abilities took him all the way from Thorndale, Texas to the NFL with a pit stop at Texas A&M University for a dose of big-time college football. His life was cut short by cancer at the age of 53 after a four-year battle and he was a popular member of the Rockdale, Texas community for over 20 years after his retirement from pro football. His success story is a simple one: small town boy done good.

Despite Texas A&M’s poor performance, the pros took notice of him and Philadelphia snatched him up in the seventh round of the 1963 draft. He was also selected in the fourth round as a fullback by the Houston Oilers in the fledgling American Football League. Caffey would have his brush with the AFL on down the road. “Playing in the NFL went way beyond what he had thought of,” Dana Caffey said. “He was real excited about it." In his first year in pro football, he performed well enough to be named to the all-rookie team.

Green Bay Days

After one year with the Eagles, Caffey became a part of one of the most famous trades in NFL history. Veteran Packer center Jim Ringo was one of the first professional players to hire an agent, so when he introduced his agent to Vince Lombardi at contract time, Lombardi was not amused, and excused himself from the room. Lombardi returned a few minutes later and informed “Mr. Ringo and Mr. Agent” that they needed to continue their negotiating with Philadelphia because that’s where Ringo had just been traded. Lombardi called Caffey himself and informed him, ‘You’re gonna be my linebacker.’ As soon as he hung up the phone with Coach Lombardi, we had to look on the map and see where Green Bay was,” his wife Dana remembers. After the season, Caffey had gone back to A&M to finish off his final six hours and earn his business degree. It was a serendipitous circumstance for Caffey, who found himself in the heart of the football world with the Packers, who were about to embark on a legendary journey.

The Caffeys loved Philadelphia, but Green Bay was a little closer to Thorndale in atmosphere and they felt right at home there, despite the freezing cold. “People were so nice, they loved the team,” Dana said. “It was a lot of fun.” Dana Caffey made acquaintenances then that are still friends to this day, 45 years later. Their oldest child, Lee Ann, learned the alphabet in school by reciting the Green Bay roster. “Everybody in town knew everything there is to know about football,” said Dana. “It wasn’t a guy thing, it was a family thing.”

Caffey started at right linebacker alongside middle linebacker Ray Nitschke, one of the meanest men to ever play the game and a Hall of Fame selection. Years later, he would play alongside undoubtably the meanest man to ever step on a football field, Dick Butkus, when Lee Roy was traded to Chicago. In June, the Packer linebacking corp of Nitschke, Caffey and Dave Robinson was voted the sixth best linebacking corps in the history of the NFL by the NFL network. At Green Bay, Caffey earned the reputation as the fastest linebacker in the league.

During his six seasons there, Caffey became entrenched in the NFL’s first dynasty and he also witnessed the birth of the world’s greatest sporting event, up close and personal. After grabbing the NFL title in 1965, the Packers participated in the inaugural Super Bowl in 1966 and whomped the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 in Los Angeles. They defended their world champion status by dumping the Oakland Raiders 33-14 and proving the NFL was far superior to the weak little sister AFL.

Dana Caffey says that to the coaches and players, the first game — which was called “The World Championship Game” not the Super Bowl — was just another game and nothing special. “It really wasn’t,” she said. “We had no idea and never dreamed what it would become. It was just another game, with a little more pressure. They knew they had to win it though. We never thought, ‘We are playing in the first Super Bowl.’ ” The game wasn’t even sold out and was broadcast on two different networks and there was very little publicity about the game. “There were seats everywhere,” Dana said. “Within our league, it was a big deal. Not with the public though.”

Dana Caffey says that at the second Super Bowl, Green Bay had just come off playing in one of the NFL’s iconic games, “The Ice Bowl,” in which they defeated the Dallas Cowboys 21-17 in frigid 20-below temperatures at Lambeau Field on a Bart Starr quarterback sneak in the closing seconds. “ The ‘Ice Bowl’ was so consuming — that was the big game to us,” Dana said. “Everybody was tired. They were sick. They had the flu. They still had frostbite.” “It’s tough to get up again when you’ve been on the stick for two big games,” Lee Roy told Sports Illustrated. “I know we did not play as well as we have. We made mistakes we don’t make in most games. But I guess it turned out all right, didn’t it?” The second Super Bowl was just an afterthought, but because it was supposed to be Lombardi’s last game, that made it special for the Packers and motivated them to win again.

Lombardi Rules

While the name Lombardi conjures up the epitome of strict discipline and an in-your-face coaching style and is synonymous with winning, Dana Caffey had the opportunity to see the other side of this driven man. “He was always very good to Lee Roy, he liked him,” she says. “He was also very good to the wives. Of course, we were all a little afraid of him.” In his seminal sports book Instant Replay, Packer guard Jerry Kramer points out that Lombardi was hardest on the players he liked the best. He was hard on Caffey. “Lombardi thinks of himself as the patriarch of a large family and he loves all his children and he worries about all of them,” Kramer said, “but he demands more of his gifted children. Lee Roy Caffey, a tough linebacker from Texas, is one of the gifted children and Coach Lombardi is always on Lee Roy, chewing him, harassing him, cussing him. ‘Look at yourself, Caffey, look at yourself, that stinks,’ Lombardi would shout at Caffey. ‘Lee Roy, you may think that I criticize you too much, a little unduly at times, but you have the size, the strength, the speed, the mobility, everything in the world necessary to be a great football player, except one thing–you’re too damn lazy!’ ”

Lombardi’s chiding worked. Caffey earned the highest individual honors by being named to the NFL all-pro team in 1965 and 1966. No one was happier for Caffey than Lombardi. Dana remembers the annual Thanksgiving day dinner that Lombardi would throw for the players and their families. “He would have baby sitters there to help out. He was very thoughtful to the families. A lot of people might be surprised by that, but Packer people would not. He was good to everybody.”

And what about his aggressive style of coaching? “He yelled at everybody,” Dana said. “I remember all the good things about him... I remember the yelling too though.” She keeps a picture of Lombardi on a wall in her office at home. Lombardi — who died of cancer in 1970 — retired at the end of the 1967 season and Caffey became disenchanted with the Packers and asked to be traded. He was hoping to be sent south to Dallas. He was sent south alright — to Chicago, where he played alongside the player who many people consider the best linebacker to step on a football field anywhere, Dick Butkus.

The next season, Caffey was indeed shipped off to Dallas. “We were thrilled to death,” Dana said. “But, when we got there, we found out he wasn’t going to get to play.” “I just picked up splinters and got rusty,” he would say. Despite earning his third Super Bowl ring after Dallas captured the 1972 championship, Caffey considered retiring after his disappointing stint with the Cowboys, but he went to San Diego where his former Packer linebacker coach Carl Bankston and former Packer teammate and friend Forrest Gregg were coaching. “He absolutely loved it out there,” Dana said. “He said he could have played there for another 20 years because it’s not cold and nothing hurts.”

Life After Lombardi

While Caffey felt like he could still play — he had been injury free in his career — he started thinking about his future and his growing family, which included Lee Ann, who was 11 at the time, Jennifer, 7 and son Bradley, 2. Unlike today’s spoiled professional athletes, NFL players back then were making just an average of $20,000 a year and most had to find jobs in the off-season. He told Dana, “We’ve got to get settled.” “Football was great to me,” he told the Reporter in 1973. “I had a good career and a lot of thrills.”

The Caffeys settled in Rockdale, Texas where he became partners in the Miller Chevrolet-Buick automobile dealership, which became Miller-Caffey Chevrolet. He was also involved in a real estate agency in town and developed both residential and commercial properties. He had already accumulated a lot of land in the Thorndale-Salty area over the years. “It’s really quite a thrill to settle down back in home country,” he said. “There are a lot of new kinds of challenges now.”

Caffey dealt with life after football by ignoring it. “The first couple of years, he just didn’t watch it,” Dana said. “He’d go fishing or go hunting on Sundays. The way he handled it was he didn’t go to games.” The Caffeys finally attended a Houston Oiler game after being invited by good friend Gregg who was now the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals who were in town. He was shocked by what he saw. “I can’t even imagine hitting someone like we used to or even being hit,” he told Dana. “I’d forgotten that part.”

Despite the fact that Caffey has been gone for 14 years and played for the Packers 40 years ago, Dana Caffey is still very much a part of the Packer family. “We all stayed very good friends,” she says. “I talked to Forrest and Barbara (Gregg) just yesterday.” Dana makes a yearly trip back to Green Bay for the alumni game and children Brad and Jennifer have gone with her as well. “When I go up there, they are so good to me,” she said. “They make sure I am included in everything.”

Caffey made a imprint on the game wherever he played. He is included in the Texas A&M Hall of Fame, the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame and was selected to the A&M All-Decade team (1960s) and the 75th Anniversary All-Time Packer team. Not too bad for the boy from Thorndale who just wanted to play basketball.

Rockdale Reporter, Rockdale, Texas
Thursday, August 28, 2008

Saturday, November 07, 2009

No Daylight To Run To

When you have eight defenders against one running back, chances are that the offense will gain no ground. In this Milwaukee home game against Detroit, we can see the following Packer defenders making the stop: Jesse Whittenton (#47), Henry Jordan (#74), Dan Currie (#58), Lionel Aldridge (#62 — before he switched to his later #82), Willie Wood (#24), and Willie Davis (#87). The defending-champion Packers came out on top on this day, 31-10, in front of what appears to be 45,912 damp fans.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Willie Strips the Ball

It’s been a while since the last Packerville update, but we’re going to try to be more faithful in presenting pieces of our vast Green Bay Packers archives for your enjoyment. Today we see the Packers’ Willie Davis (#87) stripping the ball from Baltimore Colts’ RB/QB Tom Matte as linebacker Ray Nitschke (#66) looks on. Note the “old style” helmet that Matte is wearing in this mid-Sixties image from a home game in Green Bay.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Starr & Lombardi — Time Out

We know it’s been a long while since we’ve updated the blog here, and we apologize for the lack of Packers historical photos. There has been a lot going on this Fall, and if you throw in a general case of Blog Burn-Out, that factors in as well. We are back, though, and will try to resume some semblance of regularity in sharing our Green Bay Packers historical collection with you. Today, we have a photo that is not of the best overall quality, but the subject matter is worthy of posting. Quarterback Bart Starr meets with coach Vince Lombardi on the sidelines during the time out of a home game. We never tire of seeing photos of these two giants of Packerville.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Milwaukee Action Against the Rams

Today we see some action from a game at Milwaukee’s County Stadium in the mid-Sixties. Fighting off the Los Angeles Ram blockers are Packers’ linebackers Ray Nitschke (#66), and Lee Roy Caffey (#60), among other unidentified Green Bay defenders. Ironically, the Packers would leave Milwaukee to play all their home games in Green Bay after the 1994 season, which was also the year the Rams would leave Los Angeles for St. Louis.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Back to the Blog, Post-Vikings

Sorry for the month-long break from the Packerville blog. Some of it was because of time spent in Europe, and the rest was due to general laziness and trying to get back into the NFL season after missing the first two weeks. The game last Monday night in Minneapolis was a rough one for all Packer fans to stomach. We’re here to provide some historical perspective on the subject, showing that even a great Hall of Famer like Jim Taylor had his rough moments with the team across the western border. The other bit of history that makes us feel better is that the Vikings’ overall NFL championship trophy case is completely empty. And hopefully, it will stay that way for a long, long time.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Packers-Bears in the late Sixties

Today we see action from a Packers-Bears game at Chicago’s Wrigley Field in the late 1960’s, with the original description from coach Vince Lombardi: “This is the result of good faking by the quarterback and what happens to a middle linebacker when he reacts instead of analyzing first. The back (Donny Anderson, #44) is into the hole and the linebacker (Dick Butkus, #51) is going after the fake by the fullback (Jim Grabowski, #33). The fullback, by the way, has made an excellent block on the defensive tackle.”

Monday, September 07, 2009

Taylor Leads Horning

Today’s photo doesn’t need a whole lot of commentary — just a great shot of fullback Jim Taylor (#31) leading halfback Paul Hornung (#5) following a handoff from quarterback Bart Starr. Three Pro Football Hall of Famers at work against the Cleveland Browns in the mid-1960’s.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Mercein in the Western Conference Title Game

Today we have a photo of Packers’ running back Chuck Mercein gaining hard-fought yardage in the 1967 Western Conference Championship game in Milwaukee’s County Stadium. Mercein played in 22 games for Green Bay from 1967-1969. In the game he’s pictured in today, he scored on a six yard run in the third quarter, contributing to the Packers’ 28-7 victory. The win propelled the team into the storied “Ice Bowl” NFL Championship Game eight days later.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Taylor Against the Vikings

All Green Bay fans have one eye on the Minnesota Vikings this year for obvious reasons. In the middle 1960’s, Packers running back Jim Taylor (#31) had his eyes on the Vikings with one purpose in mind — to get past them for as much yardage as he could, and maybe score a couple of touchdowns in the process. And if he put the hurt on them as well, then it was icing on the cake.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Anderson at Work vs. Rams

Green Bay Packers’ running back Donny Anderson takes the handoff from quarterback Bart Starr in this probable 1967 game vs. the Los Angeles Rams. If indeed it is from 1967, then it is most likely the December 23rd Western Conference Championship played in Milwaukee County Stadium. Longtime guard Jerry Kramer (#64) executes a block in the general direction that Anderson will head after securing the ball.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Roadrunner

Today we feature Green Bay running back Travis WIlliams, nicknamed “the roadrunner.” Williams came to the Packers from Arizona State University to play for the team from 1967-1970. Though he was there a short time, he is remembered fondly by those who watched him play. Unfortunately, he fell on hard times later in life. The following is from his obituary in the New York Times in 1991:

“Travis Williams, who wrestled with homelessness, poverty, and alcohol after setting records as a kick returner with the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League, died of heart failure Sunday. He was 45 years old. Mr. Williams died in Martinez, Calif., near his hometown of Richmond, Calif., after suffering from liver and kidney problems for a long time, said his daughter Marla Williams.

Mr. Williams returned four kickoffs for touchdowns in his rookie season with the Packers in 1967, setting an N.F.L. record that still stands. He returned two in one game that season against the Cleveland Browns to tie a league record. He played four seasons with the Packers. A knee injury prevented him from playing in 1972 and ended his career.

Mr. Williams returned to California and held a series of jobs: collecting junk, driving trucks, working as a bouncer and as a security guard. Marla Williams said her father became increasingly depressed in recent years, and joined the ranks of people living on the streets. Mr. Williams is survived by four sons and four daughters.”

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Back to Work, Fellas...

Seen leaving the short break of the team huddle today are Forrest Gregg (#75), Boyd Dowler (#86), Jerry Kramer (#64), Bob Hyland (#50), and a glimpse of Gale Gillingham (#68) in this scene from a 1967 home game. These gentlemen blocked the Packers to their third consecutive NFL championship that December in the famous “Ice Bowl,” and their second consecutive Super Bowl victory in Miami.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Golden Boy

A fine portrait image of Hall of Fame Packers running back Paul Hornung is our subject for today. In the words of coach Vince Lombardi: “Hornung was the ideal player to run the sweep. He had good speed, strong legs, a deceptive gait, could throw well, and he had the intelligence or “feel” to cut at the right time. Hornung was a super player and, in my book, the best money player I ever coached. At midfield he was a good back, but inside that 20, where you have to score, he was just the greatest at getting those points. He smelled the goal line. And, in those key games against the Colts and the Bears and the Lions, he always had good days. He always killed the Colts — in one game he scored 35 points; in another, five touchdowns!”

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Another Halfback Option Play

Today we have another action photo of the Packers’ halfback option play, this time involving Donny Anderson (#44) who joined the team as a draft choice out of Texas Tech in 1966. Anderson would play in 84 games for the team from Northern Wisconsin through the 1971 season.

This image is from the exhibition season of 1967, when the Pittsburgh Steelers came to Green Bay on August 12th. In this night-time contest at Lambeau Field, the Packers prevailed by a score of 31-20 in front of 50,861 fans. In those days, each team played six preseason games, sometimes at sites where there were no NFL teams — such as Portland, Oregon, Bangor Maine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Nowadays, the League is in discussion with its owners to eventually pare the current preseason games down to two, while playing an 18-game regular season. We believe it will happen sooner rather than later.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hornung & Gregg — Halfback Option

After a day off because of general busyness this week, we’re back with an image of Packer greats Paul Hornung (#5) and Forrest Gregg (#75). They’re in the midst of running the halfback option, as they’re turning upfield on what was hopefully to be a long gain. Below, we see the play as diagrammed by the Green Bay head coach in his “Vince Lombardi on Football” book.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Jim Grabowski Looks for Daylight

Jim Grabowski played collegiately at the University of Illinois and professionally for the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears, and served as an analyst on University of Illinois football radio broadcasts for nearly 30 years. Grabowski attended the University of Illinois out of Taft High School in Chicago. At Illinois, Grabowski was a star running back, and was named Associated Press All-American in both 1964 and 1965. As a sophomore, Grabowski was named Most Valuable Player of the 1964 Rose Bowl, having led the Fighting Illini to 17-7 victory over the University of Washington. Grabowski received many awards and recognitions after his senior season in 1965, including finishing third in the Heisman Trophy voting, being named The Sporting News co-player of the year and Back of the Year by the Washington Touchdown Club, and receiving the Chicago Tribune Silver Football as the Big Ten Most Valuable Player. Grabowski finished as the all-time leader in rushing yards in Big Ten history. Grabowski was also an outstanding student at the University of Illinois, having been named GTE Academic All-American in 1964 and 1965, and graduated with a degree in finance in 1966.

After graduation, Grabowski was selected in the first round of the 1966 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers, with the ninth overall selection. He was also taken as the first overall pick in the 1966 American Football League Draft, by the Miami Dolphins. Grabowski went on to play five seasons for the Packers, and finished his professional career by playing a single season for the Chicago Bears in 1971. Over his six seasons in the NFL, Grabowski rushed for 1,731 yards and scored 11 touchdowns (8 rushing, 3 receiving).

Grabowski is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, inducted in 1995. He has also been inducted into the GTE Academic All-American Hall of Fame and the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame. Additionally, Grabowski was named to the University of Illinois "All-Century" team. Grabowski broadcast Illinois football games as an analyst for nearly 30 years, and retired after the 2006-2007 season.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ben Wilson Busts Through

A running back who played one year with the Green Bay Packers — 1967 — is the subject of today’s photo. Ben Wilson, drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the 5th round of the 1962 draft (out of USC), played four years on the West coast before joining the Packers in Lombardi’s last season as head coach. In that single season in Green Bay, Wilson rushed for 453 yards on 103 carries — scoring two touchdowns — and caught 14 passes for 88 yards. He also started at running back for Green Bay in Super Bowl II against the Oakland Raiders in Miami, Florida. The action above is from the Packers-New York Giants game from October 22, 1967 at Yankee Stadium. The Packers dominated the Giants that day by a score of 48-21.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Starr Hands Off to Anderson

In a photo that appears to be from September 25, 1966, Packers quarterback Bart Starr has just handed off the ball to running back Donny Anderson in a game at Lambeau Field. The Packers were victorious that day, 24-13 in front of 50,861 fans. Offensive guard Gale Gillingham (#68) is also seen proceeding down the field in search of a block.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fleming Blocks for Hornung

Green Bay Packers and NFL Hall of Famer Paul Hornung is seen today “keying the block of the Y end, who drives that linebacker in the direction he wants to go,” in the words of Vince Lombardi. We will be featuring photos and information from the book “Vince Lombardi on Football” for the near future. The book was published as a two-volume set and as a combined single volume later. We have both versions in the “Packerville” archives. The single volume currently being used was published in 1973.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Midwest Shrine Game Cordiality

On a black day in current Green Bay Packers history, we ignore the present to delve into the past as therapy. At a Midwest Shrine game at Milwaukee County Stadium, Chicago Bears coach George Halas and Packers’ coach Vince Lombardi exchange pleasantries before the contest begins.

The first Midwest Shrine Game was held September 10, 1950 at Wisconsin State Fair Park. 17,191 fans saw the Packers coached by Gene Ronzani defeat the Baltimore Colts on a last-minute 23-yard field goal by Ted Fritsch. The score was 16-14. Credit for the Packers playing pre-season exhibitions sponsored by Tripoli Temple goes to the late Potentate Herbert L. Mount. Working with Green Bay management headed at that time by Dominic Olejniczak, he not only arranged for the games to be played, but to have a portion of the proceeds contributed to the Shriners’ Hospitals. To date, the series has raised more than $3.1 million for the Midwest Shrine’s burn centers and hospitals. The Shriners’ facilities provide specialized medical services, helping children with birth defects and other injuries, at absolutely no cost.

Green Bay played host to the Cleveland Browns this past Saturday night in the 60th annual Upper Midwest Shrine Game, one of the NFL's longest team traditions. The Packers prevailed 17-0. The team’s overall record in the Shrine Game is 31-26-3. The games were played in Milwaukee from 1950-82, 1984-94; all others have been since played in Green Bay.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Willie Davis on the Prowl

After more days off from the blog than we anticipated, we’re back today with an image of Green Bay legendary defensive lineman Willie Davis eyeing the Lions’ quarterback in an early 1960’s game. Davis, of course, is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, and the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame. He also currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Packers as well.

Part of the reason that the blog has been idle is that we attended the Green Bay-Cleveland preseason game on Saturday night. It was a night of good football, a Packer victory, and beautiful weather in the greatest stadium and NFL city on God’s earth.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Packers Still Get Attention

We turn our focus today to the modern-day Packers, and an advertisement in the August 10th issue of Sports Illustrated. Many thought the team would drop off the face of the earth in the post-Brett Favre era, but we see that Gatorade, the NFL, and the NFL Players Association still recognize Green Bay’s Training Camp as the ideal example of the new season’s start. In the ad, defensive end Michael Montgomery works on his footwork agility drills as his fellow linemen await their turn behind him.

The new season starts this Saturday night at Lambeau Field against the Cleveland Browns. Your “Packerville” editor will be attending the game in what hopefully will be beautiful weather. The annual “Family Night” scrimmage last Saturday evening was not so lucky — being cancelled because of severe weather and lightning in the area.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Herb Adderley in Action

Herb Adderley played cornerback for the Green Bay Packers from 1961-1969. A talented athlete from Michigan State, Adderley also returned kickoffs and some punts through his career. Today’s image, another from our recent trip to Green Bay, appears to be a return of some sort in a Milwaukee County Stadium game from an unspecified year. When his career in Titletown was over — a career which saw him win five world titles with the Packers — he played for the Dallas Cowboys from 1970-1972, winning a ring with that team for their victory in Super Bowl VI.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dowler Punts One Away

While Packers’ great Boyd Dowler was known as an exemplary wide receiver in Vince Lombardi’s “Glory Days” offense, he also handled the punting role from 1960-1962. He and fellow receiver Max McGee shared these duties for those three years, after which neither kicked for the team again. This is another from the series of photos of an “away” game in the early Sixties, which we can now — based upon this photo — pinpoint down to the years of 1961 or 1962. It cannot be from 1960, since the Packers’ helmets did not have the “G” logo until 1961.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Coach Lombardi Before Super Bowl I

Coach Vince Lombardi is seen in today’s blog posting during pre-game warm-ups before Super Bowl I, known at the time as “the first AFL-NFL championship game.” Lombardi, by many accounts, was very nervous before the game and felt the pressure of the other NFL owners to beat the younger, upstart league. He must have felt quite relieved after the contest ended with a Green Bay victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Ray Nitschke on the Bench

Today we have the third in a series of images from a mid-Sixties away game that we’ve been featuring. Linebacker and NFL/Packer legend Ray Nitschke (#66) gets a rest on the sidelines as the offense works on the field. To Nitschke’s left (and your right) is linebacker Lee Roy Caffey (#60), who played for the team from 1964-69.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Key Offensive Players Rest

In what appears to be the second image from the same game as the earlier photo of Tom Moore and Fred “Fuzzy” Thurston, today we have an image of some more key offensive players. Taking a breather on the bench, but still keeping a keen interest in the defense’s play are quarterback Bart Starr (#15), receiver Boyd Dowler (#86), and running back Jim Taylor (#31).

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Classic Bart Starr

The Green Bay starting quarterback from 1960 to 1970, Bryan Bartlett Starr was an icon of pro football in the Sixties. As Vince Lombardi's quarterback, Starr's Packers won NFL Championships in the 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, and 1967 seasons. Following the NFL championships in 1966 and 1967, he led the Packers to convincing victories over the champions of the rival AFL in the first two Super Bowls and was named the Most Valuable Player of both games. He is the only player to quarterback a team to five NFL championships.

Starr was drafted in the 17th round of the NFL Draft in 1956, out of the University of Alabama. He was a backup to Tobin Rote in 1956 and split time with Babe Parilli until 1959, Vince Lombardi's first year as Packers coach. In that season, Lombardi pulled starter Lamar McHan in favor of Starr, and he held the starting job henceforth. In just two seasons, Starr led his team to NFL Championships in 1961 and 1962. In 1966, Starr was named the NFL's Most Valuable Player by the Associated Press (AP), the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) and UPI. Starr was responsible for calling plays when he was quarterback, as was the norm at the time. Starr's playing career ended at the conclusion of the 1971 season.