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.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Coach Starr on the Sideline

Today we see head coach Bart Starr on the sidelines during a late season away game in an unknown location. Standing to Starr’s right side is what we have deduced to be defensive back Bill Whitaker (#30), who played for the Packers in 1981-1982. We also believe that back-up quarterback David Whitehurst is at far left in the photo wearing a jacket. Starr would coach Green Bay through the 1983 season, after which he was unceremoniously fired by the team’s president Judge Robert Parins.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Moore and Thurston Take a Breather

In an unidentified “away” game from the mid-Sixties, running back Tom Moore (#25) and offensive guard Fred “Fuzzy” Thurston (#63) take a rest on the Packers’ sideline. The shoulder of running back Elijah Pitts (#22) can be seen almost out of the photo at left. This is the first of several posts that will feature a selection of images obtained by the “Packerville” archives staff on our trip to Packers’ Training Camp this past weekend. We hope you will enjoy the look back in time.

Monday, August 03, 2009

More On the Packer Lumberjack Band

The Lumberjack Band was a marching band who played at Green Bay Packers games. They originally wore plaid flannel jackets, hence the name. The band was formed in 1921, originally made up of a group of volunteers. Throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s, the Lumberjack Band accompanied groups of fans to road games, most notably to games with the Chicago Bears.

“Right from the start, Packers fans got caught up in the spirit of the competition. More than 300 fans, including 22 members of the Lumberjack Band, took a midnight train from Green Bay to Chicago for the first game, played on November 27, 1921. Dressed in corduroy pants, lumberjack shirts, mackinaws, hunting caps, and high boots, the fans marched through The Loop upon their arrival in Chicago early Sunday morning. The band accompanied them, playing “On Wisconsin” and “How Dry I Am,” as they paraded through several downtown hotels before heading to Cubs Park, now Wrigley Field.”

— from The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

In 1931, they first played “Go! You Packers! Go!,” the official fight song of the Green Bay Packers. The Lumberjack Band was a fixture at Packer games, and an integral part of the City Stadium experience. Curly Lambeau was convinced that the band played in a part in many Packer victories. A bandstand was built for the Lumberjack Band at one corner of the field, and early designs for New City Stadium, later renamed Lambeau Field, showed separate stands with a bandstand in one corner, before the decision was made to have a bowl-shaped stadium.

When Vince Lombardi became head coach and general manager, he upgraded the band’s look, saying the traditional flannels did not fit with the team’s new stadium. The band was renamed simply “The Green Bay Packer Band” and was set up in the southwest corner of the field, occasionally seeing “guest appearances” by players running out of bounds. The uniforms changed to green military-style outfits. Wilner Burke directed the band during this period, giving way to Lovell Ives in the late 1970s.

But in the 1990s, the use of recorded music and the airing of advertisements on video screens led to the band’s playing time being cut back. By 1997, the band was disbanded and re-formed as three six-piece bands called the “Green Bay Packers Tailgaters,” which roam the Lambeau Field parking lot before games, playing songs by request for tailgating fans.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Training Camp at Rockwood Lodge

After returning from an evening of watching the 2009 edition of your 12-Time World Champion Green Bay Packers in their Sunday night practice, we thought we’d turn back the clock a bit to Packers’ Training Camp 1940’s-style.

Rockwood Lodge was the training facility of the Packers from 1946 through 1949. It is believed to have been the first self-contained team training facility in pro football history. Located approximately 17 miles north of the city on a limestone bluff overlooking the eponymous Green Bay, the 53-acre complex included player housing and a natural outdoor “amphitheater” in which team meetings were held. The then-extravagant $32,000 purchase by team president and head coach Curly Lambeau was controversial among the team’s board of directors, and contributed to the deteriorating relationship that eventually led to Lambeau's departure.

On January 24, 1950, Rockwood Lodge burned down. One week later, Lambeau resigned his position with the Packers and moved south to coach the Chicago Cardinals. The team eventually received $75,000 from its insurance company.

After Rockwood Lodge, the Packers moved their training camp to Grand Rapids, Minnesota from 1950 through 1953 and then Stevens Point, Wisconsin from 1954-1957 before settling in at St. Norbert College in DePere, Wisconsin, where they house the players during camp to this day.

The grounds of Rockwood Lodge now make up Bay Shore Park.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Get Those Season Tickets Now!

On this opening day of the 2009 Green Bay Packers Training Camp, your “Packerville” staff took the “Legendary Lambeau” two-hour tour of our football shrine this morning. We’ve done the tours before, but wanted to go on this version to see the visiting teams’ locker room.

One of the things we learned is that the waiting list for season tickets is now over 83,000 names long. Although we have the “Gold” ticket package (from when they played games in Milwaukee), we are also on the waiting list for the “Green” package, sitting at just under the 4,000 mark. Hopefully, we’ll have tickets for all 10 home games before we’re too old to attend.

Today’s photo shows an ad for ordering Green Bay Packers season tickets that ran in the Fall of 1947, saying that tickets would be a great gift for the holidays. Only three seasons after their last NFL championship, the team finished 6-5-1 that year, and then dropped to 3-9-0 in ’48. We think that tickets must’ve been even harder to sell following that 1948 campaign.