Sunday, May 30, 2010

“Gentlemen, this is a football”

Your “Packerville” staff is back from the West Coast trip, where travel, relaxation, and irregular internet access limited the updating of this blog last week. We’re here now to get back on a regular schedule.

Back in the days Vince Lombardi, the Green Bay Packers had a most interesting beginning to pre-season training. All the players knew that at the first team meeting, the legendary coach would waste no time getting straight to the point. Many of the men, half Lombardi’s age and twice his size, were openly fearful, dreading the encounter. The coach did not disappoint them, and, in fact, delivered his message in one of the great one-liners of all time. Football in hand, Lombardi walked to the front of the room, took several seconds to look over the assemblage in silence, held out the pigskin in front of him, and said, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” In only five words, Lombardi communicated his point: We’re going to start with the basics and make sure we’re executing all the fundamentals.

In today’s photo, Lombardi appears to be doing the same thing with the assembled media.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Running Sprints in Practice

It’s time for running some sprints in practice today, so line up by positions and go at the sound of the whistle. This quartet of defensive backs in the early Sixties are off and running — Howard Williams, from Howard University (#29), Bob Jeter, from Iowa (#21), and Hank Gremminger, from Baylor (#46). We also believe that the player who is just entering the photo at left is Herb Adderley, from Michigan State (#26). Alright, when you reach the goal line, turn around and we’ll run it again!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Not Much Strategy Needed

In today’s photo, we see Packers quarterback Bart Starr (#15) having a conference with head coach Vince Lombardi during a time out. If our analysis is correct, we believe this is during the 1962 match-up with the Eagles in Philadelphia’s Franklin Field. On that day, it turns out Green Bay didn’t need to put a whole lot of effort into trying to outwit the Eagles, as the visiting Wisconsinites whipped the home team 49-0 in front of 60,671 “City of Brotherly Love” fans. Our guess is that the number of local fans still there at the end of the game was considerably less than the previous figure.

Green Bay opens the 2010 season in Philadelphia this September 12th. 49-0 would be nice, but we’d take something a little closer in score as long as the green and gold come out on top to kick things off nicely this season. We hate the Vikings and Bears the most, but we don’t think there’s much love between Green Bay and Philadelphia lately, either.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Vocal Vince

During a rainy 1964 home game, former player and assistant coach Dave “Hawg” Hanner and head coach Vince Lombardi watch the on-field action, with Vince letting it be known that he’s not all happy with what he sees. Sure would like to have audio of him during the games in those days.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Breaking the Huddle

Heading out of the 1961 or ’62 huddle and to the line of scrimmage for the next play today, we see tackle Forrest Gregg (#75, mostly obscured at left), fullback Jim Taylor (#31), halfback Tom Moore (#25, partially obscured), guard Jerry Kramer (#64), tight end Ron Kramer (#88), and center Jim Ringo (#51).

As a housekeeping note, we’re on the West Coast this week (home of the famous offense it’s named after), visiting three current or former N.F.L. cities — Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco, and we hope to keep the blog mostly updated. If there are a few missed days, then you’ll know why.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The N.F.L. and You — 1964

If you were a football player with the potential of participating at the professional level back in 1964, the N.F.L. sought to convince you to play with them instead of with “that other league” (the A.F.L.), or even the C.F.L. north of the border. You would receive this fine booklet (90 pages) which extolled the many virtues of playing in the world’s oldest and finest organization of professional football franchises.

N.F.L. Commissioner Pete Rozelle, who was in his fifth year on the job, had this to say in the booklet’s introduction.

Before the write-ups on each N.F.L. team, you would’ve read this piece convincing you of what a great opportunity it was to play pro football.

All of the teams that existed in 1964 (14 of them) were given a four-page summary of where they’ve come from and where they’re going in 1964. Here is the section on our beloved Packers, which was marked up by a zealous Green Bay native who corrected some of the data that he thought slighted the town, apparently.

Some of the teams played in different stadiums than they do now, and the Vikings section featured this aerial photo of old Metropolitan Stadium during a Vikings-Packers game in 1963.

The booklet also featured some testimonials from current players, and here is one from Packers quarterback Bart Starr.

And then towards the back there was a section on how playing in the N.F.L. could be a springboard to your post-football business career. Two old-time Packers were featured — Don Hutson (above), and Tony Canadeo (below).

This was a nice page which featured a Packers photo with a listing of all the N.F.L. franchises and their addresses. The Bears were the league champions the previous year, but we see they chose to feature Green Bay here. A fine choice by the league.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame opened its doors the previous year also, and this article tells us a little about it and lists the few players at the end who were enshrined there.

Finally, the back cover was a nice collage of each franchise’s logo as they were in 1964. Some teams should go back to what they had back then, in our opinion.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

John Brockington Then and Now

An All-American running back at Ohio State, John Brockington wasted little time proving himself worthy of the Packers' first pick in the 1971 NFL draft, finding the starting lineup after only his second preseason game. After posting an NFL rookie rushing record 1,105 yards in 1971 — while at the same time nabbing unanimous All-Pro and NFC Rookie of the Year honors — Brockington went on to become the first running back in NFL history to surpass 1,000 yards in each of his first three seasons (seasons consisting of only 14 games), prompting some to compare him to the great Jim Brown.

In just his second year, Brockington helped carry the Packers to the NFC Central Division championship, something they wouldn't do again until 1995. Known mostly for his speed out of the backfield, Brockington also was a first rate blocker as well as a highly capable pass receiver, catching 138 passes for 1,075 yards and three touchdowns throughout his Packers career.

With 5,024 rushing yards, Brockington still remains the third leading rusher in team history, trailing only Ahman Green and Jim Taylor and ranks second with 1,293 attempts behind only Taylor. In six-plus seasons with the Packers, Brockington had 13 games in which he posted 100-yards or more. A three-time Pro Bowler, Brockington was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1984.

In 2001, after a long battle with kidney failure, John received a kidney from his then friend, Diane Scott. They are now married, both in excellent health, and committed to helping others receive a second chance at life through transplantation.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

OTA’s — 1960’s Style

As the Packers begin their “Organized Team Activities” (OTA’s) this week, we see a somewhat relaxed coach Vince Lombardi watching his Green Bay players practice some 40-plus years ago. OTA’s are what we used to call “mini-camps” and will see the team on the field three days a week here for three consecutive weeks. Peter King of Sports Illustrated this week ranked the Packers #1 in the N.F.L. as far as the team most likely to win it all this year. Even he admits its a crap shoot at this point, but we like his optimism.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Bit of Strategy

Taking a break from the lengthy posting of the magazine articles the last few days, today we have a photo of coach Vince Lombardi and quarterback Bart Starr on the sideline talking strategy while the defense is on the field. This is from a home game at City Stadium in probably 1961 or 1962, with guard Jerry Kramer sitting behind and to the immediate right of Starr.

Over the weekend, St. Norbert College in DePere, Wisc. presented Bart and Cherry Starr with Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees in recognition of living as examples of the Norbertine value of service to their community. In 1965, the Starrs played an instrumental role in the founding of Rawhide Ranch, a faith-based, nonprofit, residential care center for troubled teen boys near New London.

The Starrs were invited to serve as honorary chairpersons for the first annual Vince Lombardi Memorial Golf Classic held in 1970 and for the past 40 years, they have worked behind the scenes to help the Vince Lombardi Charitable Fund in its fight against cancer. Their service has been central to raising more than $13 million since Lombardi’s death.

After serving as Green Bay’s head coach from 1975-1983, the Starrs returned to Birmingham, Ala., in 1989, where Cherry Starr has been involved in numerous charitable activities, including the Greater Birmingham Humane Society. They celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary in 2009.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

NFL Champs — 1966

Stepping back a bit further in time, today we have the issue of Sports Illustrated featuring the Packers’ 34-27 win over the Dallas Cowboys in the Cotton Bowl which gave them their second consecutive — and fourth overall — N.F.L. title. It was this win that propelled them into Super Bowl I as featured in yesterday’s installment of Packerville. After the article about Green Bay and Dallas, we’ve also included the four-page story about Kansas City’s 31-7 defeat of the Buffalo Bills for the A.F.L. title. Enjoy the history.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Green Bay on Top of the World

As you’ll gather here at Packerville, U.S.A., one of the main things we are interested in is reading about the Packers as it was reported at the time, without decades of historical perspective since. In that vein, today we hope you’ll enjoy reading about the Packers’ first Super Bowl victory in January 1967 as it was reported in the next issue of Sports Illustrated. On the cover is longtime Green Bay receiver and broadcaster Max McGee, who we lost in an accident at his home in October 2007.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Post-Game with the Media

Today we have a photo of coach Vince Lombardi meeting with the press after a game. Lombardi had a sometimes strained relationship with the media of the time, and seemed to favor members of the press from the larger cities, especially New York. But in time, he recognized the talents of some of those who covered the team in the state of Wisconsin. We wish a lot of these press conferences had been filmed or taped for posterity.