Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Taylor Heads Upfield

We’re in Philadelphia’s Franklin Field today for a game against their sometime Eastern Conference opponents, and Forrest Gregg has just helped spring Jim Taylor upfield for a sizable gain. Green Bay only played in this stadium twice — in the years 1960 (a loss in the N.F.L. title game) and 1962. The Eagles played there from 1958-1970, but since they were in the other conference, the teams rarely met. It is currently the home of the University of Pennsylvania ’s football program.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

’65 Western Conference Championship

Because the Green Bay Packers (10-3-1) and Baltimore Colts (10-3-1) ended up tied in the Western Conference standings after the regular season ended, a conference playoff game was held in Green Bay. Although the Packers had defeated the Colts in both of their games in 1965 — including a meeting just two weeks before — there were no tiebreaking rules at the time. In the playoff game, both Colts starting quarterback Johnny Unitas and backup Gary Cuozzo could not play, so Baltimore was forced to use Tom Matte, normally a running back, as the starting quarterback.

Baltimore held a 10-0 halftime lead, scoring 21 seconds into the game when linebacker Don Shinnick returned a Bill Anderson fumble 25 yards for a touchdown. Bart Starr, in pursuit, injured his ribs on the play, Green Bay's first from scrimmage. Zeke Bratkowski replaced Starr for the balance of the afternoon, completing 22-of-39 passes for 248 yards. The Packers moved to within 10-7 in the third quarter when Paul Hornung scored on a 1-yard run, setting the stage for Chandler's heroics.

Chandler's first field goal, a game-tying 22-yarder with 1:58 in regulation, remains controversial. Baltimore loyalists, led by coach Don Shula, claimed it sailed wide right. The kick, which flew high above the upright, actually triggered the league to extend the goal posts' height for the following season. Chandler’s game-winning field goal (seen above), at 13:39 of sudden death, ended the Packers' first-ever overtime game, and their only such playoff contest until 2003. His 25-yard kick sent Green Bay to the N.F.L. championship.

We now present Sports Illustrated’s coverage of the 1965 Western Conference Playoff:

Then, there was a preview of the coming N.F.L. title game with the Cleveland Browns:

Another interesting tidbit in the magazine that issue was the above story on future Packer running back Donny Anderson.

For your reference, the cover of the issue featured the recently completed college bowl games after the 1965 NCAA season.

After the game, a delighted head coach Vince Lombardi congratulates kicker Don Chandler in the Lambeau Field locker room.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Conferring with The Coach

We go back to the early 1960’s today to see Packers’ defensive back John Symank talking with head coach Vince Lombardi on the sideline during a home game in either 1961 or ’62. Symank came to Green Bay in the pre-Lombardi days from the University of Florida. He was discovered by the legendary Packers’ scout Jack Vainisi, and the team selected Symank in the twenty-third round (268th pick overall) of the 1957 NFL Draft. He was fortunate to play in three N.F.L. title games with Green Bay and was on the winning side in two of them — in his final two seasons with the club.

From his official website, we take this text:

“Perhaps Vince Lombardi described John Symank best in his 1963 book Run To Daylight. “He is only 5-11 and at 180 pounds he is the lightest man on this squad. Compared with the others he looks like a baseball infielder, but he is a football player. The Packers drafted him out of the University of Florida in 1957 and that year he was fourth in the league in interceptions. Last year he had the highest interception-return yardage and best kickoff-return average on this club… There is no actor in Symank. He is serious and intense, and in a game he would just as soon break your leg as not. He has made it in this league because he gets a great deal more out of himself than his ability and size justify, and I wish I could say that about all the rest of them. Many of them will rise for one game or two, but John gets the maximum out of himself in every game, and if I had thirty-five others like him I would have a far better team than I have.”

In 1963 Symank was traded along with Bill Quinlan to the New York Giants. Before Symank ever wore a Giants uniform, he was traded again to the Cardinals where he played his final season under a 9-5 Wally Lemm.

If you’d like to learn more about him, go to his website through the link above. There are a lot of photos from his Packer days, and more about his career in football after his playing days were over.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

1962 Champs in S.I.

We’ve got another more extensive blog entry today, with Sports Illustrated’s coverage of the Packers’ 1962 N.F.L. championship game with the New York Giants. At that time, Kennedy was in the White House, we’d survived a nose-to-nose face off with the Russians over missiles in Cuba, and your Packerville editor was born. But all that pales in comparison to the fact that Green Bay won their second — and second consecutive — title under the leadership of head coach Vince Lombardi. Enjoy the contemporary coverage of this great event in the Packers’ history.

Lastly, while the Packers-Giants’ game coverage was inside, on the cover was S.I.’s “Sportsman of the Year” — Oregon State University’s quarterback Terry Baker. He is most notable for winning the 1962 Heisman Trophy and playing in the Final Four in the same year. To date, he is the only person to have both won a Heisman Trophy and played in the Final Four.

After graduation, Baker entered the 1963 N.F.L. Draft and was the first overall pick, by the Los Angeles Rams. Baker played with the Rams for three seasons, and later played for the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League while earning a degree at the University of Southern California Law School. He is considered the first of many Heisman trophy busts in the N.F.L., mainly due to his style of play not fitting into the Rams' offensive scheme. This could also be attributed to the fact that the head coach of the L.A. Rams often had Baker lining up as a running back. It is also widely accepted that Baker was ahead of his time as a dual threat quarterback

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Forrest and Max

A look back in time allows us to join Packer legends Forrest Gregg and Max McGee on the Lambeau Field sideline in this undated 1960’s photograph. It looks to be a late Fall day as they watch their defensive teammates take it to the opposition, more likely than not. Gregg played through the 1970 season, while McGee retired after the 1967 season — Lombardi’s last in Green Bay. The head coaching ranks called to Gregg afterwards, where he served three teams — Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Green Bay. McGee, of course, was a success in business, being a major partner in the development of the Chi Chi’s chain of restaurants. He is also well-known among long-time listeners of the Packer Radio Network as the color commentator on Green Bay games with Jim Irwin for many years.

Friday, June 25, 2010

1966 Season-Opener

Digging back into our archives of media photos after a day off from the blog, we find a couple of shots of head coach Vince Lombardi walking off the field following a 24-3 victory in the 1966 season-opener. The Packers started their campaign towards the N.F.L. championship that year by playing the Baltimore Colts in Milwaukee County Stadium on Saturday night, September 10th. Apparently, the league scheduled one game the night before the rest of the teams played to garner more television attention — and they included the defending champions to attract viewers. The same strategy is used these days with the first game of the season played on the Thursday before the grind starts for everyone else.

Here are some facts from that game:

• Linebacker Lee Roy Caffey scored on a 52-yard interception runback.

• Defensive back Bob Jeter also scored on a 46-yard interception runback.

• Quarterback Bart Starr ran eight yards for another touchdown.

• 48,650 fans enjoyed the game in 63-degree weather.

Lombardi was presented the game ball by the players after the victory, which he seems to be savoring while heading to the locker room.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Visit to Old County Stadium

We are visiting Milwaukee County Stadium this time, with a lengthy posting from the 1976 N.F.L. Films production “Six Days to Sunday.” From November 1 to November 7, 1976, N.F.L. Films kept its eye on the New Orleans Saints as they struggled to find their winning ways and prepared to travel to Milwaukee to face the Green Bay Packers. This project, however, was shot down after the Saints fired head coach Hank Stram after the 1977 season. We have viewed it this week, and are going to present a few scenes from the film. Taking images from streaming video is not the best way to get quality, but we hope you’ll enjoy it anyway.

In his hotel room at the Milwaukee Hilton, New Orleans’ head coach Hank Stram watches the weather report on local television. Perhaps a Milwaukee reader of this blog can pass along who this might be, or what station it was on — WTMJ Channel 4?

We assume this is the station’s sportscaster, who was shown giving a little plug for the game on Sunday.

The usual between-segments banter between the broadcast news staff, which was before the days of female broadcasters — at least on this station in the Milwaukee area.

A shot of the bottom part of the County Stadium scoreboard is used as a lead-in to the game day segment of the film.

A view of the south end zone in the foreground, looking towards the north end which was situated along the third base line.

We’ve never seen the locker rooms at County Stadium depicted, and in this film the cameras are in the visiting Saints’ dressing area before the game.

Coach Hank Stram visits with his players as game time approaches.

He is seen giving his team the traditional “pep talk” before they take the field.

Also interesting to see is the team making its way to the field via the tunnel area shown here and below.

Being a baseball park primarily, the teams take to the field via the dugouts.

The Saints are seen coming out, and it’s interesting to note that the baseball diamond has not been sodded after the season. Not sure why.

Second-year head coach Bart Starr leads his team out of their dugout and onto the field. One other trivia piece about County Stadium is that both teams were on the same sideline, in what was the outfield side. This was to make the game easier to see by those in the lower box seats along the first base line.

Packers’ running back Eric Torkelson (#26) runs with the ball on a first-half play.

And he winds up in the end zone for a touchdown!

On a defensive play, defensive back Johnnie Gray (#24) scoops up a loose ball, as linebacker Fred Carr (#53) looks on.

Green Bay quarterback Lynn Dickey (#10) gets ready to let one fly.

Tight end Rich McGeorge (#81) gets in position to make a reception. Just to the left of the Saints’ linebacker (#58) is where your Packerville U.S.A. editor’s season ticket seats were located.

The reception went for a touchdown, as signaled by the referee here. Behind him are the baseball outfield bleachers, which were along the sideline where both teams stood.

McGeorge celebrates his touchdown with wide receiver Ken Payne (#85).

In the background, the little chalet on top of the beer barrel where “Bernie Brewer” used to slide down after a Brewers’ home run can be seen.

On another play, we can see defensive end Clarence Williams (#83) in on the tackle.

Here’s another shot where we can see most of the outfield and the scoreboard.

The Saints, with quarterback Bobby Douglass (#10) — yes, THAT Bobby Douglass — formerly of the Chicago Bears, are set at the line of scrimmage.

On a tipped ball pass play, Packers’ linebacker Fred Carr grabs the interception and runs it into the south end zone for a Green Bay touchdown!

Carr spikes the ball in celebration.

This was 15 years before the “Lambeau Leap” was invented, but it looks like Carr is preparing to launch himself into the outfield bleachers.

The Packers have prevailed on this November Sunday in their second hometown, Milwaukee.

The clock winds down on a Green Bay victory. They would only win one more game this season — the finale in Atlanta. For the year, they ended up with a 5-9-0 record, which earned them a last place finish in the Central Division.

Two N.F.L. legends shake hands after the game — both head coaches — Bart Starr and Hank Stram. In Super Bowl I, these two opponents met on opposite sides of the ball as well. Stram was the Kansas City Chiefs head coach, while Starr was the Packers’ quarterback and M.V.P. of the game.

Packers’ cornerback Perry Williams (#45) shakes hands with Stram after the game. When was the last time you heard Smith’s name? We thought so.

After the game, Hank Stram answers reporters’ questions somewhere in the bowels of Milwaukee County Stadium.

Steve Sabol of N.F.L. films is the man to thank for letting us see this glimpse into the game as it was in the Seventies.

As much as we love going to games in Lambeau Field in Green Bay, County Stadium still holds a special place in our football hearts.