Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Pick Is In

The First Round of the 2011 N.F.L. Draft has come to a close with the reigning champion Green Bay Packers picking last at #32. They have chosen Offensive Tackle Derek Sherrod from Mississippi State University.

Here is some background information on the newest addition to the champions in Titletown, USA: “Born in Chula Vista, California, Sherrod attended Caledonia High School in Caledonia, Mississippi, where he was a four-year starter on the offensive line and three-year regular on the defensive side of the ball. He allowed just one quarterback sack during his senior season and was credited with 32 pancake blocks, while also making 79 tackles on defense, with six quarterback sacks and four fumble recoveries. Sherrod was a first-team All-State selection in Class 3A by the Mississippi Association of Coaches at offensive tackle.

Regarded as a four-star recruit, he was listed as the No. 13 offensive tackle prospect of the class of 2007. He chose Mississippi State over Florida, Miami (Fla.), Notre Dame, Michigan, Louisville and Ole Miss. In his true freshman year, Sherrod played in all but two games (11 of 13) during regular season. As a sophomore, he became a starter in the finale 11 games for the Bulldogs at left tackle, after missing the season opener due to injury and not starting in Week 2. In his junior season, Sherrod started all 12 games at left tackle and helped pave the way for Mississippi State to lead the Southeastern Conference in rushing, with running back Anthony Dixon recording 1,391 yards for the season (a new MSU single-season rushing record).

Sherrod graduated in August 2010 with a bachelor's degree in business with a focus on financial risk management, insurance and financial planning, with a 3.54 grade point average. He was a finalist for the NCAA's 2010 William V. Campbell Trophy, commonly called the "Academic Heisman." Welcome, Derek.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Prepare to Hurt

How would you like to have been a young, inexperienced, back-up QB back in the 1960’s, and this is who you see as you step under center? The inimitable Willie Davis.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Nitschke Auction Held This Week

This week in Dallas, Texas (reminder: site of the Packers’ Super Bowl XLV victory!), Green Bay legendary LB Ray Nitschke’s son put several of No. 66’s items up for auction. Rich Nitschke said that “I just had a bunch of excess stuff. Not really excess, I just had nowhere to put it up. Rather than storing it, it seemed like a really good time to auction it off with the Packers winning (Super Bowl XLV).” If you’d like to read the whole article, please go here. And now we’d like to share the items that were sold at the auction:

Early 1980's Ray Nitschke Personal NFL Alumni Jacket. One can only imagine how many times Ray Nitschke stood in front of his Hall of Fame peers at Canton's annual luncheon, which was held the day before each induction ceremony, in this exact NFL Alumni jacket. It could be argued that no player understood the importance of being enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame more than Nitschke, so it can easily be presumed that the offered piece was most likely one of the most significant from all items the former Green Bay Packers linebacker cherished through the years.

1978 Ray Nitschke Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame Ring. Anyone who has ever attended the annual Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame induction banquet at Lambeau Field will agree that the highly respected organization definitely understands how to properly honor its former players and fans. That was exactly the same type of warm welcome Ray Nitschke received in 1978 when he was enshrined into that special place on Lombardi Avenue.

1977 Ray Nitschke Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame Induction Plaque. The legendary Vince Lombardi said it best - "He's the rowdy of this team and the whipping boy," coach Vince Lombardi wrote in his autobiography about star linebacker Ray Nitschke. "He can take it. He is a big, rough, belligerent, fun-loving guy with a heart as big as all outdoors. You don't improve him...he improves himself." Offered here is one of the most significant pieces that summed up Nitschke's storied 15-season NFL career, his Packers Hall of Fame induction presentational plaque.

1976-98 Ray Nitschke Personal License Plates Lot of 10. There are few non-sports related items that directly tie to a professional sports star more than their automobiles. Offered here is an intriguing collection of ten original Wisconsin and Illinois license plates from the "Ray Nitschke Collection."

1974 Ray Nitschke "Best Pro Linebacker of Two Decades" Touchdown Club Presentational Tray. It's pretty much unheard of in today's NFL, but Ray Nitschke played in three different decades, 1958-72, all for the same team. The heart and soul of the Green Bay Packers throughout the entire Vince Lombardi reign, Nitschke was presented this gorgeous award from the "Touchdown Club of Columbus" for being named "Best Pro Linebacker of Two Decades."

1963 Ray Nitschke "Outstanding Player" Midwest Shrine Game Silver Presentational Trophy. Sponsored by Tripoli Temple, the Green Bay Packers and Shriners Hospitals have hosted the Midwest Shrine Exhibition Preseason Game since 1950. To date, the series has raised more than $3.1 million dollars for the Midwest Shrine's burn centers and hospitals. Offered here is Ray Nitschke's silver presentational bowl he won as "Outstanding Player" of the 1963 Midwest Shrine Game, between the Packers and Chicago Bears.

1966 World Champion Green Bay Packers Silver Tea Set. The year 1966 was, without question, one of Ray Nitschke and the Green Bay Packers' most noteworthy seasons. During training camp of that special season, countless number of football experts predicted that the "Green and Gold" would win the World Championship, again under the legendary head coach Vince Lombardi. But the Dallas Cowboys had other ideas. The Cotton Bowl was the site of the 1966 NFL Championship game, and it took every bit of Green Bay's effort, and a late game-saving interception of the Cowboys' Don Meredith by the Packers' Tom Brown to clinch the game, propelling the team into the first Super Bowl. Again, nobody expected the Packers to fall to the Kansas City Chiefs in the first "Big Game," but with those lofty expectations came heavy pressure for Lombardi and his players. Nevertheless, the Packers prevailed in the first AFC/NFC showdown, in front of the Los Angeles Coliseum and large television audience, and the rest is history.

1967 Ray Nitschke "Top Linebacker in Football" Touchdown Club Presentational Silver Tray. It doesn't seem possible, but Ray Nitschke was voted to only one Pro Bowl during his 15 year Hall of Fame career. It simply doesn't make sense, however the "Touchdown Club of Columbus" got it right in 1967, when the notable organization named Nitschke as the "Top Linebacker in Football," as is evident from this one-of-a-kind offering.

1970 Ray Nitschke Game Worn, Signed Green Bay Packers Jersey. Fellow Green Bay Packers Hall of Famer Bart Starr once characterized this hard-nosed middle linebacker as the "classic example of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," a gentle giant off the field who conversely took great pleasure in doling out bone-crushing punishment to opposing ball carriers. This classic example of a late-career green Durene gamer from the 1978 Canton inductee convincingly illustrates Nitschke's rough brand of play, 13 very sizable team repairs and one large unrepaired hole, indicating hundreds of downs worth of collisions under the rule of Lombardi-successor Phil Bengston.

1973 Ray Nitschke Game Worn Green Bay Packers Jersey. Most Likely the Last Home Jersey Ever Worn by Nitschke! Amazingly, and extremely historic, this is the final home jersey ever worn by the legendary Ray Nitschke.

1973 Ray Nitschke Game Worn Green Bay Packers Jersey. Most Likely the Last Away Jersey Ever Worn by Nitschke! The late Ray Nitschke was the inspirational leader for more than a decade of one of the greatest defenses ever assembled, the 1960's Green Bay Packers. As a middle linebacker and defensive signal caller, he seemed to be in on every play - the run, the blitz, the intermediate passing game, etc. He was a warrior supreme and this late career road jersey is emblematic of his ferocious play.

1962 Green Bay Packers Team Signed Football. NFL Championship Season! Originating directly from the Green Bay Packers' historic 1962 NFL Championship season, this is one of the most complete and high-quality team-signed balls we have ever seen from the famed "Green and Gold." Dated directly to the historic year, which is what some experts refer to as Vince Lombardi's best season, players such as Bill Quinlan and Gary Barnes only played for the Packers through 1962, and the fact that each players' signatures are on this example, definitively dates this piece to that historic year.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Waiting on a Ring

One of the casualties of this prolonged labor struggle is the design for the Green Bay Packers’ Super Bowl XLV championship ring. The team’s front office wants to involve some of the veteran players in the design process, and since neither side is allowed to talk until the lockout is settled, the rings are on hold. Until then, we thought maybe our readers would like to see close-up photos of the Packers’ three earlier Super Bowl rings. We hope everyone has a blessed Easter weekend.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Norm Masters Passes Away

Former offensive lineman Norman Masters (No. 78, above) has died of cancer in Michigan at the age of 77. Masters played for Green Bay under head coaches Lisle Blackbourn, Scooter McLean, and Vince Lombardi from 1957-1964. He was on two world championship teams (1961 & 1962). Read a more complete story in the Green Bay Press-Gazette here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

2011 Schedule Released!

As we go through the strange offseason here after our World Championship, we’re blogging periodically and hope that our readers across the planet are not stressing out too much about the lockout. Today, right on schedule, the N.F.L. released its 2011 schedule of games. Above is the Packers’ schedule for this Fall. They play the first game against the Saints at Lambeau on a Thursday night, and along the way to a possible repeat, will play on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Whew. So much for relaxing holidays. We have made our Green Bay hotel accommodations this evening (less than a half hour after the schedule was released — which you have to do for Packers’ games), and the labor troubles didn’t seem to dampen the usual crush for lodging in Titletown, according to our long-time hotel. We’re optimistic that things will get done between the owners and the players, and we’ll have games in five-plus months.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Bart Sells Insurance... in Indiana?

Again courtesy of LIFE magazine, today we have an ad we’ve never come across before. It’s Green Bay Packers’ legendary QB Bart Starr as a spokesman for the Independent Insurance Agents of Indiana, Inc. This is from the December 26, 1969 issue, which was at the end of a season where Starr threw less passes than his back-up, Don Horn, and the team finished with a 8-6-0 record. The “Glory Days” were indeed over by this time.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bring Boyd To Your House

The Packers’ on-field fortunes took a nose dive starting in 1968, but a year later, stars such as Boyd Dowler were still marketable for endorsements. Here we see the Green Bay receiver featured in an ad for Sports Illustrated in the August 22, 1969 issue of LIFE magazine.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Perils of Gambling

In 1963, the Packers’ Paul Hornung and the Lions’ Alex Karras were suspended for one season because of their involvement in gambling. Today we have the one-page coverage as presented in LIFE magazine’s issue from April 26th of that year. There’s a lesson to be learned here, kids.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Curly Throws a Fit

In another page from a LIFE magazine issue of yesteryear, today we see a newsworthy item from September 11, 1950. Lambeau had left Green Bay on terms that were not exactly harmonious, and went to Chicago to coach the Cardinals. As the photo caption states, his return to Green Bay wasn’t exactly a fun experience for him.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Packers “Tabloid News” in ’67

Packers’ HB Paul Hornung was the subject of a bit of “news” a few weeks after Super Bowl I in the LIFE magazine issue for February 3, 1967. Seems he had just tied the knot and it was something that the entire country should’ve known about — given his status as a “playboy” in those times. At least he wasn’t involved in a scandal for leaving inappropriate phone messages for a team staff member. We’re sure Lombardi would’ve loved the media attention for something like that, even though Paul was one of his favorites.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Don Hutson Sells Jockeys

It isn’t just the players of today that are rewarded with product endorsement contracts for their on-field star status. Today we see that Green Bay legendary receiver Don Hutson was chosen to represent Jockey Underwear in this classic ad from the October 22, 1945 issue of LIFE magazine.

Monday, April 04, 2011

More From Green Bay

Now for a little pictorial essay on our trip to Green Bay on Saturday. Above is a flag hanging in the Pro Shop. We may have to add it to our flag rotation outside Packerville, U.S.A. headquarters this Fall.

There were a lot of people hanging out, shopping, eating, etc, all day on Saturday. An encouraging sight, seeing as how the baseball season opened a couple of days earlier. Football isn’t usually on everyone’s minds this time of year.

We hope the current lockout situation doesn’t mean the fans are locked out of these stadium gates come September.

The Lambeau Field concourse sits quiet and empty this time of year.

Looking out the Lambeau Atrium wall of windows to the nice sunny day outside.

No activity was seen in the Packers’ corporate offices on the third and fourth floors.

“Welcome to Lambeau Field.” There aren’t many other words in the English language that go together so well. One other would be “Super Bowl XLV Champions.”

Full tours were taking place all day at Lambeau.

Just another view of the Atrium in April.

A couple of the houses facing Lambeau Field across Lombardi Avenue have their messages for all to see.

The Training Camp practice facility — Ray Nitschke Field — will hopefully be used this year. It looks pretty lonely right now.

A view of Lambeau from the West, along Ridge Road.

Now, what’s going on here? Why are we looking at this view? Well, take a look at the tiny grandstand set up outside the South end of the stadium.

From the Green Bay Press-Gazette recently: “The Packers will go forward with their plans to expand the Lambeau Field bowl seating area, although it wouldn’t likely be ready until the 2013 season at the earliest. This winter, the team built a small set of experimental bleachers outside the stadium. They were equipped with a heating device that would melt snow. Because of the way the new seats would be configured in the South end zone, shoveling them out after a snow storm would be difficult. “We wanted to test whether it could take on a snowstorm, and it worked really well,” said Packers vice president of administration Jason Wied. Wied said the team is committed to expanding the stadium with outdoor seats and not club or luxury seating. “I think ideally we would begin working on them in the next two to three years,” Wied said. “They would be ready for fans in three or four years.”

This is extremely good news to those of us who are low on the full season ticket package waiting list. We are at #2,654 out of 87,000+.

A look at some of the drainage system for the removal of snow.

Presumably some of the heating system to melt the snow.

No visuals have been released, but here is our approximation of where the new seats will be. Good news... very good news, indeed!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Helping Titletown’s Economy

On Saturday, we headed up to Green Bay for a bit of a Super Bowl XLV shopping trip for the archives. One would think that on the weekend of major league baseball’s opening season, with an N.F.L. lockout happening, and it generally being Spring and time to get out and work in the yard, etc., that Lambeau Field would be a ghost town. Not so, we’re happy to report! The Packers Pro Shop was very busy, and there were continuous groups taking stadium tours. Most of the time, there were at least 300 people milling about in the Lambeau Atrium and Pro Shop. Above is our haul of loot from the day, after visiting the Pro Shop and a couple of other Packers’ memorabilia shops. We were happy to find two large photos of Aaron Rodgers from after the XLV game, a few more commemorative magazines, two Super Bowl-related DVD’s, a great new Aaron Rodgers book, the game programs from the Philadelphia and Chicago playoff games, a commemorative football, a great four Super Bowl titles hat, and a couple of other items. All in all, a very enjoyable day spent in Titletown. Tomorrow, we’ll feature photos of something else we found — one that could have momentous impact on those of us who are low on the “Green Package” season tickets waiting list.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Silent Film Footage

As we often say, you never know what you will find on the handy ol’ internet. We came across this footage which unfortunately has no narration or sound, but offers some unseen game action from 1960. The original description states: “Department of Defense. Department of the Army. Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations. U.S. Army Audiovisual Center. 1960 — Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49'ers playing football game on muddy field. Paul Hornung scores all 13 points for Green Bay. Green Bay playing Chicago Bears in 1960. Paul Hornung sets all-time scoring record. Philadelphia Indoor Games (track and field meet) in February 1961. Henry Wadsworth, Don Bragg, and Jack Yerman star. The New York Yankees, New York Mets, and the San Francisco Giants baseball teams during spring training in 1962.” Once it gets to the baseball footage, there is sound. Anyway, a good historical snapshot of a bygone era in several sports.

Today, we decided that we needed to head to Green Bay to scope out some more Super Bowl XLV memorabilia, so that’s what we did. We’ll hopefully share some of that and some photos, etc. tomorrow.