Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Million Dollars Was A Lot Of Money

From Sports Illustrated, August 22, 1966:

“In Green Bay, Wisconsin, that romantic city lying quaintly by the banks of Holzer's Drug Store, the questions seem as poignant as those on daytime television. Can two young, handsome, adventurous millionaires find true happiness in a town where living it up means buying a new mackinaw? Will the happy people in their colorful regional costumes take them to their bosoms? And what of the old man, Coach Lombardi — Sir? Can he handle it all? Can they? Last week, all of pro football was awaiting the answers as breathlessly as Donny Anderson and Jim Grabowski were awaiting the Wall Street closings.

The interest now centers on Green Bay and one of the more fascinating situations of any year. Green Bay is where that million-dollar pair of rookies, $711,000 Donny (Boom Boom) Anderson of Texas Tech and $355,000 Jim (Grabbo) Grabowski of Illinois, are merely trying to unemploy two of the game's best players, Paul Hornung (also known as Locks, as in Goldi) and Jim Taylor, who just happen to have led the Packers to three NFL championships in five years.

It seems preposterous on the surface — but if so, why did Vince Lombardi spend all that money? Why are Hornung and Taylor in the best shape of their lives? The real question is not whether the rookies will take over, but when.

That day, barring injuries to Hornung and Taylor, will not come tomorrow, next week or next month. In fact, it may not have come even by the end of the 1966 season. But the battle is on, a complex entanglement of abilities and personalities. There is the Golden Palomino, Anderson, from the dusty, flat plains of Texas, against the Golden Boy, Hornung — both of them flashy, swinging types noted for their indulgence in women, clothes and rich, rare steak. Then there is the Polish workhorse from Illinois, Grabowski, who had erased Red Grange's records, against the Bayou workhorse from Louisiana, Taylor. Hovering over them is Lombardi. And none of the five will soon find himself out of the spotlight that a fascinated country has turned on Green Bay.

Since the Packers' primary concern is winning another title, everyone naturally would like to pretend that there is nothing unusual in town except the presence of a few new exercising machines. Sure, a couple of new guys are around. What are their names — Granderson and Dabrowski? Good kids. Hope they make the cut.”