Monday, May 30, 2011

Mixing the Military and the N.F.L.

In a scene that no N.F.L. coach today has to deal with, coach Vince Lombardi is pictured welcoming back three of his star players whose careers were interrupted to serve in the military. From left to right, WR Boyd Dowler, RB Paul Hornung, and LB Ray Nitschke are back to participate in training camp on July 25, 1962. Young athletes of military eligibility were not excused just because they were professional football players. Most famously, Hornung was called to active duty during the 1961 season but was able to get weekend passes to play on Sundays. Lombardi was a friend of President John F. Kennedy, and it was arranged for a pass so Hornung could play in the N.F.L. championship game against the New York Giants. Just another example of how much times have changed.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Some Advice for the Offense

In a great sideline shot from the early Sixties, today we see coach Vince Lombardi giving some offensive advice to QB Bart Starr while the defense is on the field. And take a look through the crowd... there wasn’t any Packers attire or hats in those days. Things have changed in many ways indeed.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Lilly Meets Starr

As the N.F.L. lockout drags on, and optimism of a normal length season fades with each passing day, we’re still here for the occasional update of timeless Packers images and stories. Today, QB Bart Starr is about to go down in the hands of the Dallas Cowboys’ legendary DT Bob Lilly. The photo is undated, and with the Cowboys’ propensity to wear white jerseys at home, it’s fairly difficult to nail it down in such a tightly-cropped image.

Lilly played his entire career (1961-1974) with Dallas after his collegiate career with Texas Christian. He was born in Texas (Throckmorton, Tex.), educated in Texas, and played professionally in Texas. The 11-time Pro Bowler was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lookin’ Back at County Stadium

Set the wayback machine to the mid-1990’s because that’s where we’re going today to visit Milwaukee County Stadium — formerly the “home away from home” for the Green Bay Packers. We start out with a couple of views of the field and stadium from our season ticket seats in the lower boxes of what was the baseball field’s “right field corner.”

This is a view of the “outfield” scoreboard during the final game against the Falcons on December 18, 1994. Also seen is the giant beer barrel and hut where “Bernie Brewer” would slide down after a Brewers’ home run.

A more “field level” view on a warm early Fall day during pre-game warm-ups.

This was the Packers’ Ticket Office on the stadium exterior.

A view of the end zone that was down on our end of the field.

Now here are a couple of views from the parking lot behind the baseball outfield side of the stadium.

This is the tunnel that we walked many times to our seats in Section 29.

Above and below are two panoramic views of the stadium exterior and interior.

Lastly, when they played in Milwaukee, the Packers stayed at the Pfister Hotel, a grand, elegant older hotel that is right downtown. We stayed there once in 1993 before a game, and were able to chat with former player and broadcaster Max McGee while buying a paper on Sunday morning. Plus, if you went to the lobby on game morning, you could watch every player and coach as they milled about and made their way to the team buses for the ride to County Stadium. Fond memories, indeed.

Monday, May 23, 2011

August “Mike” Michalske

We head back to the leather helmet days for this image of Packers’ great August “Mike” Michalske. The standout guard was a tough lineman who earned the nickname “Iron Mike” for his durability over three seasons with the New York Yankees and in eight seasons as a Packer. A Penn State All American, Michalske signed with the American Football League New York Yankees in 1926, blocking for standout back Red Grange. The 6’0” 209-pound Michalske played for the Yankees until they folded in 1928. The next season, he became a Packer.

Known for his stamina and toughness, Michalske was exceptionally quick and had an explosive charge at the snap of the ball. On defense, he used his quickness and elusiveness to pioneer both the blitz and an early version of the modern linebacker. “I didn’t get hurt,” Michalske said. “Not until I injured my back in my last year. I played both ways — 60 minutes almost every game.”

Michalske played on the three consecutive Packer championship teams of 1929-’31. He continued his Packer career through 1935. In 1936, he coached at Lafayette College, then returned to play one more season as a Packer. He convinced Curly Lambeau to convert college fullbacks Pete Tinsley and Buckets Goldenberg to guard to take advantage of their quickness. After retiring as a Packer, Michalske coached at Texas, Texas A&M and Purdue. He was also an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Pirates and in the 1950′s with the Baltimore Colts.

Michalske was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1964. He passed away on October 26, 1983.

August “Mike” Michalske
Years with the Packers: 1929-35, 37
Inducted in Packers Hall of Fame: 1970
Position: Guard
Born: 1903
College: Penn State

Source: Wikipedia; Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Packerville Archive Photos — I

Since we had some time today, we pulled out some old photos from the Packerville Archives, and will be sharing some of them in the coming weeks. The first several are from 1991, the year before Ron Wolf and Mike Holmgren took ever the team’s reigns and turned the whole thing around. The rest are from 1993. The sign above was on each end of the Packers’ previous indoor practice field along Oneida Street, the building known as “The Barn.”

The signs are still the same in 2011 for many streets around Lambeau Field.

Looking West towards the stadium from the parking lot along Oneida Street. This is the original, pre-renovation Lambeau Field. Until the luxury boxes were added in the late Eighties, the bowl of the stadium still looked like it did in the Lombardi Era.

The West side of Lambeau, showing the metal siding that was the exterior for many years.

On the East side of the stadium, it was labeled “Green Bay Packers,” the last word of which can be seen here.

Still the same situation today.

On the North end of the stadium, the backside of the scoreboard would show that season’s schedule.

The original stadium plaque. We’re not sure of its whereabouts today.

The team’s administration offices were in this building attached to the North end of the stadium, which went through many generations of expansion from the original structure built in 1963. The Packer Pro Shop started as a tiny little alcove off the main lobby, then expanded into the area where the glass windows fill the space between the pillars under the green roof. This was all destroyed during the 2001-2003 renovation.

The great lighted Packer helmet logo that adorned the West side of the administration building that faced Lombardi Avenue.

These were the main doors to the Packers’ offices until the renovation. Ordinary folks used to be able to walk in and see some of the team’s trophies, including the (then) two Super Bowl trophies. We used to hang around and see who we could bump into in the parking lot. Stay tuned for more photos from the thousands in our collection.

Monday, May 16, 2011

1948 Training Camp

Setting today’s Time Machine to 1948, we wind up at the Packers’ preseason camp at Rockwood Lodge, believed to have been the first self-contained team training facility in pro football history. Located approximately 17 miles north of the city of Green Bay, on a limestone bluff overlooking the 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 to Chicago 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 train to this day. The grounds of Rockwood Lodge now make up Bay Shore Park (see maps below).

We’ve posted this photo before, but thought a refresher was in order with today’s subject matter.

In that 1948 season, when today’s top photo of Coach Lambeau was taken, the Packers posted a 3-9 record, earning a fourth-place finish in the Western Conference.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

1962 College All-Star Action

For this Sunday evening, we are going to go back and visit the 1962 College All-Star Game. Above, according to the original AP photo caption: “Packers’ Paul Hornung hits turf in second quarter after missing pass. All-Star Angelo Dabiero of Notre Dame covers on defense.” Although it seems a bit strange in today’s world of very expensive players’ limbs, The Chicago Charities College All-Star Game was an annual preseason match played annually (except in 1974, because of an N.F.L. players’ strike) from 1934 to 1976 between the National Football League champions and a team of star college seniors from the previous year.

After the Super Bowl began, including the two seasons prior to the N.F.L./A.F.L. merger, the Super Bowl winner was the professional team involved, regardless of which league the team represented. Thus, the New York Jets played in the 1969 event, although still an A.F.L. team.

The game was the idea of Arch Ward, the sports editor of the Chicago Tribune and the driving force behind the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. The game originally was a benefit for Chicago-area charities and was always played at Soldier Field in Chicago or at Northwestern University's Dyche Stadium in Evanston, Illinois (1943 and 1944). The Chicago game was one of several "pro vs. rookie" college all-star games held across the United States in its early years; Chicago's game had the benefit of being the highest profile, with the Super Bowl champions facing off against the best college graduates from across the country (as opposed to the regional games that were held elsewhere). Because of this, the game survived far longer than its contemporaries.

In the 1940s, the games were competitive affairs that attracted large crowds to Soldier Field. But as the talent level of pro football improved, the all-stars had diminishing success. The last all-star win came in 1963, when a team coached by legendary quarterback Otto Graham beat Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers, 20-17. By the 1970s, crowds for the event were dwindling. In addition, N.F.L. coaches were reluctant to part with their new draftees (who would miss part of training camp) for a meaningless exhibition at which the players might be injured. The last game took place during a downpour at Soldier Field on July 23, 1976.

One aspect of the College All-Star Game was later revived. The concept of the Super Bowl champion playing in the first game of the season was adopted in 2004 for the National Football League Kickoff game; in that game, the first game of the regular season is hosted by the league champion from the previous year.

Here is the back side of the photo shown at the top of today’s blog entry, with original caption and a brief game synopsis attached.

Above and below, two tiny photos of game action from 1962.

One side note of the 1962 game: The 2008 movie The Express immortalized Syracuse RB and Cleveland Browns draftee (through the Washington Redskins) Ernie Davis' sensational, but tragically-short career. Davis' final scheduled career game was to be the 1962 College All-Star game. Davis was not so fortunate. Having just won the Heisman Trophy and been the Liberty Bowl MVP, he started showing signs of acute illness during the All-Star Camp, having strength and equilibrium issues, and did not play in the game. He was present with the collegians, participated in photo day and Times Charities functions wearing the above jersey. However, he would never play a professional game, as he was diagnosed with leukemia in 1962. He passed away in Cleveland, Ohio on May 18, 1963 at the age of 23.

• • • • • • • •

For those who are interested in the minutiae of Packers’ history, here is the complete AP coverage of the game:


August 3, 1962

CHICAGO (AP) — The mighty Green Bay Packers won by as wide a margin as expected, but certainly not as easily as expected over a tough, speedy college All-Star team in Soldier Field Friday night. Stiffened by the passing of John Hadl of Kansas, the collegians made it a battle until a 21-point final period Green Bay barrage buried them under a 42-20 score in the 29lh annual All-Star game in front of 65,000 fans.

The champions of the National Football League led only 21-20 going into the final quarter. It took a record-breaking performance by Green Bay quarterback Bart Starr to finally break the backs of the charged up All-Stars. Starr hurled five touchdown passes, including a pair each to Boyd Dowler and Max McGee, setting a new mark in this colorful grid series, now standing 19 to 8 in favor of the pros with 2 ties.

The All-Star of the night in this nationally televised contest was Hadl, a cool, poised and agile all around back who should be a rookie hotshot for the San Diego Chargers of the American Football League this season. Hadl completed his first five passes, four of them setting up the first All-Star touchdown that gave the collegians a surprising 7-0 jump in the opening period. Some observers guessed that the turning point of the game might have been the removal of the hot Kansas performer in the second period. Hadl returned to the game later, but the All-Stars never seemed to again to have the spark they had under the Jayhawker star in the first period.

Hadl completed 6 of 10 passes in all, had the Packers in a stew with his rollout jockeying and boomed five punts for a 43.3 yard average. Packer coach Vince Lombardi said of Hadl: "He surprised us the way he moved around. He showed great agility and poise."

Had the All-Stars not lost two great backs, Ernie Davis of Syracuse and Ron Bull of Baylor, by pregame illness, the Packers might have had their backs to the wall all the way. As it was, the All-Star ground attack produced only 68 yards, while the collegiate passing attack was not quite able to muster the deadly accuracy of Starr, who completed 13 of 22 tosses for 255 yards and five touchdowns.

The All-Stars led the vaunted Packers no fewer than three times. A one-yard smash by LSU'S Earl Gros- after Hadl had completed four straight passes- electrified the crowd of 65,000 by pushing the All-Stars ahead 7-0 the first time they had the ball. In the second quarter, the collegians took a l0-7 margin on the first of two field goals by Navy's Greg Mather- a 26-yard boot. However, the Packers went ahead 14-10 on Starr's four-yard pass to Ron Kramer.

In the third period, an upset still appeared in the making when Hadl hit Ohio State's Charley Bryant with a 22-yard scoring shot for a 17-14 All-Star lead. The final All-Star bid, however, proved to be Mather's 14-yard field goal late in the third period, shaving Green Bay's margin to 21-20. Early in the fourth period, Green Bay wrapped it up with Starr firing touchdown passes of 20 and 35 yards to McGee (video). A three-yard touchdown thrust by Green Bay's Elijah Pitts with time running out put the final frosting on the cake.

• • • • • • • •

The game MVP was Kansas QB John Hadl. Yes, that John Hadl.

Source: Wikipedia, Associated Press

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Portrait of Ray

Our intermittent offseason updates continue intermittently today with a fine portrait of Packers LB Ray Nitschke. This may have been used in an endorsement deal, we’re not sure. Aren’t the long-sleeved jerseys of that era great?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

2010 Defensive Highlights

Today we present some video for your offseason enjoyment — the defensive highlights of the whole World Championship season in two parts. The weather is warming up as we head into summer, and there still is absolutely no football on the horizon. There needs to be some sort of progress soon, or we’re going to have to get involved in this deal.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Super Bowl I Yardage

It’s been a few days without a post here in Packerville, U.S.A., and it’s been a busy week or so with work and travel and a graduation within the family. But we’re back on this Mother’s Day Eve to put up a photo of Packers’ Hall of Fame FB Jim Taylor taking the handoff from Bart Starr to gain some positive yardage against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl I. Taylor will be joining fellow Lombardi Era legend (and former head coach) Forrest Gregg on the upcoming annual “Tailgate Tour” with other former and current Green Bay players and management. For more info on that, please visit here.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

How The Times Have Changed

If you had known your Packerville, U.S.A. editor back in 1991 (the pre-Favre; pre-Holmgren; pre-winning era), you might have been offered the four tickets (shown above) to the Green Bay-Indianapolis game at Milwaukee County Stadium in November. Free. FREE. We already had tickets to the game via our season tickets, and were offered this set of four by a business supplier. It seems odd nowadays that no one would be interested in using four FREE tickets to a Packer game, but that was the case. We could not give them away. So, we still have them as a reminder of how people did not give the Packers the time of day prior to the Brett Favre era. In case you’re interested, Green Bay beat the Colts that day, 14-10, in front of 42,132 fans who saw QB Mike Tomczak lead the team to victory on a 29-degree day.

Monday, May 02, 2011

A Good Draft, By Most Accounts

Here are the rest of your new 2011 Green Bay Packers following this weekend’s draft, with a statement describing them from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s coverage:

Randall CobbWRKentucky
NFC scout: "Very good player. Kind of a slot only. If you had a couple of established receivers and needed a slot, that's kind of what he is. He's also a return man. He played quarterback in high school and they won a couple state championships. He was very productive in the SEC. Not special speed, but a kid that can make some plays. Played in the "wildcat" some. He's run, he's passed and he's caught. I didn't think he was as good as but he's got a little Hines Ward in him because of the background. He's like the equivalent of a good nickel corner that would go in the third round, but I understand people might have him at the end of the second."

Alex GreenRBHawaii
NFC scout: "Down the line. He's got some talent. In fact, Green Bay was all over him (at pro day). Ted (Thompson) was there. He's a big, tall, one-cutter, kind of like the guys the Packers like. He caught it pretty good. He's probably a fourth-rounder but could slide into the third, I guess."

Davon HouseCBNew Mexico State
Mark Dominik, Tampa Bay: "He runs good. He runs 4.4s. He's athletic. He's got length. He's got some mirror-ability. You're looking at the glass half full with him. Even though he's coming from a smaller school you think he will translate with his skill set to the next level."

D.J. WilliamsTEArkansas
NFC scout: "I really like him. He's more of a fourth-round pick but, man, I'll tell you, every time I saw him I was impressed. Games, Senior Bowl, combine. All he does is catch the ball."

Caleb SchlauderaffOLUtah
AFC scout: "I like him a lot. Fourth round. He can be in a power offense or be a zone guy. He's not a refined guy yet. Our coaches really like him."

D.J. SmithOLBAppalachian State
"With my range and ability I feel I can plug gaps and I can cover receivers," Smith said. "I'll do anything they want."

Ricky ElmoreDEArizona
AFC scout: "He could be a 4-3 outside linebacker."

Ryan TaylorTE/FBNorth Carolina
AFC scout: "Really a special-teams guy. He was a tight end his last year but he also played 'backer. He's a really good athlete. I'm sure teams will try him at linebacker."

Lawrence Guy • DT • Arizona State
NFC scout: "He's leaving ASU because he says the coaches can't teach him anymore. He's got a little bit of B.S. with him. He's a tough guy. He wants to be active. He needs to learn how to play with better leverage and with better hands. He runs to the ball with effort. He still has developing to go, but he's not a throwaway. Mid-rounds."