Thursday, July 24, 2014

Auction Gold: Lee Joannes' Super Bowl I cufflinks!

Wow. There's an amazing find in Heritage's current auction:

1967 Green Bay Packers Super Bowl I Championship Gold Cufflinks....

Originally owned by former Packers president Lee Joannes!

1967 Green Bay Packers Super Bowl I Championship Gold Cufflinks.  It was Milwaukee Journal sportswriter Oliver E. Kuechle who coined the moniker, "The Hungry Five," a somewhat pointed commentary on the quintet of Green Bay Packers board members who seemed always to be in desperate need of cash to keep their fledgling team afloat. Today their founding franchise of professional football stands as one of the most iconic in American sports, but the team's very survival remained very much in question in those earliest years when most gridiron fans considered the collegiate game to be the only one that mattered. But together with coach and star player Curly Lambeau, Green Bay Press-Gazette publisher Andrew Turnbull, attorney Gerald Francis Clifford and team physician Dr. W. Webber Kelly, grocer Lee Joannes formed a united front against looming bankruptcy, serving as team president during the darkest days of the Great Depression. Each pioneering executive is properly immortalized in the Packers Hall of Fame.

Beyond the odd signed legal document and team correspondence, almost nothing exists in the collecting hobby from Joannes today despite his supreme relevance to the very existence of the Green Bay Packers. Presented here is a thrilling exception to that rule, a pair of gold cufflinks awarded to Joannes following the Pack's victory in Super Bowl I. Those familiar with Championship hardware from this first edition of football's most celebrated contest will note the striking resemblance to the rings presented to Starr, Hornung and the gang, but these are the only cufflinks we've ever encountered. It is safe to say that they are considerably more rare than the rings from which their design is cribbed.

Packer-green emeralds are set inside a clever design incorporating the shapes of both a football and a globe, encircled by raised text announcing, "1966 World Champions Green Bay Packers." The circular portion of each cufflink is stamped on verso with the Josten's logo and a "10K" gold content, while the clasps are stamped "1/20 12K GF," the result of two ring faces having been fashioned into tasteful sleeve adornments. Each cufflink survives in pristine original condition.

The small handful of Super Bowl I rings that have appeared on the hobby's auction block have commanded solid five-figure prices, and this offering is every bit their equal--some would argue that the connection to a "Hungry Five" member, and the duplication of the ring's primary design, would give these cufflinks the edge. It's unquestionably one of the most exciting Packers offerings to tempt the advanced collector in recent years, accompanied by a letter of provenance from esteemed Titletown collectibles purveyor Packer City Antiques. Letter of provenance from Packer City Antiques. LOA from PSA/DNA.
"Rare" is an understatement. Lee Joannes is a towering figure in Packers history. Some lucky collector is going to treasure this connection to our team's Founding Fathers.

It's also worth noting that these cufflinks reflect the original design of the Packers' Super Bowl I rings, before Vince Lombardi replaced the emerald with a diamond. Outstanding.

As much as I love Lombardi's style, I actually prefer the emerald to diamond; the green added to yellow gold really brings the Packers' colors to life.

As we get nearer to another Packer season, it's worth pausing to remember those heroes who brought the first NFL-AFL Championship Trophy home to Green Bay:

The auction ends next week: bid early, bid often.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

"Fans Show True Colors"

Paul Lukas has a new article on about fans getting team logo tattoos.

It includes this delightful tat on the shoulder of Packer fan Thomas Laning:

Courtesy Thomas Laning

Team-logo tats are not in and of themselves terribly interesting, but the addition of a cheesehead elevates this into something clever.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Ha Ha!

News out of Radio City Music Hall: with the twenty-first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers selected Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, safety out of Alabama.

Clinton-Dix made a minor splash a couple weeks ago when he posted a photo of himself wearing a Packers t-shirt. Looks as though Ted Thompson liked the look on him.

The newest Packer is shown here holding a jersey bearing a proud number one. This is traditionally held up by the team's first draft pick every season. Even if NFL rules allowed a safety to wear it in a game, it would be unlikely; the number has only been worn by one Packer player: the immortal Curly Lambeau himself. Readers with sharp memories might remember that it has been issued in training camp, though.

Clinton-Dix will instead wear #21, and that jersey is already available from the Packers Pro Shop.

Note also the price point - looks like the Pro Shop has finally raised its prices to match Nike's new minimum price points.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Infographic: 2014 Draft Preview posted this amazing infographic previewing the 2014 Draft, which starts today in New York.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

1959 Blazer and Basketball Uniform, Now on Display at the Hall of Fame!

The Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame just received a major donation from a former player.

Running back Bill Butler played for Green Bay for only one season, but items he has held onto from that year will have an outsized effect on the team's physical archives.

Ex-Packers player donates rare Lombardi-era team apparel
Written by Adam Rodewald Press-Gazette Media
Apr. 30, 2014

A retired Green Bay Packers player has given his rare Vince Lombardi-era team blazer and basketball uniform to the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame archives.

Bill Butler talks Tuesday about the donation of his 1959 Packers basketball team uniform to the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame. / Jim Matthews/Press-Gazette Media
Former running back Bill Butler said he was glad to see them put on display where others can enjoy them.

“Basically, this coat and this basketball uniform have been hanging in my closet for 55 years. Now I don’t have to move it anymore, and if I want I can come up here and see it,” he said. “I’m glad the Hall of Fame wants it, and I hope people enjoy it.”

The 1959 Green Bay Packers road game blazer, right, and the 1959 Packers basketball team uniform donated Tuesday by former player Bill Butler to the Packers Hall of Fame. / Jim Matthews/Press-Gazette Media
Butler was a 19th-round draft pick by the Packers in 1959, Lombardi’s first year as coach and general manager.

The Berlin native led the Packers in kickoff and punt returns in 1959, and led the NFL with 635 combined return yards. He scored his only Packers touchdown on a 61-yard punt return in the fourth quarter of a 28-17 loss to the Chicago Bears at Wrigley Field on Nov. 8, 1959.

That year, each Packers player and coach received a custom tailored jacket to be worn for team photos, media events and other occasions.

The 1959 Green Bay Packers road game blazer worn by former player Bill Butler. / Jim Matthews/Press-Gazette Media
Butler received his Packers basketball uniform while playing for the traveling team in the offseason. The team raised money and awareness for local charities.

The 1959 Packers basketball team uniform worn by former player Bill Butler. / Jim Matthews/Press-Gazette Media
The Green Bay Packers' basketball team in the winter of 1959-60. Top row, from left, Jack Morton, Dan Currie, Jim Temp, Bob Skoronski and Gary Knafelc. Bottom row, from left, Al Carmichael, Babe Parilli, Bill Butler, Tom Bettis and Lew Carpenter. Butler donated his basketball jersey and shorts to the Packers Hall of Fame on Tuesday. / Courtesy of Jim Temp
“We’ve never before had one of these blazers from the 1950s. Needless to say, we’ve never had one of the basketball uniforms,” said Tom Murphy, archivist for the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, a nonprofit corporation independent from the team.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to get this donation (from Butler),” Murphy said.

Butler said he insisted the Hall of Fame take his apparel, and he didn’t need to think twice about giving it away.

“From the time I started (playing football) in fifth grade, I have all the clothing and written articles. I just have stacked it up over the years. I’m kind of a pack rat. And, after 55 years, I’m not going to miss it in my closet,” he said.

Butler, 76, coached football at Green Lake High School and retired in 2009 as the defensive coordinator at Ripon High School.

He played only one season for the Packers. He was chosen by Dallas in the 1960 NFL expansion draft and played that season for the Cowboys. He also played for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1961, the Minnesota Vikings from 1962 to 1964 and the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders in 1965.

Butler’s donated apparel is on display at a temporary exhibit in the Neville Public Museum while the Lambeau Field Atrium undergoes renovations.
That is absolutely amazing. And in outstanding condition, for having been "hanging in (his) closet for 55 years".

We've seen the travel blazer before, but never so good a view of the embroidery itself. A simple, sharp graphic.

And the basketball uniform? Outstanding. I wonder if they were known as the "Packer-derms" back in 1969.

Monday, April 28, 2014

If the Shirt Fits...

Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who will be in this year's draft, has generated some waves with an Instagram photo.

No, not a photo taken at a party. Or some other indiscretion. Rather, Clinton-Dix posted a selfie of him wearing... a Green Bay Packers t-shirt.

The shirt itself is from last year's Nike collection. It's still available online in gold, but I'm not seeing it left anywhere in white. Does this mean he already had it, or was this just what they had at the local Foot Locker in Tuscaloosa?

The Packers are in need of help at safety. If he's making a push to be drafted, it wouldn't be a bad fit. Much like that t-shirt.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

2014 Schedule Released

Just a few hours ago, the Packers released their schedule for the 2014 season.

First reactions:
  • Opening on the road against the reigning World Champions is a tough start to the season.
  • The Packers' bye week comes right smack dab in the middle of the season.
  • Five national games: Thursday, September 4th (in Seattle), Thursday, October 2nd (Vikings), Sunday October 26th (in New Orleans), Sunday November 9th (Bears) and Monday, December 8th (Falcons). The last three of those fall within the NFL's "flex scheduling" period, so they may not end up on national television.
  • In December, the Packers will face teams that finished last season with records of 4-12, 6-10, 4-12 and 7-9. While 2013's records don't guarantee anything for 2014, three of those are traditionally bad teams and the Packers should have the opportunity for a strong finish.
  • What I don't see in December is much divisional play. In recent years, the NFL has deliberately scheduled divisional match-ups in the last month to provide maximum drama. This year, we have the Lions in the final game and that's it. The Packers' divisional games are front-loaded; weeks 3, 4, 5, 10, 11 and 17.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

ESPN: "Nike Raises NFL Jersey Prices"

Darren Rovell of ESPN is reporting that Nike has raised the price of its replica NFL jerseys.

Nike raises NFL jersey prices
By Darren Rovell |
Updated: April 8, 2014, 11:02 PM ET

The cost of being an NFL fan just got more expensive.

Nike, which makes the official league uniform, has decided to raise prices on two of the three types of jerseys it sells. Nike did not announce the increase in price, but retailers, including the official league online store, started charging more on April 1.

The Game jersey, which is the cheapest replica, will still cost $100. But the price of the Limited jersey, which has embroidered twill numbers and letters in place of the silicon printing on the Game jersey, has jumped from $135 to $150. The Elite jersey, which is the closest to what the players wear on the field and boasts being water repellent and has a tighter, tailored fit to the body, went up nearly 20 percent to $295, up from $250.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said that Nike and the retailers, not the league, determine the prices. But sources told that it was Nike executives alone who made the decision, implementing the new prices as the minimum prices retailers could sell the different style of jerseys for.

Nike spokesman Brian Strong said that the brand offers three tiers of the jerseys to serve a variety of consumers, but would not specify reasons as to why the price changed occurred.

"When you have a monopoly, you can charge whatever you want," said Matt Powell, analyst for SportsOneSource, a sports marketing retail tracking firm.

Nike is entering its third year of a five-year deal of being the official uniform of the league. In 2012, when Nike took over from Reebok, which had the official jersey deal for a decade, prices on the cheapest adult replica rose from $85 to $100, though Nike promoted that the materials it used were different.

Partly because of the rise in cost over the years, the temptation for fans to knowingly buy counterfeit jerseys for a fraction of the price has increased.

"If I'm a counterfeiter, with the prices going up, I now have more wiggle room," Powell said.

While Nike has been successful in charging premium prices for their products, Powell said he was surprised at the huge increase for the Elite jersey. Nike is protected by the fact, Powell said, that his company's data shows that more than 75 percent of the jerseys that are sold are the Game jerseys, which aren't going up in price.
His first sentence is nonsense, of course. It doesn't cost any more to actually be a fan, only to dress like a player. No matter how often we conflate the two.

I am interested, though, in the data suggesting 75% of all replica jerseys sold are the "Game", or cheapest, versions. I wonder how that translates to the Packers' sales? Most teams wear a jersey with the same basic construction as the "Game" jerseys, but the Packers chose to retain their old construction, making the "Game" jerseys look very unlike the ones our boys in green and gold actually wear.

The Packers Pro Shop doesn't even stock the intermediate "Limited" jerseys, just the $99.95 "Game" jerseys with printed silicon numbers and the more expensive Elite jerseys.

Speaking of which, the Packers Pro Shop still lists those Elite jerseys at last year's price of $249.95.

But if you buy them from the NFL's online shop, you'll pay the extra fifty bucks:

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Happiness is a (Green and Gold) Blanket

Green Bay Press-Gazette digital content editor (and friend of the blog) Jeff Ash sends us this amazing photo:

Green Bay Press-Gazette Archives

From 1951...

Former Green Bay Packers players receive blankets for their selection to the Helms Foundation Hall of Fame for college football players. From left are Don Hutson, Charley Brock, Cub Buck accepting for Cal Hubbard, R.E. Lambeau accepting for Curly Lambeau, Johnny "Blood" McNally and Arnie Herber. This was during halftime of the Packers’ 31-28 loss to the New York Yanks at old City Stadium on Dec. 2, 1951.

I’ve enclosed a close-up of Herber and his blanket so you can see details. Each player’s years of service with the Packers are in the football at center. Their uniform number is at lower right with their name just above it.
Green Bay Press-Gazette Archives

Outstanding. "R.E. Lambeau" is Curly's brother Raymond; Curly was in his last year of coaching the Chicago Cardinals at the time, and unable to attend even if he wasn't still harboring hard feelings over his departure two years earlier. Charley Brock is holding Clarke Hinkle's blanket, obviously accepting on his old teammate's behalf as Buck was for Hubbard.

We've seen team-issued blankets before; one issued to Forrest Gregg in 1959 and a blue-and-gold 1926 team blanket now residing in the Packers Hall of Fame.

This was the annual "homecoming" game for the Packers, and a very special one. In addition to commemorating the induction of six former Packers into the Helms College Hall of Fame (the above five plus Clarke Hinkle, who was also unable to attend), the Packers retired their first-ever jersey number.

Don Hutson's famous #14 was retired in the same halftime ceremony that saw the former Packers receive their blankets.

This was a relatively new honor for professional athletes; on that day in 1951, only four baseball players had seen their numbers retired (Lou Gehrig, Carl Hubbell, Babe Ruth and Mel Ott). The Chicago Bears had retired the numbers of Red Grange, Bronko Nagurski and Bill Hewett in December 1949, forcing the Packers to play catch-up.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Hawaii Five-Oh, My Eyes.

For anyone who still cares, the Pro Bowl was held yesterday at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The teams were different this year; instead of AFC versus NFC, the players were tossed into one large pool and drafted, playground-style, to play on teams captained by (and named for) Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders. Those two teams, shed of the traditional AFC Red and NFC Blue color schemes, were outfitted in neon superhero costumes from Nike.

It didn't help that the Packers had but one lone representative, running back Eddie Lacy.

He was certainly deserving of the general honor, shame that it had to be wrapped up in this clown suit.

To be honest, I can't remember which neon color was assigned to which team. Team Rice won the "game", although I don't have any idea if that was Lacy's team or not.