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.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

1934 Wadham's team photo

Well, the Packers have started their off-season a little early again. At least we can comfort ourselves by wallowing in the team's rich and glorious history.

This 1934 photo seems as a good place as any to start.

Back row:—Coach Lambeau, Jorgenson, Bultman, Kurth, Dilweg, Rose, Seibold, Peterson, Jones, Norgard, Asst. Coach Earpe.
Middle row:—Witte, Evans, Laws, Herber, Michalske, Goldenberg, Bruder, Schwammel, Perry.
Front row:—Monnett, Gantenbein, Barrager, Hinkle, Grove.
Beautiful team photo by Stiller, and I love the Art Deco numbers on each side.

The Packers are pictured in the plain blue jerseys they adopted in 1931; their first green jerseys were still four years in the future.

On the back, a schedule for the 1934 season and an ad for Wadham's Oil, a Milwaukee-based oil and gasoline company which at the time had over one hundred filling stations across Southeastern Wisconsin.

Wadham's sponsored "Sports Reports" on WTMJ in Milwaukee, covering news of the Packers and the American Association's Milwaukee Brewers baseball club.

1934 was not a great year for the Packers, who finished 7-6-0, third place behind the 13-0 Chicago Bears (who themselves went on to lose to the New York Giants in the second NFL Championship Game, now known as "The Sneakers Game". Scant consolation, I suspect, for fans of the Blues back in 1934.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Saying Goodbye to 2013

And that'll do it for another year.

San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis (85) can't hang on to the ball as Green Bay Packers strong safety Morgan Burnett (42) defends late in the fourth quarter of their Wild Card game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI on January 5, 2014. The 49ers beat the Packers 23-20. (Todd Rosenberg/NFL)
The Packers' quest for a fourteenth World Championship ended on the Frozen Tundra last night, as the visiting 49ers did just enough to win.

Uniform-wise, it was another very good-looking game. San Francisco has a classic look that compliments the Packers'. Loads of Braisher stripes to go around (although the Niners don't have the "steroid stripe" problem).

Green Bay Packers fullback John Kuhn (30) dives into the end zone for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Despite Saturday's report, there were many bare arms on display at Lambeau Field.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) runs against Green Bay Packers inside linebacker Brad Jones (59) during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
One other interesting uniform note came up during this game:

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) scrambles during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Aaron Rodgers is in his fifth consecutive year as a team captain, which means he's the first Packer ever to wear the all-gold version the silly "C" patches introduced in 2009. Rodgers has been a captain in every game he's played this year, but the Packers only wear the patches in post-season play, so this is the first time we've seen the solid gold version in Green Bay. Makes me wonder what the NFL will come up with for sixth-year captains to wear.

Well, thanks again for another season. Tough loss to take, as I was holding out hope that I'd get to see the Packers in my local Super Bowl. But this is not our year.

I'll continue to be here throughout the playoffs and then the off-season. An end to 2013 still leaves us with nine decades of Packer glory to explore.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

"Considering Sleeves"?

Major uniform news for tomorrow's game. I just received this alert from my NFL Mobile app:

Guess it takes a polar vortex to make even the linemen feel the cold.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

49ers "Quest for Six" Wild Card Infographic

The 49ers have a very clever promotional campaign on Facebook right now. This is their look at this weekend's Wild Card game:

Nicely done.

Monday, December 30, 2013

All's Right With the World

Now this is what Packer fans have been waiting to see:

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) celebrates his game winning touchdown pass to Randall Cobb over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL on December 29, 2013. The Packers beat the Bears 33-28. (Todd Rosenberg/NFL)
After missing seven games with a collarbone injury, during which the Pack went 2-4-1, Aaron Rodgers is back under center. And he was magnificent. Couple early interceptions, but he shook them off and finished strong with a come-from-behind touchdown drive in the final minutes.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) drops back to pass against the Chicago Bears during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
The Packers' defense continues to worry, but the offense is finally back on track. And what a game! Soldier Field in late December, Packers/Bears for the divisional title, loser starts the off-season. The Packers began their run of knockout games last night, and were definitely up to the challenge.

Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy (27) gets spun around as he works for red zone yardage in the first half of the Packers' 33-28 victory over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL on December 29, 2013. (Todd Rosenberg/NFL)
Love Coach McCarthy's Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man jacket. Just the thing for a cold Chicago evening.

Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy talks to quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
So the Packers are in the playoffs. My dream of a Meadowlands Super Bowl is still alive.

Next up, the 49ers at Lambeau Field. That should be another great-looking game.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

An Ugly Game on a Beautiful Evening

Well, at least the snow looked good.

Green Bay Packers' Matt Flynn during the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
It should have been such a great looking game; two traditionally-minded teams (shame about those Steeler numbers) playing in the snow and mud.

Green Bay Packers' Eddie Lacy (27) falls into the end zone for a touchdown run during the second half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Didn't end up well, though. Steelers 38, Packers 31.

I love a snow game, and have been hoping against hope that the Packers can earn the right to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl next February in New York. Today, that seems farther away than ever. The Packers take a loss they can ill afford, and Clay Matthews injured his right thumb while sacking Ben Roethlisberger.

Green Bay Packers' Clay Matthews walks off the field after an injury during the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Look what the super-sretchy fabric continues to do to his jersey numbers. Ugh. I do like the pom-pom sideline tuque, though.