Friday, January 16, 2015

Infographic: NFC Championship, Packers at Seahawks

Once more, comes through with this illustrated look at the upcoming NFC Championship Game in Seattle.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

"Ice Bowl II"?

Hmm. The Cowboys are really hyping their upcoming trip to Lambeau Field. They've started selling "Ice Bowl II" shirts on their website.

Seems a little odd to me. I know this is the first time the Cowboys have played a postseason game in Green Bay since Bart Starr's sneak cost them a trip to Super Bowl II, but it seems a pretty big stretch. Sunday's weather is expected to be in the mid-20s. That's January-in-Wisconsin-chilly, but hardly the stuff of legend we saw back on December 31, 1967.

Looks like they're intending to exorcise the ghosts of their past.

This isn't the first time somebody's been tempted to draw such a link to the glorious past. I remember another game christened "Ice Bowl II"; the 1996 NFC Championship game at Lambeau Field on January 12, 1997.

That was the time the then-impossibly-new Carolina Panthers came to town, and the temperature never went above single digits, with sub-zero wind chills. Carolina jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, but the Packers went on to dominate the game 30-13, earning a trip to New Orleans and their first Super Bowl berth in 29 years.

That game in 1997 had the benefit of being another championship and having been played in frigid conditions. This upcoming game that the Cowboys are so eager to market is just an intermediate step in the playoffs.

A spate of merchandise was soon produced around that 1997 NFC title game, but as I recall it was all unlicensed.

More recently, you may also remember that last year's balmy playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers also invited comparisons to that fabled day in 1967:

While the CBS affiliate in San Francisco danced around the name, the New York Post came right out with it.

No merch for that one, which given the result was good for Packers fans.

So this is at least the third game to be billed as "Ice Bowl II" (Ice Bowl IV?). It may, however, be the first to have generated licensed merchandise.

The Cowboys are invoking a powerful name in their build-up to the game. I can't wait to see the Packers make them eat those words.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Infographic: Divisional Playoff, Packers v. Cowboys

After taking the Wild Card round bye week off, returns with an infographic preview of the Divisional Playoff between the Packers and Cowboys at Lambeau Field this Sunday.

Interesting. I hadn't realized that the teams were so evenly matched, at least statistically.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Bring on the 'Boys

The Dallas Cowboys' victory yesterday sets up a divisional round playoff game at Lambeau Field next week. The last time Dallas played a postseason game in Green Bay was December 31, 1967 to determine the NFL Champion and also who would face the AFL representative in Super Bowl II.

Officially designated the "1967 NFL Championship Game", it lives on today as the Ice Bowl.

For many, the defining image of the Ice Bowl was taken by sixteen year old team photographer John Biever immediately after Bart Starr's quarterback sneak into the end zone to take the final lead.

I don't think I've ever seen this view, though, taken just seconds before, and in color:

One of the things I love about this upcoming game is that the two teams still wear the same uniforms today, save a few minor tweaks.

You can tell from this photo that the Braisher stripes on the Packers' pants were significantly thinner than, while the Cowboys were already wearing the thicker version the Packers sport today:

Looking forward to this game. Hope the spirit of Vince Lombardi can help guide our boys to another victory!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Infographic: Packers vs. Lions

Not to be outdone by ESPN, continues its excellent series of infographics, previewing tomorrow's clash with the Lions at Lambeau Field.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Bonus Infographic: ESPN's "Game of the Week"

ESPN is getting into the infographic game - here's their take on the "Game of the Week", as the Lions come to Lambeau Field to take on the Packers for the NFC North title.

Check it out, along with their take on other featured games this weekend, here.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The "Captain" Patches Revealed as Even Dumber Than I Thought

Well, I was wondering what the Packers would do with Aaron Rodgers's captain patch now that he's topped the five consecutive seasons it was designed to represent. Thanks to the Packers' naming their postseason captains early, we now know: absolutely nothing.

Gold C above four gold stars, the exact same as last season.

Originally, the whole point was to honor multiple years of "service". The more years as a captain, the more gold stars. Then when they ran out of gold stars, they colored the C gold to match. Now... I guess Rodgers has topped out, and there are no more honors to bestow upon him.

I can't tell you how stupid I think this whole thing is.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Infographic: Packers at Buccaneers

Here's's look at Sunday's game in Tampa Bay:
This week's infographic features a look at the Packers-Buccaneers all-time series, the statistical leaders for each team, and the Packers' playoff scenarios heading into Week 16. Also, WR Jordy Nelson has made some history by putting together back-to-back seasons of at least 80 receptions and 1,300 yards.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Packers Name Post-Season Captains

According to Sports Illustrated, the Packers have already named their playoff captains. They don't usually do this until after the regular season ends, preferring to rotate the captaincies week-to-week, which is why they've never worn those silly patches in the regular season.

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)
Here's the story:
Packers name their playoff captains before making the playoffs

Despite being among the league's elite teams, the Packers have not yet clinched a playoff spot and could need a 2-0 finish to make the postseason. But that hasn't stopped the team from choosing its playoff captains.

Coach Mike McCarthy announced that the six captains for the team are Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson on offense, Julius Peppers and Morgan Burnett on defense, and Randall Cobb and Jarrett Bush on special teams.

McCarthy is apparently not familiar with the concept of jinxing oneself.

The Packers can secure a spot in the playoffs this weekend with a win at Tampa Bay, as well as an Eagles loss or a Cowboys win. Which retired quarterback could lead the Cardinals on a Super Bowl run?

On Pro Football Now, Super Bowl champion Amani Toomer, Sports Illustrated senior writer Don Banks, and NFL writer Andrew Perloff discuss their picks for which retired quarterback would lead Arizona to a championship.

- Brendan Maloy
Interesting motivational technique.

It also remains to be seen what Rodgers's patch looks like. The basic patches have a white "C" over one gold and three white stars; each subsequent white star is colored gold in the next season, indicating how many years that person has been a captain. After all four stars are en-gold-ened, the C itself is turned to gold.

Last year, Rodgers was the first Packer to be named a captain in five different seasons and consequently the first to wear the all-gold patch. Now he's in his sixth, so we'll see if the NFL is doing anything different for him or if the whole silly enterprise is so poorly thought through that they didn't consider somebody might actually break the five-season mark. I'm leaning towards the latter.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

"Special Today - Ram Chops"

Fifty-three years ago today, the Packers faced off against the Los Angeles Rams. This was the program cover:

Oh, man. What a beauty.

We have Lombardi's Packers, represented by a hearty-looking butcher wearing the "G"-logo helmet introduced in that season. He stands next to a meat counter displaying the remains of their vanquished opponents: "Minnesota Mince Meat", "Roundly Ground Lion", and my favorite, "Brisket of Bear". Today's special is "Ram Chops", and he's ready with his cleaver to hack off a nice chunk for you.

But wait - check out the note in the upper-right corner: this program was for the Packers' annual visit to Los Angeles! I can't think of another time when a program proudly proclaimed that the home team was about to get slaughtered.

The clever cover illustration was done by Karl Hubenthal, who was then the editorial cartoonist for the Los Angeles Examiner. Hubenthal drew all the Rams' program covers that season, each featuring a ram (or Ram) taking on the opponent of the day:

Amazing design. I love the typography, and his use of bold imagery set against the varying opponents' colors.

What's also interesting is that on every other cover, Hubenthal portrayed the home club as prevailing, or at least holding its own; de-fanging the Bear, bowling over the Browns, or poking the Giant in the eye with the football. Even on the 49ers' program, where the ram is staring down the barrels of a shotgun, he's literally staring down the barrels, and the Niner is visibly nervous despite having his finger on the trigger. Only the program for the Lions game betrays any hint of danger, and even there the bandaged Ram player is brave enough to stick his head back into the cat's mouth. So what's up with the Packers cover?

Perhaps the answer can be found in the 1961 season. At the time they were preparing to face off against the Packers, the Rams were 4-9 and in sixth place in the NFL Western Division. Only the lowly expansion Minnesota Vikings were beneath them, and even that by just a single game. The Packers, on the other hand, came into LA that week with an impressive 10-3 record. They had already clinched the division and were just two weeks away from demolishing the Eastern Division-champion Giants 37-0 in the title game, bringing Green Bay their seventh championship (and first in nearly twenty years).

Given the disparity, Hubenthal's prediction doesn't really seem all that bold, and in fact the Packers did prevail 24–17 in the Coliseum that day. A solid win, if not the predicted slaughter. It's charming that the Rams would allow him to poke a little fun at their expense.

Hubenthal's covers are simply gorgeous, a marvelous product of their time. The groovy typography hints at the new decade, with the design revolution to come. This is highlighted when his efforts are contrasted with the generic football scene on the Packers' program from the previous month, when the same teams played in Green Bay.

The Packers were still using overlaid stock graphics in 1961, and save for a few minor changes in equipment that cover could have been found on a program back in the 1940s. Nobody even bothered to change the teams' colors.

The Packers' cover, sadly unsigned, is also trying to be whimsical—the punter's kick circles back behind him for a field goal, to the amazement of a bug-eyed ref—but the joke is labored, where Hubenthal's drawings are both whimsical and immediate.

The Rams might have been no match for the mighty Packers on the football field in 1961, but they sure knocked the stuffing out of them at the program stand.

(h/t: Todd Radom)