Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Turkey Day

Happy Thanksgiving! Today's entry is this gorgeous program cover from the Packers' then-annual trip to Detroit in 1961.

I love the typography.

We get to see the Packers on national television today, but there was a period when we played every year on this date. From 1951 through 1963, the Packers were the Lions' traditional Thanksgiving Day opponent starting in 1951. The way the Washington Generals are the Harlem Globetrotters' traditional opponent, in fact; most games were Detroit blowouts. Before Vince Lombardi arrived in 1959, the Packers had only won a single one of those Thanksgiving contests. The Packers did win Lombardi's first game in 1959 and then took this game in 1961. Other than those few bright spots, this annual game could be penciled in as a loss for Green Bay, and Lombardi had his team taken off the Thanksgiving rotation after 1963.

Happy Turkey Day, everyone!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

In Which I Find Myself Agreeing With Peter King

I'm not a huge fan of sportswriter Peter King, but he went on a rant in his "Monday Morning Quarterback" column yesterday that deserves to be repeated.

This was numbers six through eight on his "Ten Things I Think I Think" list:
6. I think I’m not saying uniforms should be sacred. When I was growing up, teams basically had two of them: home and away. In recent years, it’s changed, of course. But this constant fiddling with everything players and coaches wear, and the pink and the camouflage and the prison-stripe uniforms and so many throw-up throwbacks … it’s out of control. Isn’t there a uniform cop in the NFL offices who, very occasionally, says, “We’re making ourselves looks bad here. We’re a parody of ourselves. Are we seriously allowing our teams to looks different for more than half of each season?” The NFL so bastardizes everything about the uniform that it’s altogether laughable when they fine a player for having some odd-color shoes or different eye-black, or fine a player such as Cam Heyward when he puts his late father’s name in small letters on his eye black.

Example: Marcus Mariota, wearing this all-Carolina Blue uniform for the Color Rush (!!!) game and blue shoes, and with the Salute to Service camouflage towel tucked into his waist, dives to the pylon for a touchdown Thursday night. Camera goes to the sideline. There’s coach Mike Mularkey, with the camouflage headset, camouflage cap and camouflage lapel pin. Last month, it would have been the pink towel flying on Mariota’s dive to the pylon, with pink cleats, and the coach on the sidelines with the pink hat and pink-accented headset. In nine of 17 weeks this season, the NFL makes the uniform not a uniform. And in some other weeks, the uniform is something that’s not a uniform. In the Oxford Dictionary, uniform is defined as “not changing in form or character; remaining the same in all cases and at all times.” The NFL does not have uniforms anymore. The NFL has costumes.

7. I think I have one question for the NFL marketers: Just how many of the 256 regular-season games this year—six? nine?—are the players and the coaches allowed to dress in the traditional uniforms, instead of being billboards for whatever causes the NFL chooses?

8. I think, while we’re at it, get off my lawn.
Curmudgeonly quip aside, he's absolutely right. The NFL has been slowly moving from uniforms to costumes for years. Their partnership with Nike, who's been doing that to college football for a decade, has only hastened the decline of the pros.

One of the things I've always loved about the Packers' uniforms is that it takes the "one at home, one on the road" formula and distills it down to its purest form. Since 1960, the Packers have had one coherent uniform with only the jerseys being swapped out home versus road. No alternate pants or special elements (this after Vince Lombardi's one-year experiment with white socks on the road). It's always a gold helmet, gold pants and green socks. There's a purity to it, the perfect Platonic football uniform. That's been diminished to a certain extent in recent years by the throwback alternates, much as I love them. It will be significantly diminished next season if the Packers finally knuckle under and join the silly "Color Rush" nonsense.

If a dedicated company man like King can see that, and articulate it so forcefully, maybe there's still hope.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Under the Hood(ie)

The chatter started sometime in the second quarter.

I was watching the Packers in a bar in Brooklyn, following the online conversation during interminable TV timeouts. And the conversation was hopping. Fans weren't talking about the Packers' defense finding its steel. Although it was. Packers' offense getting into a groove. Although it was. Or even about Mason Crosby finding the uprights. Although he did.

They were talking about James Jones, who was wearing a team-issued hoodie under his jersey.

Everybody wanted to talk about it.

By the end of the game, it was Twitter's top trend.

And it wasn't just Twitter.

I couldn't grab screenshots of the game from my barstool, but my pal Jeff Ash generously sent me his:

Great stuff.

It reminded me of an old-timey baseball pitcher wearing a windbreaker under his jersey.

The conversation kept going throughout the game, and I suspect that had the Packers not been doing increasingly well on the field we wouldn't have been enjoying the distraction quite so much. The game even had a competing meme as a squirrel ran out on the field, but nothing could distract the fans from the Hoodie of Destiny.

During the game itself, former NFL Vice President of Officiating Mike Pereira on the Fox Sports broadcast.

Yes, the hoodie is legal. No, it does not mark him down when it hits the ground, any more than a towel scraping the turf would mark him down. And most interestingly, a defensive player could grab the hood and drag him to the ground without running afoul of the "horse collar tackle" rule.

This morning, the chatter continues.

If you start to put his name into the Google machine, "James Jones hoodie" comes up in the auto-complete.

Before the game had ended, some wag had started a Twitter account devoted to the hoodie. It was joined by a second shortly thereafter. Perhaps not surprisingly, it has also made his Wikipedia page.

After the game, Jones explained why he had worn it.

Lots of talk about a piece of sideline gear. I was frankly surprised that the Packers Pro Shop didn't send out an email blast this morning spotlighting the hoodie for sale.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Infographic: Packers at Vikings Preview

Well, last week wasn't very successful, so let's see if the Packers can break their slide against the Vikings in Minnesota.

Here's's infographic preview of the game:
This week’s infographic takes a closer look at how the Packers have spread out their receiving yards and TDs among multiple players, plus Green Bay’s offensive output over the years vs. Minnesota.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Packers in White at Lambeau Field?

It's become somewhat fashionable for NFL teams to wear white at home, especially during the first few months of a season. Only the Seahawks have never done it. Even our Pack has brought out the road whites before a hometown crowd, first in the 1930s, but also more recently than that.

The Packers have worn white at Lambeau Field twice; the first two games of the 1989 season. Here are some highlights from the Week 2 game against the Saints, as quarterback Don Majkowski tries to rally his Packers back from a 21-0 deficit at the end of the first half.

The Packers wearing road jerseys in Green Bay? It just looks wrong.

As wrong as that gold "G" on the 50-yard line.

I do like the classic single-bar helmet graphic in the endzone, though.

The Majik Man did rally his troops, and the Packers prevailed that day 35-34.

I don't know what possessed head coach Lindy Infante to mess with the classic. Fortunately, he came to his senses and returned to the classic green home uniforms.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Infographic: Packers/Lions Preview

Today, the Packers look to end a two-game skid and resume their winning ways. They couldn't have picked a better opponent than the Lions; the Packers have won 24 straight games against them in Wisconsin (including County Stadium in Milwaukee).

That fun fact and more in today's Infographic:
This week’s infographic examines the all-time Packers-Lions series, QB Aaron Rodgers’ statistics in home games, and TE Richard Rodgers’ touchdown numbers in his first two seasons.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Packers/Lions Game Program

The Packers Pro Shop is now selling the program for tomorrow's Packers/Lions game.

They're keeping with this season's established design, only instead of a current player they're shining the spotlight on former GM (and new Hall of Famer) Ron Wolf.

I expect we'll see one featuring Brett Favre (or even Favre and Bart Starr together) for Thanksgiving.

That ribbon in the corner indicates that we're in for another "commemorative" events at Lambeau Field. Only a couple more weeks in November.

Friday, November 13, 2015

I'm Cheering For the Team In Gray

When the Jets/Bills green-red matchup was announced, I wondered if people with a certain color-blindness would be able to tell the teams apart:
Serious question: my uncle is red/green color blind. Is he going to be able to watch this game? Two teams in white helmets, one clad in red shoulder to toe and the other in all green. Surely the NFL has considered this, right?
Apparently not, because that was indeed a problem last night.

Deadspin went a step farther, creating video to simulate what the game looked like for people with this condition:

Yeah, no problem there, NFL.

But hey, it's not like anyone could reasonably have seen this coming....

Fans who were able to make out the colors were in for a treat, as the Jets wore their traditional kelly green. They looked great from the waist up:

New York Jets wide receivers Brandon Marshall (15) and Eric Decker (87) celebrate Decker's touchdown catch against the Buffalo Bills during the second half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
I even dig the metallic helmet decals.

Time for the Jets to reclaim their brighter color and stop using the Packers' forest green. Looks better on us anyway.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

NFLPA: Merchandising Highlights from Q2

The NFL Players Association has released its retail numbers through the second number of their fiscal year, and there's some good news for a few Green Bay Packers.

Aaron Rodgers was #4 on the list of best-selling jerseys. Four other Packers make the Top50 : Jordy Nelson at #16, Clay Matthews at #19, and Eddie Lacey at #34.

They didn't release all the data, but here are some of their Packers-related highlights:
Highlights from Q2 (June 1 – August 31, 2015):
  • Peyton Manning leads all sales in name and number-branded t-shirts, while Rodgers is the leader among women’s tees.
  • Wilson, Peyton Manning, Rodgers, Watt and Brady are most popular among kids in hardlines and apparel, which includes licensees Bleacher Creatures, Outerstuff and Oyo Sportstoys.
  • In women’s apparel, Wilson, Peyton Manning, Rodgers, Watt and Bryant reign supreme in the top five.
  • Defensive players are climbing the hardlines list each quarter, including a record eight ranked among the current top 50 including Watt, Sherman, Clay Matthews, Troy Polamalu (retired), Malcolm Butler, Khalil Mack, Sean Lee and Luke Kuechly.
  • Green Bay Packers fans love their player-identified caps from New Era as four Packers rank among the top 10 best sellers, including Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Matthews and Eddie Lacy.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Infographic: Packers at Panthers offers us this infographic preview of this weekend's game.
This week’s infographic takes a closer look at the all-time Packers-Panthers series, Clay Matthews’ multi-faceted impact on games, and Green Bay’s rookie CB duo of Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins.