Thursday, July 29, 2010

Camel's Nose, Meet Tent (Part Two)

Packers guard Daryn Colledge models the new practice jersey patch during training camp practice at Ray Nitschke Field on Sunday, Aug. 1, 2010.

A little over a year after announcing that they would seek a jersey sponsor for practice uniforms, the Packers have announced that a deal has been reached with Green Bay-based health care provider Bellin Health.

As reported yesterday in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Packers to wear advertising patch
Team follows trend of other NFL organizations

By Don Walker
Posted: July 28, 2010

Beginning with the first practice at 2 p.m. Saturday, members of the Green Bay Packers will wear an advertising patch on their practice jerseys.

That is a first for the franchise, and follows a trend of other National Football League teams that have signed deals with major sponsors that involve the addition of an advertising patch on practice jerseys.

The Packers' advertising partner is Bellin Health, a major health provider in northeast Wisconsin. The patch will be worn on the player's left side near the shoulder.

Bellin Health and the Packers have been partners for several years. The introduction of the patch on the practice jersey - allowed under NFL rules - is part of a multi-year agreement with Bellin Health.

The patches will not be worn in preseason games or the regular season.


Craig Benzel, the Packers' director of marketing and corporate sales, said the team wanted to select a sponsor that was community-minded.

"It was important for us to align with a partner we have worked closely with in the past," Benzel said. "It was important that they are so community minded."

The patch itself, he said, is tasteful. "We think the size is perfect," Benzel said.
A local sponsor makes sense, since the practice jerseys don't see much press outside of the immediate area.

UPDATE: Now we've seen it (above). Not sure I'd call it "tasteful" myself, but so long as it remains confined to Nitschke Field I'm okay with it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Good Sign

The NFL has created a new warning sign about the effects of concussions, to be hung in every locker room this upcoming season.

A version of this will also be given to all active players in the form of a brochure.

I'm still concerned that the focus on concussions allows the league to ignore the greater problem of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE may be caused by repeated blows to the head, even those that don't necessarily rise to the level of a concussion. Evidence suggests that the small hits that every player takes again and again and again over decades of play, can add up and finally trigger the onset of the progressive neurodegenerative disease. Pretending that concussions are the only problem, or even the primary problem, is to ignore this great danger lurking on the field of every game.

But small steps. What's really important here is that after years of denial, the NFL is finally admitting that the game has serious and long-ranging consequences for the men who play it. And it's about time.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ol' Blue Eyes is Back

Well, after all the waiting, the third jerseys (and related merchandise) have arrived at the Packers Pro Shop.

Jerseys are currently being offered in two flavors, Authentic and Replica. Authentic jerseys have cuffed sleeves and tackle-twill numbers:

Replicas have loose sleeves and silk-screened numbers:

Also available, as one might suspect, is a whole range of merchandise and casual wear. From helmets to genuine authentic sideline gear, casual wear to tchochkes galore.

As a fan of the blue and gold color scheme (and pretty much anything which helps raise awareness of the Packers' long and glorious pre-Lombardi history), I approve, although it's a little disappointing that much of the throwback merchandise is wholly inauthentic, designed entirely in the 21st Century for a modern audience and bearing little to no resemblance to anything actually found in the period.

There is a certain justification for this; as the concept of "brand identity" was not yet in vogue in the 1920s. Teams never foresaw the merchandising boom which drives and defines the modern game, and consequently many of today's hallmarks have no historical antecedents.

To that end, I understand the decision to conflate elements from different points of the 1920s into one identity system. The 1929 jersey doesn't carry with it a contemporaneous logo, so we reach back to 1921, and "ACME PACKERS" side sits by side with the much-later jersey.

Still, there's no reason that the Packers couldn't have used the actual period wordmark. The original, as we've seen, was a bold sans-serif, gold letters across the navy jersey.

The contemporary merchandise uses a few different wordmarks, none of them particularly close to the original.

There is one product, however, which is worth special mention.

This Acme Jersey Tee, from throwback jersey manufacturer Mitchell & Ness, is "designed to replicate the original 1929 jersey." Aside from their annoying tendency to slap their logo on everything they can, it's a pretty good throwback.

The number on the front is comprised of two letters of felt appliqué:

This could be the first commercially available 1929 throwback jersey. Pity they don't offer number customization; there are four members of that 1929 Blues club in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Curly Lambeau's #20, Johnny Blood's #24, Cal Hubbard's #39 or Mike Michalske's #36 would be so much better than the generic double-zero.

Beautiful. And as close a replica as you're likely to see of the actual jersey, worn by the Packers when they captured their first World Championship eight decades ago.

You might not be able to play like Johnny Blood, but at least you can dress a little like him.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Auction Gold - Jim Taylor's 1966 Sideline Jacket

This 1966 sideline jacket, attributed to Jim Taylor, was sold at auction in 2008.

1966 Green Bay Packers Game Worn Sideline Jacket Attributed to Jim Taylor. Jim Taylor will always be renowned as the Packers gritty fullback who ran over defenders with ease, joining fellow Canton resident Bart Starr as the twin hearts of the Green Bay offense. Not only did the great Hall of Famer display extraordinary strength on the Lombardi dynasty teams of the 1960's, but he also exemplified the heart of a champion. Taylor would exit the game at the top, with his final contest a victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl I in 1966, the season he made use of the offered garment. As confirmed by numerous video images, Taylor wore this style warm up during home and road games. This example features the player identification "31," affixed to the base of the body in the same manner as "PACKERS," which arches across the back of the jacket in gold tackle twill lettering. The "Sand Knit [size] 50" tag in the neckline is consistent with apparel produced by the company in 1962, and proper for Taylor's build. The remnants of some form of tagging is apparent below, but we cannot determine what this may have been. Condition of the jacket is fantastic throughout, with none of the staining or moth damage one typically encounters from this era. This Canton-worthy artifact has been graded an A9 by MEARS and comes with their full Letter of Opinion, along with images used for style matching. LOA from MEARS. LOA from Lou Lampson.
Now, while I personally wouldn't trust a LOA from Lou Lampson any farther than I could throw Lambeau Field, MEARS has always been very reputable. Were I ever to want something authenticated, they'd be my first stop.

Here's the tag mentioned. Sand-Knit was founded in Chicago before relocating to Ripon, Wisconsin in 1953. Its factory was eventually acquired by Ripon Athletic, which continues to produce athletic uniforms and award jackets today (including, under contract from Reebok, the Packers' uniforms).

Here's a close look at the numbers on the sleeve.

I love the font, as it reminds me of the Packers' 1940s jerseys.

Finally, we have a photo of Jim Taylor wearing the same style jacket:

The shot of cornerback Bob Jeter is the best picture I've seen of these jackets:

I love how the cuff and collar striping mimics the "Packer stripes" - green/white/green on gold.

You can also see these jackets in this famous photo of Vince Lombardi prowling the sidelines at Tiger Stadium in Detroit:

The lettering style doesn't quite match our Taylor jacket, although that in and of itself may not be significant - in the days before computer design, the Packers were known to mix-and-match lettering styles, as seen in photos from the 1962 World Championship game in Yankee Stadium.

All in all, an amazing exemplar of mid-60s Packer style.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Making National News

The Packers' new throwback uniforms were a topic of discussion on ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption" last night, guest-hosted by columnists Dan Le Betard and Bob Ryan of the Miami Herald and Boston Globe, respectively.

During the "Report Card" segment program of the show, the sportswriters had this to say:

Host Tony Reali: The Packers' new uniforms, or alternate uniforms, let's get a grade on that.

Bob Ryan: Now, I don't usually care too much about this stuff. But this, these are uniforms that probably they wore in the 20s. And it's the Green Bay Packers, who have been in existence since 1920, I give this an A+. If they wear these uniforms - I hope they do it actually against the Bears, and make them wear it too - I think this is sensational.

Dan Le Betard: They're doing it against the Niners. I wish they would do this also, just keep going with this, what else can they do? Leather helmets, no facemasks, what else -

Ryan: Nah, stop it.

Le Betard: What?

Ryan: Stop with this. But this is good.

Le Betard: No. Why? You like the old throwbacks.

Ryan: I don't want any people getting hurt with leather helmets.

Le Betard: Keep going! This is all a profitable gesture, right? This is all about making money, is it not? So that's the only - I guess that would be the only negative.

Ryan: I give it an A. A A A A A!

Le Betard: A-minus.

Ryan's slightly shaky history aside (although "1920" is an improvement over the NFL-approved 1921), I have to agree. Sure, this is about making money. Virtually everything the NFL does is. But if raising awareness of the Bays' rich sartorial history is merely an unintended side-effect, I'm all for it. subscribers can watch the clip here.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mark Your Calendars

The 2010 season is starting to come into focus - the Packers have announced the date for their new throwback uniforms.

The Packers will be wearing their 1929-inspired throwback blues on December 5th, when the San Francisco 49ers come to Lambeau Field. Anybody got a spare ticket?

(h/t: Jeff Ash)