Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Am I Blue?

In advance of Saturday's throwback game, Packers.com has been given a makeover, to reflect the team's temporary new/old color scheme:
Clicking through the splash page reveals even more blue and gold glory:
I love it when they do things like this - NFL.com frequently swaps out the team logos with throwback versions in the week leading up to Thanksgiving throwbacks and events like last year's AFL anniversary tributes.

The Packers have also posted a great video of team seamstress Marge Switzer (who was profiled two years ago on Uni Watch) preparing the blue jerseys for game action. It's a rare look behind the uniform scenes. Fun fact: it takes an estimated 105 to 140 hours to customize and prepare the throwback uniforms for their single game's action.

I'm also intrigued that the helmets are brand new; unlike many teams which introduce alternate helmets in training camp, equipment manager Red Batty has to break them in just days before their first game.

There's also a wonderful photo gallery of Switzer and Batty customizing and prepping the equipment.

I'm going to really love this game.

Each player will be issued two uniforms; a backup he can keep for himself, and the game uniform which will be kept by the club for purposes as yet unknown. I really hope the Packers auction them off after the season - for those of us who love Packers history, this could be the centerpiece of a collection.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Tip of the (Monogrammed) Cap

Vince Lombardi is shown here in Training Camp in the fall of 1962, wearing one of his additions to Green Bay's sartorial history, a green baseball cap with interlocking gold "GB" monogram.

The first coaches' caps were plain and unadorned:

In the first few years, however, Vince tweaked his coaches' gear as often as he tweaked the uniforms, adding a dash of color and style which lasted throughout his tenure with the club and beyond.

In its first incarnation, the monogram was a patch applied to the cap, perhaps even the same plain caps they wore in 1959. The patch can clearly be seen on this photo of assistant coach Phil Bengtson from a 1962 program.

Just as an aside, although he was a fine defensive coach, I don't think Phil Bengtson ever took a decent photo. There's something awkward about him, the soft-focus faraway stare coupled with the angle at which he held his head when posing, that makes every posed picture look artificial.

Before the 1962 season, the patch was replaced by a monogram directly embroidered onto the crown.

This cap would develop a patina of authority. Unlike modern-day sideline caps, it wasn't worn by players. It wasn't sold to fans. It was the exclusive province of the coaches:

There's the patented "Bengtson stare" again, looking for all the world like he was crudely Photoshopped into that group picture.

Lombardi continued to wear the "GB" cap throughout his tenure in Green Bay. Although he favored his fedora on game days, the "GB" cap was a feature in practice and training camp, as seen in this 1966 photo:

By 1968, Lombardi had stepped aside as head coach, and Bengtson took over, faraway gaze and all.

Unlike every Packer coach before him, Bengtson did not begin his tenure by overhauling the uniforms (Lombardi's continuing role as general manager likely had something to do with that). The now-famous look stayed in place, right down to the same baseball caps.

Unfortunately, Bengtson couldn't repeat his mentor's success on the field, and the Packers looked outside the organization for a new head coach. Dan Devine, then coaching the University of Missouri, was hired to bring in a new philosophy. Though he might have been an outsider, he retained the same basic æsthetic when it came to gear.

The Packers' head coach wasn't the only thing changing in the early 1970s. Fedoras and camel hair coats were out, and coaches were increasingly dressed in casual, brightly colored team gear. In a nod to this changing convention, Devine wore his "GB" baseball cap on the sidelines.

When it came time to look for Devine's replacement in 1975, the Packers brought back legendary quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Bart Starr.

As you can see, Coach Starr tended to favor headwear of a somewhat less timeless persuasion.

The cap appears to have lingered for a while, including a guest appearance on the cover of the club's 1976 Media Guide, but I'm not aware of Starr ever wearing one during his tenure.

Whether the choice was Starr's or someone else's, the "GB" cap faded away into the mists of the Packers' glorious history.

Faded away, that is, until somebody figured out that there's money to be made in that history. But that's a story for another time.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

1944 Championship Highlights

On December 17, 1944 at the Polo Grounds in Upper Manhattan, the Packers squared off against the New York Football Giants in the 1944 title game. The Packers took the contest 14-7, to claim a sixth World Championship for Coach Lambeau.

Interesting to see the color-on-color matchup, with the Packers' navy and gold jerseys against the Giants' royal blue.

Monday, November 15, 2010

He's Huge Down Under

ESPN Australia's home page currently features some interesting ads:

So ESPN Australia has moved to Channel 211, eh? Set your remotes.

It's strange to see three digits splashed across a football player's chest. And while the quick and easy Photoshop #12-into-211 was likely the reason for choosing Rodgers, it's still great to see a Packer get a little international exposure.

Who knows? This could be the beginning of a whole new fanbase for the Packers. Now we just need to get in on a London game....

(h/t Uni Watch, Katie Kopo)

Friday, November 12, 2010

They Wuz Robbed

This is the 1932 Packers squad, poised to defend their three-peat World Championship.

After winning it all in 1929, 1930 and 1931, the Packers rolled to a 10-3-1 record, which in those days before a championship game should have been good enough for an unprecedented four in a row.

Unfortunately for the Packers, the NFL discarded ties when determining standings. That meant the Bears, with a less-impressive 7-1-6 record, actually had a better winning percentage (.875 over the Big Bay Blues' .769) and were awarded the crown. Shameful.

On the uniform front, the Packers are shown wearing the unadorned blue shirts and gold pants Lambeau adopted in 1931. These simple uniforms would endure (save for the addition of white numbers to the chest in 1934) until Curly decided a total overhaul was needed and gave Green Bay their first green uniforms in 1935.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Acme of Football

This is the squad that Curly Lambeau led into the fledgling American Professional Football Association in 1921, as the Packers went from independent powerhouse to member of the nation's top pro circuit.

GREEN BAY "PACKER'S" (sic) 1921

Martell, R. Lambeau, Cook, Abrams, DuMoe, Wheeler, Wagner, Coughlin, Barry, Carey, Murray, Lambeau, Hayes, Buck, Schmael, Wilson, Ladrow, (?), Howard, Klaus, McLean, Powers, LeClair
Although the team wore the Acme Packing Company's name across their chests, they never adopted that as an official team name. "Green Bay Packers" is the oldest team name in the National Football League, predating by two years "Chicago Bears" (which had previously gone by "Decatur Staleys" and "Chicago Staleys").

We also note that some players are wearing the sponsor name, and some are not; uniforms would soon be standardized but hadn't gotten there yet.

In recent years, the Packers have realized there is value in the team's roots, and "Acme Packers" has recently made its way to team merchandise:

It seems as though the Acme Packing Company, though long gone, may never be forgotten.