Friday, February 4, 2011

A Banner Year

H. Marc Larson/Green Bay Press-Gazette

Jeff Ash of the Green Bay Press-Gazette's excellent "Playoff State of Mind" blog (which is filling in for the "Out of Bounds" blog during the postseason) brings us these great photos, as city workers hang "Titletown" banners in downtown Green Bay.

Jeff is reminded of the 1961 NFL Championship game, the first title game played at what was then known as "New City Stadium". The Packers faced off against the New York Football Giants on a frosty December 31 in Green Bay.

Here we see workmen removing a layer of hay from the playing surface at 6:00 am the day of the game. The hay, which formed a one-foot padding on top of the field tarpaulin, was used to protect the field in the harsh temperatures.

Wisconsin Historical Society

As today, banners were hung about the city to promote the game and the city.

Press-Gazette archives

It's interesting to note that the banners reference Green Bay's famous nickname. I suspect that many football fans think "Titletown" refers to Vince Lombardi's 1960s dynasty, which won five World Championships in a seven-year span. But when this banner was hung, Lombardi hadn't won anything other than a single Western Division title. That was from the season before, when the Packers lost the title game to the Philadelphia Eagles.

"Titletown" originally referred to the six World Championships won by Curly Lambeau's squads, in 1929, 1930, 1931, 1939 and 1944.

Here's what those 1961 banners looked like in color, from's video of the game:

The Packers crushed the Giants 37-0 and began their incredible run of dominance on their way to being crowned the team of the 1960s.

Press-Gazette archives

Most of the banners were stolen as fans celebrated downtown. If the Packers beat the Steelers on Sunday, I suspect that the City of Green Bay could sell these new ones for a pretty penny to ravenous Packer Backers.

That's football in Titletown.

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