Monday, February 21, 2011

For Art's Sake

Press-Gazette archives
Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi looks over the first Green Bay Packers Yearbook with Press-Gazette sports editor Art Daley in July 1960. Daley and Press-Gazette promotions manager Jack Yuenger founded the publication.
Longtime Press-Gazette reporter Art Daley passed away yesterday at 94. He had a long relationship with the Packers, first covering the team in 1942.

Daley went into the Army in 1943 before returning to the Press-Gazette as sports editor in 1946. He was on the Packers beat for the rest of his life, first for the Press-Gazette and then for Packer Report magazine.

Art Daley
Green Bay Press-Gazette sports editor Art Daley's notebook from the game between the Packers and the Chicago Bears at old City Stadium on Sept. 28, 1947. This page shows the beginning of the game, with the first drives by both teams. The Packers won 29-20.
Daley came to the Packer beat at a very turbulent time. Team icon Curly Lambeau was locked in a struggle for control with the board of directors, a struggle which would eventually force Lambeau away from the team he founded thirty years earlier.

Press-Gazette archives
Green Bay Packers coach and general manager Curly Lambeau, left, walks out of a meeting at the Brown County Courthouse in Green Bay on Nov. 30, 1949, at which his contract was renewed for two years. From left are Lambeau, team president Emil Fischer and Green Bay Press-Gazette sports writer Art Daley, who's listening to a statement by team director John Torinus.
The contract renewal should have been a triumphant moment, an affirmation of Curly's position as head of the club, but their faces betray darker emotions. The power struggle was coming to a head, and twelve short weeks later, Lambeau would resign his position in Green Bay and take over as coach of the Chicago Cardinals.

After Lambeau left the Packers, Daley was saddled with some of the worst teams the Packers have ever seen. Historian Larry Names called the 1950s the "the shameful years" in his four-volume history of the team. All that would change in 1959, when the Packers hired the New York Football Giants' offensive coordinator to coach the team, and Vincent Thomas Lombardi started transforming a perennial loser into the sport's greatest dynasty. All of a sudden, it must have been much more interesting to cover the Packers.

Daley worked closely with Lombardi, who saw the Yearbook as an excellent promotional tool.

Press-Gazette archives
Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi looks at the 1962 Packers yearbook with Green Bay Press-Gazette sports editor Art Daley, its publisher.
There was a time when the relationship between the two men was strained. For the cover of the 1965 Yearbook, Daley selected a photo of Lombardi shaking hands with Curly Lambeau, who had passed away on June 1.

Daley didn't count on the animosity between the two men. Lombardi's disdain for Lambeau was legendary—he reportedly opposed renaming New City Stadium after Lambeau's death—and the coach wasn't happy to share the cover with him. Daley remembers the angry phone call when Lombardi saw the finished product: "'What do you mean putting me on the cover with him?' After he said, 'That was the worst yearbook you ever put out,' the phone clicked." Lombardi didn't speak to Daley for weeks.

Daley was a charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee, casting his vote as the Green Bay representative from 1963, the Hall's first year, through 1998. He was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame as a contributor in 1993.

As for the Yearbook, Daley bought out his partner in 1978, taking sole ownership of the Yearbook before selling it in 1984. It was later sold to the Packers, who publish it today.

The Green Bay Packers Yearbook is an invaluable record of the team's history – if only it had been around for the team's first four decades. And speaking of that history, Daley must have seen some great football games from his vantage point in the press box. How many can lay claim to watching Coaches Lambeau and Lombardi prowl the sidelines?

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