Sunday, September 25, 2011

White After Labor Day - 1939 Team Photo

Ladies and Gentlemen, your World Champion 1939 Green Bay Packers, proudly posing in their alternate white jerseys.

Green Bay Press-Gazette archives
Back row (left to right): John Brennan (37); Frank Balazs (35); Harry Jacunski (48); Warren Kilbourne (58); Frank Steen (36); Tom Greenfield (56); Buford "Baby" Ray (44); Carl "Moose" Mulleneaux (19); Larry Buhler (52); Allen Moore (55); Don Hutson (14); Charles Schultz (60); Clarence Thompson (10); Assistant Coach Richard (Red) Smith.
Middle row: Coach Curly Lambeau; Larry Craig (54); Paul Kell (41); Clarke Hinkle (30); Milt Gantenbein (22); Arnie Herber (38); Earl Svendsen (53); Bill Lee (40); Cecil Isbell (17); Charles "Buckets" Goldenberg (43); Hank Bruder (5); Lee Mulleneaux (18); Russ Letlow (46); Paul (Tiny) Engebretsen (34).
Front row: Andy Uram (42); Charley Brock (29); Don Wilson (49); Herm Schneidman (51); Joe Laws (24); Clarence Thompson (50); Dick Zoll (57); Francis Twedell (62); Chester "Swede" Johnson (15); Dick Weisgerber (33); Pete Tinsley (21); John Biolo (32); Ed Jankowski (7).
This simple and elegant, with green numbers on a solid white jersey, formed the basis of the Packers' 2001 Thanksgiving throwbacks.

The Packers didn't get those throwbacks quite right, though. They used their standard block numbers, as seen here on Brett Favre as he munches down on postgame turducken:

Getty Images

The original uniform, as worn by Don Hutson, utilized a simpler number style.

Maple Leaf Productions, on the other hand, got the numbers right on their Packers uniform history plaque:

The Packers didn't have a #27 on the roster that year, but artist Tino Paolini borrowed Larry Buhler's 52 and Cecil Isbell's 17.

One more note on 1939; it wasn't only a white-and-green season. The Packers wore the whites in rotation with the era-defining gold-yoked blue jerseys. And on the biggest stage, the world championship game against the Giants, Curly's boys took the field at Wisconsin State Fair Park in their blues.

Although they were short-lived, I've always liked these white jerseys, certainly much more than the mismatched, overly-striped 1980s road jerseys they wear now. And in this age of disappearing sleeves, perhaps a simple design like this could make a comeback. Paired with the Packers' classic gold pants and helmets, I don't think even Emily Post would mind seeing these whites after Labor Day.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

We Carry a Badge, Too.

Not to be outdone by their Green Bay counterparts, some Ashwaubenon Public Safety officers are wearing their own badges commemorating the Green Bay Packers' Super Bowl win.

Nice idea, but doesn't quite work as well without the logo.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Remembering 9/11, Ten Years Later

Perry Knotts /

Because the Packers played their game on Thursday night, not Sunday, they missed out on the league-wide tribute to 9/11.

Like all league-wide events, the 9/11 remembrance event was accompanied by an official NFL event logo, and teams playing on the actual anniversary of the 9/11 attacks wore this patch on their jerseys:

(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Most teams wore it over their heart, but the Steelers and Jets, who already have that real estate allocated for a team patch, wore the ribbon patch on the other side.

(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

This caused something of a traffic jam for the Jets, who wear a regular logo patch along with the league-approved captain's "C" patches.

(Elsa/Getty Images)

Coaches and other staff members wore a ribbon version of the logo.

(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

And, of course, the logo was slapped pretty much everywhere the NFL could think.

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The Packers and Saints weren't the only ones who missed the event; none of the teams playing on Monday night — the Raiders, Broncos, Dolphins and Patriots — wore the ribbon on their uniforms.

Rather surprising, but perhaps it shouldn't be. Unfortunately, a few players (not to mention a certain NFL "merchandise partner") used the anniversary as an attempt to grab a little attention.

(AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

You stay classy.

Aside from those minor blips, this weekend was a fairly dignified remembrance of a very solemn memorial.

(Mitch Stringer-US PRESSWIRE)

Well, make that more or less dignified. Guess you can't have everything.

Friday, September 9, 2011

High 5 for Opening Day

Last night, the NFL opened its 2011 season with a game hosted by the reigning World Champions at Lambeau Field.

As part of the pre-game ceremony, a legend from each team gathered on the field, hoisting their team's colors at the end of the tunnel.

And who was chosen to be the standard-bearer for the Green Bay Packers?

That's right, none other than Vince Lombardi's field general, Mister Bart Starr.

I couldn't help but notice the replica jersey he's wearing. See anything interesting?

His jersey features a straight-5, similar to those worn by the Packers in the late 1970s. Not that the replica goes back that far, but until recently it was not uncommon for teams to use stock fonts for replicas, regardless of what the teams actually use.

Then again, the "NFL EQUIPMENT" patch was added at the same time that Reebok overhauled its replica program, among other things standardizing the number fonts. So it's possibly an old replica with that patch added.

Starr wasn't the only Packers alum wearing a jersey. Former linebacker Chris Gizzi, who as an Air Force Academy graduate was a reservist in 2001, recreated his triumphant run onto the field before the first game after the 9/11 attacks.

His jersey has the correct numbering. That's what the NFL somewhat inauthentically refers to as an "authentic" jersey. It's similar in cut and construction to those the players wear on the field (save those players who wear Reebok's super-stretchy new shirts). The elastic cuffs are a dead giveaway.

I wonder if Gizzi's jersey was made specially for the occassion, while Starr (who is obviously more likely to need a Packers jersey with his name on it) is wearing an old one repurposed.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Here We Go

Tonight, the Packers will run through the tunnel at Lambeau Field, and the 2011 season will start.

Although the tunnel was moved a few years ago as part of the stadium's renovations, the tradition of running through the tunnel from the locker room to the field remains a link between the players of today and the legends who have worn the green and gold going back to the 1950s.

These signs, among the last things a player would see before taking the field, were placed in what was then called (New) City Stadium by Vince Lombardi. He was an early adopter of inspirational posters, which he used to motivate his players and set the tone for the organization. Personally, I think the top one's a little wordy, but the bottom sign has a nice punch to it.

Go! You, Packers, Go! Beat the Saints, and bring the bacon home to old Green Bay!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Eat Your Wheaties, 2010 Edition

General Mills has unveiled its Super Bowl XLV commemorative boxes. Since 1934, the Wheaties box has celebrated the most notable athletes of the day. This year, there are two. Aaron Rodgers graces the regular Wheaties cereal, and Clay Matthews is featured on the new Wheaties FUEL.

These will be available only in the state of Wisconsin, starting in about a month's time. Those outside of the Badger State will have to resort to local connections or eBay. Or you could buy them directly from the Packers Pro Shop ($69.95 each, including display case).

The player choice is interesting. Matthews and Rodgers are linked as symbols of the Super Bowl-winning team. One representative of the offense, one of the defense, similar to the Favre/White dynamic of the 1990s team.

The picture of the two of them standing on the platform, wearing white t-shirts and surrounded by falling confetti, is one of the defining images of Super Bowl XLV. It has been reproduced on any number of commemorative volumes.

So remember, Wisconsinites: eat your Wheaties!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

When the Saints Came Marching In to Milwaukee (and Stumbled Out)

In honor of the Packers' 2011 season opener against the Saints, the Green Bay Press-Gazette is running a photo gallery of the first meeting between the two teams, played at at Milwaukee County Stadium on November 17, 1968.

The expansion Saints had an interesting relationship with the Packers in their early days. Jim Taylor, frustrated with the increasing salaries given to each class of rookies, went to New Orleans in his final year seeking the money he knew Lombardi would never give him. Paul Hornung similarly tried to orchestrate a transfer to the new franchise, seeking television fame and fortune in a larger media market. He arranged for Saints coach Tom Fears to pick him up off the expansion draft list, a scheme foiled only by a diagnosis of cumulative spinal injuries that forced the Golden Boy's retirement from football altogether.

The Packers, in their first year under new head coach Phil Bengtson, were still wearing the "glory years" uniforms developed under Vince Lombardi.

Green Bay Packers linebacker Dave Robinson is about strip the ball from New Orleans Saints running back Don McCall during the first quarter at Milwaukee County Stadium on Nov. 17, 1968. Packers cornerback Herb Adderley (26) watches at right. The Packers won 29-7 in the first game between the teams.
After wearing Braisher stripes in their first season, the Saints wore an inverted white/black/white pattern in 1968.

Green Bay Packers safety Tom Brown (40) is about to pick up a fumble by New Orleans Saints running back Don McCall (36) and return it 22 yards for a touchdown at Milwaukee County Stadium on Nov. 17, 1968. Packers cornerback Herb Adderley (26) and defensive end Willie Davis (87) are on either side of McCall. Saints quarterback Karl Sweetan (14) watches from behind. Packers linebacker Ray Nitschke (66) is at right.
What's particularly interesting to me is not the on-field uniforms, which were identical to those the Packers had worn since 1965, but the post-game photos:

Green Bay Packers linebacker Fred Carr dresses after a 29-7 victory over the New Orleans Saints at Milwaukee County Stadium on Nov. 17, 1968.
Love the Miller High Life product placement on the lockers. Not uncommon to see during the Milwaukee Braves era, but it also extended to the Packers when they played in the Cream City.

My favorite photo is Bengtson talking with the press after the win.

Longtime readers will recognize Phil decked out in two sideline items we've covered before: his "GB" monogram cap and classic half-zip sideline jacket.

Looking pretty sharp there, Coach. And so were the Packers on that November day. Let's hope McCarthy's boys can pull out a similarly decisive victory as they start looking for their fourteenth World Championship.

Photo credit: Press-Gazette archives

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Taking the "Mc"key, 1979

Another item of note in the recent the Green Bay Press-Gazette Packers/Chiefs 1979 photo gallery is the Name on Back (NOB) worn by cornerback Mike McCoy, seen here trying to block Jan Stenerud's kick.

Press-Gazette archives

At the time, the team used one size letters with a space for the Gaelic prefix. The Packers haven't had a "Mc" on the roster since Mike McKenzie left in 2004, but at that time they used a small-cap "c" without a space to set it off. It's hard to find documentation, given McKenzie's singular hairstyle, but you can just about see it here:

Perhaps McCoy's space, like the distinctive number "5"s in use then, was standard from the uniform supplier of the day. There was a time when teams adapted their number styles to fit the manufacturers' catalogue, rather than the other way around.

Friday, September 2, 2011

High 5 from 1979

With the Packers taking on Kansas City in the final preseason game of 2011, the Green Bay Press-Gazette is currently running a photo gallery featuring a preseason Packers/Chiefs matchup from 1979. I saw something in that gallery which piqued my interest.

In this photo, guard Derrel Gofourth (57), linebacker Rich Wingo (50) and center/future color commentator Larry McCarren (54) take the field:

Press-Gazette archives

Check out the right angle on those 5s, and contrast with the modern hooked numbers:

The Packers' hooked 5 goes all the way back to the Lombardi era:

Perhaps this straightened digit indicates a "house font" from their uniform supplier at the time. This was far more common in the 1960s, but doesn't seem all that unlikely in 1979.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Arts and Letter(head)s, Part IV

This letter was sent on April 12, 1950 by former team president Lee Johannes to staff members working on the Packers' third stock drive, then in full swing.

Wisconsin Historical Society

As you know I am layed up and haven't been able to get around as much as I would like to follow through on the Packer Drive, following the kick-off of our group at the Beaumont Hotel.

You have undoubtedly seen the score board that we have on the Court House lawn, and, of course, we want to keep old No. 14 moving up. In order to do that it is necessary that you complete your pledges and turn them into the Packer Ticket Office.

I sincerely hope that the "Special Commitee" will be able to complete its calls this week and have them all turned in so that when the general committee has their report meeting next Monday night we will be able to report that the Special Committee has completed their work. I would greatly appreciate hearing from you. If you have any problems you would like to discuss with me call my home De Pere 554.

Very truly yours,

Lee Johannes, Chairman
Packer Stock Drive
We've seen rough photocopies of this letterhead style before, but this is the first color example I've seen. I like the green and gold, with bold action graphics along the top.

It's interesting that Joannes was using this particular letterhead in 1950; the "Five Times World's Champions" script along the bottom dates it to between 1939 and 1944, the Packers' fifth and sixth titles, respectively.