Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Arts and Letter(head)s, Part III

This sterling example of late-1940 Packers letterhead. It was sent on June 1, 1947 to returning players — this particular copy went to defensive tackle Ed Neal — along with the team's playbook.

In the purple ink of a hand-cranked mimeograph machine, head coach Curly Lambeau gives a quick overview of the playbook and invokes secrecy:
The sheet's graphics are bold and clear, six decades later. The top of the letterhead features an unusual wordmark in the team's proud gold and blue.

Along the bottom, partially obscured by Curly's mimeographed signature, flags representing the team's six titles.

The Packers continued to use this style of letterhead even after Lambeau was forced out, as seen on this October 1950 letter from new coach Gene Ronzani to West Coast scout Clark Shaughnessy:

It also appears that the ever-thrifty Packers re-used the old Lambeau letterhead, either before the Ronzani version was delivered or simply to use up old stock. This letter was sent by chairman Lee Joannes on March 5, 1950, almost exactly one month after Ronzani took the reins, as part of a planning session for the team's upcoming stock sale:

Curly's name has been blocked out by a solid blue line:

An ignominious end to Lambeau's thirty years in charge, to be sure, but at least his successors were frugal.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Throwback Encore Confirmed


As we suspected, the Packers have confirmed that the 1929-style throwbacks will be making another appearance at Lambeau Field this season. This year, it will be October 16th against the Rams.

Personally, I'd rather not see them wear the navy-and-tan against a navy-and-metallic-gold team, but that's their choice. Maybe they'll outfit the Rams in their 1950s gold uniforms just to provide a little visual contrast.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Throwback Encore?

The Packers Pro Shop has been restocked with 1929 throwback jerseys and merchandise; more reason to believe that they'll be wearing it again this season.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

2010 Director Ring

The Green Bay Press-Gazette recently ran a photo essay on St. Norbert College president Thomas Kunkel, a member of the Green Bay Packers' Board of Directors. He brought his Super Bowl XLV ring to a show-and-tell session at school, giving us our first good look at the directors' rings.

Unlike in 1996, the 2010 rings appear to be identical to those issued to players:


On the one shank, the team name and Lombardi Trophy. Just like the player rings.

The other shank features Kunkel's name over a relief of Lambeau Field.

Pity we don't have a better view of this side; we can't see what's present under the stadium. McCarthy's ring says "HC", the players' rings have their number in a circle inspired by the throwback uniforms. What do they do for the directors?

The inside of the ring lists the path the Packers took through the playoffs, and the tribute to Charles Woodson's "One Thing" postgame speech following the win over the Bears in the NFC Championship game:

So it appears that the directors' ring is the same as that issued to the players and coaching staff. Maybe soon we'll get a better look at that one shank to know for sure.

(Photos courtesy of Scott Crevier, St. Norbert College)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I Carry a Badge

Interesting news from the Green Bay Police Department:


Green Bay police wear new Green Bay Packers-inspired badges

Officers sport Super-Bowl themed marks of honor

Some Green Bay police have begun sporting a slightly different look, courtesy of the city's championship football team.

A new badge bearing the Green Bay Packers logo began appearing this past week on some officers' uniforms. Gold lettering on the badge proclaims, "Green Bay Police" and "Super Bowl Champions, XLV." Smaller green letters remind people of the city's status as "Titletown, U.S.A."

Department leaders authorized the creation of the badge this year after the team won its fourth Super Bowl title. Officers may purchase the badges for use until next August. Officers also may elect to wear the department's traditional badge.

— Doug Schneider/Press-Gazette
Where are they going to put the badge number?

For comparison, the "traditional badge" is just that:


I remember a special New Orleans Police Department badge commemorating Super Bowl XXXI. Those appear on the collectors' market from time to time; wonder when we'll see these new badges show up in private collections. Anyone know Wisconsin law on the legality of collecting police memorabilia?

UPDATE 10/19: The new badges have started to appear on GBPD officers, including those conducting gameday security checks at Lambeau Field:

Monday, August 15, 2011

Green and Gold Against the Browns, 1954 preseason

This past weekend, the Packers launched the 2011 preseason game in Cleveland. To mark the occassion, the Green Bay Press-Gazette has posted a gallery of action shots from a preseason bout between the Packers and Browns at the original City Stadium on Aug. 21, 1954.

Press-Gazette archives

Green Bay Packers end Billy Howton (86) scores a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns during a preseason game at old City Stadium on Aug. 21, 1954. Browns safety Ken Konz is at right. The Browns won 14-13.
The Packers are wearing green jerseys with metallic gold helmets, numbers and pants, while the Browns are dressed in a special preseason-only orange jersey with brown numbers. The result is a far cry from the color-vs.-white matchups we see today.

Press-Gazette archives
Two Green Bay Packers defenders get ready to lower the boom on a Cleveland Browns runner during a preseason game at old City Stadium on Aug. 21, 1954.
Press-Gazette archives
Green Bay Packers safety Bobby Dillon upends Cleveland Browns fullback Fred Morrison during a preseason game at old City Stadium on Aug. 21, 1954.
Good stuff.

The rest of the gallery is here.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Green, Gold and White House - 2011 edition

Today, the Packers made the next step on their World Championship tour; a stop at the White House.

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Gotta love somebody bringing a cheesehead to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

President Obama was in fine form, greeting his favorite team's rival:
"I'm just going to say it. This hurts a little bit. This is a hard thing for a Bears fan to do. It doesn't hurt as much as the NFC Championship game hurt, but it still hurts — you guys coming to my house to rub it in. What are you going to do — go to Ditka's house next?"
The Packers, as is customary, presented the President with a personalized jersey.

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The NOB is a little awkward. Obama is usually associated with #44, but that one is in use by James Stark, so I guess they figured #1 was preferable.

This only adds to my contention that #1 should be retired. It's only ever been issued to one player; Curly Lambeau himself. The Packers could retire it, keeping it out of circulation and reserved it for first-round draft picks and heads of state.

Rodgers noted that Obama's green and gold jersey was unlikely to be prominently displayed in the White House.

"I'm not sure this one's going to make a wall or even a first storage unit. Might be in one of the backup storage units."
If a jersey is the standard gift, the Packers also brought something no other team could offer: one share of stock.

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

President Obama wasted no time exercising his responsibilities as a stockholder.
"If I'm a part owner, I think we should initiate a trade to send (Aaron) Rodgers down to the Bears."
At that point, Charles Woodson stepped up to the microphone and reminded the President he'd need to accumulate more shares before he could dictate trades.

I wonder who donated the share?

The President had one final thought for the Packers as they prepared to head to Cleveland for the first preseason game:
"Enjoy it while it lasts, because Bears fans have two dates circled on our calendars; September 25th and Sunday Night Football on Christmas Day.

And if you guys are on a roll by then, just keep in mind that there's only one person here who can ground all planes in and out of Green Bay — if he has to."

Monday, August 8, 2011

Canton's Trail Blazers

The Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2011 was inducted at Canton over the weekend. It was notable not only for Shannon Sharpe's moving tribute to his brother (and reminder of what Sterling could have been had a neck injury not cut his career short), but for another detail that should interest us.

Gary A. Vasquez/NFL

The Hall of Fame has changed the patch worn on the inductees' distinctive golden blazers.

Prior to this season, the blazer featured the words "NFL Alumni", as seen on Dick LeBeau, one of last year's inductees:

Ben Liebenberg/NFL

Is this a sign that the Pro Football Hall of Fame might be moving away from its "NFL Hall of Fame" reputation? Or just a new exercise in branding to promote the Hall's logo? They might have removed the three letters, but the blazer patch still conspicuously borrows its shape from the NFL's shield.

These patch games made me wonder just when did the tradition of the golden jacket start, anyway? The charter enshrinees didn't wear them.

Members of the Class of 1963 — including four Packers (Johnny "Blood" McNally, Cal Hubbard, Don Hutson and Curly Lambeau) — pose with their busts in front of the newly-opened Hall of Fame building in Canton.
A quick perusal of the Hall of Fame's site indicates that the tradition of the golden blazer started in the late 1970s (the color might have given that away). This was a time when Lombardi's Packers started to take their place with the game's immortals. Bart Starr and Forrest Gregg were members of the Class of 1977, and when photographed holding their busts were wearing their own sportcoats.

Ray Nitschke follwed in 1978, clad in the now-familiar golden blazer.

Doesn't look as though they were terribly concerned about appearing too chummy with the league — his blazer patch is the NFL logo!

That design was short-lived, and the second class to wear golden blazers, including Johnny Unitas, had patches which read "NFL ALUMNI".

Previous enshrinees were either issued new jackets or new patches to wear to the ceremony, as seen on this jacket from Ray Nitschke's estate, auctioned off by Heritage earlier this year:

Heritage Auctions

The "ALUMNI" patch was worn through 1988. Here we see safety Willie Wood, class of 1989, with the new "Enshrinee" patch.

A patch change meant issuing new jackets to past enshrinees. It also appears that they lightened the jacket color from its original camel hair to a lighter shade about the same time. This Nitschke jacket was part of the same Heritage auction.

Heritage Auctions

So if previous inductees were issued new blazers to keep up with the Hall's fashion, it's strange to see Bruce Smith, class of 2009, wearing his old jacket to the weekend's festivities.