Thursday, November 24, 2011

Packers at Lions, Thanksgiving Day 1961

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Fifty years ago, the Packers journeyed to Detroit to meet the Lions in what was then a traditional meeting of the two teams every Thanksgiving.

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Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr (15) throws the ball against the Detroit Lions with protection from tackle Bob Skoronski (76) and guard Forrest Gregg (75) at Tiger Stadium in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 23, 1961. Gregg and a teammate are blocking Lions defensive tackle Alex Karras (71). Packers halfback Paul Hornung (5) is at lower left.
I love those early-60s numbers:

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Detroit Lions kick returner Howard Cassady (40) tries to evade Green Bay Packers cover man Elijah Pitts (22) at Tiger Stadium in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 23, 1961. Also in on the play are, from left, the Packers' Ken Iman (53), Ray Nitschke (66), Henry Jordan (74) and Lew Carpenter (33) and the Lions' Dick Mils (67).
There's Vince on the sidelines, looking slightly damp. Also note the blue sideline capes.

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Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, second from left, shouts instructions to fullback Jim Taylor (31) on the sideline during the game against the Detroit Lions at Tiger Stadium in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 23, 1961.
The Packers won that game 17-9. Let's hope for a similarly favorable outcome today!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Applying Braisher Stripes

Today, the Packers posted this locker-room photo to their Twitter feed; an unidentified staffer readying a helmet for action.

Looks like they'll be ready for the Lions!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

From the Mailbag: 1958 Topps Photo Mystery?

Reader Tom Vivian sends in this mystery:

Tonight on Topps Archives auctions, the attached picture was posted, it is a picture of long-time Packers receiver Billy Howton, it is listed as being from 1958, but it could be from 1956 or 1957 as well.
I was curious about the stadium structure behind it, which appears to be an all-rock structure with concrete steps for seats.

There is a high school stadium similar to this one in Monterey CA (near where I live), and I have not seen too many others like it.

This one is somewhat different though than the one in Monterey, because this one appears to be built from the ground up where as the one in Monterey is cut in to the side of a hill.

I am wondering if you know where this site is or was.

What I do know is that the Green Bay Packers training camp has been at St.Norbert's College since 1958.

There are a lot of other Packers photos that I believe were probably taken at St.Norbert's and there is no structure like this pictured anywhere.

However, from 1954 thru 57, the Packers trained at UW-Stevens Point, so I am wondering if this is possibly an old stadium from there.
I recognize the gorgeous 1950s uniform Howton's wearing, of course, but am at a loss about the surroundings.

These pictures were often taken at Training Camp, so Wisconsin State University-Stevens Point, as it was known at the time, might be a possibility, but I've never been.

What do you say? Does anybody recognize the structure?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Special Delivery

The Minnesota Vikings, in what is looking like a last-ditch attempt to get their new suburban stadium built, produced this commerical and distributed it amongst state legislators.

As much as I hate those Nordic ne'er-do-wells, I'd hate even more to see them in Los Angeles. Somehow the Black & Blue Division wouldn't be the same without a little purple.

On the positive side, now we know what was in Marcellus Wallace's briefcase.

Tell you the truth, I've long suspected.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

1944 World Champions!

This jubilent scene captures the Packers backstage in the Polo Grounds immediately after beating the New York Giants, 14-7, to capture the 1944 World Championship. This was the sixth and last of Lambeau's titles, and after 1939 the second championship game won in Lambeau's distinctive gold-yoked uniforms.

That smile on Curly's face wouldn't last long; his struggles with the team's board of directors were already building to a head. Five years later Curly Lambeau, the Packers' co-founder and only head coach would be out, resigning ahead of a dismissal.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

1991 Photo Gallery - Packers v. Vikings

The Green Bay Press-Gazette's current gallery chronicles a Packers v. Vikings game in 1991. Not only is it a peek into the longstanding NFC North rivalry, but also at the Packers' home uniforms of the time.

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Green Bay Packers tight end Jackie Harris (80) celebrates his 1-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field on Nov. 17, 1991. Packers tackle Tony Mandarich (77) and running back Vince Workman (46) are at right. The Packers lost 35-21.
One significant difference between these jerseys and the modern version is the number construction. These numbers are silkscreened on.

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Minnesota Vikings cornerback Carl Lee (39) and Green Bay Packers receiver Perry Kemp (81) fight for the ball during the second quarter at Lambeau Field on Nov. 17, 1991.
Here's a closer look at the silscreened numbers:

The Packers would use silkscreened numbers through the 1994 season, although the NFL 75th Anniversary throwback uniforms from that season featured tackle-twill numbers. Tackle-twill was added to the Packers' regular green and white jerseys beginning in 1995.

There's that single gold sock stripe again.

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Green Bay Packers return men Charles Wilson (88) and Vai Sikahema (45) await a kickoff from the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field.
I'm also struck by the chopped sleeves; by this point, some players had already begun having their jersey sleeves customized for a tighter fit, effectively reducing Vince Lombardi's five sleeve stripes to three (a change the Packers would make team-wide in 1997).

Some players took it even farther:

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Green Bay Packers receiver Sterling Sharpe (84) gets up after making a catch against Minnesota Vikings defensive backs Solomon Wilcots (41) and Todd Scott (39) at Lambeau Field on Nov. 17, 1991. In the background are, from left, Packers guard Ron Hallstrom (65), quarterback Mike Tomczak (18) and tackle Louis Cheek.
Hallstrom appears to have cropped the sleeve stripes off altogether. In the same photo, we can see players with five sleeve stripes, three and none. No wonder the Packers felt they had to take action; the uniforms were threatening to become anything but.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I Can't Even See the Ribbon

Yep, this is where we've come.

Following up on the NFL's annual "pink alert" event, the NFL has unveiled these ribbon logos as part of an annual "Salute to Service" campaign that will occur each November, around Veterans Day.

No word yet if this ribbon logo will be worn on the helmets, as the pink ribbons were, or as a jersey patch like the 9/11 tribute logo. The Packers managed to avoid that last one due to their Thursday night game, but hosting the Monday Night Football game after Veterans Day means that they'll be front-and-center for this one.

It also seems ironic to me that the yellow ribbon, for decades the accepted symbol for military support, is apparently insufficient. We now need digi-camo. But then again, a yellow ribbon is much harder to copyright.

Yes, this is in a good cause. They're all good causes. But I'm definitely well along with "good cause" fatigue. At this rate, we'll have a designated cause for every month of the season, with the NFL shield prominently displayed everywhere. It seems very self-serving and self-aggrandizing.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Uh, Oh: Fear the Swoosh?

We're starting to get the first reports that Nike's assumption of the NFL-wide uniform contract might impact our Packers' æsthetic.

Uni Watch ran this little item yesterday:
Disturbing note from Jordan Pope, who writes: "I work for a Nike team dealer in Washington and we received our sideline exclusives for Fall 2012 with what appears to be a notable change to the Green Bay Packers pants for next year. The green-white-green striping down the pant leg does not start at the top of the pant but rather farther down, at roughly the same spot as the scarlet stripe in Ohio State's Pro Combat uniforms." Ugh — I reeeealllly hope that's not a sign of things to come....
It was followed up by a comment from Simply Moono, who added this:
While not good news, I should clear the air here and say that it won’t be like 'Bama's AmPac pants from last year:
but more like the Florida Nike Pro Combat 2011 unis from their bowl game against Penn State (see #94 here).
The top of the stripe (as shown with #94) will start from the bottom of the belt chamber, but — for the most part — will still be a full stripe.

Also see: the new Nike Team Sports uniform builder. The "Three Color Stripe" option on the pants will give you a general visual, although I'm sure that the belt chamber won’t be that big.
Uni Watch prexy Paul Lukas gave us a screencap of the uniform builder website:

As might be expected, Paul himself had the best comment:
And now a simple question: WHY?
Answer: possibly just because they're Nike. A swoosh on the hip might not be sufficiently distinctive to brand the new uniforms as "theirs."

This might not be all bad, if the truncated stripe isn't too obvious. It could look like a simple belt loop. But now I find myself wondering what other changes Beaverton might have in mind for the Green and Gold.

I am still really hoping that they'll make the obvious fix to the Packers' sleeve stripe problem.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Don't Fear the Curse

Aaron Rodgers has once again made the cover of Sports Illustrated, this time accompanied by his receivers.

This is the 37th time the Packers have been so honored.

Unlike some earlier covers, this will be featured on the national edition, not a local edition. It will be on newsstands everywhere except Missouri, who will instead receive a World Series cover.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Infante Stripe, 1991

The Green Bay Press-Gazette continues to come through with another great photo archive, this time from the dark days of 1991, as the Packers traveled to Atlanta to take on the Falcons.

The uniforms those Packers are wearing are virtually identical to those worn today, with two significant exceptions: the extra pre-1997 sleeve stripes; and the socks.

From 1988 through 1991 the Packers wore green socks with one gold ring. No matter how a player wore his socks, be it low whites or high white tape, the gold stripe sat almost right at the bottom of the green.

This single gold stripe was added by new head coach Lindy Infante in his first season in Green Bay. Infante, like other coaches before him, put his own stamp on the Pack's uniforms. Infante's stamp was a subtle one, but the sock stripe helps us date photos to his era.

The Press-Gazette also gives us a bonus shot of Infante on the sideline. Nice shirt.

His expression tells the story; the Packers went 4-12, and new General Manager Ron Wolf fired Infante at the end of the season. 1992 would see a series of major changes for the Packers — new head coach Mike Holmgren, new backup quarterback Brett Favre... and solid green socks.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

1962 Photo Gallery

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Green Bay Packers fullback Jim Taylor heads upfield as guards Jerry Kramer (64) and Fuzzy Thurston (63) block Baltimore Colts cornerback Bobby Boyd (40) and defensive end Gino Marchetti (89) during a game at new City Stadium on Nov. 18, 1962. Colts defensive tackle Jim Colvin (75) is at right. The Packers won 17-13.
The Green Bay Press-Gazette continues its amazing series of photo galleries. Today's entry chronicles the 1962 Packers, the last Green Bay team to start a season 7-0 (the 1962 Packers stayed unbeaten until Thanksgiving, in what was then an annual Turkey Day match between the clubs, when they fell to the Lions 14-26).

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Green Bay Packers halfback Paul Hornung (5) bursts into the end zone to score on a 7-yard touchdown run during the first quarter of Green Bay's 34-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings at new City Stadium on Sept. 16, 1962. His blockers include tackle Bob Skoronski (76) and guard Jerry Kramer (64), who's fending off Vikings linebacker Rip Hawkins (58). Hornung scored 28 of the Packers' 34 points, running for three touchdowns and kicking two field goals and four extra points.
I love the padding on that goalpost.

The details of the photos are outstanding. Check out the stenciled numbers on Nitschke's helmet and Bengston's blazer badge:

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Green Bay Pazkers linebacker Ray Nitschke (66) and defensive tackle Dave Hanner (79) talk with defensive coach Phil Bengston on the sideline during the game against the Chicago Bears at new City Stadium on Sept. 30, 1962. The Packers won 49-0.
The æsthetic goodness doesn't end with the game photos, though. Here is a crossover between Wisconsin's two major league teams:

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Even baseball's Milwaukee Braves got caught up in the excitement over the Green Bay Packers in 1962. The team sponsored this billboard in Green Bay and put up two dozen more just like it across Wisconsin. "We're proud of the Packers," Braves general manager John McHale said, "and we want to tell the state about it."
I particularly love this shot of "Dad" Braisher:

Press-Gazette archives
Equipment manager Dad Braisher adjusts a sign proclaiming the Green Bay Packers as "The Yankees of Football," in the team's locker room at new City Stadium in late December 1962.
Lombardi, as a native Gothamite, recognized the Yankees as the pinnacle of modern sport. He sought to replicate that dominance in Green Bay. He was ultimately successful, not only for his five world championships in nine years, but also in creating a team that forever defined the sport. Although everyone recognizes Lombardi's legacy in the trophy which bears his name, he left an impact on the game reaching farther than most realize, extending even to the uniforms of other clubs like the Saints, 49ers and Cowboys, which adopted his Braisher stripes in an attempt to capture a little of Lombardi's magic on the field.

Outstanding work by the Press-Gazette. Can't wait to see what else they have in their archives.