Thursday, July 26, 2012

Something Good out of Chicago

Northwestern University unveiled its new Under Armour-designed football uniforms yesterday, featuring what I hope will become a new trend.

The uniforms restore Northwestern's eponymous striping pattern across the chest and on the sleeves. Not the jersey sleeves, mind you; no modern football jerseys have sleeves. The stripes proudly rest on the sleeves of the player's compression undershirt; black on the home jerseys and purple on the road whites.


Now, this isn't exactly a radical innovation. Regular readers will remember that Nike created something similar for Oregon State two seasons ago. That was a one-game throwback, however, and this is Northwestern's full-time uniform.


Longtime readers will remember that I've been advocating a similar solution for the Packers since 2009. The most common objections to my proposal involve either uniformity on the field (will all players wear compression sleeves, and if not how will this look?) and merchandising (will the replica jerseys have sleeve stripes?). It will be interesting to see how Northwestern handles both of them.


Come on, Nike. Don't let the new kid show you up. Time to make this a reality in Green Bay.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Auction Gold - Aaron Rodgers 2011 Road Jersey (UPDATED)

Follwing up on the Super Bowl ring currently up for auction with Heritage, their current offering reveals another treasure of the 2010s with this Aaron Rodgers game-worn road jersey:
Lot 80058. 2011 Aaron Rodgers Game Worn Green Bay Packers Jersey, Unwashed.


For the professional athlete, next to earning a World Championship, there's no feeling quite like redemption. Ask Aaron Rodgers-he knows a thing or two about both. It was a long, steep climb out of the shadow of his predecessor Brett Favre, the most prolific passer in NFL history and the athletic embodiment of the noble Midwestern work ethic for a consecutive games streak that belongs on the shelf next to Ripken and Gehrig's. Many Green Bay fans took the news of a 2008 quarterback change like children of a divorce, with Rodgers in the role of evil stepmother.


Today, of course, that sentiment is as dead as Curly Lambeau, and Aaron Rodgers tops many sportswriters' lists for the best at his position. While Rodgers graciously acknowledges the value of his three seasons of apprenticeship under The Gunslinger, it's clear that he is no Favre clone, similar only in his coolness under pressure and uncanny knack for dramatic victory. A Super Bowl XLV Championship, for which Rodgers likewise earned the game's MVP Award, officially established the team as his own, and one of the most serious assaults on the 1972 Dolphins' sole ownership of a perfect record was Rodgers' encore.


Here we present a flawlessly documented jersey from that 2011 season, worn during the Pack's nationally televised Thanksgiving Day victory over the Detroit Lions. In a dominating performance punctuated by two touchdown passes and over three hundred passing yards, Rodgers moved the Packers to eleven and zero and extended Green Bay's winning streak to seventeen games, inclusive of the close of the 2010 Super Bowl season. At the conclusion of the twenty-seven to fifteen Turkey Day victory, Rodgers was presented the "Galloping Gobbler" award as the game's MVP.


The road white mesh jersey is sourced from the Packers and is accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity from the team, signed by President and CEO Mark Murphy. It remains in unwashed condition, with various points of impact apparent throughout (though Rodgers took little fire in this contest), and still fairly pungent with the scent of Rodgers' sweat. Number "12" is applied in green tackle twill to chest, shoulders and verso, where "Rodgers" stands in three-inch block. Size "48" label at interior collar is affixed with the team's holographic authentication sticker, and tagging in tail is lost to Rodgers' elasticized customization. It's noteworthy that this is the only road white Rodgers gamer yet released by the team, adding appeal to a garment with no shortage thereof.


The dreams of both a perfect season and a Super Bowl Championship repeat would ultimately fail to materialize for the Packers, but Rodgers' individual brilliance was duly noted by the League, which crowned him the NFL MVP for 2011. The enormous desirability of the jersey worn in the most-watched regular season game of that dominating campaign should be self-evident. COA from the Green Bay Packers/Team President Mark Murphy. Guide Value or Estimate: $10,000 - up.
As the auction catalog states, Rodgers gamers are exceedingly rare. The team doesn't offer many to the public, so this might be the best look we're likely to get at one.

I am intrigued by the hologram added to the year/size tagging, which reads www.packersproshop.com and bears the serial number GB 00620.


The jersey hologram doesn't match the corresponding hologram on the Packers' Certificate of Authenticity, which bears the serial number GB 00619.


I would have expected the two to be identical, to tie the CoA conclusively to the jersey. Has anyone bought a game-worn item from the Packers, and can verify that this is indeed their practice?

With the transition to Nike uniforms in the upcoming season, this beautiful gamer is not only an amazing artifact in its own right but a link to the Packers' glorious uniform history.


UPDATE 7/30:  I have heard from the consigner, as well another collector who has bought game-used jerseys from the Packers, and they confirm that it is the team's practice to use these sequentially-numbered holograms.

UPDATE 8/3:  The jersey sold for $21,510.00, including Buyer's Premium. Congrats to the lucky winner - I'm very jealous.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Auction Gold: Super Bowl XLV Ring

Heritage Auctions is currently auctioning off a player ring from Super Bowl XLV, giving us our best look yet at this treasure.
Lot 80057. 2010 Green Bay Packers Super Bowl XLV Championship Player's Ring. This simply dazzling symbol of professional football's greatest achievement is the very first of its kind to reach the hobby's auction block since quarterback Aaron Rodgers posted an MVP performance in a thirty-one to twenty-five victory over a veteran Pittsburgh Steelers squad in Arlington, Texas to win Super Bowl XLV. The hefty jewel-encrusted platinum prize is far more than just a pretty face, however, each gemstone telling a story that dates back to the founding of the franchise by Curly Lambeau almost a century ago.

The ring's square crest is highlighted by the team "G" logo, incorporating the green and gold colors first introduced in 1935. In each corner is a marquis-cut diamond in appropriate football shape, representing the franchise's four Super Bowl victories (I, II, XXXI and XLV). The "G" shape is comprised of thirteen diamonds, one for each NFL title dating back to the first in 1929, with the ninety-two small diamonds blanketing the outskirts and continuing along each edge counting the years since the 1919 founding of American football's most decorated team. "World Champions" stands in raised lettering amidst the sea of shimmering gemstones.

The left shank reports the name and jersey number of recipient and consignor Jay Ross, whose letter of provenance will attend. A miniature Lambeau Field completes the design. Right shank simply announces "Packers" above the Super Bowl victor's trophy named for the team's iconic leader from 1959 through 1967. Interior band is stamped "Jostens [copyright] Plat" and engraved with the words "1 Mind/Goal/Purpose/Heart" and the results of each playoff game en route to glory.

Included is the original hinged cherry wood display box with engraved glass window announcing "2010 World Champions, Jay Ross."

Certainly the most physically impressive specimen we've ever encountered from the World Championship treasure chest of the four major sports, the ring tips the scales at a thunderous four ounces--a quarter of a pound! But the Green Bay Packers have every right to go a bit overboard. As the last surviving relic of the "leatherheads" age when sleepy little towns like Dayton, Duluth and Pottsville represented the beating heart of the professional gridiron, the Green Bay Packers have maintained an underdog charm even in the light of their many successes. There is not a team in professional sports more revered by the populace of its home city, and we expect those folks will be out in force when this ring gets its turn on the Platinum Night auction block. Size fifteen. Letter of Provenance from Jay Ross. Guide Value or Estimate: $40,000 - up.
Outstanding. This is the first time I've seen the presentation box.

Now you too can own your own authentic players' Super Bowl to wear with your shareholder, season ticket holder or fan ring—provided that you have at least $38,838.00 (for now) lying around, that is.

(photo credit: HA.com)


UPDATE 8/3:  The final price for this beauty was $53,775.00, including Buyer's Premium. If you're interested in topping that, you can make an offer to the winner via HA's website.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"Packers Uniforms to Add More Color", 1959

Fifty-three years ago today, on July 17, 1959, the Associated Press sent this story to its subscriber papers:


And with that, a classic was born.

It's strange to see the now-iconic Packer uniforms being introduced as new. Almost as strange as seeing them described as "myrtle green".

For context on the "more color" headline, it's important to remember what the Packers had been wearing in the years leading up to 1959. At home, the Packers were wearing rather drab dark bluish-green jerseys with gold numbers and Northwestern stripes.

On the road, the Packers wore blue and white, no gold at all.

Given that, it's not surprising that Lombardi's mix of dark green, gold and white should have appeared so colorful.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

1939 Game Program

On Sunday, October 8th, 1939, the Green Bay Packers met the Chicago Cardinals on the field of Milwaukee's State Fair Park. Attendees could lay down fifteen cents for this game program:


We start off with some ads, and a 1939 league schedule.


Curly Lambeau gets the first entry:


It was truly a different world:
active in the insurance business when football doesn't devote all his time... which no longer is often.
Next up is assistant coach Red Smith, who besides being a longtime Packer coach was also instrumental in the Milwaukee Brewers minor league franchise of the early 20th Century.


Next up, we have the Packer squad, posing for photos in their white jerseys with green numbers.

And what would a football game be without a beer? We've already had Miller, now Pabst gets in on the act.

The roster for the 1939 Green Bay Packers included three future Hall of Famers: Don Hutson, Clark Hinkle and Arnie Herber.

"Johnny the Bellboy", seen here illustrating the officials' calls, was part of a longstanding ad campaign for Philip Morris.


The Packers won that day, 27-20, en route to a 9-2 record and their fifth World Championship.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Blue and Gold Live On

New Era just posted this photo on its Facebook page:

In case you were worried that the "Acme Packers" merchandise had been retired.

The cap is now available at the Packers Pro Shop.

I'll give them this: at least they're closer to the original font than modern merchandise usually gets.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Vince Lombardi's "GB" Cap

From the auction archives comes this beauty, a cap reportedly worn by Vince Lombardi and sold by Legendary Auctions in August 2005:

Lot #1153: Vince Lombardi's 1966-67 Green Bay Packers Hat

Vince Lombardi's final two years as coach of the Green Bay Packers were also the first two seasons in which the NFL championship game was deemed the Super Bowl. The Lombardi-led Packers dismantled the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl I by a score of 35-10. The Oakland Raiders fell to the Packers the following year in that coveted game by a 33-14 pounding. Presented here is a baseball-style cap—one of the few of its kind—worn by Vince Lombardi during his last two seasons from 1966 to 1967. This Wilson, forest-green coaching cap features the Packers "GB" logo embroidered on the front with mustard-colored stitching. Lombardi's initials, "V.L.," have been written in black Sharpie on the underbill. (The initials are mentioned strictly for descriptive accuracy, as it is unclear whether Lombardi originated the inscription.) The still-pliable body and lid of the almost 40-year-old cap demonstrate understandable and extremely minor color-fading with a small area of stitching coming undone on the cap's left side and on the fringe of the lid. The bill displays justifiable wear as it has survived the unparalleled charisma of its past owner; the sweatband and interior of the cap bear mild staining, a testament to its honorable service. This incredibly well-kept and seldom-seen relic—from the man after whom the National Football League named its championship trophy—is a necessary piece to any serious football memorabilia collection. LOA from Dan Knoll, Dave Bushing & Troy Kinunen/MEARS.


Very nice.

The final bid (with buyers premium) was $3,215. Not bad at all. I'm a little leery about attributing this to Lombardi on the basis of two Sharpie-d letters, but perhaps MEARS had something not mentioned in the auction description.

I'm also not sure about the year; my understanding is that the Packers switched from a embroidered patch to directly-sewn logo around the 1962 season.

Here's a photo of defensive coordinator Phil Bengtson from a 1962 program, his cap logo clearly a patch.

Contrast that with these photos of the coaching staff taken from the 1965 Championship Game program (played on January 2, 1966), in which Bengtson is clearly wearing a cap with a sewn-on logo.

Coach "Hawg" Hanner is still wearing an old-style patch cap.

I've spoken before of how much I love this design. It's good to see an original in color, even if it isn't a genuine Lombardi artifact.

Monday, July 2, 2012

1987 Training Camp Oddities

This photo from Training Camp in 1987 comes to us from Jeff Ash via Uni Watch.

It shows defensive end Carl Sullivan wearing a helmet with an upside-down "G" logo!

It also shows us how cost-conscious teams would re-use old gear in practice. From 1984 through 1988, the Packers wore a gold stripe down the middle of the Braisher stripes on their pants. That means that the pants Sullivan is wearing are at least four years old.

I don't know what's up with the missing white helmet stripe on #73's shell. I don't know that I've ever seen one missing stripe.