Sunday, April 28, 2013

"Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer"

We already knew that the NFL's annual month-long pink-out "Breast Cancer Awareness" event was a total scam, but now there's evidence that these campaigns could themselves be doing serious damage to our collective health.

This is the cover story in this morning's New York Times Magazine:

In it, contributing writer Peggy Orenstein tracks the rise of branded campaigns (like the NFL's), compares them with the early screening and treatment techniques the organizations advocate and comes to the conclusion that "all that well-meaning awareness has ultimately made women less conscious of the facts".

You should check out the entire piece, but here's a section particularly relevant to our discussion:
In "Pink Ribbon Blues," Gayle Sulik, a sociologist and founder of the Breast Cancer Consortium, credits Komen (as well as the American Cancer Society and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month) with raising the profile of the disease, encouraging women to speak about their experience and transforming "victims" into "survivors." Komen, she said, has also distributed more than $1 billion to research and support programs. At the same time, the function of pink-ribbon culture — and Komen in particular — has become less about eradication of breast cancer than self-perpetuation: maintaining the visibility of the disease and keeping the funds rolling in. "You have to look at the agenda for each program involved," Sulik said. "If the goal is eradication of breast cancer, how close are we to that? Not very close at all. If the agenda is awareness, what is it making us aware of? That breast cancer exists? That it's important? 'Awareness' has become narrowed until it just means 'visibility.' And that's where the movement has failed. That’s where it's lost its momentum to move further."

Before the pink ribbon, awareness as an end in itself was not the default goal for health-related causes. Now you’d be hard-pressed to find a major illness without a logo, a wearable ornament and a roster of consumer-product tie-ins. Heart disease has its red dress, testicular cancer its yellow bracelet. During "“Movember" — a portmanteau of "mustache" and "November" — men are urged to grow their facial hair to "spark conversation and raise awareness" of prostate cancer (another illness for which early detection has led to large-scale overtreatment) and testicular cancer. “These campaigns all have a similar superficiality in terms of the response they require from the public," said Samantha King, associate professor of kinesiology and health at Queen’s University in Ontario and author of "Pink Ribbons, Inc." "They're divorced from any critique of health care policy or the politics of funding biomedical research. They reinforce a single-issue competitive model of fund-raising. And they whitewash illness: we’re made 'aware' of a disease yet totally removed from the challenging and often devastating realities of its sufferers."
I started with mixed feelings about these league-wide branding events because they were ugly. Then I came to oppose them because they were a cynical attempt to mine wallets. Now I'm depressed because they might not even be accomplishing the relatively minor goals they proclaim.

Time for the NFL to get out of the whole business. Raise money, sure, for real research, but from top to bottom it's looking like this isn't the way.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Your Newest Packers, available now.

The 2013 NFL Draft has just wrapped up at Rockefeller Center, but you can already buy jerseys of your newest heroes.

They don't waste any time, do they?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

1983 Draft Room

ESPN just tweeted out this photo of the NFL's Draft Room in 1983:

A far cry from the Rockefeller Center event I attended a couple years ago.

I love the helmet graphics marking each team's table. There's the Packers' table at the bottom of the shot:

That appears to be a gray facemask on the Packers sign, although the team changed to green for the 1980 season.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

2013 Schedule Released

Tonight, the Packers released their full schedule for the 2013 season.

Couple of initial observations:
  • That's a really early bye week.
  • The Packers are scheduled to have five nationally televised appearances: three Sunday Night Football games (Week 8 at Minnesota, Week 11 against the Giants and Week 14 against the Falcons), one Monday Night Football game (Week 9 against the Bears) and one game on Thanksgiving (at Detroit). The games against New York and Atlanta could be flexed out, based on how competitive the matchups are that late in the season.
  • The Thanksgiving game against the Lions is traditionally an opportunity for throwbacks. The 1929 blues obviously aren't going to happen, given the color clash (although they continue to appear in the style guide), but perhaps they'll do something else?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Auction Gold - Hank Gremminger's 1962 Championship Watch

The current Heritage Auction continues to offer some real treasures.
1962 Green Bay Packers NFL Championship Watch Presented to Hank Gremminger. Widely considered the best team ever put on the field by legendary coach Vince Lombardi, the 1962 Green Bay Packers bested the New York Giants 16-7 in front of 64,892 Yankees Stadium fans in the '62 league championship game.
Heritage Auctions
After receiving stunning gold rings for the team's 1961 championship victory against the same Big Apple gridders, the Green Bay Packers mixed it up a bit the following season by awarding their players and coaches with absolutely gorgeous 14 karat gold "Hamilton" watches. Offered here is the nicest 1962 NFL Championship presentational watch ever offered. Exhibiting flawless Mint condition, the original timepiece was awarded to defensive leader Hank Gremminger for his contributions to the magnificent squad.
Heritage Auctions
Obviously never worn by Gremminger which is evident from its pristine quality, the watch is accompanied with its original case. The face displays 12 sparkling white stones, in addition to "Green Bay Packers 1962 World Champions NFL," and the famed team helmet beneath the bold print, while its back is engraved "HANK GREMMINGER GREEN BAY 16 NEW YORK 7". Consigned by Gremminger's daughter, this is one of the most significant and eye-appealing pieces from one of the greatest teams in NFL history. LOA from Tina Schooler (Gremminger's daughter). Guide Value or Estimate: $2,000 - $4,000.
This is the second 1962 World Championship watch to come up for auction in recent months (the previous one had a metal expansion band, not the standard leather). These were given to players and staff in lieu of rings following Vince Lombardi's second consecutive title.

The face is simply gorgeous, with the Packers' helmet on a black field surrounded by diamonds.

Heritage Auctions

Even if the kerning is a little off, and the city name is rendered as "GREENBAY".

Hank Gremminger was a cornerback for the Packers from 1956-65. He was part of three championship squads; this one, as well as 1961 and 1965. He was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1976.

Gremminger in 1960

We might never see a finer example of this watch. A future centerpiece of somebody's collection.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Auction Gold - 1965-67 Don Chandler Game Worn Jersey

This amazing Glory Days-era jersey is currently up for auction at Heritage.

1965-67 Don Chandler Game Worn Green Bay Packers Jersey. The famed punter who was named to the NFL's 1960's All-Decade Team, and a Pro Bowler in 1967, Don Chandler will forever be remembered for kicking the controversial fourth-quarter "Phantom" field goal that tied the game at 10-10 in the Green Bay Packers' exciting victory over the Baltimore Colts in a 1965 Western Conference playoff contest.

The exemplary green and gold Durene jersey perfectly represents that classic Lombardi-era style of the 1960's. Graded a perfect A10 by the experts at MEARS, it displays the all-important "Sand Knit [size] 46" tag in the tail, while its original "[size] 46" tag remains in the collar. Use is extremely heavy, while it has more than 20 team repairs in the fabric, suggesting that it was also used by a different Packers player during practice. Sure to be the centerpiece of any high-end Packers collection, this is unquestionably one of the most impressive vintage football pieces in our May catalog auction. LOA from MEARS, A10. Guide Value or Estimate: $6,000 - $8,000.
It's truly amazing. This particular style is from the height of the Vince Lombardi era, a classic jersey that defined a team. By 1965, the Packers had finally settled on the block numbers the team still uses today (after first trying several variations).

They're not kidding about the team repairs - this jersey has been through the ringer. The work is so fine that you may miss it at first glance, but even a cursory examination reveals heavy stitching, especially on the numbers.

Amazing how much abuse these jerseys took, and the lengths the team went to in order to keep them on the field.

Image credit: Heritage Auctions

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Packers v. Bears, 1958

This photo was taken at New City Stadium (not yet Lambeau Field) on September 28, 1958, the first game of the season.

The Packers were hosting the Chicago Bears. A crowd of 32,150 saw the visitors spoil the opener as the Packers fell, 20-34.

Those are the Packers in their dark blue-and-golds.

The Bears' uniforms are almost unchanged to this day.

This was the second year in the Packers' new stadium, and it was a rough one. They limped to a 1-10-1 record (the lone victory came over the Eagles at City Stadium on October 26). As sportswriter Red Smith put it: "they overwhelmed one opponent, under whelmed ten, and whelmed one."

That cost head coach "Scooter" McLean his job, paving the way for the Packers to hire Giants assistant coach Vince Lombardi on January 28, 1959.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

1970 Team Photo Calendar

MEARS Auctions in Milwaukee sold this 1971 calendar a few years ago.
Lot #188: 1971 Green Bay Packers team photo calendar
At first glance this piece looks like a very impressive calendar issued by Production Steel of Illinois, featuring the 1970 Green Bay Packers squad. But, this may hold closer to a Packers fan's heart due to the fact that Hall of Famer Tony Canadeo, and former Packers head coach Gene Ronzani were sales reps for the company. Measuring at 18" by 27 1/2", this NM promo is in virtually unimprovable condition and preserved between foam board and shrink wrap.
This calendar is interesting to me for the look at the 1970 squad, a team often overlooked.

This was a time of great turmoil and transition for the Packers, one year after the departure of Vince Lombardi for Washington. They still had Lombardi-era greats such as Ray Nitschke and Bart Starr in uniform (second row, fourth and fifth from the left, respectively). That's Forrest Gregg, in the front row right. Lombardi himself had passed away during his second training camp in Washington.

1970 was Phil Bengtson's third year as head coach, and his last; by the time this calendar was printed he had been fired and replaced with former Notre Dame coach Dan Devine.

The uniforms were the same, and the coaches dressed much the way they were when Lombardi was at the helm—the "GB" caps make another appearance here—but these weren't the Packers of old.