Wednesday, April 30, 2014

1959 Blazer and Basketball Uniform, Now on Display at the Hall of Fame!

The Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame just received a major donation from a former player.

Running back Bill Butler played for Green Bay for only one season, but items he has held onto from that year will have an outsized effect on the team's physical archives.

Ex-Packers player donates rare Lombardi-era team apparel
Written by Adam Rodewald Press-Gazette Media
Apr. 30, 2014


A retired Green Bay Packers player has given his rare Vince Lombardi-era team blazer and basketball uniform to the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame archives.

Bill Butler talks Tuesday about the donation of his 1959 Packers basketball team uniform to the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame. / Jim Matthews/Press-Gazette Media
Former running back Bill Butler said he was glad to see them put on display where others can enjoy them.

“Basically, this coat and this basketball uniform have been hanging in my closet for 55 years. Now I don’t have to move it anymore, and if I want I can come up here and see it,” he said. “I’m glad the Hall of Fame wants it, and I hope people enjoy it.”

The 1959 Green Bay Packers road game blazer, right, and the 1959 Packers basketball team uniform donated Tuesday by former player Bill Butler to the Packers Hall of Fame. / Jim Matthews/Press-Gazette Media
Butler was a 19th-round draft pick by the Packers in 1959, Lombardi’s first year as coach and general manager.

The Berlin native led the Packers in kickoff and punt returns in 1959, and led the NFL with 635 combined return yards. He scored his only Packers touchdown on a 61-yard punt return in the fourth quarter of a 28-17 loss to the Chicago Bears at Wrigley Field on Nov. 8, 1959.

That year, each Packers player and coach received a custom tailored jacket to be worn for team photos, media events and other occasions.

The 1959 Green Bay Packers road game blazer worn by former player Bill Butler. / Jim Matthews/Press-Gazette Media
Butler received his Packers basketball uniform while playing for the traveling team in the offseason. The team raised money and awareness for local charities.

The 1959 Packers basketball team uniform worn by former player Bill Butler. / Jim Matthews/Press-Gazette Media
The Green Bay Packers' basketball team in the winter of 1959-60. Top row, from left, Jack Morton, Dan Currie, Jim Temp, Bob Skoronski and Gary Knafelc. Bottom row, from left, Al Carmichael, Babe Parilli, Bill Butler, Tom Bettis and Lew Carpenter. Butler donated his basketball jersey and shorts to the Packers Hall of Fame on Tuesday. / Courtesy of Jim Temp
“We’ve never before had one of these blazers from the 1950s. Needless to say, we’ve never had one of the basketball uniforms,” said Tom Murphy, archivist for the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, a nonprofit corporation independent from the team.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to get this donation (from Butler),” Murphy said.

Butler said he insisted the Hall of Fame take his apparel, and he didn’t need to think twice about giving it away.

“From the time I started (playing football) in fifth grade, I have all the clothing and written articles. I just have stacked it up over the years. I’m kind of a pack rat. And, after 55 years, I’m not going to miss it in my closet,” he said.

Butler, 76, coached football at Green Lake High School and retired in 2009 as the defensive coordinator at Ripon High School.

He played only one season for the Packers. He was chosen by Dallas in the 1960 NFL expansion draft and played that season for the Cowboys. He also played for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1961, the Minnesota Vikings from 1962 to 1964 and the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders in 1965.

Butler’s donated apparel is on display at a temporary exhibit in the Neville Public Museum while the Lambeau Field Atrium undergoes renovations.
That is absolutely amazing. And in outstanding condition, for having been "hanging in (his) closet for 55 years".

We've seen the travel blazer before, but never so good a view of the embroidery itself. A simple, sharp graphic.

And the basketball uniform? Outstanding. I wonder if they were known as the "Packer-derms" back in 1969.

Monday, April 28, 2014

If the Shirt Fits...

Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who will be in this year's draft, has generated some waves with an Instagram photo.

No, not a photo taken at a party. Or some other indiscretion. Rather, Clinton-Dix posted a selfie of him wearing... a Green Bay Packers t-shirt.


The shirt itself is from last year's Nike collection. It's still available online in gold, but I'm not seeing it left anywhere in white. Does this mean he already had it, or was this just what they had at the local Foot Locker in Tuscaloosa?

The Packers are in need of help at safety. If he's making a push to be drafted, it wouldn't be a bad fit. Much like that t-shirt.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

2014 Schedule Released

Just a few hours ago, the Packers released their schedule for the 2014 season.


First reactions:
  • Opening on the road against the reigning World Champions is a tough start to the season.
     
  • The Packers' bye week comes right smack dab in the middle of the season.
     
  • Five national games: Thursday, September 4th (in Seattle), Thursday, October 2nd (Vikings), Sunday October 26th (in New Orleans), Sunday November 9th (Bears) and Monday, December 8th (Falcons). The last three of those fall within the NFL's "flex scheduling" period, so they may not end up on national television.
     
  • In December, the Packers will face teams that finished last season with records of 4-12, 6-10, 4-12 and 7-9. While 2013's records don't guarantee anything for 2014, three of those are traditionally bad teams and the Packers should have the opportunity for a strong finish.
     
  • What I don't see in December is much divisional play. In recent years, the NFL has deliberately scheduled divisional match-ups in the last month to provide maximum drama. This year, we have the Lions in the final game and that's it. The Packers' divisional games are front-loaded; weeks 3, 4, 5, 10, 11 and 17.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

ESPN: "Nike Raises NFL Jersey Prices"

Darren Rovell of ESPN is reporting that Nike has raised the price of its replica NFL jerseys.

Nike raises NFL jersey prices
By Darren Rovell | ESPN.com
Updated: April 8, 2014, 11:02 PM ET


The cost of being an NFL fan just got more expensive.

Nike, which makes the official league uniform, has decided to raise prices on two of the three types of jerseys it sells. Nike did not announce the increase in price, but retailers, including the official league online store, started charging more on April 1.

The Game jersey, which is the cheapest replica, will still cost $100. But the price of the Limited jersey, which has embroidered twill numbers and letters in place of the silicon printing on the Game jersey, has jumped from $135 to $150. The Elite jersey, which is the closest to what the players wear on the field and boasts being water repellent and has a tighter, tailored fit to the body, went up nearly 20 percent to $295, up from $250.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said that Nike and the retailers, not the league, determine the prices. But sources told ESPN.com that it was Nike executives alone who made the decision, implementing the new prices as the minimum prices retailers could sell the different style of jerseys for.

Nike spokesman Brian Strong said that the brand offers three tiers of the jerseys to serve a variety of consumers, but would not specify reasons as to why the price changed occurred.

"When you have a monopoly, you can charge whatever you want," said Matt Powell, analyst for SportsOneSource, a sports marketing retail tracking firm.

Nike is entering its third year of a five-year deal of being the official uniform of the league. In 2012, when Nike took over from Reebok, which had the official jersey deal for a decade, prices on the cheapest adult replica rose from $85 to $100, though Nike promoted that the materials it used were different.

Partly because of the rise in cost over the years, the temptation for fans to knowingly buy counterfeit jerseys for a fraction of the price has increased.

"If I'm a counterfeiter, with the prices going up, I now have more wiggle room," Powell said.

While Nike has been successful in charging premium prices for their products, Powell said he was surprised at the huge increase for the Elite jersey. Nike is protected by the fact, Powell said, that his company's data shows that more than 75 percent of the jerseys that are sold are the Game jerseys, which aren't going up in price.
His first sentence is nonsense, of course. It doesn't cost any more to actually be a fan, only to dress like a player. No matter how often we conflate the two.

I am interested, though, in the data suggesting 75% of all replica jerseys sold are the "Game", or cheapest, versions. I wonder how that translates to the Packers' sales? Most teams wear a jersey with the same basic construction as the "Game" jerseys, but the Packers chose to retain their old construction, making the "Game" jerseys look very unlike the ones our boys in green and gold actually wear.

The Packers Pro Shop doesn't even stock the intermediate "Limited" jerseys, just the $99.95 "Game" jerseys with printed silicon numbers and the more expensive Elite jerseys.

Speaking of which, the Packers Pro Shop still lists those Elite jerseys at last year's price of $249.95.

But if you buy them from the NFL's online shop, you'll pay the extra fifty bucks:

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Happiness is a (Green and Gold) Blanket

Green Bay Press-Gazette digital content editor (and friend of the blog) Jeff Ash sends us this amazing photo:

Green Bay Press-Gazette Archives

From 1951...

Former Green Bay Packers players receive blankets for their selection to the Helms Foundation Hall of Fame for college football players. From left are Don Hutson, Charley Brock, Cub Buck accepting for Cal Hubbard, R.E. Lambeau accepting for Curly Lambeau, Johnny "Blood" McNally and Arnie Herber. This was during halftime of the Packers’ 31-28 loss to the New York Yanks at old City Stadium on Dec. 2, 1951.

I’ve enclosed a close-up of Herber and his blanket so you can see details. Each player’s years of service with the Packers are in the football at center. Their uniform number is at lower right with their name just above it.
Green Bay Press-Gazette Archives

Outstanding. "R.E. Lambeau" is Curly's brother Raymond; Curly was in his last year of coaching the Chicago Cardinals at the time, and unable to attend even if he wasn't still harboring hard feelings over his departure two years earlier. Charley Brock is holding Clarke Hinkle's blanket, obviously accepting on his old teammate's behalf as Buck was for Hubbard.

We've seen team-issued blankets before; one issued to Forrest Gregg in 1959 and a blue-and-gold 1926 team blanket now residing in the Packers Hall of Fame.

This was the annual "homecoming" game for the Packers, and a very special one. In addition to commemorating the induction of six former Packers into the Helms College Hall of Fame (the above five plus Clarke Hinkle, who was also unable to attend), the Packers retired their first-ever jersey number.

Don Hutson's famous #14 was retired in the same halftime ceremony that saw the former Packers receive their blankets.


This was a relatively new honor for professional athletes; on that day in 1951, only four baseball players had seen their numbers retired (Lou Gehrig, Carl Hubbell, Babe Ruth and Mel Ott). The Chicago Bears had retired the numbers of Red Grange, Bronko Nagurski and Bill Hewett in December 1949, forcing the Packers to play catch-up.