Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Turkey Day

Happy Thanksgiving! Today's entry is this gorgeous program cover from the Packers' then-annual trip to Detroit in 1961.

I love the typography.

We get to see the Packers on national television today, but there was a period when we played every year on this date. From 1951 through 1963, the Packers were the Lions' traditional Thanksgiving Day opponent starting in 1951. The way the Washington Generals are the Harlem Globetrotters' traditional opponent, in fact; most games were Detroit blowouts. Before Vince Lombardi arrived in 1959, the Packers had only won a single one of those Thanksgiving contests. The Packers did win Lombardi's first game in 1959 and then took this game in 1961. Other than those few bright spots, this annual game could be penciled in as a loss for Green Bay, and Lombardi had his team taken off the Thanksgiving rotation after 1963.

Happy Turkey Day, everyone!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Infographic: Bears/Packers preview has released their infographic preview for tomorrow's Thanksgiving Day game against the Bears:
This week’s infographic has all the numbers on the Packers-Bears all-time series, plus a detailed breakdown of the Packers’ big plays on offense so far this season, and a closer look at safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix’s performance in 2015.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

In Which I Find Myself Agreeing With Peter King

I'm not a huge fan of sportswriter Peter King, but he went on a rant in his "Monday Morning Quarterback" column yesterday that deserves to be repeated.

This was numbers six through eight on his "Ten Things I Think I Think" list:
6. I think I’m not saying uniforms should be sacred. When I was growing up, teams basically had two of them: home and away. In recent years, it’s changed, of course. But this constant fiddling with everything players and coaches wear, and the pink and the camouflage and the prison-stripe uniforms and so many throw-up throwbacks … it’s out of control. Isn’t there a uniform cop in the NFL offices who, very occasionally, says, “We’re making ourselves looks bad here. We’re a parody of ourselves. Are we seriously allowing our teams to looks different for more than half of each season?” The NFL so bastardizes everything about the uniform that it’s altogether laughable when they fine a player for having some odd-color shoes or different eye-black, or fine a player such as Cam Heyward when he puts his late father’s name in small letters on his eye black.

Example: Marcus Mariota, wearing this all-Carolina Blue uniform for the Color Rush (!!!) game and blue shoes, and with the Salute to Service camouflage towel tucked into his waist, dives to the pylon for a touchdown Thursday night. Camera goes to the sideline. There’s coach Mike Mularkey, with the camouflage headset, camouflage cap and camouflage lapel pin. Last month, it would have been the pink towel flying on Mariota’s dive to the pylon, with pink cleats, and the coach on the sidelines with the pink hat and pink-accented headset. In nine of 17 weeks this season, the NFL makes the uniform not a uniform. And in some other weeks, the uniform is something that’s not a uniform. In the Oxford Dictionary, uniform is defined as “not changing in form or character; remaining the same in all cases and at all times.” The NFL does not have uniforms anymore. The NFL has costumes.

7. I think I have one question for the NFL marketers: Just how many of the 256 regular-season games this year—six? nine?—are the players and the coaches allowed to dress in the traditional uniforms, instead of being billboards for whatever causes the NFL chooses?

8. I think, while we’re at it, get off my lawn.
Curmudgeonly quip aside, he's absolutely right. The NFL has been slowly moving from uniforms to costumes for years. Their partnership with Nike, who's been doing that to college football for a decade, has only hastened the decline of the pros.

One of the things I've always loved about the Packers' uniforms is that it takes the "one at home, one on the road" formula and distills it down to its purest form. Since 1960, the Packers have had one coherent uniform with only the jerseys being swapped out home versus road. No alternate pants or special elements (this after Vince Lombardi's one-year experiment with white socks on the road). It's always a gold helmet, gold pants and green socks. There's a purity to it, the perfect Platonic football uniform. That's been diminished to a certain extent in recent years by the throwback alternates, much as I love them. It will be significantly diminished next season if the Packers finally knuckle under and join the silly "Color Rush" nonsense.

If a dedicated company man like King can see that, and articulate it so forcefully, maybe there's still hope.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Under the Hood(ie)

The chatter started sometime in the second quarter.

I was watching the Packers in a bar in Brooklyn, following the online conversation during interminable TV timeouts. And the conversation was hopping. Fans weren't talking about the Packers' defense finding its steel. Although it was. Packers' offense getting into a groove. Although it was. Or even about Mason Crosby finding the uprights. Although he did.

They were talking about James Jones, who was wearing a team-issued hoodie under his jersey.

Everybody wanted to talk about it.

By the end of the game, it was Twitter's top trend.

And it wasn't just Twitter.

I couldn't grab screenshots of the game from my barstool, but my pal Jeff Ash generously sent me his:

Great stuff.

It reminded me of an old-timey baseball pitcher wearing a windbreaker under his jersey.

The conversation kept going throughout the game, and I suspect that had the Packers not been doing increasingly well on the field we wouldn't have been enjoying the distraction quite so much. The game even had a competing meme as a squirrel ran out on the field, but nothing could distract the fans from the Hoodie of Destiny.

During the game itself, former NFL Vice President of Officiating Mike Pereira on the Fox Sports broadcast.

Yes, the hoodie is legal. No, it does not mark him down when it hits the ground, any more than a towel scraping the turf would mark him down. And most interestingly, a defensive player could grab the hood and drag him to the ground without running afoul of the "horse collar tackle" rule.

This morning, the chatter continues.

If you start to put his name into the Google machine, "James Jones hoodie" comes up in the auto-complete.

Before the game had ended, some wag had started a Twitter account devoted to the hoodie. It was joined by a second shortly thereafter. Perhaps not surprisingly, it has also made his Wikipedia page.

After the game, Jones explained why he had worn it.

Lots of talk about a piece of sideline gear. I was frankly surprised that the Packers Pro Shop didn't send out an email blast this morning spotlighting the hoodie for sale.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Infographic: Packers at Vikings Preview

Well, last week wasn't very successful, so let's see if the Packers can break their slide against the Vikings in Minnesota.

Here's's infographic preview of the game:
This week’s infographic takes a closer look at how the Packers have spread out their receiving yards and TDs among multiple players, plus Green Bay’s offensive output over the years vs. Minnesota.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Packers in White at Lambeau Field?

It's become somewhat fashionable for NFL teams to wear white at home, especially during the first few months of a season. Only the Seahawks have never done it. Even our Pack has brought out the road whites before a hometown crowd, first in the 1930s, but also more recently than that.

The Packers have worn white at Lambeau Field twice; the first two games of the 1989 season. Here are some highlights from the Week 2 game against the Saints, as quarterback Don Majkowski tries to rally his Packers back from a 21-0 deficit at the end of the first half.

The Packers wearing road jerseys in Green Bay? It just looks wrong.

As wrong as that gold "G" on the 50-yard line.

I do like the classic single-bar helmet graphic in the endzone, though.

The Majik Man did rally his troops, and the Packers prevailed that day 35-34.

I don't know what possessed head coach Lindy Infante to mess with the classic. Fortunately, he came to his senses and returned to the classic green home uniforms.

UPDATE 10/20/2016: We've learned a little bit more about Infante's decision: the story is here.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Infographic: Packers/Lions Preview

Today, the Packers look to end a two-game skid and resume their winning ways. They couldn't have picked a better opponent than the Lions; the Packers have won 24 straight games against them in Wisconsin (including County Stadium in Milwaukee).

That fun fact and more in today's Infographic:
This week’s infographic examines the all-time Packers-Lions series, QB Aaron Rodgers’ statistics in home games, and TE Richard Rodgers’ touchdown numbers in his first two seasons.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Packers/Lions Game Program

The Packers Pro Shop is now selling the program for tomorrow's Packers/Lions game.

They're keeping with this season's established design, only instead of a current player they're shining the spotlight on former GM (and new Hall of Famer) Ron Wolf.

I expect we'll see one featuring Brett Favre (or even Favre and Bart Starr together) for Thanksgiving.

That ribbon in the corner indicates that we're in for another "commemorative" events at Lambeau Field. Only a couple more weeks in November.

Friday, November 13, 2015

I'm Cheering For the Team In Gray

When the Jets/Bills green-red matchup was announced, I wondered if people with a certain color-blindness would be able to tell the teams apart:
Serious question: my uncle is red/green color blind. Is he going to be able to watch this game? Two teams in white helmets, one clad in red shoulder to toe and the other in all green. Surely the NFL has considered this, right?
Apparently not, because that was indeed a problem last night.

Deadspin went a step farther, creating video to simulate what the game looked like for people with this condition:

Yeah, no problem there, NFL.

But hey, it's not like anyone could reasonably have seen this coming....

Fans who were able to make out the colors were in for a treat, as the Jets wore their traditional kelly green. They looked great from the waist up:

New York Jets wide receivers Brandon Marshall (15) and Eric Decker (87) celebrate Decker's touchdown catch against the Buffalo Bills during the second half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
I even dig the metallic helmet decals.

Time for the Jets to reclaim their brighter color and stop using the Packers' forest green. Looks better on us anyway.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

NFLPA: Merchandising Highlights from Q2

The NFL Players Association has released its retail numbers through the second number of their fiscal year, and there's some good news for a few Green Bay Packers.

Aaron Rodgers was #4 on the list of best-selling jerseys. Four other Packers make the Top50 : Jordy Nelson at #16, Clay Matthews at #19, and Eddie Lacey at #34.

They didn't release all the data, but here are some of their Packers-related highlights:
Highlights from Q2 (June 1 – August 31, 2015):
  • Peyton Manning leads all sales in name and number-branded t-shirts, while Rodgers is the leader among women’s tees.
  • Wilson, Peyton Manning, Rodgers, Watt and Brady are most popular among kids in hardlines and apparel, which includes licensees Bleacher Creatures, Outerstuff and Oyo Sportstoys.
  • In women’s apparel, Wilson, Peyton Manning, Rodgers, Watt and Bryant reign supreme in the top five.
  • Defensive players are climbing the hardlines list each quarter, including a record eight ranked among the current top 50 including Watt, Sherman, Clay Matthews, Troy Polamalu (retired), Malcolm Butler, Khalil Mack, Sean Lee and Luke Kuechly.
  • Green Bay Packers fans love their player-identified caps from New Era as four Packers rank among the top 10 best sellers, including Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Matthews and Eddie Lacy.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Infographic: Packers at Panthers offers us this infographic preview of this weekend's game.
This week’s infographic takes a closer look at the all-time Packers-Panthers series, Clay Matthews’ multi-faceted impact on games, and Green Bay’s rookie CB duo of Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Little Green Men

The Jets and Bills have unveiled their "Color Rush" uniforms for next week's Thursday Night Football. And as we expected, the results are... interesting.

We'll ignore Buffalo, but the New York uniform might give us a little clue as to what the Packers are doing next year when their turn comes around.

Yikes. "Draped in color from jersey to cleats" instead. We should consider ourselves fortunate that the NFL's regulations forbid alternate helmets, or we'd see one of those as well. The Jets did tweak their logo and Braisher stripes, replacing the regular decals with a metallic sheen.

Presuming that this silly promotion isn't cancelled after the first four games, and the Packers are indeed required to come up with a monochrome uniform, this is what the 1953 throwbacks might look like:

(Forgive the rushed Photoshop; it's late and I want to get this post up.)

So what do you think, Packer fans?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Best Players by Number, and a Big Fumble

Mitchell and Ness, purveyors of throwback jerseys, recently posted their take on the "Best Football Players at Every Number".
(W)e decided to look at the best players at every number in the history of the NFL. We'll take any chance we get to reminisce about amazing players such as Jim Brown or Barry Sanders - it's almost like going back in time to a different era of the National Football League. It's also great to think about the current players who are putting together Hall of Fame careers right front of our eyes, reminding us to not take their talents for granted. After much debate, we’ve created a thorough list, picking players from past and present, to create the "Best Players by Number – Gridiron Edition".
Four Packers made their list.

The full breakdown is at their site, but here's what they had to say about the Bays who topped their respective numbers:

Favre wore #4 over 20 seasons with the Falcons, Packers, Jets and Vikings. One of the best quarterbacks to play the game, Favre was a XXXI Super Bowl Champ, 2x NFC Champion, 11x Pro Bowler, 3x First-team All-Pro, 3x Second-team All-Pro, 3x NFL MVP, 5x NFC Player of the Year, and 4x NFL Passing TDs Leader. His #4 has been retired by the Packers where he was also inducted into their Hall of Fame.

Honorable Mentions: Jim Harbaugh, Jason Hanson


Starr spent his entire 16 year career with the Packers where he won 5 NFL Championships and 2 Super Bowls. In more personal accolades, Starr was the 1966 NFL MVP, a 2x Super Bowl MVP, a 4x Pro Bowl selection, 1966 First-team All-Pro, and 2x Second-team All-Pro. Post-career, Bart’s #15 was retired by the Packers and he was inducted into both the Packers and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Shop Bart Starr jerseys here.

Honorable Mentions: Jack Kemp, Neil Lomax


Nitschke, known for this strength and toughness, was a middle linebacker who spent his entire 15-year career with the Packers. He was the anchor of a disciplined defense that helped win 5 NFL titles and the first 2 Super Bowls of the 1960s. Ray’s #66 has been retired by the Packers, he was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame, and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Nitschke was also voted as a member of the NFL 50th Anniversary All-Time Team, the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, and the NFL 1960s All-Decade Team. Shop Ray Nitschke jerseys here.

Honorable Mentions: Alan Faneca, Larry Little


Multitalented, this (primarily) defensive end and defensive tackle played in the NFL for fifteen seasons during the 1980’s and 90’s. Playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, and Carolina Panthers, White became one of the most decorated players in NFL history! The second place all-time sack leader (198.5 sacks) was a two time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, thirteen time Pro-Bowler, and twelve time All Pro. He was selected to the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, NFL 1990’s All-Decade Team, and the NFL 1980’s All-Decade Team. A Super Bowl XXXI champion, 1985 All-USFL, and 1986 Pro Bowl MVP, are a few of his many accomplishments. Also famous for his philanthropy as an ordained Evangelical minister, he has been given the name “Minister of Defense.” Shop Reggie White jerseys here.

Honorable Mentions: Michael Strahan, Haloti Ngata, James Harrison, Ted Washington
Two other Packers made the list, although they're represented by jerseys from other teams they played for; Eugene Robinson (Falcons) and Emlen Tunnell (Giants).

Those aren't bad picks, but come on. I know couple guys who would like to have a word with the author of this list.

#14 is Dan Fouts? And the only "honorable mention" they could come up with was Ken Anderson? Fouts was a great, to be sure. But Don Hutson was an immortal. Hutson was football's Babe Ruth, in his prime playing at a level far above his contemporaries. In 1942, Hutson had more receiving touchdowns by himself than eight of the other nine teams in the league. Seventy years after he retired, he still holds ten league records, and a couple of them are unlikely ever to be broken (most notably, leading the league in TDs 8 years in a row). All this, and he played defense too. He's one of the greatest to ever play the game, not to mention being the greatest receiver in the sport's history.

Also notably absent is Tony Canadeo, the "Gray Ghost".

Canadeo doesn't have the gaudy numbers that Hutson brings to the conversation, but he was still a dominant player for a decade. He was one of the greatest Packers ever to put on a uniform, already saying something, and did it on some of the worst teams Green Bay ever fielded. There's a good reason that his #3 was the second number retired by the team, and not to even include him as an honorable mention is a ludicrous oversight.

The NFL has a tendency towards myopia in its treatment of the pre-Super Bowl era. That continues to trickle down all across the sport, even to manufacturers of high-end collectibles.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Throwback Game It Was

Told you I didn't like that particular uniform matchup.

The less said, the better.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Infographic: Packers at Broncos

Another week, another awesome infographic from Nothing about Denver's "throwback" uniforms, though. Still, excellent as always.
This week’s infographic takes a look at the Packers-Broncos all-time series and both teams’ statistical rankings in key categories, plus a breakdown of how the Packers defense has spread out the sacks this season and a detailed analysis of Green Bay’s rushing attack through six games.