Monday, February 14, 2011

"G" Still Stands for "Gullible"

Okay, this ought to put it to rest.

You'll remember, as we talked about two weeks ago, that Tiki Barber hosted a Yahoo! Sports video in which he claimed that the Packers' famous "G" helmet logo, designed for Lombardi by Gerald "Dad" Braisher, originally stood not for "Green Bay" but rather for "Greatness".

If you missed the original conversation, here's the video:

Of course, it's not true. Barber doesn't even get Braisher's name right - it was Gerald, not George.

It appears that, as I suspected, Tiki Barber got this little piece of knowledge from Wikipedia, where it was added by an anonymous author in June of 2010 (who failed, of course, to provide a source). It subsequently got picked up by Yahoo! Answers,, and dozens of other content-hungry sites which copy-and-paste text from Wikipedia. Not to menton countless blogs and message boards, all of which repeated it uncritically.

After Barber's video, the false assertion was removed from Wikipedia. Most of the inaccurate information eventually is, but the damage was done. Barber's little tidbit was out there, on all those sites.

The Sioux City Journal fanned the flames when it reprinted the falsehood as fact:
Leave it to Tiki Barber, the intrepid former star running back now turned broadcaster, to unveil information not many people – including myself – knew about the Green Bay Packers logo.

Like most, I assumed the familiar "G" stood for Green Bay. As in Wisconsin. Titletown U.S.A.


According to Barber, and later verified by a google question search, the "G" actually stands for Greatness. Apparently, equipment manager George "Dad" Brashier[sic] thought up and designed the logo in 1961.
A google search? That's research?

And now, because the Sioux City Journal is a reputable, legitimate source, the bogus story has acquired the sheen of legitimacy. And so, back on Wikipedia it goes to confuse countless other lazy researchers.

An anonymous reader tipped me off to what we think is the origin of this nonsense. It comes from a 2003 DVD called Legend of Lambeau Field. In the chapter on the 1961 NFL Championship Game, the narrator intones:
"Lombardi added a 'G' to the Packers' helmet in 1961. And it stood for 'great.' The team posted the league's best record, and earned the right to host the championship game."
And that's it. A rhetorical flourish, and not even a good one. Picked up and repeated, until somebody believed it enough to put it on Wikipedia (while getting the actual word wrong).

Which is, as I said before, the problem with Wikipedia. Anybody can post any nonsense they please, and although it may eventually be removed, the damage can already be done.

Just to close out the story, did what I should have done in the beginning, and asked the Packers. The team's response:
The Packers' Assistant Director of PR and Corporate Communications had the following to say: "There’s nothing in our history that suggests there's any truth to this. The Packers Hall of Fame archivist said the same thing."
And they really ought to have the final word.


Johnny O said...

Great job as always Chance.

I know a guy who knows a guy, and he is letting me wear his Super Bowl ring when he gets it. I will let you have access to those photos if you wish for your site.

Tom Farley said...

I knew in my heart Tiki's story was crap, but it's nice to have a definitive refutation.

Sean said...

And now you can get his screw-up on a t-shirt:

S & T Sports Fan Outlet said...

I read were Tiki wants to come back and play again. If a team will hire him. With sports fan shop now carrying T-shirts with his screw-up on it, he may have no choose.