Monday, December 31, 2012

What is Your Major (Wardrobe) Malfunction?


That's Don Barclay, who suffered a bizarre wardrobe malfunction near the end of the second quarter of yesterday's game in Minneapolis. The #6 is nearly ripped off his jersey. I'll see if I can find a better picture.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas! Buy Tickets.

This ad appeared in newspapers in late October of 1947:

It only took a $10 deposit (plus 30 cents handling) to secure season tickets for 1948 Packer games. "The gift of a lifetime" - they weren't kidding.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Remembering Sandy Hook

I didn't hear this one was coming. The Packers, along with the rest of the league, wore helmet decals remembering the victims of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut:

The decal is a simple black circle with the initials S.H.E.S in white, placed between the NFL shield logo and the Braisher stripes.

Coaches and other sideline personnel wore matching pins:

Uni Watch reports that thirty-one teams, all but the Redskins, joined the commemoration.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Little Bit of Braisher

The Packers destroyed the Titans today at Lambeau Field, 55-7. An amazing game to watch, unless you're this guy:

It got me thinking, though, about the Titans' pants.

On the whole, I'm not a huge fan of the Titans' logos or uniforms. They're too self-conscious, too obviously a product of the 1990s. With the exception of the pants.

Simple, classic. Best of all, Braisher stripes.

It got me thinking about other teams that have used Braisher stripes on their pants but not helmets. To the Titans we can add Washington.

In past seasons, The Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams have worn Braisher stripes on their pants:

These make an appearance a couple times a season as part of their throwback uniform.

So much better than their regular look.

Between the Titans wearing Braisher stripes, the 49ers having brought theirs back a couple years ago, the Redskins making them a permanent fixture and the Rams showing them off for selected games, "Dad" Braisher's legacy is alive and well.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Auction Gold - 1962 Championship Watch

A very rare 1962 World Champions watch has now come up for auction at Leland's. These wristwatches were given in lieu of rings to Lombardi's second championship squad.

The 1962 Green Bay Packers, under the guidance of legendary coach Vince Lombardi, went 13-1 and defeated the New York Giants to capture their eighth NFL championship. This commemorative watch was inscribed on the back and presented to Tom Miller, who played for the club in 1946 but was an executive with the team in 1962. The watch has some scuffing and does not work, but it's still a dazzling piece of jewelry, a 14k gold Hamilton watch featuring team logo on the face with small diamonds serving as the numbers, as well as "Green Bay Packers 1962 World Champions N. F. L." inscribed. The back of the watch has "Tom Miller - Green Bay 16 – New York 7" inscribed.
Beautiful piece.

The watch was owned, as the auction notes, by Tom Miller. He may have been just "an executive with the team" in 1962, but that doesn't do justice to his tenure with the Packers.

Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame

Miller was a former player who played in Green Bay in 1946, the last of his four years in the pros. Like many Packers, he returned to the club after his playing days were over, starting in 1956 when Lisle Blackbourn hired him as director of publicity and sales promotion.

Miller was promoted to assistant general manager in 1965 by Vince Lombardi. He kept that title after Lombardi's departure, running the team's ticket offices in Green Bay and Milwaukee. In 1981, the Packers' board voted to strip then-coach Bart Starr of his general manager's duties, splitting them between Miller as "Business General Manager" and Bob Harlan as "Corporate General Manager". Their titles were later amended to make them both "Assistant to the President", insulating both men from the coaching chaos that rocked the Packers in the 1980s.

Miller retired in 1988, and was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1999.

At the time of his retirement, Miller estimated that he had personally watched 635 Packer games. He missed only two games in 35 years, and one of those was a pre-season game in Boston. What changes he saw in those 35 years; seven head coaches, two stadiums, and five World Championships. A moribund franchise brought back to glory and made a model for the entire league, thanks in part to him.

Even without the connection to Miller, this watch would be an amazing find. Its provenance only makes it more so. Bidding currently stands at $1,071.81, but I expect it to fetch more by the time the auction closes on Friday.

UPDATE:  The final price, including bidder's premium, was $2,495.95. Undoubtedly a major addition to somebody's collection.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Deck the Hall, Part II

On their way to winning another NFC North Division Championship yesterday, the Packers participated in the NFL's second week of commemorating fifty years of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

That meant another jersey patch, this time on the white roads.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) and linebacker Clay Matthews (52) talk while warming up before an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Seeing elite players like Matthews and Rodgers wearing the patch is one thing, but I can't help but wonder if other men on that field have mixed feelings about it, knowing that the vast majority of them will need a ticket to enter the Hall?

I'm sure it wasn't intentional, but there can't be many more appropriate events to commemorate the Hall of Fame than a game between these two clubs. As strong as the connection is between the Hall and the Packers, it might even be more so for the Bears. They currently have 27 players enshrined in Canton, more even than the Packers. For now.

Is it just me, or do the Bears save their throwbacks for when the Packers come to town? You can dress like the Monsters of the Midway, boys, but you'll have to work harder to play like them.

Cornerback Casey Hayward (29) of the Green Bay Packers intercepts a Jay Cutler pass during week 15 action between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL on Dec. 16, 2012 (Todd Rosenberg/NFL)
Games at Lambeau Field and Soldier Field, against the Bears and the Lions. Traditional rivals from football towns. Regardless of what the rest of the league did, this was a great way to honor the Hall of Fame.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

NFC North Champions! Now Buy Something.

Today, the Packers beat the Bears in Chicago, clinching another divisional title and setting themselves up nicely to have the playoff road run through Lambeau Field.

The game ended at approximately 4:01 pm Eastern Standard Time. Twenty minutes later, I had this in my Inbox:

An hour and a half after that, and the NFL Shop chimed in:

Don't waste much time, do they?

Does anybody actually buy Divisional Champions gear? For a franchise like the Packers, that seems a pretty low bar. I guess the team can get in on holiday gifts by seizing the moment and emphasizing the only thing they've won so far, but I'm not a big fan. If the Packers advance beyond the divisional round, there will be better merchandise to buy. If they don't, I don't want a reminder.

Congrats to the team on today's accomplishment. But let's go get the next one; I want World Champions merchandise.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Happy Aaron Rodgers Day

Back in February, the Legislature declared today Aaron Rodgers Day in the State of Wisconsin.
Whereas, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback playing in the National Football League and wears jersey #12; and

Whereas, Aaron Rodgers in just a few years as a starter has established himself as a great leader of the Green Bay Packers and confidently takes the trust his teammates and coaches have placed in him to lead his team to further greatness; and

Whereas, Aaron Rodgers was named Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XLV; and

Whereas, Aaron Rodgers was named Most Valuable Player of the 2011 season, winning 48 out of 50 possible votes; and

Whereas, Aaron Rodgers led the Green Bay Packers on a 19-game winning streak between the 2010 and 2011 seasons; and

Whereas, Aaron Rodgers became the only player in NFL history to throw for over 4,000 yards in each of the first two seasons as a starting quarterback; and

Whereas, Aaron Rodgers played the best season of his career in 2011, throwing for 4,643 yards, 45 touchdowns, and just 6 interceptions, good for a passer rating of 122.5, which is now the best single-season passer rating in NFL history; and

Whereas, Aaron Rodgers earned the National Football Conference Offensive Player of the Month award for September, October, and November, and FedEx Air Player of the Week six times (Weeks 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, and 13); and

Whereas, Aaron Rodgers currently holds the record for all-time consecutive games with at least two touchdown passes at 13; and

Whereas, Aaron Rodgers' performance on November 24, 2011, during the annual Thanksgiving Day Classic earned him the coveted Galloping Gobbler Most Valuable Player award; and

Whereas, the Green Bay Packers finished the 2011 regular season at the top of their division with a record of 15-1, thanks in large part to Aaron Rodgers; and

Whereas, Aaron Rodgers is actively involved in the charitable organization Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer (the MACC Fund); now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the assembly, the senate concurring, That in appreciation of Aaron Rodgers' athletic accomplishments and humanitarian activities, the Wisconsin legislature hereby commends Aaron Rodgers on his accomplishments and declares that December 12, 2012, is proclaimed "Aaron Rodgers Day" in Wisconsin; and, be it further

Resolved, That the assembly chief clerk shall transmit a copy of this joint resolution to Aaron Rodgers.
That could be the least controversial thing the Legislature has done in decades.

Happy AR Day, everyone.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lions at Packers, 1960

Now that the Packers have beaten the Lions, preserving Detroit's losing streak in Wisconsin (22 straight games over 21 years!), we can enjoy this Press-Gazette photo gallery from 1960.

Here we see Jim Taylor (#31) running the ball. Taylor's 151 yards (only 16 shy of the then-team record) were the difference in this game.

I love the heavy sans-serif numbers on Vince Lombardi's earliest uniforms.

I'd love to see the Packers bring them back. With jerseys shrinking by the day, removing the extra serifs might preserve as much green space as possible.

Speaking of the numbers, take a look at this shot:

Did you notice the two different number fonts? Take a look at it again:

Check out the sevens on Henry Jordan (#74) and Bill Forester (#71). Jordan is wearing the serifed style, which the Packers first used in 1959, returned to around 1962 and still use today.

Other Packers also wore the serifed numbers, including Dave Hanner (#79). It seems strange to use today that you'd have a mix of old and new jerseys on the field at the same time, but all indications are that was fairly common in the early 1960s.

Below, we see quarterback Lamar McHan handing off to Taylor. McHan had been the Packers' starting quarterback at the beginning of 1959 before being pulled in favor of his backup, Bart Starr. As 1960 began, Starr and McHan alternated duties behind center.

In this game, it was all McHan.

Not to say that Starr didn't see any action on this October day. He held for Paul Hornung on the points after touchdown:

Always a team player, that Bart.

The Packers finished the season 8-4, top of the Western Conference, before falling to the Philadelphia Eagles in the championship game. In the locker room afterwards, Lombardi told the players "This will never happen again. You will never lose another championship."

And he was right. The Packers would return to the championship game the following season, with Bart Starr in all 14 games and with a new "G" logo on the side of their helmets. They also won the game against the Giants, 37-0, and Lombardi's dynasty was born.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Deck the Hall

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers waits to be introduced before an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Last night, on Sunday Night Football, the Packers and Lions joined the NFL's league-wide commemoration of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's 50th anniversary.

In the spirit of the occassion, Lambeau Field was festooned with Hall of Fame logos and there were pre-game festivities. In attendance was former great Willie Davis, representing the twenty-one players and coaches (second in number only to the Bears) who are enshrined in Canton.

On the field, both teams wore a Hall of Fame patch over their hearts:

Green Bay Packers' Randall Cobb leaps over Detroit Lions' Don Carey (32) as he runs back a kick during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
This made for some crowded real estate, especially amongst players like Ryan Grant who cut their jerseys down, impinging on the neck stripes:

Green Bay Packers' Ryan Grant runs during the second half of an NFL football game Sagainst the Detroit Lions unday, Dec. 9, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 27-20. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
I can't help but wonder why the NFL waited until December to commemorate this anniversary, since induction ceremonies are held in August. The dedication and inaugural class enshrinement was held on September 7, 1963. Perhaps they thought that saving it for late in the season, separating it from the regular season-kickoff hoopla, would allow for greater focus.

I will admit that Lambeau Field in December lends itself to conditions entirely appropriate for remembering the game's glorious history:

Green Bay Packers' Randall Cobb reacts after catching a pass for a first down during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

"Vote Ray Guy"

This weekend, all NFL players are wearing a patch to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.

We'll see the Packers' version tonight, but I wanted to pass along this customization by Vikings punter Chris Kluwe:

In case you haven't been following this particular story, here's what Klewe is talking about.

I am loath to admit that I admire a Viking, but Klewe is making it exceptionally hard not to.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Finally Starting to Get It

Win McNamee/Getty Images

For years, concussions have been a major topic of conversation around football. The NFL is changing rules to eliminate concussions. Players are wearing new and better types of helmets to prevent concussions.

For years, that has allowed us to avoid the real issue.

Today on, Jonathan Mahler is trying to drag the conversation back where it belongs, with a piece entitled "There Is No Concussion Crisis in Football".
The biggest NFL story of the week may not have been Jovan Belcher’s horrific murder-suicide in Kansas City, Missouri, but the release of a small study in the scientific journal Brain. And we may yet learn that the two are intertwined.

The four-year study looked, posthumously, at the brains of 85 athletes and soldiers. Fifty were former football players, 33 in the National Football League. The study found that the incurable degenerative disease known as CTE -- chronic traumatic encephalopathy -- is just as likely to be caused by a routine hit to the head as it is by a big, concussive blow.

"This is a disease of total, overall repetitive brain trauma," one of the researchers said.

In other words: Football doesn't have a concussion problem. It has an existential one. By calling it anything else, we are doing the brain-trauma issue a grave disservice.
Thank you, Mr. Mahler. Thank you.

I've been saying this for years. My skin crawls every time an ESPN personality waxes on about concussions, or about how the latest wonder helmet prevents them, as if a helmet could stop the brain from moving around inside the skull.

Football is a violent game that came of age at a time when the men who play it were smaller, slower and less protected. As the game has grown, players have gotten faster and bigger (William "the Refrigerator" Perry wouldn't be able to earn his nickname today). They have become more armored, which has allowed them to shake off the immediate effects of hits that would have knocked their fathers out of games.

I'm glad that the NFL, after years of ignoring the issue, has finally decided to admit the problem. I'm glad that they've started making rule changes to eliminate helmet-to-helmet contact as much as is possible. I'm glad that they're continuing to evaluate new ways of making the game safer, even if it means eliminating kickoffs.

I'm especially glad that national writers such as Jonathan Mahler are trying to keep the conversation honest.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

There's Something About Those Socks...

Last night, I watched Washington humble the Giants on Monday Night Football. While enjoying a little schadenfreude after last week's debacle in the Meadowlands, I was struck by the Redskins' socks:

Well, their socks and their pants. Gotta love Braisher stripes, wherever you find them.

If those pants look like they belong to the Packers, there's a reason for it. They were introduced to Washington by their new coach, who had brought the same æsthetic to Green Bay a decade earlier.

Dark jerseys with two sets of Braisher stripes on the sleeves? Check. Gold pants with Braisher stripes down the side? Check. Socks to match the sleeves? Check.

Not only did Vince Lombardi create new home uniforms that were near-carbon copies of his Packer look, but he extended the similarities to the roads as well.

White jerseys with single-color numbers and color/gold/color/gold/color stripes on the sleeve. They even have the same color/gold/color neckline.

Just swap burgandy for dark green, and Vince Lombardi could make his new team look like his old one, even if they weren't ready to play like them.

Lombardi was famously color-blind (literally, not just in his views of racial equality). He would have seen his Packers reflected in the Redskins of 1969.

This similarity could have been Lombardi wanting to borrow a little of that old Green Bay magic, or it could have had something to do with kicking his little brother Joe, a regional salesman for Rawlings Sporting Goods, some work (diehard Washington fans noticed that also meant changing their customary dark burgandy to Rawlings' lighter, redder shade).

In any case, Washington kept their Lombardi uniforms into the 1970s, and resurrected the pants and socks a couple years ago, originally as part of a throwback uniform and now as part of the regular home set. And if the Packers couldn't beat the Giants, at least their æsthetic heirs could. Small consolation, but I'll take it where it comes.

The Packers eliminated Braisher stripes from their socks in 1984, as part of Forrest Gregg's "new head coach" overhaul. Based on what I saw last night, it might be time for the Pack to look at following Washington's lead and bringing those back.