Green Bay Packers

Wed, 17 Sep 2008 22:32

The history of the Green Bay Packers

About the nfl team Green Bay Packers.

The Green Bay Packers belong to the surviving “small town” teams from the 1920s. Earl Lambeau, more popularly known as “Curly,” and George Whitney Calhoun founded the franchise as early as August 11, 1919. The Packers descended from the semi-professional teams playing the sport in Green Bay since 1896.

The name Packers is the oldest franchise name still used in American football, which is unlike other teams that changed their names for various reasons through the years. The name was derived from the first sponsor of the team – the Indian Packing Company based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Curly Lambeau received a $500 sponsorship grant from the Indian Packing Company to buy his team’s uniform and equipment on the condition that the team will promote the business, and thus, the name Green Bay Packers.

Beginnings of the team

On August 27, 1921, the Packers evolved as a professional franchise after joining the American Professional Football Association, the ancestor of the biggest professional football association in the United States today, the National Football League (NFL).

The ownership of the franchise has been plagued with funding problems ever since. After their entry to the professional league, financial woes had the franchise cancelled by the close of the season. Curly Lambeau struggled to find new sponsors the following year. He was able to raise $250 to buy back the franchise.

Since then, a group of local businessmen called the “Hungry Five” pooled resources together to keep the Packers alive. Playing coach Curly Lambeau, Atty. Gerard Francis Clifford, Andrew Turnbull, Dr. W. Webber Kelly and Leland Joannes formed a non-profit corporation, called the Green Bay Football Corporation, and sold stocks to promote the franchise. This made the Packers the only publicly owned company operating in the world of American professional sports today.

It was Oliver Kuchle, a sports journalist from Wilwaukee Journal, who tagged the five founders of the Green Bay Packers as the “Hungry Five” because they seemed to be always out of money and was often troubled by finances.

Andrew Turnbull volunteered to act as the first president of the Packers. Leland Joannes took over and served for another 17 years and was able to make the franchise survive the greatest financial problems and position that is near bankruptcy. Dr. Kelly served as president for one year, as board member, and also as team physician. Clifford served as the company lawyer pro-bono for 28 years. Of the five pillars of the Green Bay Packers, only Curly Lambeau, serving as a player and coach at the same time, has experienced receiving salary from the franchise.

As a publicly owned franchise, the Green Bay Football Corporation sold stocks to the public, but limited the ownership on an individual to a maximum of 200,000 shares to ensure no one can control it. Today, a share is worth $200. A total of 111,921 people bought 4,749,925 shares as of June 8, 2005.

When Lambeau died on September 11, 1965, the City Stadium which is owned and constructed by the city, was renamed the Lambeau Field. Lambeau Field serves as the Packers' home until today.

The winning record of the Packers has been unbeaten in the NFL, having captured 12 league championships. Their first two championships date back as early as the time when AFL and NFL were not yet merged into one body. They also won three consecutive NFL championships, once in 1929 to 1931 and again in 1965 to 1967.

The Lombardy Era (1959-1967)

Under the tutelage of coach Vince Lombardy, the Green Bay Packers collected five NFL championships within a seven-year period, and these included their feat during the first and second Super Bowls. Famous star players include quarterback Bart Starr, right-guard Jerry Kramer, running-backs Carroll Dale, Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung, and defensive players Ray Nitschke, Hendy Jordan, Dave Robinson ,Willie Wood, and Herb Adderley.

The Chicagoo Bears were the early casualties of the Green Bay Packers in the Lombardy era. In 1960, the Philadelphia Eagles robbed the NFL Championship from the Packers after a hotly contested, time-is-of-essence game. That defeat was the first and last one under Lombardy.

The following season, the Packers again managed to make it to the NFL championships, and they faced the New York Giants this time. The Packers won over the Giants as Paul Hornung, a player from the US Army, scored 19 points, dominating the entire championship game.

In 1965, the Packers returned to the NFL Championship games, after two years of not-so-good luck. This year, the team earned another NFL championship title by beating the Cleveland Browns. This victory is the third feather in the cap of Vince Lombardy as the Packer’s coach.

In 1966, Bart Starr rallied the Packers, fully inspired by his NFL MVP title, to get their Super Bowl I with a winning card of 35-10 against the Kansas City Chiefs. The following year, the last one under Lombardy’s watch, Bart Starr once again sneaked the Packers to victory with barely 16 seconds left to steal the Super Bowl II from the Oakland Raiders with a 33-14 card. Phil Bengtson assumed as Head Coach and Vince Lombardy got appointed as General Manager of the franchise. He left Green Bay in 1969 to serve the Washington Redskins as head coach. He died in September 1970, and, in his honor, the Super Bowl trophy became the Vince Lombardy Trophy in recognition of his unmatched accomplishment as head coach of the Packers. Also, the road leading to the Lambeau Field was named Lombardy Avenue to honor his memory.

The Post-Lombardy Era (1968-1991)

Coaching during the next 24 seasons after Lombardy was handled by five people: Phil Bengtson, Dan Devine, Bart Starr, Forrest Gregg, and Lindy Infante. Two of them were key players of the Packer’s great head coach. Only five out of 24 seasons allowed a winning record for the Packers. Assessments pointing to the poor performance has been blamed on the poor choice of drafts.

The Wolf, Holmgren, Favre and White Tandem (1992–2008)

A much needed corporate revamp brought in Ron Wolf as new General Manager of the Packers. Responsible for having a full grip over the operations of the franchise, Wolf made an aggressive move to hire Mike Holmgren, the offensive coordinator of the San Farncisco 49ers, as head coach.

After hiring Holmgren, Wolf decided to take Brett Favre from the Atlanta Falcons. Because quarterback Don Majkowski was injured, Favre made a debut to bring the first win over the Cincinnati Bengals to wake up the Packers in 1992. Favre is a prolific player, starting 271 straight games to mark an NFL quarterback record. He rallied the Packers to win against the Pittsburgh Steelers a week after the victory over the Bengals.

Holmgren cannot simply stop - he made another wise decision of hiring Reggie White, the most expensive free agent in the history of NFL. White believes so much in the tandem of Wolf, Holmgren, and Favre.

Finally in 1995, the greatness of the Packers shined again after capturing the NFC Central Division Championship, the highest win they have at this level since 1972. Despite defeating reigning Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers, the Packers lost the NFC championship game to the Dallas Cowboys, 38-27.

1996 was the reckoning year for the comebacking Packers. In the 31st Super Bowl, Green Bay humbled the New England Patriots, 35-21, to once again capture the crown as the champion of American football. Later in 2007, football experts from ESPN named the 1996 team of the Green Bay Packers as the 6th greatest team to play in the Super Bowl.

The Packers remained a team to beat until 1997, but they lost to the Denver Broncos in the 32nd Super Bowl. The following year signaled the end of another glorious era for the Packers. Mike Holmgren left for the Seattle Seahawks. Reggie White also waved goodbye for his retirement. The Packers soon lost Favre, who was traded to the New York Jets.