17

July

Packers Video: Green Bay Packers 101

Every Green Bay Packers fan has faced this question at one point or another:

“Why the Packers?”

The fan then gives their reason for their apparent insanity.  It could be the team’s tradition or it could be a family tradition or a Wisconsin birthright for those born in the Dairy State.  Each fan has their own unique story as to how and why they became and still remain a Packers fan.

In rare circumstances, you may find yourself at a loss for words (because the Packers are so darn awesome) or you might have difficulty explaining your fandom to someone who prefers a much more visual medium.

If that’s the case here is WatchMojo.com’s Greatest Sports Franchises series on THE greatest sports franchise, the Green Bay Packers.  It serves as a great “Packers 101″ for anyone who knows little to nothing about the team’s history.

Those poor uneducated souls.

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Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke

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14

April

Historical Perspective: Vince Lombardi’s Offense Was More Complex Than You Think

Vince Lombardi ran a precision offense that may be remembered incorrectly within his legend.

Vince Lombardi ran a precision offense that may be remembered somewhat incorrectly within his legend.

Former Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi is arguably the greatest coach in the history of the NFL. However, I believe that his legacy is actually underrepresented in the annals of fame.

Lombardi is often credited for having his teams seek perfection. As part of this perfection, the legend suggests that his offensive playbook was more simple than his peers. But, since his players ran the smaller offensive category to perfection, it was the winning formula en route to five NFL championships over a seven-year stretch.

The legend perpetuates the notion that the Packers Power Sweep was the main driving force for the 1960s dynasty. They swept their way into the history books.

Pundits today also continue their accounts by suggesting that the modern game has surpassed Lombardi and he wouldn’t be able to compete with the contemporary sophistication.

Granted, Lombardi’s offense wasn’t as open as Tom Landry’s multiple-shift and intricate “System” at the time, but it was much more complex than history seems be crediting him.

I have always been a great fan and student of Lombardi’s playbook. It started when I was a young child and was given a copy of his posthumous book “Vince Lombardi on Football,” edited by George L. Flynn. Throughout the book, Lombardi painstakingly teaches the reader, down to the finest detail, the mechanisms of executing his football plays.

Allow me to highlight some of Lombardi’s offensive philosophies and play calls to demonstrate that his offense was quite contemporary and multiple for the time, and to also showcase how some of his staples are still present in today’s modern NFL.

Exhibit A: The Passing Tree

Sid Gillman is often called the “father of the modern passing game.” He was among the first to standardize receiver routes and attach them to precision timing. The routes were perfectly constructed to match the quarterback’s drop back with the break of the receivers to mesh in a completion.

He was one of the reasons the AFL exploded on the scene with wide-open passing attacks. The game would never be the same after his imprint.

Before Gillman, oftentimes receivers only ran a few routes to match their skill set and simply would try to “get open” and then look for the ball.

13

December

Packers Periscope: Week 15 at Dallas Cowboys

The Past: In reality, the Packers and Cowboys aren’t all that different; both are storied franchises whose heydays came after hiring relatively unknown New York Giants coordinators.  Both had a renaissance of sorts in the 80s and 90s; Jimmy Johnson, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin for the Cowboys and Mike Holmgren, Brett Favre, Reggie White and Desmond Howard for the Packers both lead their respective teams back into relevance.  Both have been successful franchises in the last couple years; obviously Green Bay boasts a Super Bowl over the last couple of years that the Cowboys have no answer for but to call the franchise “unsuccessful” would be glossing over a decent team who are still the highest grossing franchise in the league.

While the Packers and Cowboys have only played each other 24 times in NFL history; perhaps the most historic game of all time occurred in New Years eve, 1967 where the temperature dropped -15F and an unassuming quarterback from Alabama drafted in the 17th round quarterback sneaked his way into the hearts of Packers nation and became a legend.

The Cowboys would probably like to forget the last time they played the Packers, a 45-7 demolition at Lambeau Field that would ultimately lead to the firing of then head coach Wade Phillips, which was punctualized by several coaching mistakes which ultimately lead to a bad call on a fumble returned for a special teams touchdown being unchallenged because the Cowboys had already wasted all their timeouts.  After that, the entire team simply gave up and let the Packers had their way with the Cowboys; Clay Matthews recorded sack/interception returned for a touchdown while James Jones logged 123 yards and a touchdown on 8 receptions.

The Present: Both the Packers and Cowboys are at a crossroads of sorts for their playoff hopes.  Frankly neither should really be in the discussion; the Packers are a completely different team without starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Cowboys have been wildly inconsistent, almost beating the Peyton Manning lead Denver Broncos but getting blown out by the Bears last week with a backup quarterback that’s just been benched for Jay Cutler.  Still the Packers are 6-6-1 and have a shot to get into the playoffs (especially if the Lions continue to play poorly) while the Cowboys are 7-6 and again are one game out from 1st place in the NFC East.  However in a league of parity, both teams with essentially .500 records are still in the playoff hunts with a reasonable chance of actually getting in says platitudes about how a team’s fortunes can change in a matter of moments.

5

December

Hall of Famer Dave Robinson chats with ALLGBP.com

Dave Robinson joined ALLGBP for a phone interview. Photo courtesy Packers.com.Dave Robinson joined ALLGBP for a phone interview. Photo courtesy Packers.com.

Dave Robinson joined ALLGBP for a phone interview. Photo courtesy Packers.com.

Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Packers linebacker Dave Robinson joined me for a phone interview Dec. 4. Needless to say, the 72-year-old Robinson had some great stories and a first-hand account of the Vince Lombardi-era Packers.

“He used to say there were players in the league that were bigger than us, stronger than us, faster than us, could jump higher,” Robinson said of Lombardi. “But we had that certain something, he said, that he saw that made you a Green Bay Packer. He took that little something and nurtured it.”

Robinson pointed out that people seem to lose sight of the fact that Lombardi was the also team’s general manager during his legendary run in Green Bay.

“On our defense, 10 of the 11 people  on our defense Vince Lombardi had acquired as the general manager,” Robinson said. “He was a big offensive coach, but he was sharp enough to acquire 10 of 11 (on defense). The only one he didn’t acquire was Ray Nitschke.”

Of course, Lombardi was the one who took Nitschke and turned him into a starter upon his arrival.

Robinson will be honored today (Dec. 4) in his hometown Moorestown, N.J. as part of the “Hometown Hall of Famer” banquet, presented by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance Company. He spoke of his time growing up in New Jersey, going to college and meeting Joe Paterno at Penn State and, of course, the current Packers and the Aaron Rodgers situation.

Check out the whole interview below. Dave made it very worth your 15 minutes.

 

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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19

November

Packers Defense Does Not Measure Up to Its Talent

lombardi_quoteBefore school started this year, I ordered three motivational tin posters for my music classroom. One of these posters features Babe Ruth, while the other two feature none other than Vince Lombardi, legendary Green Bay Packers coach. Each one is a black and white photo prominently displaying an inspirational quote, and I often reference them when my students need some guidance.

After the past few weeks, with the struggles of a Packers team sans Aaron Rodgers, I have been unable to get one of those quotations out of my mind:

“The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.” –Vince Lombardi

I selected this particular poster, because it suggests that measuring ourselves against others is a fool’s errand. As I have often said, there will always be people out there better than us at something, and there will always be people who are worse than us. We should be looking at success as a measure of what we’ve been able to accomplish from where we’ve started.

How does this apply to the Packers’ current situation? Like many other fans, in my frustration with this injury-riddled season, my contempt for the defense and its failures has grown. Every year since the abysmal 2011 season – and a defense that, on average, gave up over 400 yards per game – I’ve been praying that Dom Capers would turn it around.

“Just get some good players in the draft, and we’ll be set,” I told myself. “Then we can get back to the 2010 defense that allowed the second fewest points per game in the league.”

Of course, this year, I started the season with a different tune. “Just get some key players healthy, and this defense will be unmovable.” Names like Casey Hayward, Morgan Burnett, and eventually Clay Matthews and Nick Perry kept popping up in this conversation. Green Bay just needed to get over the injury bug. That’s all.

It hasn’t gotten better, though. And average quarterbacks are making the pass defense look downright silly.

Unlike some fans, I’m not going to point my finger at Ted Thompson. I believe that he is good at acquiring talent for this team. Guys like Clay Matthews, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Eddie Lacey were unbelievable draft picks. Then consider players like David Bakhtiari, Morgan Burnett, and Josh Sitton, who have been some solid acquisitions in the middle rounds. And don’t forget the undrafted diamonds like Sam Shields and DuJuan Harris that Thompson has unearthed.

5

October

Cory’s Corner: Lombardi still resonates with Packers fans

Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi won five championships in seven years and is the only coach to win three straight.

Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi won five championships in seven years and is the only coach to win three straight.

 

Vince Lombardi is an expected learn. Not just in snowy Packer country where Lombardi made the rest of the NFL scream “Uncle!” but throughout the globe where his level of success and achievement has been unreachable.

I was born nine years after he passed away in 1970, but the most amazing thing to me is how much that man means to a fan base that after all those years cannot stop talking about him, crawling on his imposing statue outside the Lambeau Field Atrium and cannot stop drooling at the NFL’s top prize, rightly named in his honor.

“To this day that is one thing that I’m surprised at,” said Lombardi’s grandson John, who was in New York on behalf of his grandfather to be a part of the “Hometown Hall of Famers” celebration recently.  “I thought over time that he would fade from memory. I mean he would’ve been 100 this year. His 100th birthday was in June. And to still be so relevant and referred to is amazing.”

The “Hometown Hall of Famers” is a program that started in 2011 and its sole mission is to highlight the hometown roots of the NFL’s best players with a special ceremony and a plaque that remains in the hometown. The Lombardi family chose to keep the plaque at St. Francis Preparatory School, where Lombardi honed his craft as an offensive lineman en route to earning a scholarship to Fordham University.

It didn’t take long for Lombardi to put the rest of the NFL in a stranglehold. Two years after the Packers finished 1-10-1 in 1958 and were within a whisper of losing the franchise, Lombardi churned out a playoff team for the first time since 1944. Lombardi didn’t stop there as he racked up three NFL championships and two Super Bowls in seven years, numbers that would make any opponent cripple to its knees.

“The greatest achievement is winning three championships in a row which in the playoff era no team has done,” said Lombardi who worked for 10 years in football with the World League, the Cleveland Browns, Vanderbilt University and Tennessee Oilers/Titans. “A lot have won two but no one has been able to win that third one. So it’s that achievement level that I think they’re all chasing. That accomplishment in and of itself is something that everyone can look to who’s in professional sports.

26

September

Vince Lombardi to be Honored by Pro Football Hall of Fame Oct 2

Vince Lombardi, Hometown Hall of Famer

Vince Lombardi, Hometown Hall of Famer

Legendary Packers football coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer, Vince Lombardi, is going to be honored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance on Wednesday, Oct. 2 at his H.S. alma mater in New York with a special ceremony and plaque presentation.

This event at St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens, New York, is part of “Hometown Hall of Famers™,” a national program honoring the hometown roots of the sport’s greatest coaches, players, and contributors.

John Lombardi, Vince’s grandson, will be on-hand at the ceremony to accept the plaque on his grandfather’s behalf and say a few words about his legacy.

Here is the full Press Release:

National Program Recognizes Pro Football’s Greatest Legends in their Hometown Communities

Canton, Ohio – Sept. 25, 2013 – Pro football legend Vince Lombardi will be recognized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance Company in Queens, New York, on Wednesday, Oct. 2, as part of “Hometown Hall of Famers™,” a national program honoring the hometown roots of the sport’s greatest coaches, players, and contributors with special ceremonies and plaque dedication events in local communities.

“’Hometown Hall of Famers™’ has been warmly embraced by communities and Hall of Famers alike,” said George Veras, Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprises president and CEO. “We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Allstate to bring the Pro Football Hall of Fame to communities across the country and congratulate the late Vince Lombardi and St. Francis Preparatory School on bringing a piece of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to Queens.”

A legendary NFL coach and former high school standout at St. Francis Preparatory School, Lombardi will be honored with his “Hometown Hall of Famer™” plaque during a special ceremony at 1:25 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Oct. 2, in the school’s auditorium, located at 6100 Francis Lewis Blvd., Fresh Meadows, NY, where the plaque will live permanently to serve as an inspiration for the school’s students and athletes. John Lombardi, Vince’s grandson, will be on-hand to accept the plaque on behalf of the Lombardi family.

“To be part of a program that brings the prestige and tradition of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to communities like Queens is an honor for Allstate, our agents and employees,” said Lisa Cochrane, Allstate’s senior vice president of marketing.
The ceremony will be attended by St. Francis Preparatory School students, faculty, staff, alumni and Lombardi’s family members and close friends. Kyle Flood, Rutgers University head football coach and St. Francis alumnus, will serve as the Master of Ceremonies.