Monday, April 27, 2015

At Least They Don't Think We Play in Indianapolis

The Packers have unveiled the design for this year's Draft caps:

Ooo, shiny.

On the back, the golden NFL logo they're using this year to mark the Super Bowl 50.

The real treat is the underbrim of the cap. New Era is decorating those with the skyline of the team's host city:

This is a little more effective for cities like New York or Chicago, but it's still kind of fun.

I recognize the Tower Drive Bridge, although Wikipedia informs me that it was renamed the "Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge" in 2002. Shows how often I get back.

As undistinguished as Green Bay's skyline might be, at least we're not Jacksonville fans. Their cap's underbrim looks like this:

Only problem is, that's not Jacksonville's skyline. This is:

Those lovely teal-outlined buildings are actually found in Miami, 350 miles to the south:

The Miami New Times has this handy Photoshop comparison:

Whoops. New Era has fessed up to the mistake and promised it will be corrected by the time the caps hit stores.

Friday, April 17, 2015

R.I.P. Lee Remmel, Packers Historian

Sad news out of Titletown; Lee Remmel, who has been associated with the Packers since the Curly Lambeau days, has passed away at the age of 90.

Remmel was a true icon in a sport which tends to over-use the word. He started covering Packers games for the Green Bay Press-Gazette in 1945.

Reporters wait while the Packers’ board of directors meets for four hours in the Brown County Courthouse in Green Bay on Nov. 30, 1949, deliberating the fate of coach and general manager Curly Lambeau. From left are Lee Remmel, Art Daley and Dave Yuenger of the Green Bay Press-Gazette; Packers publicity director George Strickler, Don Arthur of radio station WDUZ, Bob Savage of radio station WBAY and Earl Gillespie of WJPG, the Press-Gazette’s radio station. (Press-Gazette Media archives)
For nearly thirty years, he reported on the ins and outs of the team, and when he finally left his beat in 1974, it was to join the Packers as their public relations director. Remmel's second career was as long and illustrious as his first, through the lean years of the 1970s and 1980s and finally renewed glory days that continue today. In February 2004, he was named team historian. Aided with an uncanny memory and a true gift for personal stories, he has done as much to educate modern football fans as anyone in the sport.

Lee Remmel stands next to the plaque erected in the Lambeau Field press box after it was named for him in August 2003. (Green Bay Packers archives)
The Press-Gazette has a wonderful gallery of Remmel's life. Of course, there are a few uniform gems in the gallery, including these two glimpses of 1950s uniforms. This period has been almost forgotten, lost between Curly's famous gold-yoked jerseys and the world-famous Lombardi design that endures (with a few tweaks) to this very day.

Packers fullback Fred Cone walks past Press-Gazette sports writer Lee Remmel, left, on the sideline at old City Stadium during the Packers’ 37-14 victory over the Baltimore Colts on Oct. 18, 1953. (Press-Gazette Media archives)
Press-Gazette sports writer Lee Remmel kneels along the sideline during the Packers’ 17-13 victory over the New York Giants in a preseason game at old City Stadium on Aug. 25, 1956. He’s flanked by Packers coach Lisle Blackbourn, left, and end Gary Knafelc. (Press-Gazette Media archives)
It's fascinating to watch the evolution of his career, as he starts out covering the players for the paper and transitions into working with them to manage that paper's coverage.

Press-Gazette sports writer Lee Remmel interviews Packers quarterback Bart Starr after Green Bay’s 13-10 victory over the Baltimore Colts in overtime in the Western Division championship game at Lambeau Field on Dec. 26, 1965. (Press-Gazette Media archives)
He flips from one side of the notebook to the other, but maintains the same intense look on his face.

Packers director of public relations Lee Remmel, second from right, stands between Press-Gazette sports writer Cliff Christl and Packers coach Bart Starr during an interview during the 1979 season. (Press-Gazette Media archives)
I love this look at a Lindy Infante's press conference, partly for the peek at 1989's sideline gear but also the guy next to Remmel wearing a Bucks jacket; you're more likely to find Packer apparel inserted in the background of unrelated sporting events than the other way around.

Lee Remmel, the Packers' director of public relations, stands at second from right as coach Lindy Infante meets the media during the 1989 season. (Press-Gazette Media archives)
For generations, Remmel has been a living link to the club's history. For people of my generation, it was to Lambeau and Lombardi. To younger fans, he was an official witness to those long-ago glory days of White and Favre.

Lee Remmel enjoys a laugh with Packers quarterback Brett Favre in the team's locker room during the mid-1990s. (Press-Gazette Media archives)
The Packers have created a tribute page to Remmel on their site with links to press releases and galleries covering his career (with an emphasis on his most recent recognitions). It's well worth a read.

Longtime Packers public relations man and historian and former Press-Gazette sports writer Lee Remmel talks about his life with the Packers at his home on Feb. 10, 2009. (Press-Gazette Media archives)
It is perhaps inevitable that loss seems to stalk any team with the long history of the Packers, as every year we lose one more human connection to that glorious past. I've long enjoyed reading Remmel's reminisces on that history, and we are the poorer now for his voice being silenced. R.I.P., Mr. Remmel.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

All That Glitters...

Well, at least you can't accuse the NFL of underselling itself.

For those of us who've been wondering how the league would celebrate the 50th Super Bowl next February, today we learned the answer is two-fold:
  1. all season long; and
  2. with gold. Lots and lots of gold.
First off, we have the Super Bowl logo itself. We've known since last June that the NFL will be temporarily departing from recent practice of silver logos (not to mention its half-century history of Roman numerals) to bring us this subtle logo:

What we're learning today is that the logo was only the beginning of a new Gold Rush.

The NFL will be using a black-and-gold version of its shield logo throughout 2015.

Not just a gold shield, but also all 3D-ified, with gradients and everything.

That's not all; the various event logos used by the NFL, including Thanksgiving, Kickoff, Draft and playoff logos will also be decked out in the new color scheme.

The Pro Bowl uniforms will be black, white and gold.

(Okay, that one's actually an improvement.)

If that wasn't enough for you, the draftees will be walking down a "gold carpet" at the Draft next month.

Starting in Week 7, all teams will be wearing sideline gear with logos trimmed in gold. Here's the Patriots' version:

Yeah, that's going to look good with the Packers' logo. Best we can hope for is that they replace the standard athletic gold outline with this metallic gold one, rather than doubling them up. And what's the significance of starting this in Week 7?

For the game itself, the NFL has decided that the plain boring old Lombardi Trophy just isn't enough to mark this momentous occasion. The winner of the game will get an additional trophy, this understated and subtle thing:

According to the league, the "5" and "0" are bronzed and plated in 18-carat gold. They each weigh 33 pounds.

And finally, the 50-yard numbers will be painted gold at every stadium for every game this year. Just in case you can forget for a moment.

I haven't seen this much gold since James Bond had to save Fort Knox from Pussy Galore.

The fetishization of the Super Bowl era continues apace.

I often wish they put as much effort into remembering the real Golden Age of the NFL, but that would be admitting the existence of a time before we counted our championships by Roman numerals. Still, a boy can dream.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Infographic: NFC Championship, Packers at Seahawks

Once more, comes through with this illustrated look at the upcoming NFC Championship Game in Seattle.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

"Ice Bowl II"?

Hmm. The Cowboys are really hyping their upcoming trip to Lambeau Field. They've started selling "Ice Bowl II" shirts on their website.

Seems a little odd to me. I know this is the first time the Cowboys have played a postseason game in Green Bay since Bart Starr's sneak cost them a trip to Super Bowl II, but it seems a pretty big stretch. Sunday's weather is expected to be in the mid-20s. That's January-in-Wisconsin-chilly, but hardly the stuff of legend we saw back on December 31, 1967.

Looks like they're intending to exorcise the ghosts of their past.

This isn't the first time somebody's been tempted to draw such a link to the glorious past. I remember another game christened "Ice Bowl II"; the 1996 NFC Championship game at Lambeau Field on January 12, 1997.

That was the time the then-impossibly-new Carolina Panthers came to town, and the temperature never went above single digits, with sub-zero wind chills. Carolina jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, but the Packers went on to dominate the game 30-13, earning a trip to New Orleans and their first Super Bowl berth in 29 years.

That game in 1997 had the benefit of being another championship and having been played in frigid conditions. This upcoming game that the Cowboys are so eager to market is just an intermediate step in the playoffs.

A spate of merchandise was soon produced around that 1997 NFC title game, but as I recall it was all unlicensed.

More recently, you may also remember that last year's balmy playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers also invited comparisons to that fabled day in 1967:

While the CBS affiliate in San Francisco danced around the name, the New York Post came right out with it.

No merch for that one, which given the result was good for Packers fans.

So this is at least the third game to be billed as "Ice Bowl II" (Ice Bowl IV?). It may, however, be the first to have generated licensed merchandise.

The Cowboys are invoking a powerful name in their build-up to the game. I can't wait to see the Packers make them eat those words.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Infographic: Divisional Playoff, Packers v. Cowboys

After taking the Wild Card round bye week off, returns with an infographic preview of the Divisional Playoff between the Packers and Cowboys at Lambeau Field this Sunday.

Interesting. I hadn't realized that the teams were so evenly matched, at least statistically.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Bring on the 'Boys

The Dallas Cowboys' victory yesterday sets up a divisional round playoff game at Lambeau Field next week. The last time Dallas played a postseason game in Green Bay was December 31, 1967 to determine the NFL Champion and also who would face the AFL representative in Super Bowl II.

Officially designated the "1967 NFL Championship Game", it lives on today as the Ice Bowl.

For many, the defining image of the Ice Bowl was taken by sixteen year old team photographer John Biever immediately after Bart Starr's quarterback sneak into the end zone to take the final lead.

I don't think I've ever seen this view, though, taken just seconds before, and in color:

One of the things I love about this upcoming game is that the two teams still wear the same uniforms today, save a few minor tweaks.

You can tell from this photo that the Braisher stripes on the Packers' pants were significantly thinner than, while the Cowboys were already wearing the thicker version the Packers sport today:

Looking forward to this game. Hope the spirit of Vince Lombardi can help guide our boys to another victory!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Infographic: Packers vs. Lions

Not to be outdone by ESPN, continues its excellent series of infographics, previewing tomorrow's clash with the Lions at Lambeau Field.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Bonus Infographic: ESPN's "Game of the Week"

ESPN is getting into the infographic game - here's their take on the "Game of the Week", as the Lions come to Lambeau Field to take on the Packers for the NFC North title.

Check it out, along with their take on other featured games this weekend, here.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The "Captain" Patches Revealed as Even Dumber Than I Thought

Well, I was wondering what the Packers would do with Aaron Rodgers's captain patch now that he's topped the five consecutive seasons it was designed to represent. Thanks to the Packers' naming their postseason captains early, we now know: absolutely nothing.

Gold C above four gold stars, the exact same as last season.

Originally, the whole point was to honor multiple years of "service". The more years as a captain, the more gold stars. Then when they ran out of gold stars, they colored the C gold to match. Now... I guess Rodgers has topped out, and there are no more honors to bestow upon him.

I can't tell you how stupid I think this whole thing is.