Wednesday, December 17, 2014

"Special Today - Ram Chops"

Fifty-three years ago today, the Packers faced off against the Los Angeles Rams. This was the program cover:

Oh, man. What a beauty.

We have Lombardi's Packers, represented by a hearty-looking butcher wearing the "G"-logo helmet introduced in that season. He stands next to a meat counter displaying the remains of their vanquished opponents: "Minnesota Mince Meat", "Roundly Ground Lion", and my favorite, "Brisket of Bear". Today's special is "Ram Chops", and he's ready with his cleaver to hack off a nice chunk for you.

But wait - check out the note in the upper-right corner: this program was for the Packers' annual visit to Los Angeles! I can't think of another time when a program proudly proclaimed that the home team was about to get slaughtered.

The clever cover illustration was done by Karl Hubenthal, who was then the editorial cartoonist for the Los Angeles Examiner. Hubenthal drew all the Rams' program covers that season, each featuring a ram (or Ram) taking on the opponent of the day:

Amazing design. I love the typography, and his use of bold imagery set against the varying opponents' colors.

What's also interesting is that on every other cover, Hubenthal portrayed the home club as prevailing, or at least holding its own; de-fanging the Bear, bowling over the Browns, or poking the Giant in the eye with the football. Even on the 49ers' program, where the ram is staring down the barrels of a shotgun, he's literally staring down the barrels, and the Niner is visibly nervous despite having his finger on the trigger. Only the program for the Lions game betrays any hint of danger, and even there the bandaged Ram player is brave enough to stick his head back into the cat's mouth. So what's up with the Packers cover?

Perhaps the answer can be found in the 1961 season. At the time they were preparing to face off against the Packers, the Rams were 4-9 and in sixth place in the NFL Western Division. Only the lowly expansion Minnesota Vikings were beneath them, and even that by just a single game. The Packers, on the other hand, came into LA that week with an impressive 10-3 record. They had already clinched the division and were just two weeks away from demolishing the Eastern Division-champion Giants 37-0 in the title game, bringing Green Bay their seventh championship (and first in nearly twenty years).

Given the disparity, Hubenthal's prediction doesn't really seem all that bold, and in fact the Packers did prevail 24–17 in the Coliseum that day. A solid win, if not the predicted slaughter. It's charming that the Rams would allow him to poke a little fun at their expense.

Hubenthal's covers are simply gorgeous, a marvelous product of their time. The groovy typography hints at the new decade, with the design revolution to come. This is highlighted when his efforts are contrasted with the generic football scene on the Packers' program from the previous month, when the same teams played in Green Bay.

The Packers were still using overlaid stock graphics in 1961, and save for a few minor changes in equipment that cover could have been found on a program back in the 1940s. Nobody even bothered to change the teams' colors.

The Packers' cover, sadly unsigned, is also trying to be whimsical—the punter's kick circles back behind him for a field goal, to the amazement of a bug-eyed ref—but the joke is labored, where Hubenthal's drawings are both whimsical and immediate.

The Rams might have been no match for the mighty Packers on the football field in 1961, but they sure knocked the stuffing out of them at the program stand.

(h/t: Todd Radom)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Infographic: Packers at Bills

Here's the preview for Sunday's game in Buffalo:
In addition to the usual information on the Packers-Bills all-time series and the top statistical performers, this week's infographic also takes a closer look at Head Coach Mike McCarthy's standing amongst coaches in Packers history. Plus, there's a glance at a key turnover statistic related to the Packers in 2014.

Wow. Hadn't realized Coach McCarthy was on the verge of such a milestone. You'd think that the Bills would offer a great chance for him to notch that 99th win, but there are no gimmes in the NFL. Buffalo's defense is solid, and this has all the makings of a trap game. Go get 'em, Coach!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Infographic: Packers v. Falcons

Monday Night Football is coming to Lambeau Field, and here's how the Packers' graphic team sees the matchup against the Atlanta Falcons:
This week's infographic features a review of the Packers-Falcons all-time series and each team's statistical leaders through the season's first 12 games. Also, there's a special look at Packers QB Aaron Rodgers' 100th career start, plus a noteworthy statistical achievement by Green Bay's receiving corps in last week's game.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Infographic: Packers v. Patriots

Packers/Patriots is the marquee matchup this weekend in the NFL, and has this preview:
This week's infographic features a look at the Packers-Patriots all-time series, which has included only 10 meetings to this point. There's also a team and individual statistical breakdown, plus a closer look at the two head coaches' track records, and the scoring and point-differential rankings of these two teams in 2014.

Interesting. I hadn't realized that the lifetime series against the New England was knotted at 5 apiece. Of course, I remember Super Bowl XXXI as the highlight.

Friday, November 21, 2014

It's off to Minnesota this weekend:
This week's infographic features a recap of the recent history between the Packers and Vikings, a look at the key team and individual statistics for both teams through 10 games this season, and a special focus on Green Bay's prolific scoring offense, especially recently.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

What Will Replace the Acme Packers?

NFL uniform regulations establish a five-year lifespan for alternates; teams don't have to wear their alts every season, but they can't introduce a new one until five seasons have passed. That means the Packers' 1920s-era alternates, introduced in 2010, can be replaced as soon as next season.

Paul Lukas at Uni Watch is breaking news that it will actually happen:
Heard yesterday from a trusted industry source, who shared the new Nike/NFL 2015 youth catalog with me (the cover of which is shown above). This isn’t as good as seeing the adult catalog, natch, but it nonetheless offers some interesting hints regarding what’s in store for next season.
Uni Watch

Looking at the home jerseys, we can see that the Browns are getting new uniforms, represented by a blank graphic so as not to leak the design:

Uni Watch

The same story for the road uniforms, no new changes except for Cleveland.

Uni Watch

Now we come to the alternates. This is where it gets interesting. The Browns are getting new alts, as might be expected, but so are the 49ers, the Dolphins... and our Packers.

Uni Watch

Here's a closer look:

Uni Watch

So that's it. The Packers will have new alternate jerseys next year. That could mean a full alternate uniform, like the current throwbacks, or a new jersey in team colors. Given that non-throwback alts need to stick with the team palette, that would mean a gold jersey. They've been selling them as fashion jerseys for over a decade; next season we could finally see something like this take the field.

But let's hope not.

They could even pair it with a pair of white or green pants; the NFL's regulations are remarkably lax on pants, presumably because they don't sell those.

But let's hope not.

I think it's far more likely that we'll see another throwback instead. I hope we'll see another throwback instead. But what era?

My hope is that we'll see a return to the classic Curly Lambeau uniform of the 1940s.

It would keep the gorgeous (and presumably lucrative) navy and gold color scheme.

This is also the uniform in which the Packers won two World Championships, the first in 1939 and the second in 1944. And the gold yoke is tailor-made for this era of magically-shrinking sleeves.

The Packers re-created this uniform once before, for the 1994 league-wide celebration of the NFL's 75th Anniversary.

I'd say they were moderately successful in re-creating the vintage look.

The basic idea is good, but look at the yoke on Don Hutson's jersey, which falls above the curve of his crew-neck. The gold on Favre's jersey comes right down and obscures that line.

The yoke also covers the entire sleeve, when it really should just cap the shoulder.

Given the period (throwback uniforms had only come into vogue three years earlier, and this was the NFL's first attempt), they aren't bad. But they could do so much better now.

Steve Wåhlin of Minneapolis-based design firm BAKER created a series of concept uniforms for the Packers which we featured a couple years ago, before the Nike takeover. One of his concepts was based on that classic 1940s look.

Change the metallic gold of his proposal to the classic athletic gold, adopt a more traditional block number font instead of Wåhlin's custom numbers, and you could have an excellent reproduction of classic Lambeau-era aesthetics in modern materials.

So that's one option. There's another one that could be equally interesting; the 1935-36 green and golds.

For two years, including a World Championship season in 1936, the Packers wore kelly green jerseys with gold raglan sleeves.

Here's a look at those uniforms in action at 1935's training camp in Rhinelander:

And against the Chicago Cardinals on September 13, 1936:

Off-tackle power play (above) gains ground for the Chicago Cardinals against the Green Bay Packers. The Cardinals, wearing light-blue pants and bright-red jerseys, have made a big hole for Al Nichelini, No. 43, their fast ball-carrying back. Harry Field, No. 31, Cardinal tackle, is cutting back toward the center of the line to block the Packers backfield men.
So this seems a real possibility, although a-slightly-lighter-shade-of-green seems somewhat less marketable than a completely new color like navy.

So what do you think? A gold fashion-style jersey, one of those throwbacks, or something else entirely? We should find out sometime after the Super Bowl.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Infographic: Packers v. Eagles

The Packers continue to kill it with their infographic series:
This week's infographic highlights the series history between the Packers and Eagles, plus a statistical breakdown of each team's offensive leaders and their league rankings. Finally, don't miss a special note on the bottom about QB Aaron Rodgers and his current passing streak at Lambeau Field.
I love that they managed to get a notation for the 1929-inspired uniforms the Packers will be wearing, although I was rather hoping that the infographic itself might be in blue and gold, as they do each year for the website in the week leading up to the throwback games.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Feeling a Little Blue, Again

Once again, it's Acme Packers Week! And in honor of the blue-and-gold uniforms the Packers will wear this weekend against the Eagles, has been given its customary blue makeover.

They've been doing this since 2010.

That photo in the background is the 1929 squad, who wore the original uniforms the team is throwing back to:

I always love this week. Can't wait to watch the action on Sunday.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Infographic: Packers v. Bears

This weekend we'll finish off the season series against the Bears, and has another amazing graphic preview.
This week's infographic features detailed numbers on the Packers-Bears all-time series, plus team and individual stats for both squads and a special look at the Packers WR duo of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Infographic: Packers at Saints

The Packers today released another amazing infographic, this one previewing the weekend's game in New Orleans:
This week's infographic features information on the Packers-Saints series history, plus offensive statistical leaders for each team and where they currently rank in the league. Also, there's a closer look at QB Aaron Rodgers' current interception-less passing streak.

Awesome. Kudos to the designer.