Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fangs For the Memories

Today's Halloween-themed photo comes from 2010, featuring linebacker Nick Barnett during his eighth and final season in Green Bay.

Green Bay Packers linebacker Nick Barnett shows off his mouth guard before an NFL game against the Buffalo Bills in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 34-7. (AP photo/Mike Roemer)
It wasn't a holiday special; Barnett wore the custom mouthguard all season long. He wore a blue version when picked up by the Buffalo Bills, I don't know if he has a burgundy one now that he's with Washington.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sock Hopping in Minnesota

Last night the Green Bay Packers played circles around the Vikings in Minneapolis. The Packers dressed like pros, and the Vikings... well, the less said the better.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) runs toward the end zone in the second half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
Sheesh. Purple is a fine color in moderation, but that's just nasty.

There was one Packer uniform quirk worth noting; several of the Packers wore their white sanitaries pulled up high over their green socks, running back James Stark was among them:

Green Bay Packers running back James Starks (44) runs against Minnesota Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes (29) and defensive end Brian Robison (96) for a touchdown in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
This has been going on for several years. The effect reminds me of the first version of this uniform, from 1959; for one season only, Vince Lombardi's first season in charge, the Packers wore white socks with stripes to match their road jerseys:

I'm not a big fan of the look today. White socks on all players would be one thing, but this homemade customization ruins the "uniform" part of the uniform:

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson (87) and the rest of the team warm up before an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
The Packers look best when they all look the same.

Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (82) gets tackled by Green Bay Packers' M.D. Jennings (43) and Morgan Burnett (42) after making a reception in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
I've heard that these types of individual aesthetic gestures are against the NFL's uniform rules, and that fines may be handed down. I'm curious if we'll hear anything about these socks from the league.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Auction Gold - Charley Brock's 1940s Leather Helmet

If you liked the clean gold shells the Packers were wearing yesterday, Heritage Auction has something special for you: a 1940s leather helmet worn by center Charley Brock.

Heritage Auctions
1940's Charley Brock Game Worn Green Bay Packers Leather Helmet.   An esteemed member of the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, Charley Brock was also named as part of professional football's 1940's All-Decade Team, and was a key player of the offense on the Packers' 1939 championship squad.
Heritage Auctions
Offered here is Brock's yellow leather helmet from the 1940's, complete with his number "29" stenciled in green ink on the back and "Brock" noted in the interior.
Heritage Auctions
Exhibiting great wear throughout, it is one of only a handful of game-worn leather Packers shells ever sold at auction. "Rawlings" is branded in the front, while "Rawlings VMI [SIZE] 7 1/4" and the player's numeral is in the rear. Style-matched to a 1943 photo of teammate Don Hutson, with the notable four large airholes on top and rounded front piece, this is a superb artifact from the days of Curly Lambeau, Tony Canadeo, Hutson and the like. LOA from MEARS. LOA from Heritage Auctions. Guide Value or Estimate: $3,000 - up.
Brock was a center who played 90 games for the Packers from 1939-1947. He was selected out of Nebraska by the Packers with the 24th pick in the third round of the 1939 draft. In his rookie year, he played eight games for the squad on its way to the World Championship. He was one of eight players to pick off nine passes against the Lions on October 24, 1943, setting an NFL single-game mark. The record was tied in 1965 by the Philadelphia Eagles against the Steelers, a record which the teams share to this day. After missing the last half of the 1943 season due to appendicitis, he returned to play all ten games in 1944 on the way to his second (and the Packers' sixth) title.

In nine years with the Packers, he only missed seven games, all in either his rookie season or the illness-shortened 1943. Brock was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1973.

This photo shows Brock in front of Rockwood Lodge, the Packers' training camp facility from 1946 through 1949. He's wearing the same style helmet, perhaps even the same one.

You might remember that I profiled this same helmet a little over four years ago.

Leather Packer helmets are exceedingly rare. I'm only aware of a half-dozen in private collections.

This is your chance to join a select group of Packer fans. Bid early, bid often.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

"History Wins Again!"

Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers looks to pass as Cleveland Browns' Paul Kruger applies pressure during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Today, the Packers wore their navy blue 1929-inspired throwback uniforms, the first time since Nike took over the manufacturing contract. And, as I reported yesterday, the standard gold shells required by new NFL regulations were accompanied by the regular green facemasks.

You can clearly see it here in this photo of running back Eddie Lacy. Click to enlarge:

Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy (27) is tackled by Cleveland Browns' Tashaun Gipson during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)
As much as I appreciate the attempt to replicate leather helmets with brown polycarbonate shells, I prefer the look of the gold helmets. They certainly brighten up what could otherwise be a drab uniform, especially under cloudy, rainy skies.

Aaron Rodgers threw for 260 yards and three touchdowns.(AP Photo/Tom Lynn)
Speaking of the helmets, Jermichael Finley took a hard hit to the head, suffering a neck injury that required him to be carted off the field and already leading to much speculation about helmet safety. Here he is earlier in the game:

Green Bay Packers' Jermichael Finley reacts after catching a pass for a first down during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. (USA Today Sports Images)
The Packers looked pretty good, as they always do in these throwback games. These will remain the official Packers alternate uniform through next season, although I don't know if we'll see them worn again.

Green Bay Packers' Jordy Nelson (87) celebrates his touchdown catch with teammate Jarrett Boykin (11) during the second half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 31-13. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
The on-field uniforms were only part of the story. There was also a surplus of blue and gold on the sidelines:

And, when I got my win-or-lose postgame email from the Packers Pro Shop, they made sure to tell me where I could pick up all that gear:

"History Wins Again," indeed.

I think I should a little irritated about conflating the 1921-22 "Acme Packers" years with the 1929 chest-circle uniforms, but anything that spreads the word about the Blue and Gold glory days is probably a good thing. When I was a kid, I had no idea the Packers' history ever extended beyond green jerseys and gold helmets. Today it's not possible for any fan to say the same.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Still a Touch of Green with the Gold?

The Packers' website appears to be reporting that the Packers will wear their standard green facemasks with their throwback blue uniforms tomorrow:

The Green Bay Packers will wear the team’s third jersey, a re-creation of the historic 1929 uniform worn by the franchise’s first NFL championship team, during Sunday’s Packers-Cleveland game.

Due to new NFL helmet guidelines, the team this year will utilize its regular gold helmet without the logo and stripes. A similar helmet arrangement was used by the Packers during NFL “throwback” games in 1994 and 2001.
Although the NFL prohibits teams from wearing alternate helmets, there is no such rule requiring them to use the same facemasks in every game. We saw this in Week 2 when the Bears wore their throwbacks against Minnesota:

That's their regular navy helmet, stripped of its logo, but a throwback gray facemask.

The press release is mostly correct about past throwback helmets. In 1994, the Packers did indeed wear their regular green facemasks.

In 2001, however, they wore gray masks with their gold shells.

Personally, I'm hoping for the gray (or better yet, blue), but the team's graphic indicates we might see a replay of 1994.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Blue in the Face

As they have in past seasons, the Packers are marking this weekend's upcoming throwback game with a new (blue) splash page:

They've also created a retro logo to promote the game (as well as assorted tie-in marketing opportunities).

I really like this logo, particularly when compared to the "Acme Packers" logos they've been merchandising for the last several seasons. I especially love how they've incorporated the gold helmets they'll be wearing to conform to new league safety mandates.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Auction Gold: 1930 Packers-Bears Broadside

The current Heritage Auction has some amazing gems. We're going to be showcasing the best over the next week or so, starting with this marvelous 1930 broadside:

1930 Chicago Bears Vs. Green Bay Packers Broadside.  By consistently outplaying and outsmarting their opponent, the Green Bay Packers convincingly defeated Red Grange and his Chicago Bears, 7-0, in front of a City Stadium crowd on September 28, 1930. Offered here is an original broadside that promoted the big game, and it is one of only a few that survived the test of time. Affixed to a sturdy cardboard backing, and framed at 19.5x26", the ultra thin paper poster exhibits light paper loss and the proper folds throughout. An absolutely amazing artifact representing Curly Lambeau and the '30 championship Packers. Guide Value or Estimate: $2,000 - up.
Remarkable. Really wish I could chase that one myself.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Don't Throw in the Towel

Not much to talk about uniform-wise from yesterday's game against the Ravens; one good-looking, traditional team versus a black-for-black's-sake mess. But there was one small detail that intrigues me.

During this regrettable Pinktober event, players have been wearing pink cleats, pink sweatbands, pink gloves, and... pink towels.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jarrett Boykin dives from extra yardage over Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Daryl Smith (51) and free safety Matt Elam (26) during the second half of an NFL football game in Baltimore, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb, right, takes a hit to the knee in a tackle by Baltimore Ravens free safety Matt Elam during the first half of an NFL football game in Baltimore, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013. Cobb left the game with an injury after the play. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
It was these towels that caused the NFL to retire their pink penalty flags, since they were causing confusion every time one landed on the field.

So if most players were like Jarrett Boykin above, check out our #12:

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers looks for an opening to pass during the first half of a NFL football game against Green Bay Packers in Baltimore, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Good to see that somebody has some sense.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

NY Times: Tenderizing the Tundra With Some Light and Heat"

The New York Times has this great look at the heating system that keeps Lambeau Field's turf in great shape throughout Wisconsin's winter months:

Tenderizing the Tundra With Some Light and Heat

By JOHN BRANCH
Published: January 13, 2012

The “frozen tundra” is a myth. The ground at Lambeau Field, legendary home of the Green Bay Packers, is heated. It has not been frozen during a football game since it was dubbed the “frozen tundra” more than 40 years ago.

And that impossibly green grass these days, despite the calendar turn to January? Trace it, in large part, to a new system of artificial lighting employed to counter the meek late-autumn sunshine in Wisconsin.

Green Bay’s famed “frozen tundra,” besides being redundant — tundra is, by definition, frozen — is downright tropical, even during the N.F.L. playoffs.

“It’s just like playing in the summer on the grass,” Green Bay offensive lineman T. J. Lang said. “It’s never hard, it’s never frozen.”

When the Giants play the Packers at Lambeau Field on Sunday, they will face more than the team with the league’s best record (15-1). The Giants (10-7) will enter the setting of the league’s most impenetrable mystique. The winter weather in Green Bay has a reputation for ferocity, as much a part of the franchise’s identity as Bart Starr and Brett Favre.

The images are etched: fans bundled in layers, players removing helmets and releasing steam that rises from their heads, Giants Coach Tom Coughlin with a face so red during the N.F.C. championship game four years ago that some viewers may have adjusted their televisions.

The air at Lambeau Field might occasionally be frigid. But the tundra, hardly tundra at all, is decidedly not.

The ground below Lambeau Field has been heated since 1967, when Coach Vince Lombardi oversaw the installation of electric coils that zig-zagged under the turf like wires in an electric blanket. The aim was to keep the ground soft enough so that cleats could grab hold and players could keep their footing.

For 30 years, those coils kept Lambeau Field soft, with one exception. That came months after installation, when the Packers played host to the Cowboys for the 1967 N.F.L. championship. Temperatures well below zero were too much for the system. The field grew stiff and slick. The game was nicknamed the Ice Bowl. Writers in the aftermath dubbed the playing surface the “frozen tundra.” The term stuck. It remains frozen in time.

The electric coils were replaced in 1997 by a system of pipes filled with a solution including antifreeze. These days, the temperature of the soil is controlled by the field manager Allen Johnson. With temperatures Sunday expected to be in the 20s, Johnson will probably set the soil temperature to about 40 degrees. That will be enough to offset the subfreezing air temperature and keep the field soft.

It is not warm enough, he said with a hearty laugh, to entice players to linger on the grass for an extra moment or two at the end of a play, soaking in the warmth of the ground. Even on the coldest days, players are not likely to feel heat rising from beneath their toes.

While heating the soil at Lambeau Field is a concept about as old as the Super Bowl, the artificial lighting system used there is a burgeoning technology, designed by the Dutch firm S.G.L. — Stadium Grow Lighting. The founder of the company, Nico van Vuuren, tweaked a system he built for growing roses. He plans to attend his first N.F.L. game Sunday in Green Bay.

In essence, the system is a complex grid of retractable arms lined with hundreds of greenhouse-type light bulbs. After a trial run in 2010, the Packers bought nine MU360 units, as they are called, enough to cover half the field.

The contraption fools Mother Nature. Johnson used the lights 24 hours a day from October to early December, moving them every other day between games. Because the lights hang about six feet above the grass, other groundskeeping duties — mowing and watering, mostly — can continue, though the blast from a high-pressure sprinkler can occasionally shatter one of the long, clear incandescent bulbs.

Not only did the lights cast a warm and eerie glow from inside Lambeau Field through the night, they extended the growing season for the grass well past the normal date of dormancy.

Johnson said grass needs three vital elements to grow well: warm soil (check, thanks to Mr. Lombardi), good light (check, thanks to Mr. van Vuuren) and warm air (hmmm). By mid-December, when daytime temperatures rarely rise above freezing in Green Bay, the lights and warm soil are not enough to offset the frigid air. But the results linger.

“The payoff and the benefit is now,” Johnson said. “We have a more full canopy and more grass than we would without it. The green color is a side benefit. That’s aesthetic. The main benefit is stronger, healthier grass, thicker grass in places where it’s usually difficult to grow.”

The system was not in place at Lambeau Field in 1967 when the Packers played the Cowboys in the Ice Bowl. The low temperatures overwhelmed the system used to warm the ground.

S.G.L., which does much of its business on European soccer fields, is just now making inroads in North America. Many soccer stadiums are built like boxes, a field surrounded by steep stands and a partial roof to help shield fans from rain. Some fields, or parts of them, get little or no sun.

The New York Red Bulls purchased three of the units for their soccer-specific stadium in Harrison, N.J. The southern end of the stadium rarely gets sunlight most of the season, which extends from March to November, and the penalty box area — a high-traffic, critical area of the field in front of the goal — required new sod several times before this past year.

“The year before, it was definitely brown and it didn’t look right,” said Dan Shemesh, director of grounds for the Red Bulls. “You could always tell the south end: the air was colder, the soil was colder, the grass was thinner. It didn’t need to be mowed much.”

That changed in 2011, thanks to 24 hours a day of artificial sunlight provided by 1,000-watt bulbs, used mostly in the spring and fall.

“This past year, actually, that end was better than the other end,” Shemesh said.

Other North American franchises have expressed interest in the systems, particularly Major League Baseball teams that play in stadiums with retractable roofs. The Houston Astros have joined the Packers and the Red Bulls as the only professional American franchises to use the system.

The Packers, mostly fighting the cold and a short growing season, do not have a shade problem. But it is coming. Construction of new bleachers has begun on the south side, now the open end of the stadium, which promises to block sunlight in a couple of years.

“Getting lights was our answer to combat that,” Johnson said.

For teams like the Giants, there are plenty of things to combat during a January visit to Green Bay: quarterback Aaron Rodgers, linebacker Clay Matthews, the likelihood of cold weather and an energized crowd among them.

The notion of the frozen tundra, despite the constant reminders, is one thing they can try to forget.
A reminder that it's not just the Packers' green uniforms that look good throughout the season....

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

"League of Denial"

With any luck, last night will mark a turning point in the evolution of pro football.

PBS aired an important new documentary on its FRONTLINE program. This is a trailer:



It's simply devastating. The full documentary is available for streaming on FRONTLINE's site - stop right now and watch the whole thing.

ESPN was originally an equal partner in the project until just weeks ago. After fifteen months of collaborative work, the documentary was almost complete when ESPN abruptly and shamefully pulled out, reportedly at the behest of the NFL.

If that's true, it's hardly surprising; League of Denial reveals that the NFL systematically stonewalled inquiries, buried evidence of brain trauma, produced questionable medical studies, and attacked doctors who dared even suggest a possible connection between football and brain damage. This program should be required watching for all Hall of Fame voters every time Paul Tagliabue is put up for consideration.

Yesterday also saw the publication of its companion book, entitled League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth. It was written by by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, ESPN investigative journalists and two of the writers of the FRONTLINE documentary.

From the publisher's description:
“PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL PLAYERS DO NOT SUSTAIN FREQUENT REPETITIVE BLOWS TO THE BRAIN ON A REGULAR BASIS.”

So concluded the National Football League in a December 2005 scientific paper on concussions in America’s most popular sport. That judgment, implausible even to a casual fan, also contradicted the opinion of a growing cadre of neuroscientists who worked in vain to convince the NFL that it was facing a deadly new scourge: A chronic brain disease that was driving an alarming number of players -- including some of the all-time greats -- to madness.

League of Denial reveals how the NFL, over a period of nearly two decades, sought to cover up and deny mounting evidence of the connection between football and brain damage.

Comprehensively, and for the first time, award-winning ESPN investigative reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru tell the story of a public health crisis that emerged from the playing fields of our 21st century pastime. Everyone knew that football is violent and dangerous. But what the players who built the NFL into a $10 billion industry didn’t know – and what the league sought to shield from them – is that no amount of padding could protect the human brain from the force generated by modern football; that the very essence of the game could be exposing these players to brain damage.

In a fast-paced narrative that moves between the NFL trenches, America’s research labs and the boardrooms where the NFL went to war against science, League of Denial examines how the league used its power and resources to attack independent scientists and elevate its own flawed research -- a campaign with echoes of Big Tobacco’s fight to deny the connection between smoking and lung cancer. It chronicles the tragic fates of players like Hall of Fame Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster, who was so disturbed at the time of his death he fantasized about shooting NFL executives; and former Chargers great Junior Seau, whose diseased brain became the target of an unseemly scientific battle between researchers and the NFL. Based on exclusive interviews, previously undisclosed documents and private emails, this is the story of what the NFL knew and when it knew it – questions at the heart of crisis that threatens football, from the highest levels all the way down to Pop Warner.
The best news, if there can be anything resembling good news in this story, is that Fainaru-Wada and Fainaru understand the real issue. As dangerous as concussions are, an equal danger comes from the relatively repetitive hits that players regularly sustain throughout their career. Those are what's going to force the NFL into real change. All the emphasis is on concussions—witness the subtitles of both documentary and book—while the real danger goes largely unremarked.

The NFL must change the way the game is played. It is not sustainable in its current form. To save the sport, it must adapt to this new information.

If I'm right, and if at some point in the future we can look back on yesterday as a real turning point for the sport, we'll have PBS and ESPN to thank. Even if ESPN doesn't want those thanks at the moment.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

New Pro Bowl Unifo... No, Still Don't Care.

The Pro Bowl is an increasingly bad joke, played by indifferent players trying more than anything else to get hurt. It is an exhibition game in a sport that needs to reduce the amount of time its players spend playing.

So naturally, the solution is new uniforms.

No more red and blue (no conferences any more, either): we're into much more marketable colors now.

The press release includes perhaps the stupidest statement written by a league PR flack in some time:
"Reflecting by the pace of the game, these concept uniforms are punctuated by accents of vibrant orange and volt."
Silly under the best of circumstances, the assertion borders on the farcical when applied to the overblown touch-football game that is the Pro Bowl.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Not All "G"s Are Created Equal

We've talked before about John Gordon, the St. Norbert art professor who in 1961 designed the Packers' "G" logo. Yesterday the Green Bay Press-Gazette had a little more information on his story.
Today's take: St. Norbert art prof lays claim to famed Packers 'G'

by Paul Srubas

Local artist and art teacher John Gordon was killing time in a bookstore a few years ago when he found himself idling through a book on the history of the Green Bay Packers.

John Gordon
He came upon an old photograph of the team’s Lombardi-era equipment manager, Gerald “Dad” Braisher, tinkering with a helmet. The photo caption explained how Braisher was responsible for creating the famed Packers “G” logo emblazoned on the sides of the team’s helmets since 1961.

“I looked at it, and I said, ‘I designed that,’” the 73-year-old Gordon told me last week.

The Packers, as you may have heard, have developed some mystique in their 90-some year history. They’re kind of like a boulder rolling down a mountainside, picking up debris and snow and getting bigger and bigger along the way, until pretty soon you have a million people attending one little Ice Bowl.

But in this case, even though Gordon can’t prove it, his claim smacks of legitimacy.

The Packers G, along with maybe the Nike swoosh, might be among the most recognized logos in sports history, but it’s not like Gordon is standing in front of the Mona Lisa and saying, “You know, a lot of people think Leonardo did this, but in fact …”

In the end, it’s just a squashed G inside an oval. Gordon, an adjunct professor of art at St. Norbert College and a man who counts Cezanne and Velazquez as major artistic influences, is a serious enough painter that an NFL logo would hardly serve as a needed feather in his helmet.

“My 15 minutes, wasted on an oval,” Gordon says with a smile.

But still, the record needs to be set straight.

As an art student at St. Norbert in the early 1960s, Gordon worked part time for Braisher. It wasn’t his artistic aspirations that got him the job; he spent a lot of his time rolling up jock straps, T-shirts and towels and putting them in the players’ lockers each day. Ars gratia artis.

But as a sideline, Gordon also painted portraits of the players and their families and even did a nice one of Braisher himself, which can be seen in a photograph now in the Neville Museum’s collection.

Braisher came to him one morning and assigned an artistic task: Draw a team logo, to go on the sides of the helmets.

Gordon doesn’t know if it was Braisher’s idea, or if it came directly from on high. He suspects the latter, because “Lombardi was a micro-manager,” Gordon says.

In those days, helmets — in college and the pros — didn’t have logos.

“It was remarkable that the idea itself came to be,” Gordon says.

Brimming with youthful enthusiasm, Gordon instantly wanted to embark on a creative brainstorming session, but Braisher cut him off at the knees: The logo shalt be a football shape, with a football-shaped G inside.

“I said, ‘C’mon, Dad, that’s boring,’” Gordon recalls.

No dice. Football shape. Football-shaped G inside. End of discussion.

Gordon set to it. He agonized. He worried about having the great and powerful Lombardi scrutinize his work. It’s also a lot harder than you think to free-hand draw a nice little tapered football-shaped G inside the matching taper of a football.

The next morning, he turned in his work.

Touchdown. Braisher and Lombardi gave it their blessing.
>
Gordon also remembers getting the finished silk-screen decals back from the printer, and working with Braisher to stick them on the helmets.

After that, Gordon put the whole episode out of his mind. It was no big deal, just another task that Braisher had assigned him. It wasn’t until 50 years later, that Gordon saw the photograph in the Packers history book attributing the design to Braisher that it dawned on him: “I designed that.”

Gordon has contacted historians at the Packers Hall of Fame to tell his story, and while no one has dismissed it out of hand, the Packers’ official web site continues to credit Braisher with creating the original design.

Elsewhere, some are beginning to acknowledge that Gordon at least helped.

Wikipedia admittedly isn’t the last word on the topic but relates the story as Gordon tells it: “Lombardi asked Packers equipment manager Gerald ‘Dad’ Braisher to design a logo for the team's helmets. Braisher then had his assistant, St. Norbert College art student John Gordon, come up with potential designs. After Braisher and Gordon were satisfied with the design, a football-shaped letter ‘G’, they presented it to Lombardi who then approved it.”

Epilogue: The logos you’ll see on the helmets during the game today are not as Gordon says he designed them. His was a simple line drawing of the letter G enclosed in a line drawing of a football. The colors were added later, at the printers.

Also, the design morphed over the years. Gordon remembers his original as being pointier on the ends, an actual football shape, but the logo grew into more of a straightforward oval. He thinks that happened in 1964, when the Georgia Bulldogs asked for and received Lombardi’s permission to use the same logo on their helmets. The Bulldogs’ ended up with a rounder shaped logo, and the Packers soon moved in that direction, too.

“I don’t like this,” Gordon says of the newer design. “It lacks the symbolism of the football shape.”
It's commonly reported that the University of Georgia first modified the logo to make it rounder, but I've never seen anything to support it. I'd like to hear more from him.

I agree with Gordon that the original shape is better.

The outline could be thickened a little, but the football shape is superior to my eye.

It's funny; we think of the Packers' logo and uniforms as having been frozen in place since Lombardi's era. In reality, the original designs have been chipped away, bit by bit, until real differences emerge. This is one element that could easily be reclaimed; let the universities have the rounded logo, and bring back Gordon's original design.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

2013's First Pink Event

We knew it was coming, but today's game at Lambeau Field made it official: we're back in the NFL's month-long breast cancer awareness event.

This year, it is a co-branded event between the Packers and Kohl's department store.

In addition to the tons of pink-hued merchandise for sale, all fans were given a pink towel to wave. The event also meant pink accents around Lambeau Field and pink accessories worn by the Packers on the field. Sometimes, the promotion was as subtle as pink-ribboned visor clips on a helmet:

Other times, not so subtle.

The Packers have one more home game in October, and unfortunately it's the throwback game against the Browns. I hope the team doesn't double-up the promotions; the only other October throwback game was in 2011, in which the team eschewed the pink accessories.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Pink Returns

It's that time of year again. I received this in my Inbox this morning:

"Shop now." That pretty much sums it up.

Last year, we talked at some length about why this pink-out is a total moneymaking scam and might well be doing more harm than good at this point. I haven't seen any indication that it's changed for 2013.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

"Lambeau Field: Sound by the Numbers"

Packers.com takes an illustrated look at sound levels from the Week 2 game between the Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins:


Nice symmetry in the response to the Starr and Rodgers intros.