Monday, December 30, 2013

All's Right With the World

Now this is what Packer fans have been waiting to see:

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) celebrates his game winning touchdown pass to Randall Cobb over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL on December 29, 2013. The Packers beat the Bears 33-28. (Todd Rosenberg/NFL)
After missing seven games with a collarbone injury, during which the Pack went 2-4-1, Aaron Rodgers is back under center. And he was magnificent. Couple early interceptions, but he shook them off and finished strong with a come-from-behind touchdown drive in the final minutes.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) drops back to pass against the Chicago Bears during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
The Packers' defense continues to worry, but the offense is finally back on track. And what a game! Soldier Field in late December, Packers/Bears for the divisional title, loser starts the off-season. The Packers began their run of knockout games last night, and were definitely up to the challenge.

Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy (27) gets spun around as he works for red zone yardage in the first half of the Packers' 33-28 victory over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL on December 29, 2013. (Todd Rosenberg/NFL)
Love Coach McCarthy's Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man jacket. Just the thing for a cold Chicago evening.

Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy talks to quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
So the Packers are in the playoffs. My dream of a Meadowlands Super Bowl is still alive.

Next up, the 49ers at Lambeau Field. That should be another great-looking game.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

An Ugly Game on a Beautiful Evening

Well, at least the snow looked good.

Green Bay Packers' Matt Flynn during the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
It should have been such a great looking game; two traditionally-minded teams (shame about those Steeler numbers) playing in the snow and mud.

Green Bay Packers' Eddie Lacy (27) falls into the end zone for a touchdown run during the second half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Didn't end up well, though. Steelers 38, Packers 31.

I love a snow game, and have been hoping against hope that the Packers can earn the right to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl next February in New York. Today, that seems farther away than ever. The Packers take a loss they can ill afford, and Clay Matthews injured his right thumb while sacking Ben Roethlisberger.

Green Bay Packers' Clay Matthews walks off the field after an injury during the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Look what the super-sretchy fabric continues to do to his jersey numbers. Ugh. I do like the pom-pom sideline tuque, though.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"The 26 Teams"

This poster comes from the 1970s, showing the wordmarks of all the teams in the league at the time.

Information on these old wordmarks is hard to come by, but we can narrow down the The presence of all the old AFL teams, and the absence of the Seahawks and Buccaneers, dates it between 1970 and 1976.

What strikes me today is how many clubs are still using these marks. Here's a version I worked up using the logos from 2013:

In addition to the Packers, the Bears, Bills, Cowboys, Colts and Washington have retained their classic looks virtually unchanged. Those old Browns and 49ers wordmarks endured until relatively recently (2003 and 2004, respectively). Also worth noting that the Vikings have since reverted to an earlier wordmark that predated our poster (the Browns might have, too).

Then there are the minor changes; the Chiefs introduced a modified upper-case version of their old lower-case logo sometime before 1983, the Raiders tightened up their kerning a bit, and the Saints made the most subtle change, losing the dot over their "i".

As for the others, you can see a trend towards arcs, arches and protrusions, meaning the names don't all fit together in my version as neatly as their 1970s counterparts did.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Looking Good in Dallas

Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields #37 throws the ball into the stands after intercepting Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (not pictured) during an NFL football game between the Green Bay Packers against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on Sunday December 15, 2013 in Arlington, Texas. (Aaron M. Sprecher/NFL)
What a magnificent performance against the Cowboys yesterday, as our Packers came back from a 26-point second-half deficit to win the game, 37-36.

This would have been one of the better-looking games in the NFL, if only Dallas would do something about all the different shades of their silver.

Green Bay Packers tight end Andrew Quarless (81) scores a touchdown as Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker Cameron Lawrence (53) and Sterling Moore (26) defends during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Is anybody else getting a Zeke Bratkowski vibe from backup QB Matt Flynn? As Bratkowski did for Bart Starr, Flynn is keeping the Packers in the playoff hunt while Aaron Rodgers is injured.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Matt Flynn #10 celebrates after the Packers scored the winning touchdown during an NFL football game between the Green Bay Packers against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on Sunday December 15, 2013 in Arlington, Texas. (Aaron M. Sprecher/NFL)
Flynn looks pretty good back in the old Green and Gold, too.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Story Behind the Amazing Quartebacks Photo

Last summer, we took a look at Robert Morse's amazing group photo of every starting quarterback in the NFL:

(back, L-R) Milt Plum, Bobby Layne, Sam Etcheverry, Bill Wade, Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, Norm Snead & Zeke Bratkowski, (front L-R) Jim Ninowski, Fran Tarkenton, Don Meredith, John Brodie, Sonny Jergensen & Y.A. Tittle.
Now Ben Cosgrove at Deadspin has the story behind the photo.
In 1961, LIFE magazine managed to get every starting NFL quarterback — including six future Hall of Famers — together in a studio for a group portrait. The photographer, Ralph Morse, was never one to have his subjects just stand there and smile, so he asked Unitas, Starr, Tarkenton and the rest to, in effect, act like quarterbacks. The result is somehow ridiculous, charming and kind of cool, all at the same time.

Morse knew that there was no way he could follow 14 professional quarterbacks around the country individually — the way LIFE's sports editors wanted him to.

"Those editors were crazy," Morse, now 96 years old and still spry, recently told me. "One week I might fly to Dallas or St. Louis or Detroit to photograph one of the players, and maybe he'd be great. Or maybe he'd be awful. Either way, the assignment would take weeks — months! — and there was no guarantee we'd end up with what we wanted, anyway. I thought the only way I could make a decent picture is if I took it in one place, at one time, with all of the players. I called the NFL commissioner, Pete Rozelle, and told him what I wanted to do. He said I was crazy. He told me they'd have to do it on their day off, and they'd never agree to that.

"I said, 'Look. You're the commissioner, aren't you? They'll do what you tell them, won't they?' I suggested we do it in Chicago, somewhere in the center of the country. All they had to do was bring clean uniforms, and show up. We set a date, and I flew out to Chicago a week early to rent a studio. I had a local high school football team come to the studio every day for that week, and we practiced all sorts of scenarios until we had one that worked — the guys in front tossing the ball underhand, the guys in back throwing overhand. We also set up a sheet of plexiglass with a hole cut in it for the camera lens to poke through, so I wouldn't get creamed by 14 footballs coming at me.

"All the quarterbacks arrived on the scheduled day, and we had the whole thing figured out ahead of time. These guys were famous. They were busy. They didn't want to mess around. They wanted to get into their uniforms, take the picture, get out of their uniforms and go. And that's what happened."
Brilliant. You can read more of Cosgrove's work here.

In addition to Bart Starr, there are five additional Hall of Famers in the photo: Bobby Layne, Johnny Unitas, Fran Tarkenton, Sonny Jurgensen and Y.A. Tittle.

Zeke Bratkowski, although not a Hall of Famer, was go on to become a key contributor to several Green Bay Championships as Bart Starr's backup. When Starr was injured in the 1965 Western Division championship game against the Baltimore Colts, Bratkowski came off the bench to lead the Packers to a game-tying field goal to force overtime, and then another field goal for a 13-10 victory. One week later, he Packers would top the Cleveland Browns to win the World Championship, the first of their three-in-a-row under Vince Lombardi.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Snow Day!

Ah, football in the snow. The best the game ever looks.

Green Bay Packers' Jarrett Bush (24) celebrates with Datone Jones (95) after Bush intercepted a pass during the final seconds of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 22-21. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
I am looking forward to a Super Bowl played in real elements, not an antiseptic, air-conditioned tropical dome. And with by squeaking out a win against the Falcons, the Packers kept alive our hopes that they could be the ones to play in it next February.

Green Bay Packers' Eddie Lacy runs during the second half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)
You can see that Eddie Lacy had an issue with his Braisher stripes. I don't know if the cold made the decals more brittle, or if he just took a hard hit across his helmet, but he lost a chunk of a green stripe (and picked up a large wad of Tundra as well):

That's an issue we often see with the Bears' logo decals, but it's not one the Packers frequently have to deal with.

The photo at top also gives us another look at the various jersey templates the Packers employ. Check out the different chest seams on Datone Jones (l) and cornerback Sam Shields (r):

Once again, we see the minor variations behind the uniform sense of the uniforms.