3

July

The Complete History of Green Bay Packers in Professional Wrestling: Chapter 3 — Dick “the Bruiser” Afflis

Da Crusher from Milwaukee and Dick the Bruiser, a former Packer, dominated wrestling's tag team division for over 10 years.

We continue our “Sunday Storytime” with chapter 3 in a series examining the history of the NFL, the Green Bay Packers and professional wrestling. The introduction to the series can be read here. Chapter 1 can be read here and Chapter 2  can be read here.

Remember when pro wrestlers had barrel chests and round bellies instead of bulging biceps and chiseled physiques? Remember when wrestlers looked like larger and meaner versions of your dad’s drinking buddies? Remember when old ladies used to sit in the front row at wrestling events and swing their purses at the bad guys?

If you do, then you also probably remember Dick the Bruiser. Dick the Bruiser’s wrestling career began in the mid 50s and lasted until the late 80s. He won multiple titles in the American Wrestling Association (AWA) and the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and started his own promotion in Indianapolis called the World Wrestling Association.

The Bruiser used his wrestling career to become a cross-media star and local celebrity in the Indianapolis area. But the first step on his rise to fame came with the Green Bay Packers.

Scary, Heroic and Goofy
Dick the Bruiser was born William Richard Afflis and played on the Packers offensive and defensive lines from 1951-54. Titletown was a ways off in Green Bay’s future as the Packers went 15-32-1 in Afflis’s 48 games. This group of Packers were more interested in drinking beer than winning. And Afflis fit right in.

The 6-foot, 251-pounder left Purdue after clobbering his line coach with his helmet and was kicked out of Miami after bookmaking allegations. He lasted a couple of weeks at Notre Dame and Alabama before settling at Nevada-Reno. The Packers drafted him in the 16th round (somewhere along the way, he also officially changed his first name to Dick).

Afflis was a decent lineman, but most people remember him more for his colorful personality than his on-field play. Some Afflis stories are scary, some are heroic, and some are goofy. All of them are entertaining.

12

June

The Complete History of Green Bay Packers in Professional Wrestling: Introduction — Blame Aaron Rodgers and the Title Belt

I hope Aaron Rodgers keeps the title belt celebration for a while.

Like most Packers fans, I have a list of favorite Packers moments that will remain etched in the green and gold portion of my brain forever. The list includes the Packers Super Bowl titles in 1996 and 2020, my first game at Lambeau and watching the Packers win the NFC title live and in-person in Chicago.

The full bank of memories are too numerous to list here, but there is one particular memory that is probably unique to my brain and my brain only: I remember the first time I noticed Aaron Rodgers do the championship belt.

(Editor’s Note:  Today begins a very different and interesting series by Adam Czech, a self-professed professional wrestling geek and Packers fanatic. For the next month of Sundays, we’ll be having a “Sunday Storytime” with new installments of this series. Even if you’re not that into wrestling, I think you’ll find plenty of interesting Packers stories that you will enjoy (I know I have).  So, as the Monty Pythoners’ used to say, “And now for something completely different…)

It was 2008 and my wife and I were watching the Packers play the Titans on a snowy TV in a friend’s basement in Madison. Rodgers scrambled for a first down, dashed out of bounds, let the ball fall to the ground, then gave a quick title belt before jogging back to the huddle. I kept asking myself if I really saw what I thought I just saw. Did the quarterback of my favorite football team just pretend that he was the WWF world heavyweight champion?

Rodgers might have done the title belt before and I just didn’t notice it, but it doesn’t matter. I noticed it on this particular day, and I have noticed it ever since. It’s my favorite sports celebration ever and probably always will be.

Read on and maybe you will understand why (maybe).

Obsessed with wrestling
Some people take the NFL too seriously. Others let shopping, home projects or rebuilding cars take up too much of their lives. I’m obsessed with professional wrestling – specifically wrestling from the 1980s and early 90s. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I am a 29-year-old man that still watches old-school professional wrestling.