30

July

New from Sports Illustrated – Packers: Green, Gold and Glory

Packers: Green, Gold and Glory - Sports Illustrated

Packers: Green, Gold and Glory – Sports Illustrated

This just-released book about the Green Bay Packers gets off to a great start before you even open it. Gracing the front cover is what I consider the most iconic photograph of the Packers ever taken – Jerry Kramer and Forest Gregg carrying Vince Lombardi off the field after defeating the Raiders in Super Bowl II. What makes the picture even more poignant is that the players knew this would be their last game with Lombardi as coach. What they didn’t know, was that in less than three years, Lombardi would be out of their lives forever.

This book is a celebration of the perhaps the most storied franchise in football history, and fittingly makes liberal use of  some classic Sports Illustrated (SI) stories to tell the tale of “The People’s Champions,” the Green Bay Packers.

The book begins with a historical look back at the team and it’s fans, as seen through they eyes of those fans, some of whom are third or fourth generation Packers fans. We then get a photographic look at some particularly rabid Packer fans, many decked out in their unique and outrageous Green and Gold get-ups. Each tell a brief story about their love of the Packers.

Having covered the folks in the stands, the book shifts it’s focus to the playing field and  the players they are cheering for. There are profiles and stunning photographs of 33 players who can best be described as, “Packers Royalty.” From Curly Lambeau to Aaron Rodgers, the best of the best are described with interesting anecdotes from their careers.

Next comes the meat of the book: a 70-page look at the Packers 13 championship game wins, from their 21-6 defeat of the Boston Redskins in 1936 to the Super Bowl XLV win over the Steelers. There are plenty of interesting facts and stories you probably haven’t heard before and candid photographs that bring you back to that moment in time.

The book concludes with a focus on SI’s coverage of the Packers over the years. Five classic stories, including two from the sixties glory days, are presented to you as the Editor’s “favorites.”

The book is edited by Bill Syken,  former editor of Sports Illustrated. With 176 pages and over 200 photographs, it’s a must-have in any Packer fan’s collection.

14

November

Packers vs. Vikings Rivalry in Words and Video

Throughout the 50-year history of the Packers-Vikings rivalry, there have been some special moments, but probably few that lived up to recent events of November 1st, 2009. An aging Viking leader returned with a new band of men, looking to plunder the very homeland he once ruled.

The word Viking is Scandinavian for “raider” or “pirate,” an appropriate description of our former hero gone astray. Like the Vikings of the eighth and ninth centuries, Brett The Grey and his band of marauders embarked on a 2009 invadsion to claim a foreign land for their own — in this case, Lambeau Field.

Residents of Minnesota and Wisconsin certainly have a deep-rooted interest such events. Packers fans and Vikings fans have always had a special dislike for each other. As bordering states, there is a natural competitiveness between people of the two states. When close-to-Wisconsin Minneapolis-St. Paul suddenly became host to a professional football team in 1961, many fans, including those in Western Wisconsin, had a difficult choice to make.

As fans made their choices, resentment built and friends became enemies. The Green Bay loyalists sneered at the Vikings converts and the new Vikings fans became jealous of the Packers as their dominance of the 1960s became a sore point.

The Minnesota Vikings entered the NFL in 1961 as the 14th franchise in League history, but not without a few interesting twists. The Minnesota team was originally slated to be one of the eight charter members of the new American Football League, and had even completed the AFL college draft.

But the NFL saw great potential for a team in Minneapolis, and the prospective owners were lured away from the AFL by the promise of an NFL franchise. The Oakland Raiders took Minnesota’s place in the AFL and automatically inherited all of their draft choices.

Bert Rose, the first GM of the Minnesota franchise, chose the Vikings nickname to embrace the area’s heavy Scandanavian population and then set about looking for a head coach. Ara Parsegian was his first choice, but when that didn’t work out, he hired Norm Van Brocklin, who had just beaten the Packers in the NFL Championship the year before and had retired as a player.

The irony of that choice was not lost on Vince Lombardi, and beating Van Brocklin and the Vikings became another obsession for Vince. They were fierce rivals as coaches, engaging in many shouting matches, as both teams occupied the same side of the field in those stadiums.