25

June

Meet Vince Lombardi… with An Accent

This story is about a gruff, quote-worthy coach who single-handidly built a football dynasty in the 1960s. No, this isn’t a review of the upcoming Broadway play based on the life of Vince Lombardi. Rather, it’s an interesting story about another type of football coach, born the same year as Vince, whose persona and achievements closely mirror those of Lombardi. Eerily so, in some cases. I call him “Vince Lombardi with an Accent”. This fine piece of historical comparison is brought to you by guest author Fran Dunn, a Packer fan from “across the pond”, known as “baboons” on twitter.

“Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”

I wonder how many of you reading that quote thought you’d missed an excerpt from one of Vince Lombardi’s famous speeches.  Don’t worry, you haven’t.  These words belong to Bill Shankly, the manager of English football team Liverpool in the 1960s.  Shankly created a team, a dynasty that would live past his retirement and untimely death in 1981.

If Green Bay is TitleTown USA, then Liverpool is the English equivalent.  It remains English football’s most successful team, being national champions 18 times and European champions five times. Whilst many of these titles would come after he left the club, it was Shankly’s ideas, Shankly’s philosophy, Shankly’s “way” that was responsible for the success.  Shankly and Lombardi were men cut from the same cloth.

AL’s Note: Listen to Shankly’s words. This is Vince Lombardi with an Accent:

Bill Shankly was born just three months after Lombardi, in September 1913, far from the cauldron of Brooklyn in the Scottish mining village of Glenbuck.  One of ten children, his family lived a spartan life.  The one respite for the young Shankly was the cinema.  An eight mile round trip to the nearest picture house by foot would take him to the heartland of American cities and their mobster gangs.

His love of James Cagney and Edward G Robinson would follow him into his managerial career, often quoting movies at players he believed weren’t pulling their weight. “Foist is foist and second is nut’n,” he would say, pointing out that mobsters, not sportsmen were the true “hard men” – if they made a mistake, they were shot dead.  Even his speech, soaked in a broad Ayrshire accent that would never be diluted despite years in England, mirrored Cagney’s machine gun delivery.

29

May

Green Bay Packers History: Video 3-Pack

15

April

The BEST Green Bay Packers First Round Draft Picks of the Last 50 Years

As the 2010 NFL Draft approaches, and anticipation builds, Packer fans everywhere are hoping the team’s first round draft pick will turn out to be the team’s  next Hall of Famer. Unfortunately, Packers’ history says that’s not very likely.

The Green Bay Packers have 19 players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Only 3, however,  were first round draft choices (Paul Hornung, Herb Adderley and James Lofton). Only 2 (Adderley and Lofton) were between the years of 1959-2009 that this article covers.

In the 72-year history of the NFL Draft, Green Bay has only had the first overall pick once, in 1959. It would be Vince Lombardi’s first draft and his selection, quarterback Randy Duncan, unfortunately made my previous list of the WORST Packers first-round draft picks of the last 50 years.

You may be surprised to know that the  Packers have been very active first-round traders. In 28 of the past 50 drafts, the Packers have made a trade involving a first round draft choice.

Before we get to the picks, two disclaimers:

You will not find Jerry Kramer or Paul Hornung on this list as they were drafted before 1959.

You will not find Aaron Rodgers or Clay Matthews on this list as their bodies of work, while impressive,  are still too short.

So, without further delay, here is the list:

Nick Barnett – LB – 2003 – Selected 29th overall – 6’2″, 236 lbs.

Out of Oregon State University, Nick Barnett was a 4-year varsity player. He entered the starting lineup halfway through his sophomore season and remained a fixture at strong side linebacker for the rest of his collegiate career. His senior season he averaged over nine tackles a game and was named All-Pacific 10 Conference, after leading the league with 121 tackles (62 solo).

Selected by the Packers with pick 29 of the first round, Barnett was the first Oregon State player taken in the first round in 40 years. He quickly proved to be worthy of that pick, starting the Packers’ first regular season game at middle Linebacker. Barnett has been incredibly consistant, still averaging the same nine tackles per game with the Packers as he did in college. Barnett has lead the Packers in tackles 5 times, including last season, coming off the only serious injury of his career. He has been the de-facto leader of the Packers’ defense, and at no time did this become more evident than the 2008 season. When Barnett got injured, the Packers defense plummeted downhill fast. His leadership and contributions were sorely missed.

10

April

Must-Watch Packers Video – 1966 Green Bay Packers

For you Packer fans without NFL Network (like myself), looking for something to watch this weekend, I have just the ticket.

NFL network has a series where they chronicle the greatest Super Bowl Champions. This one is on the 1966 Green Bay Packers and contains some fantastic footage and interviews, many of which I hadn’t seen before.

The interviews include some great Packers anectdotes. Here’s one:

By 1964, the “mystique” of Vice Lombardi had already become legendary, both inside and outside of the game. Center Bill Curry was drafted by the Packers in 1964. Training camp time rolled around and Curry went to the airport to catch his flight to Green Bay for the first day of camp. When he got to the airport, he was told that his flight had been cancelled, and he had been put on the next flight out, which wasn’t until the next morning.

Curry asked to speak with the airline’s manager. Curry told the manager (paraphrasing here…) “You’re going to make me late for my first meeting with Vince Lombardi. It’s your fault and your airline’s fault, and I’m going to make sure the coach knows that.”

The manager had Curry’s bag retrieved, arranged for a single engine plane, personally put Curry on the plane, had him flown to Manitowac and had a van waiting there to pick up Curry and take him to St. Norbert College. Curry made it to his first meeting with Lombardi with 15 minutes to spare and everyone, especially the airline manager breathed a huge sigh of relief. Nobody wanted to incur the wrath of Vince Lombardi…

There are plenty of other great anecdotes. If you’re a Packer fan and have never seen this, you must find 45 free minutes and watch…

Enjoy!

America’s Game – The Super Bowl Champions

1966 Green Bay Packers

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You can  follow Jersey Al on Facebook and Twitter . Visit Jersey Al’s Packers Blog for more in-depth Packers commentary.

Jersey Al Bracco is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.

31

January

Legends of Lambeau: The Green Bay Packers’ All-Time Offense

LegendsLambeau_AB_0119101-300x204

Selecting the All-time Packers Team on offense was no simple task. With 12 world championships in its glorious history, Green Bay, WI., has been home to many of the best to ever play in the NFL. A visit to the Packers Hall of Fame is second only to Canton itself.

The Packers have, seemingly, always been rather progressive on the offensive side of the ball. Whether it was Curly Lambeau’s passing attack, Vince Lombardi’s power sweep, or Mike Holmgren’s modified West Coast offense, Green Bay have been NFL offensive pioneers on many occasions.The end result is an enormously talented pool of players to choose from. Some of these picks will be obvious. Some will be controversial. But they were all the best of the best in different ways for different reasons.

Let’s proceed to the All-time Green Bay Packers offense:

JRingo_AB_011910

Center: Jim Ringo
131 games as a Packer
15 seasons:
1953-63, Green Bay Packers
1964-67, Philadelphia Eagles
10 Pro Bowls
Seven-time first-team All-Pro
1960s All-Decade Team
Pro Football Hall of Fame Member
Two NFL Championship rings

Out of Phillipsburg, New Jersey via Syracuse University, Jim Ringo came to the Packers as a 20-year-old seventh round draft choice in 1953.

At the time, the 6′2″ Ringo weighed only 211 pounds, which even then was vastly undersized for an NFL lineman. Intimidated by the size of his competition, Ringo tried to quit during his first training camp, but his family promptly sent him back to camp, unwilling to take in a “quitter.”

Ringo soon found he could use his speed and intelligence to dominate players much larger than himself. He played in five games that first season and then played in every game for the next 14 seasons, never weighing more than 235 lbs. When Ringo retired, his 182 consecutive games played was a new NFL record.

Jim Ringo was the only Pro-Bowl player on the roster when Vince Lombardi arrived in 1959. Lombardi quickly recognized Ringo’s value and built the offense around him. His speed was essential in getting out and cutting off linebackers pursuing the Packer sweep. Lombardi once said of Ringo, “The reason he’s the best in the league is because he’s quick and he’s smart. He runs the offensive line, calls the blocks and he knows what every lineman does on every play.”