Green Bay Packers
The third-oldest NFL franchise and the longest to hold its current name, the Green Bay Packers are an outlier in many ways: There’s the team’s home stadium based in by far the smallest media market in all of North American sports leagues; there’s the odd, community/shareholder business arrangement; and the name itself, one of the NFL’s two remaining named for local workers.
Insufferably enough for non-fans, the propensity for winning going on 100 freaking years (one 20-year dry spell notwithstanding) is also anomalous and may justify the lofty nickname of “Tinseltown.” The Packers’ 13 NFL titles are four better than the next-most decorated, the rival Chicago Bears’ nine. And the Packers’ four Super Bowl titles put them in the NFL’s elite class of teams with the Cowboys, Steelers, Patriots, 49ers and Giants.
The Green Bay Packers franchise jumped to the American Pro Football Association (APFA) after two years as an independent regional team. As with the Cowboys/Washington rivalry, the start of the Bears/Packers rivalry can be traced to before Green Bay began playing in the big league. Prior to would what have been the Packers’ debut APFA game, Chicago Staleys owner/coach George Halas filed a complaint with league officials asserting that the Packers had used college players in a game or games against APFA competition in 1920.
The Packers were summarily suspended from APFA play and missed half the football season before getting reinstated with a fine of $50 (about $650 in 2018 dollars). The Packers thus played to a record of just 3-2-1 in that inaugural season, and naturally the Staleys were named 1921 champions.
In the 1930s, the Green Bay Packers of lore were born. The team first took the rebranded NFL’s title in 1929 and chased t with wins in ’30 and ’31, going 34-5-2 in the span. From 1935 through ’44, things were as good for Curly Lambeau’s Packers as they were bad for the rest of the league: Green Bay won championships in 1936, ’39 and ’44 and lost in the final game in ’38. In this 10-season run, the Packers’ *average* season was 8-2-1 or 8-3, good for a first- or second-place finish in their division in every season.
Lambeau was slowly phased out of management and Green Bay suffered through 15 straight years of losing seasons … until Mr. Vince Lombardi came to coach the team for the 1960 season. The 60s saw old-fashioned Packers football reborn. From the 1961 to ’67 seasons, Lombardi’s Packers won five NFL titles, including the first two Super Bowls. Bart Starr, along with Johnny Unitas, helped create the mold for the prototype NFL quarterback that would hold through the 1980s, but the 1960s Packers were, well, packed with future Hall of Famers on both sides of the ball.
Unfortunately for Green Bay, Starr wasn’t half as good at coaching. From 1975 to ’83, Starr coached a run of consistently mediocre teams, finally squeaking his 5-3-1 Packers into the playoffs after the infamous strike-shortened season (the Green Bay scabs had gone 2-1).
Successors Forrest Gregg and Lindy Infante didn’t get much better results out of the Pack, but young Mike Holmgren (hired at the age of 44) combined with the acquisition of a young malcontent quarterback drafted by the Atlanta Falcons named Brett Favre and one of the greatest defensive players of all-time in Reggie White brought a relevance to Green Bay they hadn’t enjoyed in decades – not to mention another Super Bowl win.
Finally, after easing Favre out the door in Green Bay for what seemed like half a decade and about two dozen fake retirements, Aaron Rodgers took over the QBing duties for then third-year head coach Mike McCarthy. Through 2017, this combination has stayed intact. McCarthy’s version of the Packers had earned itself one Lombardi Trophy by beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.
For the official Green Bay Packers website, click here.