TTZ: Don Beebe
Club Level: Craig Hentrich
Founder, Head Coach, Vice President, Player (1919-49)
Somewhat by chance, Curly Lambeau and George Calhoun joined together in 1919 to form what is now the Green Bay Packers. Lambeau was an outstanding athlete at Green Bay East High School and after enrolling at Notre Dame and making varsity under Knute Rockne, he was back in Green Bay after severe tonsillitis forced him to miss the spring semester.
Then, Lambeau ran into Calhoun, the sports editor of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, who had covered Lambeau as a prep. The two got to talking and decided to start up a football team. On Aug. 11, 1919, Lambeau, Calhoun and a group of young athletes gathered in the editorial room of the old Press-Gazette building on Cherry Street and organized the beginning of the Packers.
At the time, Lambeau was a shipping clerk for the Indian Packing Company, a war-time meat-packing industry in Green Bay. Because he somehow persuaded his boss, Frank Peck, to donate $500 of company money for team uniforms, the new squad had its namesake, "Packers."
Lambeau was a player and the team's first captain. And in their first season together, the Packers went 10-1 playing local foes.
In the meantime, the Indian Packing Company fell on hard times and was bought out by the Acme Packing Company. But in 1921, based on the success of the team, Lambeau persuaded Acme owners John and Emmitt Clair to back the Packers and apply for membership in the new American Professional Football Association (renamed the NFL in 1922). The Clairs agreed and on Aug. 27, 1921, the Packers became an official professional football franchise.
Not long after, poor finances and the illegal use of college players forced the team to be forfeited, but Lambeau bought it back at a league meeting in Canton, Ohio, for a franchise fee of $250, including $50 of his own money, in 1922.
Financial problems continued however, and with the team teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, Lambeau received aid from Andrew B. Turnbull, the general manager of the Press-Gazette, who forwarded money to Lambeau to help keep the team afloat in 1922, before rallying local businessmen to purchase stock and turn the Packers into a nonprofit organization in August 1923.
One of seven NFL coaches ever to win 200 games, Lambeau's 212-106-21 (.667) Green Bay record -- including postseason -- doesn't even include 1919 or 1920 before the team joined what is now the NFL. He guided the Packers to six world championships: 1929-31, 1936, 1939 and 1944.
The Packers didn't play an official postseason game until 1936 -- their first three championships were decided by league standing until the playoff system was added in 1933 -- when they defeated the Boston Redskins 21-6 for their fourth NFL title.
Green Bay was back in the title game in 1938, but fell to the New York Giants by the score of 23-17. In 1939, the Packers got their revenge, blanking the Giants 27-0 to win their fifth crown after a 9-2 campaign. And in 1944, the Packers won their sixth and final title under Lambeau, defeating the Giants 14-7.
Seven Packers played under Lambeau en route to a spot in the Pro Hall of Fame: T Cal Hubbard (1929-33, 1935), HB Johnny 'Blood' McNally (1929-33, 1935-36), FB Clarke Hinkle (1932-41), G Mike Michalske (1929-35, 1937), QB Arnie Herber (1930-40) and E Don Hutson (1935-45).
Lambeau's tenure as head coach included some pioneering developments: implementing daily practice (late 1920s), bringing Rockne's "secret weapon" of the forward pass to the pro game (1919), implementing pass patterns (1930s) and flying to road games (1940).
However, Lambeau's decision to purchase the Rockwood Lodge north of Green Bay at a price of $25,000 to make it the Packers' training facility didn't go over well with members of the executive committee and contributed to an internal power struggle that helped end his 31-year tenure with the team.
On Jan. 31, 1950, Lambeau resigned and was replaced by Gene Ronzani, who would coach the Packers until 1953. Lambeau finished his coaching career at the reins of the Chicago Cardinals (1950-51) and Washington Redskins (1952-53).
Lambeau was 21 years old when he became player-captain of the Green Bay Packers in 1919. The Packers didn't join what is now the NFL until two years later, so his official Packers playing career ran from 1921-29.
Listed in Total Football at 5-foot-10, 187 pounds, he appeared on the roster as a halfback. But in those days, with the passing game in its infancy, the halfback received the snap from center, so in reality Lambeau was the Packers' first field general.
In Green Bay's first official league game, Oct. 23, 1921, Lambeau threw both of the Packers' two passes in a 7-6 win.
Earl Louis (Curly) Lambeau, born April 9, 1898, in Green Bay, Wis., died June 1, 1965, at the age of 67.
|Year||Playing Record||G||Rush TD||Pass th||Rec. th||PAT||FG||Points|
|1921||Green Bay||3||2||1||.600||T6-National Football League||-|
|1922||Green Bay||4||3||3||.571||T7-National Football League||-|
|1923||Green Bay||7||2||1||.778||3-National Football League||-|
|1924||Green Bay||7||4||0||.636||6-National Football League||-|
|1925||Green Bay||8||5||0||.615||9-National Football League||-|
|1926||Green Bay||7||3||3||.700||5-National Football League||-|
|1927||Green Bay||7||2||1||.778||2-National Football League||-|
|1928||Green Bay||6||4||3||.600||4-National Football League||-|
|1929||Green Bay#||12||0||1||1.000||1-National Football League||-|
|1930||Green Bay#||10||3||1||.769||1-National Football League||-|
|1931||Green Bay#||12||2||0||.857||1-National Football League||-|
|1932||Green Bay||10||3||1||.769||2-National Football League||-|
|1933||Green Bay||5||7||1||.417||3-NFL Western Division||-|
|1934||Green Bay||7||6||0||.538||3-NFL Western Division||-|
|1935||Green Bay||8||4||0||.667||2-NFL Western Division||-|
|1936||Green Bay#||10||1||1||.909||1-NFL Western Division||1-0|
|1937||Green Bay||7||4||0||.636||2-NFL Western Division||-|
|1938||Green Bay||8||3||0||.727||1-NFL Western Division||0-1|
|1939||Green Bay#||9||2||0||.818||1-NFL Western Division||1-0|
|1940||Green Bay||6||4||1||.600||2-NFL Western Division||-|
|1941||Green Bay||10||1||0||.909||T1-NFL Western Division||0-1|
|1942||Green Bay||8||2||1||.800||2-NFL Western Division||-|
|1943||Green Bay||7||2||1||.778||2-NFL Western Division||-|
|1944||Green Bay#||8||2||0||.800||1-NFL Western Division||1-0|
|1945||Green Bay||6||4||0||.600||3-NFL Western Division||-|
|1946||Green Bay||6||5||0||.545||3-NFL Western Division||-|
|1947||Green Bay||6||5||1||.545||3-NFL Western Division||-|
|1948||Green Bay||3||9||0||.250||4-NFL Western Division||-|
|1949||Green Bay||2||10||0||.167||5-NFL Western Division||-|
|1950||Chi. Cardinals||5||7||0||.417||5-NFL American Conference||-|
|1951||Chi. Cardinals||2||8||0||.200||6-NFL American Conference||-|
|1952||Washington||4||8||0||.333||T5-NFL American Conference||-|
|1953||Washington||6||5||1||.545||3-NFL Eastern Conference||-|
|Green Bay||(29 years)||209||104||21||.668||3-2|