George Whitney Calhoun
Part Owner: 1922
Secretary: 1922-33, 1935-41
Board of Directors: 1923-33, 1941-63
Calhoun joined with Curly Lambeau to organize the Packers in 1919, performed a variety of odd jobs to help them survive and slowly cultivated a nationwide following through his publicity efforts until they became a National Football League treasure. While the Packers were Calhoun’s passion, he earned his living as a newspaperman for the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
In the beginning, when the Packers played on a sandlot field and every nickel mattered, Calhoun was best remembered for passing a hat through the crowd on game day to collect enough spare change to pay the bills. Among his many contributions to the Packers and pro football was his early recordkeeping, which proved to be invaluable when the first official NFL encyclopedia was published in 1952. Calhoun also published the first weekly newssheet in the NFL – the Packer Football News – from 1938 to 1947.
“There wouldn’t have been a Packer team without George Whitney Calhoun,” Fritz Gavin, one of the original Packers, said in 1951. “He was the prime mover.”
The old Green Bay Review hired Calhoun in 1915. He moved to the Press-Gazette as telegraph editor in May 1917. Four months later, he began writing a sports column, “Cal’s Comments.” While he was actually city editor when the Packers were founded in 1919, Calhoun traveled with them and presumably still wrote many of the Press-Gazette’s non-byline stories about the team until his sports column and byline reappeared in 1921. By 1928, he was no longer covering the Packers on a regular basis, but he continued to travel to their games and write about them on the road. More important, as publicist and unofficial traveling secretary, he befriended and enlightened many out-of-town writers in his effort to spread interest in the Packers story. In all, Calhoun spent 40 years with the Press-Gazette, mostly as telegraph or wire editor, before retiring in 1957. His affiliation with the Packers lasted 45 years.
Born Sept. 16, 1890, in Green Bay, Calhoun was a great-grandson of Daniel Whitney, founder of the City of Green Bay. Given name George Whitney Calhoun. Calhoun died Dec. 6, 1963, at age 73 and requested that his ashes be strewn over the playing field at old City Stadium.
- By Cliff Christl