Hall of Fame Director and Archivist Tom Murphy & John Coppens Sr.
The Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, Inc., announced Thursday the donation of four vintage items, including shoulder pads worn by Johnny "Blood" McNally, the storied halfback who played for the Packers for seven seasons (1929-33, 1935-36) and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.
The donations were made by John Coppens Sr. on behalf of four generations of his family: Henry Coppens (his father), John Coppens Sr., John Coppens Jr. (his son) and Henry Coppens (his grandson). The donations were in the name of Henry Coppens, the grandson, in honor of his great-grandfather.
In addition to the shoulder pads, also donated were a sideline coat from the 1930s, an autographed football from the 1950s and a copy of the book, Run to Daylight, autographed to John by its authors, Vince Lombardi and W.C. Heinz.
McNally was one of pro football's most colorful early personalities and it was thanks in large part to his rushing and receiving that the Packers won three straight NFL championships from 1929-31, plus a fourth in 1936.
"It's an excellent addition to our collection," said Hall of Fame Director and Archivist Tom Murphy of the shoulder pads. "We don't have many items from the 1930s, and now to have a pair of game-used shoulder pads, from a Hall of Famer, is absolutely great. The sideline coat is another gem from that era, and the football and book are wonderful items as well. We're extremely thankful to the Coppens family for their consideration of the Hall."
The Coppens family befriended many Packers personalities through their work at two Green Bay supper clubs: the Riviera Supper Club (formerly on Nicolet Drive near the entrance to UW-Green Bay) and the Stratosphere Supper Club (Humboldt Road). Henry and his wife, Rose, worked at the Riviera in the 1930s to the 1950. It was there that Henry received the shoulder pads from McNally, and the sideline coat from another unknown player.
Rose later owned and operated the Stratosphere until 1983, and then John Sr. owned and operated it until 1993. Rose received the book from Lombardi and Heinz, and knowing she would be giving it to John, she asked them to autograph it to him. The autographed ball was given to John in the early '50s as a gift from Dick Bertrand, proprietor of Bertrand's Sporting Goods, a supplier of equipment to the Packers at the time.
"I began thinking about the donation when I went through the Hall of Fame this past summer at the Shareholders Meeting," Coppens said. "I saw they had a copy of the book, Run to Daylight, but it didn't have an autograph, nor was it in as good condition as the book I had. That got me to thinking that I should donate some of our items.
"I had some on display at home and others in a foot locker. I thought it would be more interesting for fans to be able to see them in the Hall of Fame."
The shoulder pads will be placed in McNally's locker in the Pro Football Hall of Fame area of the Packers Hall of Fame. The other items eventually will be included in appropriate areas of other permanent displays.
*The Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, Inc., is a non-profit corporation independent of the Green Bay Packers that guides the Hall as a historic national sports venue and educational resource to the Green Bay community and the state of Wisconsin. The Hall raises funds through its annual induction banquet, Golf Classic and other events to develop new exhibits and expand its archives. Historic memorabilia donated by individuals to the Hall may qualify as tax-deductible gifts.
Originally established in 1967 as a temporary display in the concourse of the Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena, the Hall moved into its own facility in 1976 near Lambeau Field. In 2003, it was relocated to a spectacular new, 25,000-square foot facility in the Lambeau Field Atrium. The Hall of Fame is open on non-game days from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Hours may vary on game days and holidays. For more information, contact the Hall of Fame at 920/569-7512, or visit the Hall online at www.packershalloffame.org.*