Gerald F. Clifford
Executive Committee: 1930-50
Vice President: 1930-33
Board of Directors: 1929-50
Clifford was the legal counsel who guided the Packers franchise through more than 17 months of receivership and then drafted the Articles of Incorporation for the reorganized Green Bay Packers, Inc. One of the so-called Hungry Five along with Andrew B. Turnbull, Dr. W.W. Kelly, Lee Joannes and Curly Lambeau, Clifford was the last of the group to become actively involved in the Packers’ corporate affairs, but once he did he was every bit as committed.
Clifford’s greatest contribution was setting up the Packers’ nonprofit corporation in 1935 in such a way that it has endured all challenges and stood the test of time. But perhaps nothing consumed more of his time than the lawsuit that sent the Packers spiraling into receivership. Clifford represented the Green Bay Football Corporation against Willard J. Bent, the fan who filed suit against it after falling out of the stands during a game at old City Stadium in 1931. Bent sued for $20,000 and was awarded roughly $5,000 two years later. The Packers appealed to the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, but the judgment was affirmed. On another front, Clifford also headed the Packers’ annual season-ticket drive in communities outside Green Bay, starting in 1929, his first year on the board.
“Clifford nursed them through receivership,” Judge William J. Duffy, one of Clifford’s law partners, said in 2007. “Clifford was a good lawyer. He had a good mind and wrote good briefs. He had a good vision, too, on the Packers.”
Clifford was elected to the Packers’ board of directors on Aug. 1, 1929, although he didn’t become a shareholder until June 1, 1931. He was elected vice president on June 13, 1930, and held the position until the team went into receivership in August 1933. He was a member of the court-appointed executive committee in the interim and then elected to the executive committee of the newly created Green Bay Packers, Inc. in 1935. In late December 1949, Clifford announced his intention to resign his positions on the committee and board once he completed his legal work, following a bitter struggle over Curly Lambeau’s future with the franchise.
Born June 19, 1889, in Chilton, Wis. Grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and received his law degree from the University of Michigan in 1912. A member of a prominent Green Bay law firm, Clifford had a reputation for being a fierce defensive attorney and was perhaps best known in the legal field for taking on liquor cases and winning acquittals during Prohibition. Given name was Gerald Francis Clifford. Died Feb. 24, 1952, at age 62.
- By Cliff Christl