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Lambeau should be acknowledged as a player

Let’s get the facts right on Packers’ birthday


I've been getting plenty of feedback – good and bad – so I'm going to give our readers the floor and try to keep my answers brief. It's refreshing to know so many of you take your Packers history seriously. That's part of what makes this franchise special.

Rick from Shawano, WI

You do great work that I admire. But the defensiveness and disingenuous of you people is beyond belief. It appears fans over 55 have no place. And do not tell me it is a changing world. The world is and always has been changing. This destruction is demonstrably sad. Homogenization is not always a good thing.

Your point is well taken. We have a ways to go as far as getting our history right, but we're working at it.

Jill from Fennimore, WI

How come the Packers have never retired Curly Lambeau's number?

That's a good question. Our media guide lists Lambeau as wearing No. 1 in 1925-26, but that's as far back as we go. He also wore other numbers later. What I'd maybe like to see us do as an organization is approach the people in Canton to see if something could be done about the names of Packers players they've botched and what I would label a grievous oversight. Don't know how many of you are aware of this, but Lambeau was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963 as a coach only. George Halas was inducted that year as an end and coach. Halas was selected second team on an all-pro team once in 1920, the first year of the league. Lambeau was a second-team choice three times and a pioneer of the passing game. He unofficially passed for more than 4,000 yards, believed to be the second highest total in the pre-stats decade of the 1920s. A year after Halas was inducted as a player/coach, Walt Kiesling also was inducted as a guard and coach. Kiesling's career record as a head coach was 30-55-5. Again, it shows how little attention to detail the NFL has paid to its own history. And now that people are keeping tabs on such things, it matters more. The Bears have 26 players in Canton, counting Halas; the Packers, 20; and Pittsburgh with Jerome Bettis going in will be at 18. Plus, Halas having been inducted as an end is a real slap in the face to former Packers end Lavvie Dilweg, who was a first-team all-pro five straight years from 1927-31. I think Verne Lewellen, Dilweg and Red Dunn from the 1920s deserve to be in the Hall as players before Lambeau, but Lambeau belongs in as a player more so than Halas. Sorry I broke my promise here about being brief.

J.J. from Los Angeles, CA

Speaking of diminishing our past, I find it irksome every time I see Green Bay merchandise reading, "Est. 1921," when as most of us know the Packers were founded in 1919. Does this really have to be?

The Packers were founded in 1919 as an independent semi-pro team and joined what became the NFL in 1921. We'll be telling the full and accurate story in the new Packers Hall of Fame.

Mark from Chaska, MN

I enjoy your articles. You obviously take your job very seriously. As we approach Sept. 2018, I'm a bit concerned the Packers are not going to acknowledge it as the team's 100th season. I hope my concerns are unfounded.

Mark, you're one of several who has expressed concern about that. John from San Diego said he has even read we would be celebrating our 100th anniversary in 1919 and raised the same question. Again, this franchise is lucky to have football purists like you and others serving as watchdogs. But our organization is well aware that the Packers were born in 1919. You'll also find that to be true when you visit the new Packers Hall of Fame. So please don't jump to conclusions about the anniversary celebration and stay tuned.

Kirk from Jacksonville, FL

When I see a headline, "Thorp Trophy Preceded Lombardi Trophy," I want to know the details, not a Q&A that gets off track. Please lead with the details first.

Your criticism is well taken. My meandering in that Q&A was excessive. But as I explained, I don't think anybody knows the history of the Thorp Trophy after 1951. I've done more research since, including a trip to the Ralph Wilson Research Center at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and what I've found took a somewhat different path than I expected. I will keep you posted as I learn more.

Ed, Dave Hanner's son

Your articles on all the guys from the past are great reads. Years ago my mother said Marie Lombardi told her about Sonny Jurgensen. My dad did not talk a lot about his football past unless we forced it out of him. Jerry Kramer and his family were our neighbors. In 2013, my son and I were up for a game, and we ran into Paul Hornung and Jerry. They sat and talked to my son for 30 minutes. Thanks again for the memories.

Your dad was a good guy who spoke his mind. He obviously was well-respected by Vince Lombardi and Ron Wolf. Around Lambeau Field that might be the ultimate tribute.

Mick from New Richmond, WI

Nice article on John McNally. A few years after he died, his brother's family gave me a Christmas card that had been sent by Curly Lambeau to John Blood at the Astor Hotel in Green Bay. The envelope was postmarked Green Bay and dated Dec. 21, 1929.

Thanks and your response is an example of how I benefit from reader feedback. You've provided more evidence of what I suspected to be true from my research. Because many people in New Richmond, his hometown, knew him as a young boy, they continued to call him John McNally. But everywhere else he was known as Johnny Blood. From what I've gathered and as your postcard suggests, that's what Lambeau and his teammates always called him.

Bill from Appleton, WI

I really enjoy your articles. I am a history buff and think the Packers are a treasure of history buff trivia. But I beg to differ about Tom Hearden and the Lombardi issue – that if the Packers had hired Hearden, Lombardi would have never come to Green Bay. I doubt if Hearden would have had the same success in the sixties.

I agree with you and don't believe I suggested Hearden would have done as well as Lombardi. My point was that if Hearden had not suffered a stroke and been hired in 1958, he might have won more games than Scooter McLean and not been fired after one season. Had the Packers not been looking for a coach in 1959, I'm guessing Lombardi might not have been available a year or two later.

Mark from Green Bay, WI

Nice article on Dan Devine and who shot his dog. I ran into the son of the farmer at a soccer game and we discussed the topic. I confirmed it was his dad who shot the dog. Chasing cows, not chickens, but that doesn't matter.

I think that's a story that may never die.

Andy from Garden, MI

Your story about Dan Devine's dog caught my attention. I moved to Green Bay in 1977 and my next-door neighbor was the daughter of the farmer who shot Devine's dog. You related the story exactly as I heard it.

See my previous answer.

Charlie from Edgerton, WI

I enjoyed your article about my dad, Lisle Blackbourn. I am still a big Packers fan and a small stockholder.

Thanks. I think your dad was a good football man. Probably got the job a little too late in life and his candor hurt him, but he clearly could recognize talent. I noted that Lombardi hired him as a scout in 1964. Do you know how long he scouted for the Packers and/or their scouting combine? I believe it was for several years.

For more of Cliff Christl's historical perspectives, click here.

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