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Letters To Lee Remmel


As a lifelong Packer fan, I have wondered about Indian Jack Jacobs - his background, performance with the Packers, and what happened to him after his football career was over. I seem to remember his throwing seven interceptions in a game I saw after sneaking through the wood fence at the old field shared with East High. I really enjoy your insightful column. - Fred, State College, Pa.

Simply put, Fred, Indian Jack Jacobs was one of the most gifted athletes in Packers history. Yet, candidly, it is unlikely that he will ever be enshrined in the Packers Hall of Fame, in part because he spent only three seasons in Green and Gold (1947-49) with the last two presiding over a 3-9-0 record in '48 and an even more disastrous 2-10-0 reading in '49, which might best be forgotten.

Indian Jack came upon the Green Bay scene in 1947, at a historic time in Packers annals - when Curly Lambeau was reluctantly abandoning his treasured "Notre Dame Box" attack for the "modern" T-formation, which put the quarterback directly under the center to take the snap.

Lambeau, accustomed to seeing his troops find the end zone with frequency over his long coaching career, was in search of more offensive punch after seeing the Packers score just 148 points in 11 games in 1946 - a paltry average of 13.4 points per game. He accordingly acquired Jacobs from the Washington Redskins in exchange for halfback Bob Nussbaumer.

Consequently, the signing of Jacobs as the quarterback of the new offense was heralded throughout Packerland and anticipation was high, particularly because the defending world champion Chicago Bears would be rolling into Green Bay for the season opener (Sept. 28, 1947) to present the Packers with an early and major challenge.

But Jacobs alone was more than equal to the task. He proceeded to forge what became a highly impressive - if essentially one-game - legacy with a virtuosic performance that has to rank among the most versatile in the history of the game.

In fact, it is hard to imagine that Indian Jack could have done any more while wheeling about "old" City Stadium that long distant afternoon, escorting the Packers to a 29-20 upset of the favored Bears.

All he did was:

  • Throw for two touchdowns.
  • Score on a 1-yard run, following a 17-yard rush that positioned the Packers for the score.
  • Make two interceptions. (He actually picked off three Sid Luckman passes but the first one nullified by an interference penalty.)
  • Punt four times, with a long of 59 yards. (He went on to finish the season as the NFL's third-ranked punter.)
  • And, oh yes, he played the full 60 minutes - every play on both offense and defense.

Jacobs, a University of Oklahoma alumnus, still held several school records at the time of his death (June 12, 1974) at the age of 54. He was born in Oklahoma in 1919, appropriately the year the Packers were founded.

After leaving the Packers and the NFL, Jack played with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Footballl League, leading them to Grey Cup berths in 1950 and 1953. He also was named the CFL's Most Valuable Player in '53. He later served as an assistant coach at London, Ontario, and as an assistant at Montreal, Hamilton and Edmonton.

The media guide lists Iron Mountain as an opponent of the Packers. What can you tell us about those games? P.S. - I have enjoyed many Packer Nites in Iron Mountain. Thank you for putting them on. - Jim, Iron Mountain, Mich.

Jim, our records show that the Packers played two preseason, non-league games against Iron Mountain teams in 1925 and 1926.

The Packers, unfortunately, were not very kindly disposed on those occasions, sweeping to a 48-6 victory over the Iron Mountain All-Stars in '25 before an estimated 4,000 fans, and following up with a 79-0 runaway at Iron Mountain's espense in '26, witnessed by a crowd of 3,000.

I am curious about something. Randy Duncan was the only first overall pick in the draft that the Packers ever had. His bio from the College Football Hall of Fame stated that he only played a single year for the Dallas Cowboys, and I have also heard rumors that he passed on the Packers to play in the CFL. Why did he not ever sign with Green Bay, and how did the Packers lose his rights to the Cowboys? Thanks. - Mike, Madison, Wis.

First of all, Mike, it is my duty to point out that Randy Duncan was not "the only first overall pick in the draft that the Packers ever had."

The Packers' first "first" came in 1957 when Paul Hornung became the very first player chosen in the entire draft - as the result of a "bonus choice" program implemented in 1947. Under it, one player each year was selected from the overall pool, before the draft began, by drawing the lucky number from a designated receptacle.

The Packers were the 12th of the then 13 teams in the NFL to have that opportunity and, of course, selected Hornung, who had been the Heisman Trophy winner following the '56 season.

Two years later, they chose Duncan with the first pick in the '59 draft. It was the last time the Packers have had that enviable opportunity.

As far as can be determined, there is no "official" explanation as to why Duncan declined to sign with the Packers and opted to play in the Canadian Football League coming out of Iowa.

Former Packer Jim Temp, in service at the time between stints with the Green and Gold, recalls that the reason Duncan presumably chose the CFL is that he felt his scrambling quarterback style was better suited to the Canadian game. Also, allegedly, he could make more money in Canada.

With respect to Duncan supposedly having played for Dallas, he is not listed on the Cowboys' all-time roster, so he thus never played in a regular season game for the Cowboys.

Mr. Remmel, In the PBS documentary "The Grandstand Franchise," as well as the NFL Films program "Lombardi," there are clips of Packer championship flags from 1929-31, along with the championship flag from 1966. Are these on display anywhere for public viewing? If not, is there any chance of doing so, or maybe flying them at Lambeau on a special occasion? Thanks! - Joe, Eau Claire, Wis.

Joe, if league-issued flags denoting each of the Packers' record 12 NFL championships exist, they are not to be found in the Packers Hall of Fame.

However, these noteworthy achievements are duly recognized in the Lambeau Field Atrium area. Appropriately, green and gold banners, listing the championships in order of acquisition from 1929 through the most recent (captured at the New England Patriots' expense in Super Bowl XXXI, Jan. 26, 1997) are mounted in a corridor just outside the "Packer Hall of Fame Grill," which leads to the HOF, located a level below the flag display.

Why do they call it the gridiron? - Anthony, Alton

Anthony: I can't give you the reason the term is used in connection with the game of football. The best I can offer is the definition from Webster's dictionary, which reads as follows: "1: An iron grating formerly used for torture by fire. 2: a grated metal frame for broiling food over the coals - compare GRIDDLE, GRILL. 3: something resembling a gridiron, grating, or lattice in structure of appearance; as a. a network or sections (as of pipes, railroad tracks or roads); b. GRID2c; c. the arrangement of beams over a theater stage - supporting the machinery for flying scenery; d. a football field."

Dear Mr. Remmel, I am a native Wisconsinite currently attending graduate school in Kentucky. A friend of mine here at UK came from the state of Georgia and we've had an ongoing controversy over the 'G' that appears on the helmets of both the beloved Pack and the University of Georgia. Could you let me in on the history of the 'G' along with where and when it first emerged onto the scene? We have an important case of the finest Wisconsin beer riding on the date of when the 'G' was first worn on the helmets of each team. Thank you for your time....God bless and go Pack go! - From the south, Tadd, Lexington, Ky.

Tadd, I'm sure you will be delighted to know that you win "an important case of the finest Wisconsin beer." The Packers began sporting the 'G' on their helmets in 1961. The University of Georgia sports communications office reported that the Bulldogs adopted the 'G' in 1964. (The helpful lady in the U of Georgia office, upon hearing the question, promptly replied, "I think y'all had it first," then set about confirming it.)

For the record, the 'G,' reportedly designed by the late G.E. "Dad" Braisher, longtime Packers equipment manager, is known in the trade as a "stretched G," according to Bryan Nehring, Packers assistant equipment manager. Officially and technically, the specific font is described as "Futura Bold Stretched."

Further research disclosed that the University of Georgia asked and received the Packers' permission in 1964 before adopting the "stretched G."

It also should be noted that Grambling State University, the alma mater of Hall of Famer Willie Davis, also has been using the Packers 'G,' but reportedly is in the process of changing to a new "identification."

An avid Packer fan friend of mine claims that the team record for most TD receptions by a running back is held by Johnny Blood. Is this true? I didn't even know that they threw the ball much to running backs back in the '20's? - Chuck, Camp Shelby, Miss.

Chuck, your friend appears to be right. Although our media guide lists no such record, the unofficial record for most touchdown receptions by a Packers running back, as compiled by historian Eric Goska, is 28 - by John Victor McNally, informally known as "Johnny Blood." Those 28 TDs, incidentally, were spread over 7 seasons (1929-33, '35 and '36).

For comparative purposes, today's Ahman Green has 13 TD receptions in six seasons thus far.

Dear Mr. Remmel: While I currently live in Chicago, my hometown will always be Neenah, Wis. Last week, it was announced that Soldier Field will no longer be listed among the 2,500 National Historic Landmarks due to the massive renovations it underwent. Why isn't Lambeau Field designated a Historic Landmark or on the larger National Registry of Historic Places? Is it because it would limit the team's options to do structural changes to Lambeau? Thanks very much. - Christian, Chicago, Ill.

Christian, I have relayed your question to our CEO, Bob Harlan, and he said he knows of no reason why Lambeau Field has not been designated a "Historic Landmark," or "on the larger National Registry of Historic Places."

He also did say, "I'm sure that it has nothing to do with 'limiting the team's options' to make structural changes to Lambeau....Our renovation (effected between 2000-03) had nothing to do with that.

"Our whole goal was to keep the intimacy and the tradition of Lambeau Field. That's why we did it - we wanted to keep what we've got. And, secondly, the renovation cost $295 million. To build a totally new stadium would have cost $450 million."

Harlan then added a significant statistic to his answer. "In today's dollars, to do what we did (to Lambeau Field), it now would cost $450 million.

"Our timing," he summed up, "was perfect."

Harlan concluded, with pardonable pride, "Once you take away Lambeau Field, Wrigley Field, Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium, there aren't many historical stadiums left - in pro sports."

Continuing an association with the team that is more than 55 years old, Lee Remmel was named the first official Team Historian of the Green Bay Packers in February 2004. The former *Green Bay Press-Gazette reporter and Packers public relations director, Remmel will write regular columns for as part of his new assignment.

In addition to those articles, Remmel will answer fan questions in a monthly Q&A column. To submit a question to Remmel, click here. *

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