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Letters To Lee Remmel


My question has to do with Super Bowl I and the initial kickoff. I have heard that the Packers kicked off to begin the game, but after the play, they were forced to re-do the kickoff because the TV cameras didn't catch it. Do you remember what happened on that initial kickoff? I'm sure that Coach Lombardi was pretty mad, but nothing really significant must have happened on that play, otherwise I think it would be talked about more often. Thanks again! - Nik, Eden Prairie, Minn.

Nik, your version of what happened at kickoff time in Super Bowl I is partially correct. There was, indeed, a second kickoff-but it was at the beginning of the SECOND half, not the first.

It came about because, for the first and only time in Super Bowl history, two networks (CBS and NBC) were televising the game with separate announcers and technical crews.

Joe Browne, the NFL's executive vice president of public relations and public affairs, explains that "one of the cameras -- either NBC or CBS -- was on commercial break at the second half kickoff." The recollection is that it was NBC that was "out to lunch."

The kickoff snafu developed, Browne noted, despite the fact that the referee had not yet signaled for the ball to be kicked off. Thus, officially, it did not happen.

There is no reference to the "unofficial" second half kickoff in the 60-year-old official play-by-play of the game, staged in the cavernous Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sunday, Jan. 15, 1967.

The third quarter begins with a routine description of what was the "second" second half kickoff. It is officially noted that the Packers' Don Chandler kicked off to the Chiefs' (Bert) "Coan at the KC 13," "retnd to the KC 29, 16-yd. retn (Mack)." The latter reference to Mack is to special teamer Red Mack, (a wide receiver by position) and the tackler of Coan.

As far as can be determined, history does not record whether Lombardi was "pretty mad" about the TV-triggered misadventure. But I can vouch for the fact that he was at least mellow after the game, a 35-10 Green Bay triumph.

I had the privilege of covering Lombardi's post-game press conference as a sportswriter for the Green Bay Press-Gazette and happened to be standing in front of him as he jovially fielded questions from the assembled media.

Lombardi's only show of irritation during the press conference came when the media kept pressuring him to "agree" that several other NFL teams would have been capable of defeating the AFL champion Chiefs that afternoon.

Ultimately acceding to their persistence, Lombardi finally said, "All right, there are four or five other NFL teams that could have beaten the Chiefs today...Now, are you satisfied?...I've said it."

The words were no sooner out of his mouth, however, than it was obvious Lombardi was sorry he had said it, because it was not his style to belittle an opponent.

My question is that about 6 years ago or so (around 1998 or so) I heard about a guy flying his plane either to or from a Packer game with his cheesehead hat on. His plane went down and his cheesehead hat is what helped saved his life. I did hear Al Michaels make a brief mention on a Packer/Viking game. Could you shed some light on this matter? - Eddie, Salt Lake City, Utah

Eddie, your memory has served you well about the story of a Packers fan being saved from a dire fate while wearing a "cheesehead" on a flight from a Packers game during the 1990s (the 1995 season, to be more exact).

The man who credited a foam rubber cheesehead for helping him to survive a light plane crash as he returned from Green Bay to Superior, Wis., described himself as lucky as a result of the incident, The Associated Press reported via the Green Bay Press-Gazette at the time.

But, the AP story then quoted Frank Emmert of Superior as saying he still wishes it had not taken place.

The incident actually was the subject of a 30-second segment produced by NFL Films that was carried during a nationally televised Packers-Detroit Lions game Sept. 28, 1999.

"I've gotten to go pretty much everywhere telling people about this," Emmert said. "I'm, lucky that way, I guess."

But he said he still had pain from an ankle injury sustained in the crash.

"I'd trade it all to have my ankle back the way it was," he said.

The segment that aired was sponsored by Miller Lite, but it was not a beer commercial Emmert said.

"I don't drink," he said, "but as long as it was for the NFL and for a good cause, I did it."

The segment included a photograph of the crashed plane, and then showed Emmert walking through the Lambeau Field parking lot.

Emmert showed how he buried his face in his foam hat when he knew the crash was imminent, near the Stevens Point airport.

A week after the Nov. 1995 crash, The Associated Press noted, Emmert's story was splashed in newspapers and on television screens across the nation.

He reportedly was wearing it when his ultra light plane crashed, and he credits it with protecting his face and forehead, sparing him possible major injury or worse, when the impact of the crash sent him and the cheesehead headlong into the instrument panel.

An instant celebrity, Emmert was invited to ride a motorized cheesehead cart on national television's The Tonight Show.

A self-employed photographer, he had been hired three months earlier to do public relations for Foamation, a company that makes cheesehead hats.

Perhaps you can answer a question about the most famous play in Packer history. In his book "Instant Replay," Jerry Kramer quotes Bart Starr calling the quarterback sneak that won the Ice Bowl: "31 Wedge and I'll carry the ball." This 1968 quote indicates that Bart told everyone in the huddle that he would be the ball carrier. In the last few years, however, reliable sources including NFL Films' "The Ice Bowl" and David Maraniss' "When Pride Still Mattered" have stated that Bart told no one he would carry the ball, and everyone was surprised when he did. I'm a history teacher, and I always tell my students that sources published close to an event are more accurate than sources that come later. I suspect that Instant Replay is a more reliable source in this case. But I'd also like your insights on this question, which has nagged me for the last several years. Thanks! - Carl, Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Carl, a most credible answer to this perennial question that has been "nagging" you for years comes from the man who executed what has to rank as the most celebrated play in Packers history...Bart Starr.

Bart's answer appears in a 1972 book, "Pro Football's Greatest Games," authored by Paul Michael, and it tends to confirm what you had heard concerning the factors which led up to Starr's climactic quarterback sneak to decide the "Ice Bowl" (officially known as the 1967 NFL Championship Game).

Starr said of it, "As I was calling the play, the thought flashed through my mind that regardless of how good the block is, if (Chuck) Mercein should slip, he wouldn't be able to get to the hole in time.

"I also thought of the time we had scored on the same kind of icy field against the 49ers in Milwaukee a year earlier with a sneak.

"So I called the wedge play, but I didn't tell anybody that I wasn't going to give the ball to Mercein. I felt I could just hug the block in there. Because of an upright stance, I felt I would have better footing -- just one step and go in right on top. And I sneaked it in there.

"I guess the good Lord takes care of you in things like that. The thought just flashed through my mind."

When did the Packers start charging admission to their professional games, and what were the ticket prices? Thanks, Larry

Larry, our highly efficient director of ticket operations, Mark Wagner, has come up with what he says -- after considerable research -- is "the best answer we have."

Looking through the ticket office records, he found some early-day figures in a statement indicating ticket prices for a game that the Packers played against an Oshkosh team at "old" City Stadium on Sept. 14, 1930, when the Green and Gold were en route to their second (and second straight) NFL championship.

"Tickets," Mark discovered, "were 50 cents and one dollar."

"The Packers," he concluded, "made $6,095.50 that day."

When did the Packers players start riding kids' bicycles to the practice field and why? - Patti, Sheboygan, Wis.

Patti, we do not have a definite date with which to document the origin of this homey tradition. However, it seems to have become commonplace in the '60s -- probably the early '60s -- as the Packers began to win NFL championships under Vince Lombardi and regain national recognition.

As to why this became a venerable tradition is hard to say. First of all, l would guess that it always has been a badge of honor for a Green Bay youngster to have a Packers player ride his bike. Possibly it was because the first kids to offer their bikes to a player just wanted to establish some kind of relationship with one -- perhaps to let him know that the young biker was an admirer and wanted to be his friend. And, of course, subsequently it became the thing for young bikers to do...has been ever since.

Lee, the Packers have a tradition at Lambeau Field of playing the song "Band on the Drum All Day" by Todd Rundgren after every Packer touchdown. It seems to have become an unofficial Packer anthem. When did this tradition begin? I started noticing it in 1995, but it may have started much earlier. Any idea? - Dave, Racine, Wis.

Dave, just for the record, the name of the song is "Bang on the Drum All Day," substituting a 'g' for the 'd' in the note above. (I'm sure that was what was intended.) And, yes, I think you can safely say that it has become an "an unofficial Packers anthem."

Mike McKenna, the coordinator of Packers game day entertainment at Lambeau Field confirmed your observation, also noting that it was 1995 that it made its debut at "Lambeau."

"To my knowledge," he added, "we were the first team to play it. Since then, some high-powered offensive teams, such as the St. Louis Rams under Mike Martz and the Indianapolis Colts, have been playing the same song by Todd Rundgren, but they were copying us."

A few years back, I happened to be given an old reel-to-reel audio tape with Super Bowl I on one side and Super Bowl II on the other, which has the entire audio taped off the television broadcast. The quality is surprisingly really good! From what I've always heard, there is no copy of the entire television broadcast of Super Bowl I, because the network mistakenly taped a soap opera over the master. My question is, do I have something that's very rare, possibly the only copy of the entire television audio? - Chris, Fort Dodge, Iowa

Chris, it certainly sounds like you have THE single copy of the audio. I would be inclined to guard it with my life if I were you....Sounds virtually priceless to me.

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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