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Letters To Lee Remmel


Lee, Don Hutson still holds the NFL record for most points in a quarter (29) and Paul Hornung holds the NFL record for most points in a season (160). Despite the potent offenses of today and significantly longer seasons, why do you think these records have stood so long and who has come closest to breaking them? I was also curious to hear your opinion on why another long-standing NFL record - best punting average in a season (51.4 set by QB Sammy Baugh back in 1940) - has lasted so long given the modern athlete and specialization of punting? Even the Packer record of best punting average in game was set in the 1940's (61.6 yards by a guy named Roy McKay). Was the ball easier to kick or were kicks measured differently? Thanks Lee! - Chuck (Glen Ellyn, IL)

Taking them one at a time, I believe Hutson's "record" has stood as long as it has because scoring 4 touchdowns in a 15-minute span is obviously difficult to do under the best of circumstances, considering that the opposing team is likely to have as many as four possessions of its own during this span and thus take time off the clock with each one. To underscore just how difficult it is, the Elias Sports Bureau, which keeps statistics for the NFL, confirms that Hutson was the last player to score 4 touchdowns in one quarter of a game-59 years ago.

I used quotation marks (above) with reference to the word "record," by the way, because the NFL has not documented Don's 29-point performance as a record. I, incidentally, covered that game - at State Fair Park in the Milwaukee suburb of West Allis on October 7, 1945 - and I remain convinced that Hutson could well have scored 50 or more points that day. He was in the game on only two occasions in the entire second half - to kick a pair of extra points.

I believe Hornung's single-season record has lasted as long as it has because of his versatility - in company with the practice of employing kicking specialists, thus reducing scoring opportunities for multi-talented position players, like Hornung.

During Hornung's record '60 season, he scored 13 touchdowns rushing and 2 receiving, and also kicked 15 field goals and 41 points after touchdown. Today, as has been true for a number of years, kicking has been largely confined to specialists, who in most cases lead their teams in scoring annually. At the same time, it obviously takes a number of field goals and PATs to match, for example, the 15 touchdowns Hornung scored in setting the record (the equivalent of 30 FGs)

A pair of kickers have, however, come the closest to breaking Hornung's record. Gary Anderson posted 164 points (the second-most in a single season to date) for Minnesota in 1998 and Jeff Wilkins registered 163, the third highest total thus far, for St. Louis in 2000.

As to the longtime survival of the punting records set by Baugh and McKay, there appears to be a pair of factors that have contributed to their longevity. One, the shape of the ball was more round at the time those records were established and thus more "forgiving," with a bigger "sweet spot," and two, over time there has been a change in philosophy following the advent of special teams coaches/coordinators, with more emphasis on hang time rather than merely punting for distance.

Hello Mr. Remmel, First off, let me commend you on your knowledge of the "Mighty Pack." I have a couple of ex-player questions. 1) How did the Packers acquire Ted Hendricks for the 1974 season and why did he only play one season for the Packers? 2) Frankie Neal seemed to have a decent rookie season for the Pack in 1987. Why was he cut the next year? Thanks - John (Superior, WI)

The Packers acquired Ted Hendricks from the Baltimore Colts prior to the 1974 season, also receiving a second-round draft choice in exchange for linebacker Tom MacLeod and an eighth round draft choice. Hendricks, who became a free agent following the '74 season, subsequently signed with the Oakland Raiders in 1975. As a result, the Packers were awarded a compensatory first-round selection under the then "Rozelle Rule, " and proceeded to draft defensive end Ezra Johnson of Morris Brown with the 28th and final pick in the first round of the 1977 draft. Incidentally, Dan Devine later dealt the second-round selection the Packers received from the Colts in the Hendricks trade to the Los Angeles Rams in the disastrous deal for quarterback John Hadl.

On the subject of Frankie Neal, John Dorsey, the Packers' current scouting director and a teammate of Neal in 1987, says of him and the reasons for his termination from the Green Bay roster in 1988, "Frankie Neal had a lot of talent but he was a classic underachiever. He did not have good work habits-and he did not approach the game in a professional manner."

**Why in the world would a football team decide not to retire numbers? Of what possible problem are they supposedly alleviating themselves by such a policy? It is a great way to honor a stellar player - and we do not ever have that many truly great dedicated players. I am just stunned by such a covert move against enshrinement of a players days and ways. Thank you

I hope you understand that it isn't just for 1 player that I question totally the wisdom of refusing to retire a player's number; it is for all players since the Lombardi era. If we are only going to value those players - why would the great ones stick with us now? No, retiring a number remains a distinct honor as much as being in the Hall of Fame. Between the last one retired and Reggie White's number, who would there be and of course Mr. Favre's in the future? - Joyce (Coldwater, MS)**

Since the early 1980s, the Packers organization has had a policy of not retiring any additional numbers (beyond the four which have been retired-Don Hutson (14), Tony Canadeo (3), Bart Starr (15) and Ray Nitschke (66).

Judge Robert J. Parins, then club president and chief executive officer, implemented the policy at the request of the equipment department, which expressed concern that, with the potential for the retirement of further numbers--from the highly successful '60s--in particular, there presumably would come a time where there would not be enough "unretired" numbers to dress an active, 53-player roster, plus practice squad.

It is possible, however, that the policy could be changed in the years ahead, with Reggie White and Brett Favre obviously prime candidates for such an honor, based on their classic contributions to the Packers' on-field success over the past decade.

Lee, I would be interested in visiting Curly Lambeau's grave, but I have been unable to determine where he is buried. Can you help? - Bob (New Berlin, WI)

Curly Lambeau is buried in Allouez Catholic Cemetery at 2121 Riverside Drive, Green Bay (telephone 920-435-6850). Allouez is a village, contiguous to and situated between Green Bay and De Pere. The grave is in the southeast corner of the cemetery, east of the mausoleum. Curly Lambeau passed away June 1, 1965, at the age of 67.

Lee, I was wondering how and when the tradition began of players riding kids bikes during the pre-season? - Greg (Milwaukee, WI)

As best can be determined, the custom dates back to the first year or two (1957-58) of Lambeau Field's existence. Gary Knafelc, longtime stadium public address announcer who then was a Packers end, says, "I would think it began in '57, when they opened (then City Stadium) and we walked from the old (and original, home) locker room at the south end of the stadium to the practice field across South Oneida Street)."

As to why the custom was initiated, Knafelc said, "I think it was just that kids wanted us to ride their bikes. I can remember kids saying, 'Hey, ride my bike.'"

"I don't think it was so much riding down (to practice). Lombardi (who came on the scene in 1959) wouldn't have liked that. I think it was more riding back..."

My family has had season Packer tickets since before Lambeau was built and I am I the proud owner of original Packer stock. My parents took me to many games when I younger and at one point I recall sitting in a special kids section. I think it was in the north corner of the end zone on the visitors' side. This was probably in the early '70s. Can you provide some insight into why this section was originally developed and what happened to it? As I recall it was only there for a few years. - Jay (Appleton, WI)

Your memory of the location (north corner of the end zone) is accurate. The kids' tickets were located in Sections 105 and 107, according to Ticket Director Mark Wagner, who reports, "Actually, they were available there for a number of years-until the early '80s. However, it turned out they weren't being used because parents did not want to leave their kids there alone. It reached a point where there were under 100 tickets in that location being used, so we converted the kids' section tickets into adult tickets."

Vince Lombardi coached and taught at St. Cecilia's High School in Englewood, N.J. before he went to the NY Giants. What subjects did he teach and what was his record as the coach of the high school? - Ray (Indio, CA)

While on the faculty at St. Cecilia's (1939-46), Vince Lombardi taught chemistry, Latin and physics. As football coach, he led the school to six state championships in eight seasons, forging a 36-game winning streak along the way. He also coached the school's basketball and boxing teams and - though he had no background in basketball - led St. Cecilia's to at least one conference championship in that sport.

The Rev. Tim Moore, pastor of St. Cecilia's when Lombardi coached there, facetiously rounded out the coach's resume by reporting during a Green Bay banquet appearance in the '60s, "Vince not only taught chemistry physics and Latin and coached football, basketball and boxing but, when we were shorthanded on Saturday afternoons, he also helped out by hearing confessions."

Mr. Remmel, I'm an Australian who has become a Packers fan over the last couple of years. Not being born a Packer, I enjoy reading your articles regarding the history of this fantastic team. I was wondering if any non-USA born players have played for the Pack. - Nate (Adelaide, Australia)

As far as can be determined, at least two foreign-born players have played for the Packers over the team's history - place kickers Chester Marcol (1972-80) and Jan Stenerud (1980-83), but both only after having been residents of the United States for a number of years and become naturalized citizens.

Marcol was born in Opole, Poland, where he was a reserve goalie for the Polish national soccer team when he was only 14 years old. His family moved to the U. S. while he was still a teenager and he played collegiate football for Hillsdale, Mich., College before being selected by the Packers in the second round of the 1972 NFL draft.

Stenerud was born in Fetsund, Norway, and came to the States on a skiing scholarship in the early '60s. He was drafted by Kansas City in the third round of the 1967 draft and was the Chiefs' resident kicker for 13 years (1967-79) before being waived by KC and signing on with the Packers with 4 games remaining in the 1980 season. The following year, Stenerud set - and still holds - the Packers' single-season record for field goal accuracy, making 22 of 24 attempts for a 91.67 percentage.

Hawaiian-born quarterback Joe Francis also played for the Packers, in 1958-59, before Hawaii became a state. It already was, however, a U. S. possession and he presumably would not then "qualify" as a foreign-born athlete.

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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