HAPPY 'ANNIVERSARY:' Tonight's contest marks the approximate anniversary of the very first preseason meeting between the Packers and Cardinals, a matchup which occurred at Green Bay's former City Stadium on the night of August 16, 1950.
The Packers shaded the Cardinals, then based in Chicago, 17-14 - by way of a Ted Fritsch field goal. A gathering of 20,136 fans sat in on the proceedings.
IT WAS, to be sure, no ordinary preseason game. It was, in fact, highly historic. Making his debut as the Cardinals' head coach on that occasion was none other than E.L. "Curly" Lambeau, the founder and first head coach of the Packers (for 30 years) who had resigned from his Packers responsibilities following the 1949 season to become the vice president, head coach and general manager of the Cardinals.
The winning head coach on that occasion, ironically, was Gene Ronzani, a former Chicago Bears star and longtime Packers enemy, who had signed on as the second head coach in Green Bay's history in January of 1950.
SPEAKING OF ANNIVERSARIES, tonight's contest is the approximate anniversary of the Packers' first ever preseason appearance in Arizona. The date was August 15, 1987, and the opponent the Denver Broncos, who emerged from Sun Devil Stadium with a 20-14 win before 67,500 fans. Arranged by former Packers coach and quarterback Bart Starr in conjunction with entrepreneur John Colbrunn, the game was designed to ascertain the Phoenix area's viability as a location for a possible NFL expansion team. The Cardinals moved to the Valley of the Sun the following January.
THAT PACKERS-BRONCOS contest is memorable because of a bizarre misadventure with which the game was launched. Packers rookie Brent Fullwood, Green Bay's first-round selection in the '87 draft, fielded the opening kickoff at the goal line, raced down the near sideline and broke into the clear. While still in the open and untouched, Fullwood fumbled and the ball bounced out of bounds at the Cardinals' 2-yard line, thus abruptly voiding what was going to be a spectacular NFL debut for the former Auburn athlete, the fourth player chosen in the '87 draft.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: A day late, to Packers placekicker Ryan Longwell, who celebrated number 28 on Friday.
MOVING DAY: Although they will be arriving in Green Bay at approximately 6 a.m. on the Sabbath on their return flight from Phoenix to Titletown, Sunday nevertheless will be moving day for Packers coaches and players, who will be checking out of their St. Norbert College dormitory rooms. The team, which has made St. Norbert its training camp base since 1958, began their latest stay on the West De Pere, Wis., campus July 22.
TWO OF THE MORE SIGNIFICANT individual efforts in Packers history have come against the Cardinals. Back in 1939, a year which was to see the Packers win their fifth NFL title, Green Bay halfback Andy Uram set what was then a league - as well as Packers record for the longest run from scrimmage in NFL annals - a 97-yard scoring excursion in a 27-20 Green Bay victory at State Fair Park in Milwaukee. It still shares "second place" honors today behind Tony Dorsett's 99-yard excursion against Minnesota (January 3, 1983). Pittsburgh's Bobby Gage tied Uram's 97-yard effort in a game against the Chicago Bears (Dec. 4, 1949).
THIRTY YEARS after Uram's remarkable run, quarterback Don Horn posted the first 400-yard passing game in Packers history, throwing for 410 yards against the Big Red on Dec. 21, 1969, in a 45-28 Green Bay victory.
THE PACKERS ALSO set the club record for most points scored in a single postseason game - against the Cardinals - in a 41-16 Super Bowl Tournament victory in Lambeau Field (on January 8, 1983).
NEXT WEEK: After having made their first two preseason appearances on the road, the Packers will next get an opportunity to display their 2002 wares - and their largely renovated home, Lambeau Field, on national television by way of an ABC "Monday Night Football" matchup with the Cleveland Browns Monday night (August 26).
Kickoff for the contest, which also has been designated as the 41st Bishop's Charities Game, is set for 7 o'clock, CDT (Wisconsin time).
It will be the first of two games within a five-day span for the Packers, who will close out their preseason agenda four nights later, Friday, August 30, when they host the Tennessee Titans.