'Bear Week.' Two little words that have meant so much to the history of the Green Bay Packers and to the National Football League itself. Packers vs. Bears. It's the oldest, most colorful rivalry in NFL history, kicking off in 1921, the year the league was born.
In anticipation of the 165th meeting between these two storied teams next Monday Night in Chicago, the Packers Pro Shop presents a very special fan event Wednesday September 24, live and direct from the Lambeau Field Atrium, from 3-4:30 p.m.
David Zimmerman, author of Lambeau: The Man Behind the Mystique, and Art Daley, the longtime sports editor of the Green Bay Press-Gazette will be on hand to tell the story of how this fierce rivalry began and to recall some of the greatest games and greatest players ever to do battle on the gridiron.
The event, which is free and open to the public, will feature a live radio broadcast by WDUZ 1400 The Fan.
Zimmerman and Daley will be on hand to autograph copies of Zimmerman's book, the first biography ever written about Curly Lambeau, the legendary founder, player and coach who led the Packers to six NFL crowns.
Daley, who covered Lambeau and his teams for many years and was privileged to gain some unusual insights into the man and his players, wrote the forward to Zimmerman's book.
As Zimmerman recounts in his book, Bears founder and coach George Halas and Lambeau truly hated each other on the football field from the very beginning. They didn't trust each other. They spied on each other's teams. They played tug-of-war over coveted players. And they never - NEVER - shook hands after a game.
"Shake hands! That would have been a lie," Lambeau once said of Halas, his number one nemesis. "If I lost, I wanted to punch Halas in the nose. If he lost, Halas wanted to punch me."
So went one of the most colorful, rough-and-tumble personality clashes in the history of sports. Their bitter struggle easily spilled over to their players to form a fierce rivalry that remains to this very day.
"I found out the first year I was here what 'Bear Week' was," said Packer and Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Tony Canadeo.
"You couldn't smile and, in fact, you couldn't slough off or anything. Everything had to be run hard and perfect and nothing was perfect until you ran it about ten times. I think sometimes we practiced so hard for Bear Week that we didn't have any gas left for the games on Sunday."
Halas would try every trick in the book to beat Green Bay, Canadeo recalled.
"He did everything. He'd say, 'Hi, Tony!' and all the while they wanted to knock the hell out of you! He was a great competitor and you get Curly who was another great competitor and it was a helluva Sunday."
Despite the bitter rivalry, Lambeau and Halas had a grudging respect for each other.
"Before they built the stadium (now Lambeau Field) in 1957, George Halas came up here and spoke on the radio to promote the vote on the stadium," recalled Daley. "Halas came up and pitched for that and then they had a banquet at the Elk's Club honoring Halas. Of course, Vince Lombardi was the big dog then. I remember Vince getting up and saying, 'George, you'd better have a food taster before you start to eat."
About the Author
David Zimmerman is an author and entrepreneur who has been an avid Green Bay Packer fan for more than 50 years. Zimmerman also wrote In Search of A Hero: The Life and Times of Tony Canadeo, as well as numerous books on motivation and profitability in the health care industry.
Want A Copy?
Hard cover editions are available at the Packers Pro Shop for $24.95! Can't make it to the store? Get it now at PackersProShop.com