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Remmel: Packers-Bears Rivalry Reaches 171 Games Sunday


"Resonate," for no readily apparent reason, has become a highly popular word in the media's lexicon these days.

According to Webster's Dictionary, it means what you would suspect it means: "Something that resounds."

If so, and we can apply it to football, there are certain plays which truly "resonate" in the history of the Packers' storied rivalry with the Chicago Bears, due for its 171st engagement in Lambeau Field this Sunday afternoon.

Take, for specific example, Al Carmichael's record, 106-yard kickoff return against the Midway Monsters at "old" City Stadium on Oct. 7, 1956 - an electrifying excursion which still shares a National Football League record.

Or, if titillated by the bizarre, take Chester Marcol's opportune pickup of a blocked field goal attempt and subsequent 25-yard runback for the game's only touchdown in Lambeau Field on Sept. 7, 1980, thus forging a 12-6 Green Bay victory in what remains the only overtime game in the 85-year history of the series.

Remarkable moments both - in a series which has seen the principals play each other more often - 170 times - than any other two teams in league annals. Yet there has not been a play of greater historical importance than the singular collaboration that dramatically unfolded when the Bears paid their then annual visit to Greeen Bay's original City Stadium on the distant afternoon of Sept. 22, 1935 - a time when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was nearing the end of his first of a record four terms in the White House.

It also was the day that Donald Montgomery Hutson, a Packers rookie bidding to claim a starting position at left end, was spectacularly sprung upon the unsuspecting Bears - and the pro football world.

The visiting Chicagoans kicked off and Arnie Herber, the Packers' home-grown tailback, fielded the football and returned to the Green Bay 17-yard line.

On first down, Herber drifted back to pass as the Bears' defense focused on the most likely Green Bay receiver, the legendary Johnny Blood (McNally).

Hutson, meanwhile, was ignored. Herber, zeroing in on his surprise target, unleashed a throw from the Packers' 6-yard line and the streaking Hutson deftly pulled it in at midfield.

The Packers' wavy-haired yearling was challenged by the Bears' fastest back, Beattie Feathers, but Hutson quickly pulled away, eluding a futile lunge by Feathers, and swept across the goal line - for the game's only touchdown, thus completing a stunning, 83-yard collaboration.

Years later, Feathers would refer with awe to that historic moment, which launched Hutson's journey to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"Hutson would lull you into a false sense of security with his great change of pace," Feathers would say. "You'd be running alongside him and he'd make you think you were in stride with him, then throw it into high gear and pull away from you, the ball would be there and it would be a touchdown."

Although a "victim" in '35, Feathers - like Hutson - also has a claim to pro football fame. He still owns the highest single-season rushing average in NFL annals.

Playing for the Bears in 1934, he captured the league's rushing title - as a rookie - with 1,004 yards in 119 attempts, which figures out to a remarkable average of 8.44 yards per attempt.

Just for the record, Beattie later played one game for the Packers in 1940, in his seventh and final season in the NFL, rushing four times for 19 yards, a 4.8 average.

George Halas, the Bears'storied founder and coach, became a profound admirer of the electrifying Hutson, whose scorching speed and pass-catching exploits changed the game.

And with good reason. In the Pack's 1935 rematch with the Bears in Chicago's Soldier Field Hutson's rookie year, Don again sabotaged the Midway Monsters.

With Green Bay trailing 14-3 and only 21/2 minutes to play, the "Alabama Antelopoe" pulled in two touchdown passes to trigger a 17-14 Packers victory and a rare sweep of the season series with the Bears.

Hutson retired following the 1945 season - after 11 years of tormenting the Bears - and joined the Packers' coaching staff under team founder and coach Curly Lambeau.

There were recurrent rumors that Hutson would be coming out of retirement prior to the Packers' first meeting of each new season with the Bears. It never happened but Halas was reluctant to take a chance, annually dusting off is special "Hutson defenses" for three years after No. 14 retired - just in case.

Looking back, Hutson's initial touchdown in that '35 home opener represented more - considerably more - than a memorable moment.

In fact, it may have been the most important play in the nine-decade history of the Packers-Bears series.

The game itself looms equally large...since it set the stage for an explosive Packers passing attack that was to have a profound effect upon how the game came to be played - to the present day.

And, if you will pardon the expression - it still "resonates" with the Packers faithful 70 years later.

*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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