Today in Brand History: The Green Bay Packers
On August 27th, 1921, the Green Bay Packers (then, the Acme Packers) were granted a franchise in the American Professional Football Association (APFA), a new national professional football league. The APFA would later become known as the National Football League (NFL), setting the stage for the iconic journey of the Green Bay Packers, a legacy of excellence in the world of American football.
Founding Origins and Early Struggles. The story of the Green Bay Packers began in 1919, when two former high-school football rivals, Earl "Curly" Lambeau and George Whitney Calhoun, decided to form a football team in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Lambeau, a shipping clerk, and Calhoun, a newspaper editor, envisioned a team that would represent their city and bring the excitement of professional football to the local community.
The Packers' name has its origins in the team's early days. Curly Lambeau secured the team's first sponsorship from the Indian Packing Company, where he worked. As part of the agreement, the team received funds for uniforms and equipment. In return, the team adopted the name "Packers" in honor of their sponsor. The name also reflected the city's deep connection to the meatpacking industry, which played a significant role in Green Bay's economy at the time.
Rescue and Revival: "The Hungry Five" The Packers' early years were marked by financial challenges and struggles to establish themselves as a competitive team. Despite the team's determination and passion for the game, sustaining operations and covering expenses proved to be a constant hurdle. In 1921, the Packers' future hung in the balance as they faced a debt of around $2,500, a substantial amount at the time.
Enter "the hungry five" - a group of local businessmen who came to the team's rescue. Comprising Andrew B. Turnbull, Gerald F. Clifford, Frank L. Peck, Joannes H. Lamers, and Earl "Curly" Lambeau himself, this dedicated group of backers was instrumental in saving the Packers from financial ruin. They infused funds into the team and helped restructure its operations, ensuring its survival and growth.
Early Championship Triumphs. With the support of "the hungry five," the Green Bay Packers began to regain their footing and built a strong foundation. The infusion of financial resources allowed the team to attract talented players and improve their competitiveness on the field. In 1923, the Packers won their first NFL championship, solidifying their position as a force to be reckoned with in professional football.
One of the defining moments in the Packers' history occurred in 1927, when they signed the legendary halfback Johnny "Blood" McNally. McNally's dynamic playing style and colorful personality contributed significantly to the team's success and popularity. His presence on the field and his ability to captivate audiences played a role in expanding the Packers' fan base beyond Green Bay.
Community Ownership and the Lombardi Era. Despite the teams on field successes, financial challenges resurfaced during the 1940s, leading to the sale of shares in the team to community members. This move established the unique ownership structure that the Packers are known for today. The community ownership model ensured that the team remained rooted in Green Bay and maintain a strong bond with its fans. The team is owned by over 530,000 shareholders, a testament to the Packers' significance as a local institution.
The 1960s marked a new era of success for the Packers under the leadership of legendary head coach Vince Lombardi. Lombardi's coaching prowess led the team to unprecedented achievements, including five NFL championships, including the first two Super Bowls in 1967 and 1968. The Packers' victory in Super Bowl I solidified their place in football history.
Triumphs in the Modern Era The legacy of the Green Bay Packers extends beyond the Lombardi era. In the modern era, the Packers have continued to achieve success on and off the field. The team has consistently maintained a high level of competitiveness, with multiple playoff appearances and memorable moments. Throughout its history, the Packers have been home to some of the most talented and iconic players in NFL history.
The Green Bay Packers have won 13 league championships, the most in NFL history, with nine pre-Super Bowl NFL titles and four Super Bowl victories. Green Bay also has 28 individuals in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, including Class of 2022 inductee LeRoy Butler. The Packers' total is second only to that of the Chicago Bears, who have 30 enshrinees.
Did You Know?
Lambeau Field earned its nickname, the "Frozen Tundra" during the Ice Bowl game between the Packers and Dallas Cowboys on December 31, 1967. Played in frigid temperatures of −15 °F (−26 °C) with strong winds, journalist Tex Maule dubbed Lambeau Field as a "tundra" in his Sports Illustrated article covering the game.
The Packers have the distinction of being the only community-owned franchise in the NFL. The team's unique ownership structure stems from a 1923 stock sale that saved the Packers from bankruptcy.
A share of Packers stock does not share the same rights traditionally associated with common or preferred stock. It does not include an equity interest, it does not pay dividends, it cannot be traded, and has no protection under securities law.
In the early years, the Packers' players often had to fund their own expenses for travel and equipment, and the Packers' iconic green and gold color scheme was a result of a stock of jerseys that were green and gold, which were leftover from the Acme Packing Company (who purchased the first Green Bay Sponsors, the Indian Packing Company).
The Packers' rivalry with the Chicago Bears is one of the oldest and most storied rivalries in NFL history, dating back to 1921 when the Packers, led by founder Earl "Curly" Lambeau, faced off against the Chicago Staleys, who would later become the Bears.
When Curly Lambeau negotiated a contract with Johnny McNally, he offered him a $110 a week if he wouldn't drink after Wednesday and $100 a week if he did. McNally allegedly took the $100, although it is rumored that Lambeau paid him him the $110 and let him drink on Wednesday for being so honest about it.
Vince Lombardi's most enduring legacy is his iconic quote, "Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing." While the phrase has been widely quoted and interpreted, Lombardi's intention behind it was to convey the importance of striving for excellence and giving one's best effort in everything they do.
The Packers' home games have a near-legendary status, with a season-ticket waiting list that spans years. There are over 140,000 on the waitlist to become Green Bay Packers season ticket holders and those at the top of the list have been waiting decades.
Lambeau Field offers fans a taste of Wisconsin's culinary heritage with its unique stadium food offerings from savory bratwurst sausages to crispy cheese curds, hearty beer and cheese soup, flavorful Johnsonville tailgate sausages, and indulgent frozen custard.