The Green Bay Packers are a professional American football team based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. They are currently members of the North Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL) and are the third-oldest franchise in the NFL.
The Packers are the last vestige of "small town teams" that were once common in the NFL during the 1920s and 1930s. Founded in 1919 by Earl "Curly" Lambeau (thus the name Lambeau Field in which the team presently plays) and George Whitney Calhoun, the Green Bay Packers can trace their lineage to other semi-professional teams in Green Bay dating back to 1896. In 1919 and 1920 the Packers competed as a semi-professional football team against clubs from around Wisconsin and the Midwest. They joined the American Professional Football Association (APFA) in 1921, the forerunner to what is known today as the National Football League (NFL).
The Green Bay Packers have won twelve league championships (more than any other team in the NFL) including nine NFL Championships prior to the Super Bowl era and three Super Bowl victories in 1967 (Super Bowl I), 1968 (Super Bowl II) and 1997 (Super Bowl XXXI). The team has a fierce rivalry with the Chicago Bears, whom they have played in over 170 games. The Packers also share a historic rivalry with the Minnesota Vikings, who currently reside in the NFC North along with the Packers, and the Dallas Cowboys who have historically been known as the Packers largest playoff rivals after the Packers defeated them in the famous Ice Bowl.
The Packers are currently the only non-profit, community-owned major league professional sports team in the United States. Beginning with the 1992 season, the Packers had 13 non-losing seasons in a row (their worst record being 8–8 in 1999), two Super Bowl appearances, and one Super Bowl win (Super Bowl XXXI). The Packers' 13 consecutive non-losing seasons was an active NFL record until the team finally suffered a losing campaign in their 2005 season. They returned to have an 8–8 season in 2006 and a 13–3 regular season in 2007, both under new head coach Mike McCarthy.
On August 20, 1920, the Packers became a franchise in the new national pro football league that had been formed the previous year. Financial troubles plagued the team and the franchise was lost the same year, although Lambeau found new backers the next year and regained the franchise. The financial backers, known as the "Hungry Five," formed the Green Bay Football Corporation.
In their first game under Lombardi on September 27, 1959, the Packers shut out the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. The Packers got off to a 3–0 start, but lost the next five and won the last four games, to achieve their first winning season since 1947.
The next year, the Packers, led by Paul Hornung's 176 points, won the NFL West title, and played in the NFL Championship against the Philadelphia Eagles at Philadelphia. In a see-saw game, the Packers trailed the Eagles by four points late in the game, when Chuck Bednarik tackled Jim Taylor just nine yards (8 m) short of the goal line as time ran out. They claimed that they did not "lose" that game; they were simply behind in the score when time ran out on them. The Packers would never again lose the NFL Championship game under Lombardi.
The Packers returned to the NFL Championship game the following season and faced the New York Giants. The Packers scored 24 second-quarter points, as Paul Hornung, on special "loan" from the Army, scored an NFL Championship record 19 points (one touchdown, four extra-points and three field-goals), and the Packers beat the Giants (of also legendary-fame Y.A.Title and Frank Gifford), to win their first NFL Championship since 1944. See NYTimes article of January 15, 2008
The Packers stormed back in the 1962 season, jumping out to a 10–0 start, on their way to a 13–1 season. This consistent level of success would lead to Lombardi's Packers becoming one of the most prominent teams of their era, and even to their being featured as the face of the NFL on the cover of Time on December 21, 1962, as part of the magazine's cover story on "The Sport of the '60s". Shortly after Time's article, the Packers faced the Giants in a much more brutal championship game than the previous year, but the Packers prevailed on the surprising foot of Jerry Kramer and the determined running of Jim Taylor. The Packers defeated the Giants, 16–7.
The Packers returned to the championship game in 1965 following a two-year absence, when they defeated the Colts in a playoff for the Western Conference title. That game would be remembered for Don Chandler's controversial field goal in which the ball allegedly went wide right, but the official raised his arms to grant the three points. That disputed win earned the Packers a trip to the NFL Championship game, where Hornung and Taylor ran through the Cleveland Browns, helping the Packers defeat the Browns to earn their 3rd NFL Championship under Lombardi.
The 1966 season saw the Packers being led by NFL MVP Bart Starr. The Packers went 12–2, and in the NFL Championship, with the Packers leading 34–27, the Dallas Cowboys had the ball on the Packers' line, threatening to tie the ballgame. But on fourth down, the Packers' Tom Brown intercepted a Don Meredith pass in the end zone to preserve the victory. The Packers went on to win Super Bowl I 35–10 over the Kansas City Chiefs.
The 1967 season was the last one for Vince Lombardi as the Packers' head coach. That year's NFL Championship game, known universally as the Ice Bowl, is one of the most famous football games (college or professional) in the history of the sport. With 16 seconds left, Bart Starr's touchdown on a quarterback sneak brought the Packers their third straight NFL Championship - a feat no other team has matched since. The Packers then won Super Bowl II with a 33–14 victory over the Oakland Raiders. Lombardi became the General Manager of the Packers in 1968, and Phil Bengtson was named as Head Coach. Lombardi left Green Bay in 1969, and was named Head Coach of the Washington Redskins.
After the death of Vince Lombardi in September 1970, the Super Bowl trophy was renamed the Vince Lombardi Trophy, in recognition of his, and his team's, accomplishments. The road that goes by Lambeau Field, which is also one of Green Bay's major thoroughfares, was named Lombardi Avenue in honor of the coach.
Soon after hiring Holmgren, Wolf acquired quarterback Brett Favre from the Atlanta Falcons for a first-round pick. Favre got the Packers' their first win of the 1992 season, stepping in for injured quarterback Don Majkowski and leading the Packers to a comeback win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Favre started the following week with a win against the Pittsburgh Steelers , and never missed a start until leaving the team after the 2007 season. He has started 271 consecutive games (including playoffs), which is an NFL record for a quarterback.
The Packers had a 9–7 record in 1992, and began to turn heads around the league when they signed perhaps the most prized free agent in NFL history in Reggie White on the defense. White believed that Wolf, Holmgren, and Favre had the team heading in the right direction with a "total commitment to winning." With White on board the Packers made it to the second round of the playoffs during both the 1993 and 1994 seasons. In 1995, the Packers won the NFC Central Division championship for the first time since 1972. After a home playoff 37–20 win against Atlanta, the Packers defeated the defending Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers 27–17 on the road to advance to the NFC Championship Game, where they lost to the Dallas Cowboys 38–27.
In 1996 the Packers' turnaround was complete. The team posted a league-best 13–3 record in the regular season, dominating the competition and securing home field advantage throughout the playoffs. After relatively easy wins against the 49ers (35–14) and Carolina Panthers (30–13) in the playoffs, the Packers advanced to the Super Bowl for the first time in 29 years. In Super Bowl XXXI Green Bay defeated the New England Patriots 35–-21 to win their 12th world championship, which is still an NFL record. A 2007 panel of football experts at ESPN ranked the 1996 Packers the 6th-greatest team to ever play in the Super Bowl.
The following year the Packers won their second consecutive NFC championship, returning to the Super Bowl as an 11 1/2 point favorite, defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21–7 and San Francisco 49ers 23–10 in the playoffs. The Packers ended up losing to John Elway and the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXII, by the score of 31–24.
In 1998 the Packers went 11–5 and were eliminated in the first-round of the playoffs by the San Francisco 49ers, the team Green Bay had beaten in the playoffs the previous three seasons. This game turned out to be the end of an era, as Mike Holmgren would leave the team days later to become Vice President, General Manager and Head Coach of the Seattle Seahawks. Much of Holmgren's coaching staff went with him. Reggie White also retired after the season (but later played one season for the Carolina Panthers in 2000), and the team struggled for an identity after the departure of so many of the individuals who were responsible for their Super Bowl run. In 2001, Ron Wolf also retired. Packers' President Bob Harlan credited Wolf, Holmgren, Favre, and White for ultimately changing the fortunes of the organization and turning the Green Bay Packers into a model NFL franchise.
The Packers had never lost a home playoff game since the NFL instituted a postseason in 1933. They were 13–0 -- 11 of the wins coming at Lambeau and two more in Milwaukee. That ended January 4, 2002, when the Atlanta Falcons defeated the Packers 27–7 in an NFC Wild Card game.
After missing the playoffs in 2006, Brett Favre announced that he would return for the 2007 season. The Packers won 10 of their first 11 games and finished 13–3, earning a first round bye in the playoffs. The Packers' passing offense, led by Favre and one of the best wide receiver groups in the NFC, finished first in the NFC. Running back Ryan Grant, acquired for a sixth-round draft pick from the New York Giants, became the featured back in Green Bay and rushed for 956 yards and 8 touchdowns in the final 10 games of the regular season. In the divisional playoff round, in a heavy snowstorm, the Packers beat the Seattle Seahawks 42–20. Grant rushed for three touchdowns and over 200 yards, while Favre tossed three touchdown passes.
Mike McCarthy coached NFC team during the 2008 Pro Bowl in Hawaii. Al Harris and Aaron Kampman were also picked to play for the NFC Pro Bowl team as starters. Donald Driver was named as a third-string wideout on the Pro Bowl roster. Brett Favre was named the first-string quarterback for the NFC, but he declined to play in the Pro Bowl and was replaced on the roster by Tampa Bay Buccaneers' quarterback Jeff Garcia. The Packers also had several first alternates, including Chad Clifton and Nick Barnett.
In December 2007, Ted Thompson was signed to a 5-year contract with the Packers, while it was announced on February 5, 2008 that head coach Mike McCarthy has signed a 5-year contract with the Packers organization as well.
The Packers are now the only publicly owned company with a board of directors in American professional sports (although other teams are directly owned by publicly traded companies, such as the New York Rangers and New York Knicks (Cablevision), the Seattle Mariners (Nintendo of America), and the Toronto Blue Jays (Rogers Communications)). Typically, a team is owned by one person, partnership, or corporate entity; thus, a "team owner." It has been speculated that this is one of the reasons the Green Bay Packers have never been moved from the city of Green Bay, a city of only 102,313 people as of the 2000 census.
By comparison, the typical NFL city is populated in the millions or higher hundred-thousands. The Packers, however, have long had a large following throughout Wisconsin and parts of the Midwest; in fact, for decades, the Packers played four (one pre-season, three regular-season) home games each year in Milwaukee, first at the State Fair Park fairgrounds, then at Milwaukee County Stadium. The Packers did not move their entire home schedule to Green Bay until 1995.
Based on the original "Articles of Incorporation for the (then) Green Bay Football Corporation" put into place in 1923, if the Packers franchise were to have been sold, after the payment of all expenses, any remaining money would go to the Sullivan Post of the American Legion in order to build "a proper soldier's memorial." This stipulation was enacted to ensure the club remained in Green Bay and that there could never be any financial enhancement for the shareholders. At the November 1997 annual meeting, shareholders voted to change the beneficiary from the Sullivan-Wallen Post to the Green Bay Packers Foundation, which makes donations to many charities and institutions throughout Wisconsin.
In 1950, the Packers held a stock sale to again raise money to support the team. In 1956, area voters approved the construction of a new city owned stadium. As with its predecessor, the new field was named City Stadium, but after the death of founder Lambeau in 1965, on September 11, 1965, the stadium was renamed Lambeau Field.
Another stock sale occurred late in 1997 and early in 1998. It added 105,989 new shareholders and raised over $24 million, money used for the Lambeau Field redevelopment project. Priced at $200 per share, fans bought 120,010 shares during the 17-week sale, which ended March 16, 1998. As of June 8, 2005, 112,015 people (representing 4,750,934 shares) can lay claim to a franchise ownership interest. Shares of stock include voting rights, but the redemption price is minimal, no dividends are ever paid, the stock cannot appreciate in value - though private sales often exceed the face value of the stock, and stock ownership brings no season ticket privileges. No shareholder may own over 200,000 shares, a safeguard to ensure that no individual can assume control of the club. To run the corporation, a board of directors is elected by the stockholders. The board of directors in turn elect a seven-member Executive Committee (officers) of the corporation, consisting of a president, vice president, treasurer, secretary and three members-at-large. The president is the only officer to draw compensation; the rest of the committee is sitting "gratis."
The team's elected president represents the Packers in NFL owners meetings unless someone else is designated. During his time as coach, Vince Lombardi generally represented the team at league meetings in his role as general manager, except at owners-only meetings.
Green Bay is the only team with this form of ownership structure in the NFL; such ownership is technically in direct violation of league rules, which stipulate a limit of 32 owners of one team and one of those owners having a minimum 30% stake. However, the Packers corporation was grandfathered when the NFL's current ownership policy was established, and are thus exempt.
The Packers' fan base is famously dedicated: regardless of the team's performance, every Packers game at Lambeau Field has been sold out since 1960. Despite the Packers having by far the smallest local TV market, the Packers have developed one of the largest fan bases in the NFL. Each year they consistently rank as one of the top teams in terms of popularity. The Packers have one of the longest waiting lists for season tickets in professional sports with about 74,000 people as of May 3, 2007. That is more names on the waiting list than there are seats at Lambeau Field. The current wait time for season tickets is approximately 35 years. For this reason, it is not unusual for fans to designate a recipient of their season tickets in their wills or place newborn infants on the waiting list after receiving birth certificates.
Packers fans are often referred to as cheeseheads. The term is often used to refer to people from the state of Wisconsin in general (because of its cheese production), but is also used to refer to Green Bay Packers fans in particular. The name originated in 1987 as an insult from Chicago White Sox fans at a Milwaukee Brewers game. In years since and particularly beginning in 1994, the name and the hats called "cheeseheads" have also been embraced by Packers fans.
During training camp in the summer months (held outside the Don Hutson Center), young Packers fans can take their bikes and have their favorite player ride their bike to the practice field from the locker room. This is an old Packers tradition dating back to approximately 1957 (the first years of Lambeau Field's existence). Gary Knafelc, a Packers end at the time, said, "I think it was just that kids wanted us to ride their bikes. I can remember kids saying, 'Hey, ride my bike.'" The practice continues today.
Each year the team holds an intra-squad scrimmage, called Family Night, at Lambeau Field. During 2004 and 2005 over 60,000 fans attended, selling out the stadium bowl. The Packers hosted the Buffalo Bills for the 2005 edition of Family night setting an attendance record with 62,492 fans attending.
Curly Lambeau, the team's founder, solicited funds for uniforms from his employer, the Indian Packing Company. He was given $500 for uniforms and equipment, on condition that the team be named for its sponsor (a similar event would occur the following year with the Decatur Staleys, who later became the Chicago Bears). An early newspaper article referred to the new Green Bay team as "the Indians" but by the time they played their first game they had adopted the name "Packers."
In the early days, the Packers also were referred to as the "Bays" and the "Blues" (and even occasionally as "the Big Bay Blues"). These never were official nicknames, although Lambeau did consider replacing "Packers" with "Blues" in the 1920s.
In 1920, the Indian Packing Company was purchased by the Acme Packing Company. Acme continued its support of Lambeau's team, and in its first season in the NFL the team wore jerseys with the words "ACME PACKERS" emblazoned on the chest.
Lambeau, who attended the University of Notre Dame, chose the team's colors of navy blue and gold from the college. Again, like the Irish, in the 1930s, 1940s and early 1950s the Packers sometimes used green and gold before returning to the traditional blue and gold.
In 1959, new head coach Vince Lombardi changed the colors to the current hunter green and gold (navy blue was kept as a secondary color, seen primarily on sideline capes, but it was not actually used and quietly was dropped from the team colors list on all official materials shortly thereafter). This color scheme yields the common Packers nickname, "The Green and Gold". In 1994, the NFL's 75th anniversary, the team participated in the league-wide use of "throwback" jerseys. The team has not done so since, and has yet to wear throwback uniforms at home games, though the Packers have worn them for two Thanksgiving Day games against the Detroit Lions. In 2001, the Packers sported throwback uniforms worn in the 1930s, while in 2003 they wore throwback uniforms from the 1960s (which were only slightly different from the current uniforms).
While several NFL teams choose to wear white jerseys at home early in the season due to white's ability to reflect the late summer sun's rays, the Packers have chosen to do so on only the opening two games of the 1989 season. Although alternate gold jerseys with green numbers are sold on a retail basis, the team has no plans to introduce such a jersey to be used in actual games.
The oval "G" logo was created in 1961 by Packers equipment manager George "Dad" Braisher. The team actually used a number of different logos prior to 1961, but the "G" is the only logo that has ever appeared on the helmet. Although the Packers have granted limited permission to other organizations to utilize a similar logo, notably the University of Georgia and Grambling State University, the Packers hold the trademark for it. Adopted in 1964, the Georgia "G"- though different in design and color- was similar to the Packer's "G". Then Georgia head coach Vince Dooley thought it best to clear the use of Georgia's new emblem with the Packers. However, since its inception in 1961, the Packer's "G" has been redesigned several times and now looks like Georgia's original 1964 "G.
The Packers have played home games in Lambeau Field since 1957, making it the longest continuously occupied National Football League stadium. Before 1957, the Packers played home games in City Stadium; the Packers moved to Lambeau Field because the NFL threatened to move the franchise to Milwaukee if a larger stadium was not built in Green Bay. When Lambeau Field was built, it became the first stadium built exclusively for an NFL team. Lambeau Field was originally named City Stadium like its predecessor, but its name was changed after the death of Curly Lambeau.
When Lambeau Field opened in 1957, it had a seating capacity of 32,150. The stadium was expanded seven times before the end of the 1990s, and seating capacity reached 60,890. In 2003, Lambeau Field was extensively renovated to expand seating, modernize stadium facilities, and add an atrium area. These renovations raised Lambeau Field's seating capacity to 72,928. Despite the multiple expansions of Lambeau Field, all Packers games have been sold out since 1960, and over 74,000 names are on the waiting list for season tickets.
The Packers played two to three home games each year in Milwaukee's County Stadium from 1953 to 1994. The Milwaukee games were played due to the large Packers fan base in Milwaukee. Since County Stadium was primarily a baseball stadium, the field could barely fit a football field, and the end zones extended onto the warning track. In 1994, the Packers left County Stadium due to a seating expansion in Lambeau Field.
Note: The Finish, Wins, Losses, and Ties columns list regular season results and exclude any postseason play.
|Super Bowl Champions (1970–present)||Conference Champions||Division Champions||Wild Card Berth|
|Season||Team||League||Conference||Division||Regular season||Post Season Results||Awards|
|2001||2001||NFL||NFC||Central||2nd||12||4||0||Won Wild Card Playoffs (49ers) (25–15)Lost Divisional Playoffs (Rams) (45–17)|
|2002||2002||NFL||NFC||North||1st||12||4||0||Lost Wild Card Playoffs (Falcons) (27–7)|
|2003||2003||NFL||NFC||North||1st||10||6||0||Won Wild Card Playoffs (Seahawks) (33–27 OT)Lost Divisional Playoffs (Eagles) (20–17, OT)|
|2004||2004||NFL||NFC||North||1st||10||6||0||Lost Wild Card Playoffs (Vikings) (31–17)|
|2007||2007||NFL||NFC||North||1st||13||3||0||Won Divisional Playoffs (Seahawks) (42–20)Lost NFC Conference Championship (Giants) (23–20, OT)||Brett Favre (Sportsman of the Year)|
|Total (1921–2007)||639||503||36||(1921–2007, includes only regular season)|
|25||14||0||(1921–2006, includes only playoffs)|
|664||517||36||(1921–2007, includes both regular season and playoffs; 12 NFL Championships)|
|Earl (Curly) Lambeau||1919||1949||231||108||21||6|
|Gene Ronzani||1950||November 27, 1953||14||31||1|
|Hugh Devore*||November 27, 1953||1953||0||2||0|
|Ray (Scooter) McLean*|
|Ray (Scooter) McLean||1958||1958||1||10||1|
* = Interim Head Coaches
The Packers are unique in having their market area cover two media markets, both Green Bay and Milwaukee, and blackout policies for the team apply within both areas, though they rarely come into effect due to strong home attendance and popularity.
The Packers' flagship radio station is Milwaukee-based WTMJ-AM (620), with the games airing in Green Bay on WTAQ-AM (1360) and WIXX-FM (101.1). Wayne Larrivee is the play-by-play announcer and Larry McCarren is the color analyst. Larrivee joined the team after many years as the Chicago Bears' announcer. Jim Irwin and Max McGee were the longtime radio announcers before Larivee and McCarren.
The preseason rights for games not nationally broadcast are held by WFRV (Channel 5) in Green Bay and WTMJ (Channel 4) in Milwaukee, with the coverage airing on other stations around the state; WFRV was previously owned by CBS Corporation until April 2007, when the station was purchased by Liberty Media. Preseason coverage has been produced by CBS, using the NFL on CBS graphics package with the CBS eyemark replaced by the Packers logo. The TV play-by-play announcer, Kevin Harlan (also on loan from CBS), is the son of outgoing Packers president Bob Harlan. In the 2008 pre-season, all of the Packers preseason games on the statewide network will be produced and air in high definition, while two games on WTMJ will instead air over WVTV (Channel 18) due to Channel 4's obligations to 2008 Summer Olympics coverage in Milwaukee.
The team's intra-squad Lambeau scrimmage at the beginning of the season, which is marketed as Packers Family Night, is broadcast by WITI (Channel 6) in Milwaukee, and produced by WLUK (Channel 11) in Green Bay, both FOX affiliates which broadcast the bulk of the team's regular season games. The scrimmage is also broadcast by the state's other Fox affiliates.
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