The Packers are the last vestige of "small town teams" common in the NFL during the 1920s and 1930s. Founded in 1919 by Earl "Curly" Lambeau and George Whitney Calhoun, the franchise traces its lineage to other semi-professional teams in Green Bay dating back to 1896. In 1919 and 1920, the Packers competed against other semi-pro clubs from around Wisconsin and the Midwest. They joined the American Professional Football Association (APFA), the forerunner of today's NFL, in 1921. Although Green Bay is by far the smallest professional sports market in North America, its local fan and media base extends 120 miles south intoMilwaukee, where it played selected home games between 1933 and 1994.
The Green Bay Packers were founded on August 11, 1919 by former high-school football rivals Earl "Curly" Lambeau and George Whitney Calhoun. Lambeau solicited funds for uniforms from hisEMPLOYER, the Indian Packing Company. He was given $500 for uniforms and equipment, on the condition that the team be named for its sponsor. The Green Bay Packers have played in their original city longer than any other team in the NFL.
On August 27, 1921, the Packers were granted 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 forfeited within the year, before Lambeau found new financial backers and regained the franchise the next year. These backers, known as the "Hungry Five", formed the Green Bay Football Corporation.
After a near-miss in 1927, Lambeau's squad claimed the Packers' first NFL title in 1929 with an undefeated 12–0–1 campaign, behind a stifling defense whichREGISTERED eight shutouts. Green Bay would repeat as league champions in 1930 and 1931, bettering teams from New York, Chicago and throughout the league, with all-time greats and future Hall of Famers Mike Michalske, Johnny (Blood) McNally, Cal Hubbard and Green Bay nativeArnie Herber. Among the many impressive accomplishments of these years was the Packers' streak of 30 consecutive home games without defeat, an NFL record which still stands.
The arrival of end Don Hutson from Alabama in 1935 gave Lambeau and the Packers the most-feared and dynamic offensive weapon in the game. Credited with inventing pass patterns, Hutson would lead the league in receptions eight seasons and spur the Packers to NFL championships in 1936, 1939 and 1944. An iron man, Hutson played both ways, leading the league in interceptions as a safety in 1940. Hutson claimed 18 NFL records when he retired in 1945, many of which still stand. In 1951, his number 14 was the first to be retired by the Packers, and he was inducted as a charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.
After Hutson's retirement, Lambeau could not stop the Packers' slide. He purchased a large lodge near Green Bay for team members and families to live. Rockwood Lodge was the home of the 1946-1949 Packers, though the 1947 and 1948 seasons produced a record of 12-10-1, and 1949 was even worse at 3-9. The lodge burned down on January 24, 1950, and the insurance money paid for many of the Packers' debts.
Curly Lambeau departed after the 1949 season. Gene Ronzani and Lisle Blackbourn could not coach the Packers back to their former magic, even as a new stadium was unveiled in 1957. The losing would descend to the disastrous 1958 campaign under coach Ray "Scooter" McLean, whose lone 1–10–1 year at the helm is the worst in Packer history.
1959–1967: The Lombardi era and the glory yearsEdit
The Packers' first regular season game under Lombardi was on September 27, 1959, a 9–6 victory over theChicago Bears in Green Bay. After winning their first three, the Packers lost the next five before finishing strong by sweeping their final four. The 7–5 record represented the Packers' first winning season since 1947, enough to earn rookie head coach Lombardi the NFL Coach of the Year.
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 by only four points when All-Pro Eagle linebacker Chuck Bednarik tackled Jim Taylor just nine yards short of the goal line as time expired. The Packers claimed that they did not "lose" the game, they were simply behind in the score when time ran out.
The Packers returned to the NFL Championship game the following season and faced the New York Giants in the first league title game to be played in Green Bay. The Packers scored 24 second-quarter points, including a championship-record 19 by Paul Hornung, on special "loan" from the Army (one touchdown, four extra-points and three field goals), powering the Packers to a 37–0 rout of the Giants, their first NFL Championship since 1944. It was in 1961 that Green Bay became known as "Titletown."
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 Giantsin 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 in New York, 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 tying field goal in which the ball allegedly went wide right, but the officials signaled "good." The 13–10 overtime win earned the Packers a trip to the NFL Championship game, where Hornung and Taylor ran through the defending champion Cleveland Browns, helping the Packers win, 23–12, to earn their third NFL Championship under Lombardi and ninth overall. Goalpost uprights would be made taller the next year.
The 1967 season was the last for Lombardi as the Packers' head coach. The NFL Championship game, a rematch of the 1966 contest against Dallas, became indelibly kown as the "Ice Bowl" as a result of the brutal conditions atLambeau Field. Still the coldest NFL game ever played, it remains one of the most famous football games at any level in the history of the sport. With 16 seconds left, Bart Starr's touchdown on a quarterback sneak brought the Packers a 21–17 victory and their still unequaled third straight NFL Championship. They then won Super Bowl IIwith a 33–14 victory over the Oakland Raiders. Lombardi stepped down as head coach after the game, and Phil Bengtson was named his successor. Lombardi remained as general manager for one season, but left in 1969 to become head coach and minority owner of the Washington Redskins.
After Lombardi died unexpectedly on September 3, 1970, a shocked NFL renamed the Super Bowl trophy the Vince Lombardi Trophy in recognition of his accomplishments with the Packers. The city of Green Bayrenamed Highland Avenue in his honor in 1968, placing Lambeau Field at 1265 Lombardi Avenue ever since.
For about a quarter century after Lombardi's departure the Packers had relatively little on-field success. In the 24 seasons from 1968 to 1991, they had only five seasons with a winning record, one being the shortened 1982 strike season. They appeared in the playoffs twice, with a 1–2 record. The period saw five different head coaches – Phil Bengtson, Dan Devine, Bart Starr, Forrest Gregg, and Lindy Infante – two of whom, Starr and Gregg, were Lombardi's era stars, while Bengtson was a former Packer coach. Each led the Packers to a poorer record than his predecessor. Poor personnel decisions were rife, notoriously the 1974 trade by acting GM Dan Devine which sent five 1975 or 1976 draft picks (two first-rounders, two second-rounders and a third) to the Los Angeles Rams for aging quarterback John Hadl, who would spend only 1½ seasons in Green Bay. Another came in the 1989 NFL Draft, when offensive lineman Tony Mandarich was taken with the second overall pick ahead of Barry Sanders, Deion Sanders, and Derrick Thomas. Though rated highly by nearly every professional scout at the time, Mandarich's performance failed to meet expectations, earning him ESPN's ranking as the third "biggest sports flop" in the last 25 years.
The Packers' performance throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s led to a shakeup, with Ron Wolf hired as GM and given full control of the team's football operations to start the 1991 season. In 1992, Wolf hired San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Holmgren as the Packers' new head coach.
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 in 1993. 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 the1993 and 1994 seasons but lost their 2nd-round matches to their playoff rival, the Dallas Cowboys, playing in Dallas on both occasions. In 1995, the Packers won the NFC Central Division championship for the first time since 1972. After a home playoff 37–20 win against Favre's former team, the Atlanta Falcons, the Packers defeated the defending Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers 27–17 in San Francisco on the road to advance to the NFC Championship Game, where they lost again 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. They were ranked no. 1 in offense with Brett Favre leading the way, no. 1 in defense with Reggie White as the leader of the defense and no. 1 in special teams with former Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howardreturning punts and kickoffs for touchdowns. After relatively easy wins against the 49ers in a muddy 35–14 beatdown and Carolina Panthers 30–13 in what was referred to as "Ice Bowl 2", the Packers advanced to the Super Bowl for the first time in 29 years. InSuper Bowl XXXI, Green Bay defeated the New England Patriots 35–21 to win their 12th world championship. Desmond Howard was named MVP of the game for his kickoff return for a touchdown that ended the Patriots' bid for a comeback. Then-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. A 2007 panel of football experts at ESPN ranked the 1996 Packers the 6th-greatest team ever to play in the Super Bowl.
In 1998, the Packers went 11–5 and met the San Francisco 49ers in the first-round of the NFC playoffs. It was the fourth consecutive year these teams had met in the playoffs, and the sixth overall contest since the 1995 season. The Packers had won all previous games, and the media speculated that another 49ers loss would result in the dismissal of San Francisco head coach Steve Mariucci. Unlike the previous playoff matches, this game was hotly contested, with the teams frequently exchanging leads. With 4:19 left in the 4th quarter, Brett Favre and the Packers embarked on an 89-yard drive, which concluded with a Favre touchdown pass to receiver Antonio Freeman. This play appeared to give Green Bay the victory. But San Francisco quarterback Steve Young led the 49ers on an improbable touchdrive drive, which culminated when Terrell Owens caught Young's pass between several defenders to give the 49ers a lead with three seconds remaining. Afterwards, the game was mired in controversy. Many argued that during the 49ers game winning drive, Niners receiver Jerry Rice fumbled the ball but officials stated he was down by contact. Television replays appeared to confirm these sentiments, and the next season the NFL re instituted an instant replay system. In the end, this game turned out to be the end of an era in Green Bay. Days later Mike Holmgren left the Packers to become Vice President, General Manager and Head Coach of the Seattle Seahawks. Much of Holmgren's coaching staff went with him, and Reggie White also retired after the season (but later played one season for the Carolina Panthers in 2000). In 1999 and 2000, the team struggled to find an identity after the departure of so many of the individuals responsible for their Super Bowl run.
Ray Rhodes was hired in 1999 as the team's new head coach. Rhodes had served around the league as a highly regarded defensive coordinator, and more recently experienced moderate success as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles from 1995 to 1998. Ron Wolf believed that Rhodes' experience and player-friendly demeanor would fit nicely in Green Bay's veteran locker room. But Rhodes was fired after one 8–8 season. Wolf visited team practice late in the 1999 season and believed that players had become too comfortable with Rhodes' style, and said the atmosphere resembled a country club.
In 2000, Wolf replaced Rhodes with Mike Sherman. Sherman had never been a head coach at any level of football and was relatively unknown in NFL circles. He had only coached in professional football for three years starting as the Packers' tight ends coach in 1997 and 1998. In 1999, he followed Mike Holmgren to Seattle and became the Seahawks' offensive coordinator, although Sherman did not call the plays during games. Despite Sherman's apparent anonymity, Wolf was blown away in the interview process by the coach's organizational skills and attention to detail. Sherman's inaugural season started slowly, but the Packers won their final four games to achieve a 9–7 record. Brett Favre praised the atmosphere Sherman had cultivated in Green Bay's locker room and fans were optimistic about the team's future. In the offseason, however, Wolf suddenly announced his own resignation as GM to take effect after the April 2001 draft. Packers President Bob Harlan was surprised by Wolf's decision and felt unsure of how to replace him. Harlan preferred the structure Green Bay had employed since 1991; a general manager who ran football operations and hired a subservient head coach. But with the momentum and locker room chemistry that was built during the 2000 season, Harlan was reluctant to bring in a new individual with a potentially different philosophy. Wolf recommended that Harlan give the job to Sherman. Though Harlan was wary of the structure in principle, he agreed with Wolf that it was the best solution. In 2001, Sherman assumed the duties of both GM and head coach.
From 2001 to 2004, Sherman coached the Packers to respectable regular-season success, led by the spectacular play of Brett Favre, Ahman Green, and a formidable offensive line. But Sherman's teams faltered in the playoffs. Prior to 2003, the Packers had never lost a home playoff game since the NFL instituted a post-season in 1933 (they were 13–0, with 11 of the wins at Lambeau and two more in Milwaukee.). That ended January 4, 2003, when the Atlanta Falcons defeated the Packers 27–7 in an NFC Wild Card game. The Packers would also lose at home in the playoffs to the Minnesota Vikings two years later.
By the end of the 2004 season, the Packers team depth appeared to be diminishing. Sherman also seemed overworked and reportedly had trouble communicating with players on the practice field with whom he was also negotiating contracts. Harlan felt the dual roles were too much for one man to handle and removed Sherman from the GM position in early 2005, while retaining him as a head coach. Harlan hired Seattle Seahawks Vice President of Operations Ted Thompson as the new Executive Vice President, General Manager and Director of Football Operations. The relationship between Thompson and Sherman appeared strained, as Thompson immediately began rebuilding Green Bay's roster. Following a dismal 4–12 season, Thompson fired Sherman. Thompson hired Mike McCarthy, the former offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints as his new head coach. McCarthy had also previously served as the quarterbacks coach for the Packers in 1999.
After missing the playoffs in 2006, Brett Favre announced that he would return for the 2007 season; it would turn out to be one of his best. 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 a very skilled wide receiver group, finished second in the NFC, behind the Dallas Cowboys, and third overall in the league. 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 and 1 snowball to receiver Donald Driver in celebration.
On January 20, 2008, Green Bay appeared in their first NFC Championship Game in 10 years facing the New York Giants in Green Bay. The game was lost 23–20 on an overtime field goal by Lawrence Tynes. This would be Brett Favre's final game as a Green Bay Packer with his final pass being an interception in overtime.
In December 2007, Ted Thompson was signed to a 5-year contract extension with the Packers, while it was announced on February 5, 2008 that head coach Mike McCarthy signed a 5-year contract extension as well.
On March 4, 2008, Brett Favre tearfully announced his retirement. Within five months, however, he filed for reinstatement with the NFL on July 29. Favre's petition was granted by Commissioner Roger Goodell, effective August 4, 2008. On August 6, 2008, it was announced that Brett Favre was traded to the New York Jets for a conditional draft pick in 2009.
The Packers began their 2008 season with their 2005 first-round draft pick, quarterback Aaron Rodgers, under center, as the first QB other than Favre to start for the Packers in 16 years. Rodgers played well in his first year starting for the Packers, throwing for over 4000 yards and 28 touchdowns. However, injuries plagued the Packers' defense, as they lost 7 close games by 4 points or less, finishing with a 6–10 record. After the season, eight assistant coaches were dismissed by McCarthy, including Bob Sanders, the team's defensive coordinator, who was replaced by Dom Capers.
In March 2009, the organization assured fans that Brett Favre's jersey number would be retired, but not during the 2009 season. In April 2009, the Packers selected defensive lineman B.J. Raji of Boston College as the team's first pick in the draft. The team then traded three draft picks (including the pick the Packers acquired from the Jets for Brett Favre) for another first-round pick, selecting linebacker Clay Matthews IIIof the University of Southern California.
During the 2009 NFL season, two match-ups between the franchise and its former legendary QB, Brett Favre, were highly anticipated after Favre's arrival with the division-rival Vikings in August. The first encounter took place in week 4, on a Monday Night Football game which broke several TV audience records. The scheduling of this game was made possible when Baseball Commissioner and Packer Board of Directors Member Bud Selig forced Baseball's Minnesota Twins to play 2 games within a 12-hour span. The Vikings won the game 30–23. Brett Favre threw 3 TDs, no interceptions, and had a passer rating of 135.The teams met for a second time in week 8, Favre leading the Vikings to a second win, 38–26, in Green Bay. Rodgers was heavily pressured in both games, being sacked 14 times total, but still played exceptionally well, throwing five touchdowns and only one interception. The next week, the Packers were upset by the win-less Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Following a players only meeting, the team started to roll and found some stability on the offensive line with the return of tackle Mark Tauscher bringing a minor halt to sacks to Rodgers and opening the running game to Ryan Grant and the other running backs. Green Bay finished the season strongly, winning 7 out of their last 8 games, including winning their 16th regular season finale in the past 17 seasons, and earning a NFC wild-card playoff bid with an 11–5 regular-season record. The Packers defense was ranked No. 2 and the offense was ranked No. 6 with rookies Brad Jones and Clay Matthews III becoming sensations at linebacker and young players like James Jones, Brandon Jackson,Jermichael Finley and Jordy Nelson becoming threats on offense. Rodgers also became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 4000 yards in each of his first two seasons as a starter. Also, cornerbackCharles Woodson won NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors after recording 9 interceptions, forcing four fumbles, 3 touchdowns and registering 74 tackles and 2 sacks. In fact, Woodson's 9 interceptions were more than the 8 collected by all Packer opponents that season. Though the defense was ranked high, injuries to Al Harris, Tramon Williams, Will Blackmon, Atari Bigby and Brandon Underwood severely limited the depth of the secondary and teams like the Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers used that to their advantage by unleashing aerial assaults against inexperienced players with the NFL's best receivers. The season ended with an overtime loss in a wild card round shoot out at the Arizona Cardinals, 51–45.
After finishing the regular season 10–6 the Packers clinched the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoffs. They first faced No. 3 seeded Philadelphia, winning 21–16. In the Divisional round they defeated No. 1 seeded Atlanta48–21. They then played the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field to reach the NFC Championship Game – only the second playoff meeting between the two storied rivals (the other a 33–14 Chicago victory which sent them to the 1941 NFL Championship Game). Green Bay won 21–14 to move on to Super Bowl XLV. On February 6, 2011, they defeated the AFC champion Pittsburgh Steelers 31–25, becoming the first No. 6 seed from the NFC to win a Super Bowl. Aaron Rodgers was named Super Bowl MVP.
In 2011, the Packers went 15–1, a franchise best record in the regular season. However, the team faltered in the playoffs, losing to the New York Giants 37-20 in the second round after a first round bye.
The Packers recorded their 700th victory against the Bears in week four. Overall, the team went 12-4 and clinched the #2 seed in the NFC Playoffs. They advanced to the NFC Championship and faced the Seattle Seahawks. After leading throughout most of regulation they lost 28-22 in a historic overtime rally by Seattle.
The Packers have been World Championships a record 13 times, topping their nearest rival, the Chicago Bears, by four. The first three were decided by league standing, the next six by the NFL Title Game, and the final four by Super Bowl victories. The Packers are also the only team to win three consecutive NFL titles, having accomplished this twice, 1929-30-31 under Lambeau, and 1965-66-67 under Lombardi.
The Packers are the only community-owned franchise in American major league professional sports.Rather than being the property of an individual, partnership, or corporate entity, they are held in 2014 by 360,584 stockholders. No one is allowed to hold more than 200,000 shares, approximately 4% of the 5,011,557 shares currently outstanding. It is this broad-based community support and non-profit structure which has kept the team in Green Bay for nearly a century in spite of being the smallest market in all of North American professional sports.
The city of Green Bay had a population of only 104,057 as of the 2010 census, and only 600,000 in its television market, a fraction of the average NFL figures. The team, however, has long had an extended fan base throughout Wisconsin and parts of the Midwest, thanks in part to playing one pre-season and three regular-season home games each year in Milwaukee through 1995. It was only when baseball-only Miller Park preempted football there that the Packers' home slate became played entirely in Green Bay.
There have been five stock sales to fund Packer operations over the team's history, beginning with $5,000 being raised through 1,000 shares offered at $5 apiece in 1923. Most recently, $64 million was raised in 2011-2012 towards a $143-million Lambeau Field expansion. Demand exceeded expectations, and the original 250,000 share limit had to be increased before some 250,000 new buyers from all 50 U.S. states and Canada purchased 269,000 shares at $250 apiece, approximately 99% online.
Based on the original "Articles of Incorporation for the Green Bay Football Corporation" enacted in 1923, should the franchise to have been sold any post-expenses money would have gone to the Sullivan-Wallen Post of the American Legion to build "a proper soldier's memorial." This stipulation was included to ensure there could never be any financial inducement for shareholders to move the club from Green Bay. 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.
Even though it is referred to as "common stock" in corporate offering documents, 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, does not pay dividends, can not be traded, has no securities-law protection, and brings no season ticket purchase privileges. All shareholders receive are voting rights, an invitation to the corporation's annual meeting, and an opportunity to purchase exclusive shareholder-only merchandise. Shares of stock cannot be resold, except back to the team for a fraction of the original price. While new shares can be given as gifts, transfers are technically allowed only between immediate family members once ownership has been established.
Green Bay is the only team with this form of ownership structure in the NFL, which is in direct violation of current league rules stipulating a maximum of 32 owners per team, with one holding a minimum 30% stake. The Packers' corporation was grandfathered when the NFL's current ownership policy was established in the 1980s. As a publicly held nonprofit, the Packers are also the only American major-league sports franchise to release its financial balance sheet every year.
Green Bay Packers, Inc., is governed by a seven-member Executive Committee elected from a 45-member board of directors. It consists of a president, vice president, treasurer, secretary and three members-at-large; only the president is compensated. Responsibilities include directing corporate management, approving major capital expenditures, establishing broad policy, and monitoring management performance.
The team's elected president normally represents the Packers in NFL owners meetings. During his time as coach Vince Lombardi generally represented the team at league meetings in his role as GM, except at owners-only meetings, where president Dominic Olejniczak appeared.
The team created the Green Bay Packers Foundation in December 1986. It assists in a wide variety of activities and programs benefiting education, civic affairs, health services, human services and youth-related programs.
At the team's 1997 annual stockholders meeting the foundation was designated in place of a Sullivan-Wallen Post soldiers memorial as recipient of any residual assets upon the team's sale or dissolution.
Annual postcard sent out by the organization to those currently on the waiting list for season tickets
The Packers have an exceptionally loyal fan base. Regardless of team performance, every game played in Green Bay has been sold out since 1960. Despite the Packers having by far the smallest local TV market, the team consistently ranks as one of most popular in the NFL. They also have one of the longest season ticket waiting lists in professional sports, 86,000 names long, more than there are seats at Lambeau Field. The average wait is said to be over 30 years, but with only 90 or so tickets turned over annually it would be 955 years before the newest name on the list got theirs. As a result, season tickets are willed to next of kin and newborns placed optimistically on the waiting list.
Packers fans are often referred to as cheeseheads, a nickname for Wisconsin residents reflecting the state's bountiful cheese production first leveled as an insult at a 1987 game between the Chicago White Soxand Milwaukee Brewers. Instead, it came to be a statewide source of pride, and particularly since 1994 has been embraced by Packers fans. Bright orange triangular cheesehead hats are a fixture wherever the team plays.
During training camp in the summer months, held outside the Don Hutson Center, young Packers fans can bring their bikes and have their favorite players ride them from the locker room to practice at Ray Nitschke Field. This old tradition began around the time of Lambeau Field's construction in 1957. 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.'" Each new generation of Packer fan delights at the opportunity.
The team holds an annual scrimmage called Family Night, typically an intra-squad affair, at Lambeau Field. During 2004 and 2005 sellout crowds of over 60,000 fans showed up, with an all-time mark of 62,492 set in 2005 when the Buffalo Bills appeared.
Packers logo (1961–present)Packers gold wordmark logo (1959–present)The Packers' first alternate uniform, a throwback first introduced in 2010.
Needing to outfit his new squad, team founder Curly Lambeau solicited funds from his employer, the Indian Packing Company. He was given $500 for uniforms and equipment in return for the team being named for its sponsor. An early newspaper article referred to the fledglings as "the Indians", but by the time they played their first game "Packers" had taken hold.
Indian Packing was purchased in 1920 by the Acme Packing Company. Acme continued to support the team, which played its first NFL season with "ACME PACKERS" emblazoned on its jerseys.
Lambeau, a Notre Dame alumnus, borrowed its Irish's navy blue and gold team colors, much as George Halas borrowed his Illinois alma mater's for the Chicago Bears. As a result, the early Packers were often referred to as the "Bays" or the "Blues" (and even occasionally as "the Big Bay Blues").
By 1950, Green Bay had changed its colors to hunter green and gold. Navy blue was kept as a secondary color, seen primarily on sideline capes, but was quietly dropped on all official materials shortly thereafter. The team's current uniform combination of forest green or white jerseys and metallic gold pants was adopted soon after Vince Lombardi arrived in 1959. However, to celebrate the NFL's 75th anniversary in 1994, the Packers joined in a league-wide donning of "throwback" jerseys, back to navy blue and gold. The team would go throwback again for two Thanksgiving Day games against the Detroit Lions, in blue and gold 1930s-era uniforms in 2001, and 1960s green and gold (only slightly different from the current ones) in 2003.
The Green Bay Packers in their throwback navy blue uniforms in 2010
In 1951, the team finally stopped wearing leather helmets, adopting the metallic gold plastic headgear it has used ever since. The oval "G" logo was added in 1961 when Lombardi asked Packers equipment manager Gerald "Dad" Braisher to design a logo. Braisher tasked his assistant, St. Norbert College art student John Gordon. Satisfied with a football-shaped letter "G", the pair presented it to Lombardi, who then approved the addition. Tiki Barber falsely reported it to stand for "greatness" without a reliable source to back up his claims. Other reputable media outlets then published similar stories using Barber's false claim as a source. The Packers' Assistant Director of PR and Corporate Communications had the following to say: "There’s nothing in our history that suggests there's any truth to this. The Packers Hall of Fame archivist said the same thing." The team used a number of different logos prior to 1961, but the "G" is the only logo that has ever appeared on the helmet. The Packers hold the trademark on the "G" logo, and have granted limited permission to other organizations to utilize a similar logo, such as the University of Georgiaand Grambling State University. Adopted in 1964, the Georgia "G", though different in design and color, was similar to the Packers' "G". Then-Georgia head coach Vince Dooley thought it best to clear the use of Georgia's new emblem with the Packers.
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 sunrays, the Packers have done so only twice, during the opening two games of the 1989 season. Although alternate gold jerseys with green numbers are sold on a retail basis, the team currently has no plans to introduce such a jersey to be used in actual games.
During the 2010 season, the Packers paid tribute to their historical brethren with a third jersey modeled after that worn by the club in 1929, during its first world championship season. The jersey was navy blue, again making the Packers "the Blues."
Upon the NFL's switch of uniform suppliers in 2012 to Nike from Reebok, the Packers refused any changes to their uniform in any way outside of the required supplier's logo and new league uniform logos, declining all of Nike's "Elite 51" enhancements, including retaining the traditional striped collar of the jersey rather than Nike's new collar design.
By the 1950s the wooden 25,000 seat arena was considered outmoded. The NFL threatened to move the franchise to Milwaukee full-time unless it got a better stadium. The city responded by building a new 32,150 seat City Stadium for the team, the first built exclusively for an NFL team, which opened in time for the 1957 season. It was renamed Lambeau Field in 1965 to honor Curly Lambeau, who had died earlier in the year.
Expanded seven times before the end of the 1990s, Lambeau Field capacity reached 60,890. In 2003, it was extensively renovated to expand seating, modernize stadium facilities, and add an atrium area. Even with a current seating capacity of 72,928, ticket demand far outpaces supply, as all Packers games have been sold out since 1960. About 86,000 names are on the waiting list for season tickets.
The Packers played part of their home slate in Milwaukee starting in 1933, including two to three home games each year in Milwaukee's County Stadium from 1953 to 1994. Indeed, County Stadium had been built partly to entice the Packers to move to Milwaukee full-time. The Packers worked to capture their growing fan base in Milwaukee and the larger crowds. By the 1960s, threat of an American Football League franchise in Milwaukee prompted the Packers to stay, including scheduling a Western Conference Playoff in 1967.
County Stadium was built primarily as baseball stadium, and made only the bare minimum adjustments to accommodate football. At its height, it only seated 56,000 people, just barely above the NFL minimum; many of those seats were badly obstructed. The field was just barely large enough to fit a football field. Both teams shared the same sideline (separated by a piece of tape) and the end zones extended onto the warning track. By 1994, improvements and seating expansions at Lambeau, along with the Brewers preparing to campaign for their new stadium prompted the Packers to play their full slate in Green Bay for the first time in 62 years. Former season ticketholders for the Milwaukee package continue to receive preference for one pre-season and the second and fifth regular season games at Lambeau Field each season, along with playoff games through a lottery under the "Gold Package" plan.
Retired numbers on display in the Lambeau Field's north end zone in October 2007
In nearly nine decades of Packers football, the Packers have formally retired 6 numbers. Five of the six Packers are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and their numbers and names are displayed on the green facade of Lambeau Field's north endzone as well as in the Lambeau Field Atrium. Brett Favre is eligible for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame beginning in 2016.
The Packers are unique in having their market area cover two media markets, both Green Bay and Milwaukee. NFL blackout restrictions for the team apply within both areas. However, Packers games have not been blacked out locally since 1972 (the last year home game local telecasts were prohibited regardless of sellout status) due to strong home attendance and popularity. As mentioned above, every Packers home game—preseason, regular season and playoffs—has been sold out since 1960.
The flagship station of the Packers Radio Network is Scripps Radio's WTMJ in Milwaukee, which was the former flagship of the Journal Broadcast Group before its merger with Scripps in April 2015. WTMJ has aired Packers games since 1929, the longest association between a radio station and an NFL team to date, and the only rights deal in American professional sports where a station outside of the team's main metro area is the radio flagship; while this might be unusual, the station transmits a city-grade signal at all hours to Green Bay proper. Games air in Green Bay on WTAQ (1360/97.5) and WIXX-FM (101.1), andWAPL (105.7) and WHBY (1150) in Appleton and the Fox Cities. 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 Larrivee and McCarren. When victory is assured for the Packers, either a game winning touchdown, interception or a crucial 4th down defensive stop, Larrivee's trademark declaration of "And there is your dagger!" signifies the event. In limited circumstances where the Milwaukee Brewers are in either playoff or post-season contention and their play-by-play takes priority, WTMJ's sister FM station WKTI (94.5) currently airs Packer games to avert game conflicts.
The TV rights for pre-season games not nationally broadcast are held by Scripps television stations WGBA-TV (Channel 26) in Green Bay and WTMJ-TV(Channel 4) in Milwaukee, along with Quincy Newspapers' six ABC stations in the central, northern and western parts of the state, KQDS-TV (Channel 21) in Duluth-Superior, and in Escanaba/Marquette, Michigan, WLUC-TV (Channel 6), along with their Fox subchannel. As such, these stations are all allowed to use the tagline Your official Packers station in their market area by the team, and also carry the weekly coach's show, The Mike McCarthy Show on Tuesday evenings at 6:30 pm throughout the football season. Until the end of the 2011 season, the team's partner in Green Bay was WFRV-TV (Channel 5), and sister satellite WJMN-TV in Escanaba. As part of the 2012 deal, McCarren resigned his duties as sports director of WFRV to move to WTMJ/WGBA as a Packers analyst, becoming WGBA's official sports director on April 1, 2013 as his non-compete clause to appear as a sports anchor in Green Bay expired, though he retired as sports director in March 2015 to focus full-time on his duties for the Packer radio and television networks. WFRV/WJMN still airs any Packers regular season home games against an AFC team.
Pre-season coverage is produced by CBS, formerly using the NFL on CBS graphics package until the last contract ended as a remnant of WFRV's former ownership by the CBS Corporation itself until 2007. In 2012, the pre-season coverage began to use the NBC SportsSunday Night Football graphics package due to WTMJ/WGBA's NBC affiliation. The TV play-by-play announcer, Kevin Harlan (also onLOAN from CBS), is the son of former Packers president Bob Harlan, with Rich Gannon joining him as color commentator. Since the 2008 pre-season all Packers preseason games on the statewide network are produced and aired in high definition, with WTMJ-TV subcontracting the games to minor network affiliates in Milwaukee during Summer Olympics years due to mandatory non-preemption policies by their network, NBC (this was not done in 2012 as the pre-season opener was a national ESPN game).
The team's intra-squad Lambeau scrimmage at the beginning of the season, 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. It was aired for the first time in 2011 in high definition.