There’s probably no other NFL franchise with more stories than the Green Bay Packers. However, not many fans of this storied team know much about its early exploits and first superstars.
Long before Aaron Rodgers and Christian Watson started giving the Green Bay Packers faithful a good time with scintillating performances, some amazing players have done so in the past. These forgotten stars delivered grand performances that won the team many titles, taking them to numerous NFL playoffs.
We explore the history of this highly-storied NFL franchise, highlighting some of the Packers’ first superstars along the way.
Brief History of the Green Bay Packers’ First Decade
The Green Bay Packers became a team on Aug 11, 1919, during an unannounced meeting that had an unrecorded number of attendees. However, it soon became news that the team’s sponsors were the Indian Packing Co., who first named them the ‘Packers.’ Three days after the organizing meeting, another Press-Gazette meeting was held where Curly Lambeau got the captain’s role, and George Whitney Calhoun was appointed manager.
In its first season, the Packers registered ten wins and one loss, playing mostly against teams from nearby areas in Michigan and Wisconsin. The team’s practices were held on a field close to the Indian Packing Co.’s firm. When they played at home, the Packers played at a fenceless open field that lacked bleachers. And Calhoun and his teammates resorted to charity to foot the bills.
In 1921, the Green Bay Packers became a franchise under the American Professional Football Association called Acme Packing Co. However, the team soon parted ways with the company because the sponsors went short of money. In January 1922, they were ousted from APFA for fielding college players but rejoined the league later in the year during a meeting that saw the APFA rebrand to become the National Football League. In December 1922, Green Bay went public to salvage its heavy indebtedness, becoming the publicly-owned Green Bay Football Corporation.
The following year saw the Packers dedicate City Stadium with a 48-6 triumph over Iron Mountain All-Stars during a non-league event. A few weeks later, the Packers recorded their first-ever victory over the Bears before a record home crowd of 5,000+.
1928 saw the Green Bay Packers record another major timeline victory triumph 7-0 against NY Giants. Then, underdogs, the Packers surprised the entire NFL world by beating the NY Giants 7-0 during their first visit to ‘the Big City.’
In 1929, Packers signed future Hall of Famers Cal Hubbard, Johnny Blood McNally, and Mike Michalske, finishing 12-0-1 to win their first league.
Looking Back at Green Bay Packers’ First Superstars
Next, we highlight the heroics of the legends that made the Green Bay Packers the talk of the town during the team’s early years.
- ‘Johnny Blood’ McNally
Born John Victor McNally, Johnny Blood is one of the most colorful NFL athletes in history. Recognized as professional football’s first big playmaker, Blood spent 7 of his 14-year professional career with the Packers, where he registered his highest football feat.
Blood was outstanding when the Packers won three straight titles between 1929 and 1931. He would go on to feature in the NFL All-Decade Team (the 1930s), the Packers All-Time Team (1946, 1957), the Packers All-Iron Man Era Team (1976), and the NFL Hall of Fame (1963).
- Cal Hubbard
He was dubbed the greatest NFL player in history by college football legend, former NFL player, and coach Bo Mcmillin. Formerly a New York player, Cal Hubbard confessed he developed an interest in the Green Bay Packers when they played in New York.
During his six seasons with the Packers, Hubbard registered enough feats that brought him several honors, including the Packers All-Time Team (1946, 1957), the Packers 50th Anniversary Team (1969), the Packers All-Iron Man Era Team (1976), and the Press-Gazette All-Century Team (1999).
He also featured in the NFL’s Official All-Pro Team (1931, ‘32.’33), All-Decade Team (the 1920s), 50th Anniversary Team, 75th Anniversary All-Two-Way Team (1994), and the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1963).
- Mike Michalske
The third and final athlete on our list of first Green Bay Packers superstars is Mike Michalske. Michalske and Cal Hubbard played as anchors of the Packers’ line when the team clinched three straight titles between 1929 and ’31
Iron Mike is considered one of the league’s greatest guards in its first 30 years. He later featured in the Packers All-Time Team (1946, ‘57) and the All-Iron Man Era Team (1976). He also was part of the NFL All-Pro Team (1931, ‘35), All-Decade Team (the 1920s), and the Pro Football Hall of Fame (64).
When the first Green Bay Packers meeting was held in downtown Green Bay, the first attendants knew little about their future. Similarly, they wouldn’t have imagined winning the title for three straight years when they signed Johnny Blood, Cal Hubbard, and Mike Michalske in 1929.
But all those amazing exploits are history today, and Green Bay Packers – fans, athletes, and owners – can only look forward to the years to come.