In the 1958 season, the Green Bay Packers won only one game in the entire season, despite having six future members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame on their roster. The club was in financial trouble and there was a serious risk that the NFL’s smallest city would lose its team. The son of an Italian butcher from Brooklyn came to the rescue, his tenure proved to be the best sporting period in the club’s history. Richard casino free chip can transform your gaming experience, much like Vince Lombardi transformed the Packers.

Ownership of the people

Green Bay, Wisconsin, is a city the size of Koszalin, Poland- 100,000 inhabitants. Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, Green Bay is known as the “frozen tundra.” Indeed, winter temperatures regularly drop below -10 degrees C, below -20 degrees C is not unusual, and the cold record is -38 degrees C. The region is dominated by the meat processing and paper industry, and Green Bay is sometimes referred to as the “toilet paper capital of the world.”

When in 1919 Curly Lambeau and George Whitney Calhoun founded the team, professional football was a poor business. Both had other jobs – Lambeau worked for the Indian Packing Company, where he oversaw the shipping of canned meat to customers, and Calhoun supervised the Green Bay Press-Gazette’s Telegraph. Lambeau begged his employer to put up $500 for equipment for the new team. For two years, they played exhibition games against local teams, until the American Professional Football Association was formed in 1921 and transformed into the NFL a year later. The team changed its name to the Acme Packers, because the Indian Packing Company had meanwhile been taken over by the Acme Packing Company.

The club quickly ran into financial trouble. In 1923, it became a joint-stock company to raise money for operations by selling shares.

To this day, the Packers are the only major league team in the US that is locally owned. The club is a nonprofit organization, the shares cannot gain value, they cannot be sold, but only transferred to family members, they do not provide dividends, they cannot be accumulated in one hand, and the profits from any sale of the club will go to the foundation. The only right that comes from owning shares is the ability to elect the club’s board of directors. As of the date of writing the article, the Packers have approx. 360,000 shareholders. This makes the Green Bay team have deeper ties to the local community than any sports club in the US.

For the first 30 years, Lambeau was coach and general manager of the team. Until 1929, he played as a halfback, which in the early 20th century included not only running with the ball, but also passing, which was not common at the time. The Packers completed a championship trilogy in 1929-31, and added NFL titles in 1936, 1939 and 1944.

But the team ran into financial trouble, and the coach stubbornly stuck to tactics learned 30 years earlier at the University of Notre Dame, while most of the football world was adapting the new T-wing introduced by Paul Brown and the Cleveland Browns. Lambeau wanted to attract investors to the club, but those investors demanded the abandonment of the public company model, which in Green Bay bordered on heresy. Eventually, the coach and founder said goodbye to the club in 1950.

This, however, did not solve the team’s problems. In the 1948-1958 seasons they did not record a single winning season and won only 28% of their games. The Packers played some of their games in Milwaukee, which had a larger stadium.

The era of Vince Lombardi

Before the 1959 season, angry fans demanded change. The team had won only one game in the 1958 season, and the club’s board of directors decided to hire Vincent Lombardi, offensive coordinator of the New York Giants, as coach. Today we know that this was one of the best decisions in the club’s history, but at the time it was not so obvious.

Lombardi didn’t have much experience working independently. As a player he was a lineman, but too small and weak to make a career of it. As a coach, he led high school teams in the 1940s, but then was only an assistant in the NFL. Nevertheless, he demanded full control of the entire football operations of the team and got it.

Vince Lombardi was the son of Italian immigrants. He was born in Brooklyn. His father and uncle ran a butcher store, and his grandfather on his mother’s side was a barber. Vince was the oldest of six siblings. As the son of immigrants and a Catholic, he experienced discrimination, which influenced his unusually tolerant attitude toward racial and sexual minorities for the 1960s. At the same time, he was sometimes very violent and aggressive when someone opposed him.

As a coach, he was extremely demanding and organized extremely hard training sessions. Those were the days when players in the offseason worked in factories to support their families, and football was a passion rather than a job for most of them. At halftime of a game, they might choose to smoke a cigarette and drink a beer. No one thought about sportsmanship, proper diet and keeping fit. The players complained, but they did their job.

It quickly became clear that the coach knew what he was doing. Bart Starr, who had been sitting on the reserve bench since 1956, became the new quarterback. During Lombardi’s just nine-year tenure as head coach, as many as 14 players who are today in the Pro Football Hall of Fame came through the Packers, 10 of whom he had at his disposal during all or almost all of his years in Green Bay.

In addition to Starr, they were OL Forrest Gregg, RB Paul Hornug, FB Jim Taylor, OL Jerry Kramer, LB Ray Nitschke, DT Henry Jordan, DE Willie Davis, S Willie Wood and CB Herb Adderley.

Lombardi introduced a completely new offensive system. One of the most famous plays was the Packers sweep, also known as the Lombardi sweep. At the same time, Starr proved to be a very effective quarterback for his era and to this day has the best passer rating in the playoffs in NFL history. Television deals and the NFL’s introduction of the principle of profit-sharing by the league’s clubs also helped, clearing up the most serious financial problems and making it easier to focus on football.

As early as 1959, the Packers scored a winning season and Lombardi became coach of the year. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s that they revealed their true strength. In 1960, they lost the dramatic NFL finals in Philadelphia, with Jim Taylor being stopped nine yards from scoring a touchdown in the last action of the game. It was Lombardi’s only defeat in the playoffs in his entire coaching career. Fans appreciated the coach’s efforts. From 1960 to the present, every Packers home game, whether in the preseason, regular season or playoffs, has been played with full stands.

In 1961-62, the Packers won two championship titles in a row, twice defeating the New York Giants in the finals. In 1961, Paul Hornug was called up to the army, but managed to arrange passes for all Sunday games. For the final, the pass was arranged for him by Lombardi with a personal intervention from the then US President, John F. Kennedy.

In the next two seasons, Hornug was again missing. The Packers star was first suspended for taking part in sports betting, and then treated an injury. In 1963, the team lost only two games. Unfortunately, both against the Bears, which meant that it was the Chicago team that won the division, and those were the days when only division winners made the playoffs.

In 1965, the Packers again reached the championship game. It was not without controversy. In the first game of the playoffs, the referees scored the Packers’ field goal, although most observers believed the ball flew past the goal.

The 1966 season brought an important novelty. The NFL league made a deal with its rivals from under the AFL. The rivals were supposed to merge before the 1970 season, but starting with the 1966 season, they began playing the final game, christened the “NFL – AFL championship game,” quickly renamed the Super Bowl. The first two Super Bowls were won by the Packers, who defeated the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders, respectively. Starr became the MVP of both games. Three championship titles in a row is a feat that to this day no one in the NFL has managed to repeat.

The breakup of the championship team

After Super Bowl II, Vince Lombardi resigned from coaching the team, although he remained general manager. He quickly regretted this decision. In his box at the stadium, he languished and cursed as he watched the Packers lose game after game.

Before the 1969 season, he became coach and general manager of the Washington Redskins. He left Green Bay despite a valid contract. The club allowed him to do so, but the fans were not thrilled. Lombardi wanted full control of the team again, and the Redskins tempted him with shares in the club. Mrs. Lombardi’s struggle with alcohol and painkiller addiction also influenced the decision. Her husband believed she would have more activities in the capital than in Green Bay.

He only worked one year at the Redskins. He had been having health problems since 1967, but had no intention of getting treatment. In June 1970, he was admitted to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with colon cancer. In July, the disease was found to be inoperable and fatal. VInce Lombardi died on September 3, 1970, at the age of just 57.

Bart Starr played until 1971, but the last two seasons he performed well below his level. He died in 2019.

Paul Hornung was selected in the 1967 expansion draft by the New Orleans Saints. However, injuries meant he never played for the new team.

The last two Hall of Fame members of the Lombardi era left the team in 1972. In 1973-92, only three future Hall of Fame members played for the Packers, but only WR James Lofton spent a significant part of his career in Green Bay.