On Aug. 11, 1919, a group of people gather inside the Green Bay PressGazette building and create a football team. The first captain of these “Green Bay Packers,” as they’d come to be known, is one of the co-founders, a guy named Curly Lambeau.
Finding The Don
Some folks still swear the team signed its all-time greatest player on Feb. 19, 1935. Hall of Famer Donald Montgomery Hutson is known as football’s first true wide receiver for his 7,991 career receiving yards and his 99 touchdown catches, the latter a record that lasted until 1989.
The Packers have played the Bears in the playoffs only once since this infamous game on Dec. 14, 1941, seven days after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Bears win 33-14 at Wrigley Field. The Packers would have to wait awhile for some payback, but it was worth it.
He played like a star and was revered like one, too, but never acted the part. Always the dignifi ed gentleman, even while shredding opponents, Bart Starr joins the Packers on Jan. 17, 1956, drafted in the 17th round from Alabama. He rewards them with a Hall of Fame career, two Super Bowl MVPs and a charitable legacy that shall last long beyond his death last May.
The Great Man Cometh
This is it. The golden decade, the reason the Packers are a worldwide brand. You could make a list of the franchise’s top 10 moments from this decade alone. But the foundational moment for all the others is the hiring of head coach Vincent Thomas Lombardi on Jan. 28, 1959. Three NFL Championships, two Super Bowl titles and 96 wins later …
The Lombardi Trophy
If only he’d lived to see it. Vince Lombardi died too soon – Sept. 3, 1970, at just 57 years old. A week later, the NFL rechristens its Super Bowl trophy in his honor, aligning the ultimate sign of respect with the sport’s ultimate prize, lusted after and hoisted in triumph year after year.
It’s Nov. 23, 1986. Seconds after Jim McMahon throws an interception, defensive lineman and towel “hit list” author Charles Martin picks him up from behind and drives the QB’s shoulder into Soldier Field’s rock-hard artificial turf. McMahon’s shoulder is toast, and so are the Bears’ hopes of a second straight Super Bowl.
A good ol’ boy from Mississippi and a man who swore that God called him to the Packers become Green Bay legends. Jan. 26, 1997. Super Bowl XXXI. Packers 35, Patriots 21. Brett Favre and Reggie White team up with many other stalwarts – LeRoy Butler, Desmond Howard and coach Mike Holmgren, to name a few – and usher in a new gilded era that continues today.
Fourth and 26
It’s been 15-plus years since Jan. 11, 2004, and the down and distance still lives in infamy. If the Packers defense holds, it’s off to the NFC championship game. But Donovan McNabb finds a wide-open Freddie Mitchell down the middle. The Eagles kick a fi eld goal and win in overtime. There’s a mini-documentary about it on YouTube. Feel free to skip it.
He was already writing his name in Packers lore, but one game cemented it there. Aaron Rodgers fulfi lls his immense promise by leading a wildcard team that barely made the playoffs through the Bears in the NFC Championship (payback!) and to a Super Bowl title. He raised the Lombardi Trophy on Feb. 6, 2011. Don’t bet against him raising another.