Tag Archives: Training Camp

The Green Bay Packers Mt. Rushmore

Lambeau Field. Home of the NFL’s greatest franchise? Some think so.

Since their first Pro Football season in 1919, the Green Bay Packers have won 13 League Championships (Does not include the AFL or NFL Championships won during the same seasons as the AFL–NFL Super Bowl Championships prior to the 1970 Merger), 11 NFL Championships (pre-1970 AFL-NFL merger), 2 AFL-NFL Super Bowl Championships, 2 Super Bowl Championships, 9 Conference Championships and 17 Division Championships. As the third oldest NFL franchise, the Packers have set the standard for what modern day dynasties in Pro Football are chasing. And there are four men, who donned the green and gold, that many players and coaches are chasing. These are the guys, who if the “owners” of the only non-profit, community-owned pro sports organization in America decided to create a Mount Rushmore to honor, would likely be on it.

CRITERIA:

  • No owners, unless they were also coaches, and their place on this list is based on their contributions as coach. No General Managers or Personnel executives.  Just those who directly affected the games on Sunday.  I will make a separate list for them soon.
  • Key contributors to the team’s history and success, not just fan favorites or box office draws.
  • Can you tell the franchise’s story without them?

Lombardi’s 9-1 Postseason record is #1 in NFL history. Photo Credit: Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Vince Lombardi (1959-1967; coach, 1968; GM) isn’t just a name on the trophy handed to the Super Bowl Champion for no reason. He led the Pack to three consecutive and six total NFL Championships, five of them in seven seasons. Lombardi led the Pack to victory in the first two Super Bowls (I, II), and is widely regarded as the greatest coach in the history of the game, and to some, in professional sports history. His postseason win percentage of .900 (9-1) is tops all-time, and his regular season win percentage of .738 (96-34-6) is third best in NFL history among coaches who coached for more than 10 seasons. He never had a losing season as a head coach in the NFL. In 1971, the 2-time NFL Coach of the Year (1959, 1961) and 6-time NFL Champion was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He’s a member of both the Packers and Redskin’s Ring of Honor where he also coached.

Bart Starr (1956-1971) was Coach Lombardi’s star of those championship teams of the 50’s and 60’s. Starr was the first QB to win two Super Bowls (I, II) and was named MVP of both games. He helped Green Bay win five NFL Championships, and was a 4-time Pro Bowl and 3-time All-Pro Selection. The 1966 NFL MVP is a member of the NFL 1960’s All-Decade Team, and Pro Football Hall of Fame (1977). Starr is one of six Packers to have his jersey (#15) number retired. NFL.com rated him 51st on the Top 100 NFL Players of all-time.

It didn’t end well for Favre in Green Bay, but during the good times it was all smiles.

Brett Favre (1992-2007) will always be synonymous with the number 4, but it should be number one since it’s next to his name at the top of several list in the NFL records books. “The Gunslinger” is the Packers all-time leader in passing yards (61,655); passing touchdowns (442), wins (160), completions (5,377) and pass attempts (8,754). Favre is the only quarterback to win NFL MVP three consecutive seasons (1995,1996, 1997) and in two of those seasons led the Packers to back-to-back NFC Championships titles, and a victory in Super Bowl XXXI. #4 holds many NFL passing records, too many to list, but most impressive is his consecutive games started streak of 286. He’s a member of the 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame class.

Ray Nitchske (1958-1972) is a 5-time NFL Champion and 2-time Super Bowl Champion (I, II) middle linebacker who led the dominant Packers defense making them the first dynasty of the League. Nitchske was a 7-time All-Pro and won the award for NFL’s top linebacker in 1969. He is a member of the NFL’s 50th and 75th Anniversary Teams, as well as the NFL’s 1960s All-Decade Team. In 1978 he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the Packers retired his jersey number 66 and inducted him into the team’s Hall of Fame. The Sporting News ranked him the 18th player on their list of the 100 Greatest Football Players, making him the highest-ranked player on the list coached by the legendary Vince Lombardi.

Packers fans what do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Tell me why too. I already can think of one name that may evoke a healthy heated discussion. His name is on the building where the team plays.

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Ready for Football!

Seven weeks and counting. That’s how long until our gridiron heroes officially began the chase of bringing a Super Bowl Championship to its fans.

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Latrobe, PA; August 2012

The grass is freshly cut. The field is perfectly lined with white paint. The sun beams so brightly it feels like one hundred degrees. Sweat pours down the back of my neck, but the hair on my arms stands up like I’m standing at the bus stop in the cold on a cold winter’s day. But I’m not cold, I’m excited. Football season is here! By the end of this week, every NFL team will have opened their training camp for the 2013 season and my annual trek to Latrobe, Pennsylvania to see my Pittsburgh Steelers is on deck.

Troy Polamalu signing autographs, 2012

Troy Polamalu signing autographs, 2012

I look forward to this trip every year. it’s the one opportunity I have to get close to the players and coaches I root for every sunday from late august until hopefully early February. This is the highlight of the season for me because  it’s not easy or cheap to get a ticket to Heinz Field in Pittsburgh for a meaningful game.

At Sun Life Stadium, Oct. 2010

At Sun Life Stadium, Oct. 2010

Actually, I’ve only been to one Steelers regular season game. It was in mid October at Sun Life Stadium in Miami during the 2010 season, (A good season for fans of the Black and Gold as they went on to play in the Super Bowl at the end of the season) but I sat all the way in the nose bleeds. The picture above was taken during pre-game warm up, before I had to take my seats at the top of the stadium.

Hines Ward, 2007

Hines Ward, 2007

That’s why training camp is more fun and memorable than going to a game. I get to stand on the sidelines and watch cornerback Ike Taylor chase down wide receiver Antonio Brown on a post route and hear the trash talk between the two of them. On the other end of the field I can hear the legendary defensive coordinator Dick Labeau talk strategy with his prize pupil Troy Polamalu. Most importantly for me and other fans we get to bond with each other and our heroes while wishing them a great season we all hope will end with bring home the Lombardi Trophy for the seventh time in the team’s history.

With Coach Mike Tomlin, Aug. 2009

With Coach Mike Tomlin, Aug. 2009

Most professional sports should open up their training camps to fans like the NFL does. The closest is Major League Baseball when they hold their Spring Training in Florida and Arizona. If basketball and hockey would do the same, maybe they’d see their popularity grow. In the case of the NBA it’d be better to market more teams as opposed to just players, which has turned many fans away. In the NHL’s case it would just bring in more interest period. Training camp in the NFL just goes to show why football has become America’s game.

Here is a link of the dates in which all NFL teams will open up camp. http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000215798/article/nfl-training-camp-schedule-with-dates-and-locations