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A preseason (yawn) history.

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by Packerlifer, Aug 20, 2016.

  1. Packerlifer

    Packerlifer Cheesehead

    Sep 4, 2008
    The games don't count in the standings toward the championship nor the plays and performances on the statistical history of players or coaches. Most are forgotten as soon as the regular season kicks off. Their only rationale is preparatory for the season but they are more valued by the National Football League for being a cash cow for the clubs, i.e. the owners. This is "preseason. " http://mmqb.si.com/2013/08/22/preseason-history.

    There is, nevertheless, a history to this part of pro football that is worth mentioning as long as we're in it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Football_League_preseason. And in particular in the history of the Green Bay Packers.

    The Packers played their first preseason, or "exhibition game, " as they tended to be called back then, on September 14, 1921. The Packers beat the Menominee (Wis) North End Athletic Club 53-0. They played their first exhibition against another league club on September 25,1921, shutting down the Chicago Boosters 13-0.

    That season, the third in the Packers' existence but their first in the American Professional Football Association which would become the NFL, Green Bay played four preseason games, winning all by shut-outs with a cumulative score of 162-0.

    But for the next dozen years they would have only one or two preseason games, skipping them entirely in 1931 and 1933. They were undefeated in 11 of those 12 years. Their opponent lists during that time included the Duluth (Minn) Kelleys and Eskimos, Rockford (Ill) Maroons, Milwaukee Badgers, Ironwood (Mich) Legionaires, Hibbing (Minn) Miners, Cleveland Bulldogs, Racine (Wis) Legion, Rock Island (Ill) Independents, Dayton (Oh) Triangles, and Beloit (Wis) Fairies.

    During Curly Lambeau's long tenure as coach of the club the Packers compiled a 35-11-2 record in these preseason/exhibition games; going undefeated 5 times when playing 3 or more games, which they did 7 times.

    Vince Lombardi famously said that "Winning is a habit." So it's not surprising that even when the games didn't "count" Lombardi's Packers won. They were undefeated in preseason play 3 straight years 1960-62 and again in 1967. They won 19 straight preseason games from 1959-62 and 21 in a row over other NFL teams through 1963. To all the other records and accolades of the Lombardi years can be added a 42-8 preseason record.

    By comparison Gene Ronzani, Liz Blackbourn, Hugh Devore and Scooter McLean combined for 23-24-1 between 1950-58. Phil Bengtson produced a 11-4-3 record in 3 preseasons. Dan Devine was 13-10-1 in four. Bart Starr had a losing record as head coach in both regular and preseason at 16-26-1 in 9 years. Forrest Gregg did no better at 4-12 in four years. Under Lindy Infante the Packers were 7-8-1 in four years. Mike Sherman brought in just a .500 record at 13-13 during his six years leading the team.

    Mike Holmgren and Mike McCarthy are the only other Packers' head coaches beside Lambeau, Lombardi, Bengtson and Devine to have winning preseason records, after slow starts. Holmgren left Green Bay at 18-13 in preseason and MM just passed over. 500 with the Packers' recent wins at 22-20.

    Just because preseason games don't count in the standings doesn't mean they can't be interesting. http://www.theasterisktoday.com/articles/the-craziest-preseason-games-in-nfl-history/. And the Packers' long and rich tradition in regular season and championship playoff action extends to their preseason.

    Two of the oldest and proudest preseason traditions in the NFL are the charitable Midwest Shrine Game and the Bishop's Charities games the Packers play every year.



    For 44 years the first game marking the approach of another football season wasn't the Pro Football Hall of Fame game but an exhibition match between the reigning professional world champions and a team of top college seniors, most of whom were bound for the pro league(s).


    As NFL World Champions the Packers played in this game 8 times; more than any other club. (The Bears are second with 7.) The "Pros" almost always won these games, compiling a 31-9-1 overall record in this exhibition and winning the last 12 in a row, which was one of several reasons the tradition petered out in 1976.


    But "the kids" could and did occasionally pull off an upset and it happened twice to the Packers.



    Vince Lombardi was deeply embarrassed by the 1963 defeat. Along with the Paul Hornung suspension it turned out to be a harbinger of a narrow failure to achieve a "threepeat" championship season that year. It was said after that loss that Lombardi could "kill with a look" and it was a haunting memory to him as the Packers approached the first Super Bowl 3 seasons later.

    And Lombardi exacted sweet revenge on the All Stars the next two times his Packers played in this game.



    Every Green Bay fan knows the Packers lead the NFL with 13 world championships but not so well known is that they also lead the league in undefeated preseasons. The Packers have been unbeaten in preseason play 27 times but many of those include the 1920's and '30's when they only played one or two. Not exactly a fair comparison.

    In preseasons of 3 games or more the Packers have been undefeated 12 times. Most of these were during the Lambeau and Lombardi periods. The last was in 1999; a 4-0 under new coach Ray Rhodes, who lasted just one 8-8 regular season.

    In 1957 the Packers, under coach Liz Blackbourn, were 5-0-1 in preseason but only 3-9 in the regular.

    In the 1970 preseason, the third year of coach Phil Bengtson, it looked like the Pack was back. They went undefeated, though played 3 ties. They were impressive in their wins over Super Bowl contenders Dallas and Oakland and the O.J. Simpson-led Buffalo Bills.


    No one saw the 40-0 regular season opener against the Lions at Lambeau coming and it had a hangover effect on the team the rest of the year. They went 6-8 and Bengtson resigned rather than wait to be fired. Scoring over 30 points in four of their six preseason games they averaged only 14 ppg in the regular season.

    The Packers had a 5-0 preseason in 1997 as defending Super Bowl Champions and did return to the Super Bowl that season, but lost their repeat bid in XXXII. They also suffered a major injury loss in that preseason when back Edgar Bennett went down in the very first game for the season. http://articles.latimes.com/1997/jul/27/sports/sp-16777. He would leave Green Bay for Chicago in 1998 free agency and never play another down for the Packers.

    Injuries, especially to important regular season players, in preseason has always been a worry. Players' careers and teams' seasons certainly have been altered by preseason injuries throughout the history of the league. http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/13501662/done-started-notable-nfl-season-ending-injuries-suffered-preseason.

    Still, until well into the 1970's teams tended to play their regulars in all preseason games and quite extensively at that.In the era before offseason OTA's and mini-camps a club's entire preparation for a season began in training camp and carried through the entire preseason schedule.

    One of the most peculiar incidents in Packers' preseason history came in 1980 with the infamous "hot dog game," involving star defensive end Ezra Johnson.


    Seven years later, under another Hall of Fame player from the Lombardi era as coach, a preseason shut-out blow-out sent Forrest Gregg on a rampage over his team.


    This year's fiasco at the Pro Football Hall of Fame game in Canton was just the latest in a series of weird things happening when the Packers have been in this game (this was to have been their fifth appearance.)

    In 1980 and 2003 when the Packers were in the HOF game lightning storms forced the curtailment of the games short of completion, with the Packers shut-out in both but one ending as a scoreless tie. A common denominator in both cases was HOF wr James Lofton. He was a player in the first case and an inductee into the PFHOF at the second.

    For awhile between 1950-61 NFL teams played some exhibitions against teams of the Canadian Football League. The Packers, though, were never involved in any of these. http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/06/23/nfl-cfl-teams-used-to-meet-in-the-preseason/

    The NFL and American Football League started playing preseason games against one another after the first Super Bowl, in anticipation of their eventual merger in 1970. The Packers, though, didn't schedule any preseason games with AFL teams during 1967-69. After winning the first two Super Bowls some said the league didn't want to risk tarnishing Green Bay's reputation by risking the Packers losing a preseason game to the AFLers.

    A tie with Cincinnati in 1970 was the first time the Packers met a club of the AFL and didn't come away with a win. Their first loss to one of the former AFL clubs came against the Raiders in preseason at Lambeau Field in 1971 17-13.

    As the merger took effect the old "AFL" and "NFL" identities tended to fade and it became no big deal to lose to a club of "the other league." But as a point to note it took the AFL six tries to come up with a win against the Green Bay Packers: two Super Bowls, 3 preseason games and one of the early ABC-TV Monday Night Football games in 1970.

    The Miami Dolphins may have been "perfect" in 1972 as they marched to the league's only undefeated Super Bowl championship season but the Packers were one of 3 teams to top them in preseason play that year. http://www.packershistory.net/1972PACKERS/PRESEASON-GAME2.html.

    Of course preseason and training camp have always been about assembling the team that you hope will carry to a championship in the coming season. The focus tends to be on individual players, whether established pros or new prospects, and who will make "the final cut."



    In 1974 the Packers drafted rb Don Woods in the 6th round. He had an impressive training camp and preseason but they had John Brockington and MacArthur Lane in their backfield already so Dan Devine cut him. Woods was picked up by San Diego and promptly rushed for over a thousand yards that season and was NFL Rookie of the Year. http://fs64sports.blogspot.com/2014/01/rookie-of-year-don-woods-1974.html

    Even Vince Lombardi wasn't immune from tough decisions on final cut down. In 1959 the Packers drafted Timmy Brown in the 27th round. That's right 27th round! But in a backfield stable that included Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung there was no room for Brown. Released by the Packers he went on to become an NFL star of the 1960's in Philadelphia. http://www.bleedinggreennation.com/2015/6/4/8712413/philadelphia-eagles-timmy-brown-dallas-cowboys-rivalry

    In his book on the Packers' 1967 championship season All Pro guard Jerry Kramer tells of a highly regarded rookie Tom Cichowski trying to help his mates pronounce his name. "Chicken on a cow and cow on a ski" That Packers team was too talented and deep for even a prospect like Cichowski to make the cut. http://www.centralctcommunications.com/bristolpress/news/article_6d7fa3a2-6968-11e5-b2fb-abcd4e97e43f.html.

    In 1986 the Packers had a young receiver/returner Phil McConkey in their camp. He made the final cut but four games into the season Forrest Gregg traded him to the Giants, going from a team that was 4-12 to one that won the Super Bowl that year. McConkey was a star of Super Bowl XXI and would become one of the Giant fans' all-time favorites; sort of their John Kuhn.

    In his rookie preseason in 2005 Aaron Rodgers completed 20 of 37 passes for 172 yds. with 1 TD and 2 INT's in four games. http://media.gettyimages.com/photos/quarterback-aaron-rodgers-poses-with-his-jersey-after-being-drafted-picture-id52687755

    Final cuts are probably the most unkind. Players work so hard and come so close to making it only to have "the Turk" come by and say, "Coach wants to see you and bring your playbook."


    Maybe a few more of you would chime in with your preseason memories or favorites; players, games, moments as Packers' fans. http://isthmus.com/arts/sports/win-or-lose-a-drive-to-green-bay-for-a-pre-season-packers-game-can-be-memorable/
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016
  2. Poppa San

    Poppa San SB I trophy First of four Staff Member Moderator

    Aug 29, 2010
    Now THAT'S a team name that will inspire fear in the opposition. :whistling:
    • Funny Funny x 1
  3. Packerlifer

    Packerlifer Cheesehead

    Sep 4, 2008
  4. Mondio

    Mondio Cheesehead

    Dec 20, 2014
  5. Sky King

    Sky King Cheesehead

    Sep 27, 2012
    You would remember being tackled.

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