The Green Bay Packers
In 1919, athletes were organized on the notice of Curly Lambeau and George Calhoun. They would meet in the Green Bay Press-Gazette, which was an office building, and they organized what would become the team known today as the Green Bay Packers. In the initial stages, the newly formed team spoke with Lambeau's employer seeking financing for jerseys and the company, the Indian Packing Company, would provide them money for the jerseys. The name Packers would become the norm around this time as a result of the company that initially funded them. During the first season, the team would ultimately win 10 games and lose one against teams in both Michigan as well as Wisconsin. The games were played in a field that did not have bleachers.
By 1921, the team had become more official than they already were. Lambeau had received the backing from two additional companies and were able to attain a franchise in the newly formed national pro football league. However, there were a few issues that came and this would be the start of many financial troubles from the team. Most of the troubles associated with the team were the result of debts that Lambeau owed to certain people. Irrespective of issues that plagued the team, the team went on to achieve many feats in the early 1920s. By 1929, Green Bay had become even more established and was known as a stalwart football team that was professional. The team was hailed across the country as one of the greatest ever.
In 1934, more trouble began to brew for the Green Bay Packers. This time was in regards to an insurance company bankruptcy and the team would go into a receivership as a result. Around this same time, a businessman came to their rescue. The team would add another player to their team, Don Hutson, who became what, was known as the secret of Green Bay. His arrival provided the team many championships in 1936, 1939 and 1944. When Hutson retired, the team began having misfortune yet again. They were essentially financially strapped. Lambeau, in the midst of many financial struggles, would resign in 1950. Following Lambeau, the team would go on to hire Gene Ronzani, who has always been indicated as a major and significant hire for the team. While Ronzani was coach, the team would score their biggest victory in 1952. By 1953, Ronzani resigned with two football games remaining in the season. Prior to his departure, Ronzani would hire Jack Vainisi as a talent scout. By 1954, the team was still plagued by many changes in their coaching staff and management.
By 1959, Vainisi would conduct a new drafting of players. In mid-February of that year, there was much talk about a man named Vince Lombardi and many were questioning who he was after he made a general manager application with the team. By 1959, Lombardi would score a major victory as coach of the team and was recognized as Coach of the Year. The following year, the team lost the NFL title but was able to gain a Western division title. Lombardi was able to rebound and win championships in 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966 and 1967. Between those years, the team was looked at sheer football excellence. By 1967, Lombardi had left and Bart Starr would accept the challenge to lead the team out of the wilderness that was the National Football League. Starr would agree to a three year contract. Starr would give the team new hope in playing the game of football. Throughout the 1970s, the team would fluctuate in their winnings, and this was predominantly a result of the positive attitude that Starr projected toward the team. The team as a result was able to resurge in 1976. By 1978, the team was able to have their first winning slate since the early 70s. The team would continue to rise in winning streaks, especially in 1982 when they qualified for the playoff games for the very first time since 1972.
By the early 1980s, a former Starr teammate, Forrest Gregg would become the ninth coach for the Green Bay Packers. Gregg had previously led Cincinnati into Super Bowl XVI following the 1981 season. Gregg was determined to provide several wins for the team and his prediction would begin to come to fruition in 1984, when the team was able to rebound from several injuries that had occurred with many of the players. 1985 saw the team have decent wins regardless of the injuries and complications that happened. Gregg had the gumption to rebuild the team but the team was not necessarily read to have the personnel changes that Gregg spoke of. Subsequently, Gregg would resign after the 1987 season. Following the resignation of Gregg, Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Lindy Infante would sign on as the coach for 5 years with the team. Infante would lead the team to a 10-6 record in 1989, which was noted as their best in 17 years.
Infante, in essence spiced up the winning victories and the team's attitude about football during the late 1980s. Despite several victories, the team began losing significantly. This was especially the case in 1991 and as a result, Infante was dismissed. The team would go on to hire Ron Wolf and give him authority over the direction of the team. Wolf would name Mike Holmgren as the new planner and coach to succeed Infante. Holmgren was able to take the team through a winning streak as well as the playoffs in 1993. By 1994, the team were able to register a second straight playoff and with impressive defensive performance and turnover free offensive effort they were able to score a 16-12 victory over their rivals, Detroit. Following this impressive feat, the team would lose receiver, Sterling Sharpe to a neck injury. This neck injury would end Sharpe's career. Regardless of them losing Sharpe, the team was able to put together a hallmark season in 1995. They captured what was their first NFC Central Division crown since the early 1970s.
In the late 1990s, the tram had rebounded from their fluctuations in play. They were able to get to two Super Bowl trips in 1997. The team had high hopes for attaining a third Super Bowl trip in 1998, however that eluded them. The team was able to overcome several injuries that happened around that time. By the end of 1998, the team had strung together what would be considered four seasons of 10 or more wins. The only time that this had happened was when Lambeau had made them triple NFL champions in the late 1920s to early '30s. The team had considerable achievements around this time, but this would come to a serious end in a game against San Francisco, noted as the NFC Wild Card.
With the start of 1999, the team had hired their 12th coach, Ray Rhodes, who had a knack for helping the team win games in the last few minutes of the game. Rhodes' stint as coach was short lived however and he would depart as coach that same year. In 2000, the team would receive their 13th coach, Mike Sherman. Sherman would allow the team to have many victories. However, Wolf retired in 2001 and President Bob Harlan would name Sherman to replace Wolf, as the new general manager. Sherman would become known as the first head coach with the general manager designation since Starr in the 1980s. In 2002, the Green Bay Packers were able to overcome a serious injury plaguing season.
During this time, the team would begin fluctuating again with their winning/losing streak. In 2004, the team overcame a 1-4 start, which had been one of the roughest beginnings since 1991. They were able to finish 10-6 and win a third straight title within the division. In January of 2005, Ted Thompson was named general manager, receiving full authority over all of the team's decisions. Harlan said that the decision was based on a preferred structure (i.e. separate individuals for the general manager and head coach positions). The Packers would lose their leading receiver, Javon Walker in 2005 and halfback Green in the same year. Thompson would also dismiss Sherman that same year as well.
Despite the loss of running back Ryan Grant to injury, Rodgers led an explosive offense that continually stifled opposing defenses. Greg Jennings broke out in a big way with a 2 TD performance in the Super Bowl, which capped a fantastic, Pro-Bowl type season. While the defense turned out to be a collection of Pro Bowlers and All-Pro's, it was Clay Matthews who made the biggest splash in his 2nd NFL season, leading the NFL in sacks.
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Due to the dismissal of Sherman in 2005, Thompson would have to hire the team's 14th head coach, Mike McCarthy. McCarthy would guide the team to a four game winning streak in 2006. In 2008, a torch of exceptional play was passed from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers, who would retire. Rodgers would become the second quarterback in the history of the league to pass more than 4,000 yards in his very first season as starter. The team would go on to set a dynamic franchise record with seven touchdowns that year as well. This was not, however, enough to overcome many of the injuries that would happen that year. As a consequence, the team would have a losing season, their worse since 1992. In 2011, the team would set their eyes on more victories - and another world title. The team continues to this day in their determination to capture what was initially started by Lambeau in the early 1920s and have an exceptional fan base. Their notoriety was ground-breaking and continues to be the case.
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