Green Bay Packers
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Green Bay Packers
Bearing the name of the company that supplied their very first jerseys, the Green Bay Packers grew from humble beginnings into a storied franchise. The team was formed in an old newspaper building on August 11, 1919, with the Green Bay Post-Gazette announcing its inception to the city just a few days later. Team captain Curly Lambeau and manager George Calhoun, widely accepted as the Packers' co-founders, probably didn't know at the time that their team would garner over a dozen league championship titles and secure an enduring legacy.
In the early days, the locally sourced Packers played other teams in the region and were quite successful despite starting out with little money. The American Professional Football Association, which later became the juggernaut known as the NFL, granted them a franchise in August of 1921.
Their first year in the NFL was a mixed bag: they ended with a winning season, but found themselves kicked out of the league. After their reinstatement, a series of financial setbacks, including weather-related issues and sponsor Acme Packing Company's decision to cut ties, resulted in the creation of the non-profit Green Bay Football Corporation. This essentially turned the Packers into a fan-owned team with more financial security and Lambeau at the helm.
No longer struggling, Green Bay recruited college and pro players to its ranks and survived the NFL's culling of many small-city teams. In 1929, good fortune brought Cal Hubbard, Mike Michalske and Johnny Blood to the roster; they led the Packers to three pre-playoff system title wins in a row.
In the Depression-era years that followed, Green Bay saw plenty of ups and downs. They survived a devastating lawsuit and the ruin of their training quarters, signed star player Don Hutson, and captured an additional three NFL titles in 1936, 1939 and 1944. In 1950, Lambeau resigned as head coach after 31 years with the team.
1959 ushered in the golden age of newly appointed head coach Vince Lombardi, one of the most successful NFL coaches of all time. In his first year, Lombardi received a Coach of the Year award after leading the Packers to a 7-5 finish and earning a spot in the Western Conference title game. The infamous "Ice Bowl" of 1967 also happened on his watch, a game lauded as the embodiment of the franchise's perseverance and pluck. The Packers snagged five championship titles under Lombardi's guidance, including victories at Super Bowl I and II. In 1970, the Super Bowl trophy was renamed in his honor.
Fans had to wait a long time, probably too long for some, for their next NFL championship win after the 1996 season. With MVP Brett Favre as quarterback, Green Bay beat New England in Super Bowl XXXI. Lead by head coach Mike McCarthy and another MVP QB, Aaron Rodgers, they would emerge victorious against Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLV.
With such a notable history, it's no wonder the Packers have sent over 20 players to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, with many more sure to follow.
Though the Packers started out in a bleacherless open field, they found a home in City Stadium. The venue was later renamed Lambeau Field in homage to the team's founder, and it has undergone multiple renovations in order to preserve the legendary retro feel Packer Backers have loved for years.
And what a fanbase! Green Bay's diehard legion of fans is so loyal that season tickets have sold out since 1960, resulting in an astonishingly long waiting list of well over 80,000 patient souls. Nicknamed "Cheeseheads," Packer devotees proudly don foam cheese hats on game day in support of their hometown team.