Curly Lambeau

Earl Louis "Curly" Lambeau (April 9, 1898 – June 1, 1965) was a professional American football player and coach in the National Football League (NFL). Lambeau, along with his friend and fellow Green Bay, Wisconsin native George Whitney Calhoun, founded the Green Bay Packers in 1919. From 1919 to 1929, Lambeau served as a player-coach and maintained de facto control on the day-to-day operations of the team. As a player, Lambeau lined up as a halfback, which in the early years of the NFL was the premier position. He was the team's primary runner and passer, accounting for 35 touchdowns (eight as a rusher, three as a receiver, and 24 as a passer) in 77 games. He won his only NFL championship as a player in 1929.

From 1919 to 1949, Lambeau was the head coach and general manager of the Packers. He led his team to over 200 wins and six NFL championships, including three straight from 1929 to 1931. He shares the distinction with rival George Halas of the Chicago Bears and later, Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots of coaching his team to the most NFL championships. Lambeau also coached eight players who went on to be elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. With players such as quarterback Arnie Herber and split end Don Hutson, his teams revolutionized the use of the passing game in football. After a falling out with the Packers Board of Directors, Lambeau left the Packers to coach the Chicago Cardinals for two seasons and then Washington Redskins for two more. He retired from the NFL in 1953.

For his accomplishments, Lambeau has been widely recognized and honored. He was named to the NFL 1920s All-Decade Team as one of the top halfbacks in the league's first decade of existence. He was an inaugural inductee to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963 and the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1970 in recognition for his role as founder, player, and coach of the Packers. Shortly after his death in 1965, the Packers home stadium, which is still in use today, was renamed to Lambeau Field in his honor.

Curly Lambeau
refer to caption
Lambeau at Notre Dame, 1918
No. 1
Position:Halfback, kicker
Personal information
Born:April 9, 1898
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Died:June 1, 1965 (aged 67)
Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
Career information
High school:Green Bay (WI) East
College:Notre Dame
Career history
As player:
As coach:
Career highlights and awards
Head coaching record
Regular season:226–132–22 (.624)
Postseason:3–2 (.600)
Career:229–134–22 (.623)
Player stats at PFR
Coaching stats at PFR

Early life

Lambeau was born April 9, 1898 in Green Bay, Wisconsin, to Marcelin Lambeau and Mary Sara La Tour, both of Belgian ancestry.

Lambeau was a standout multi-sport athlete at Green Bay East High School, and captain of its football team as a senior, graduating in 1917. He attended University of Notre Dame in 1918 and played for legendary coach Knute Rockne, making the Irish's varsity squad, but a severe case of tonsillitis forced him to miss the Spring semester.[1][2]

Professional football

Founding the Packers

Lambeau 1919 poster
Lambeau with the Packers, 1919

After returning to Green Bay, Lambeau went to work as a shipping clerk at the Indian Packing Company. Lambeau and George Whitney Calhoun founded the Green Bay Packers on August 11, 1919, after the packing company put up $500 for uniforms. That fall, the founders secured Willard "Big Bill" Ryan, former coach of Green Bay West High School, to coach the team. The team's name reportedly was offered to Curly by his girlfriend Agnes Aylward after a pickup game; Curly had wanted to call the team "The Green Bay Indians" to respect Indian Packing's purchase of uniforms for the team; so Agnes simply blurted, "Well, for heaven's sake, Curly, why don't you just call them the Green Bay Packers!" The team's naming rights were sold to the Acme Packing Company, and the team remained Packers.[3]

The Packers initially played teams from Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula. However, the success of the team in 1919 and 1920 quickly led to its joining of the American Professional Football Association (now called the National Football League) in 1921.[3] During that season the team was owned by the Acme Packing Company and John and Emmet Clair of Chicago.

Green Bay Packers

Lambeau 1940
Lambeau in 1940

Following Willard Ryan's initial year with the Packers, Lambeau was the head coach of the Packers from 1920 to 1949, 1921, and after in the NFL.[4] For the better part of that time, he had almost complete control over the team's day-to-day operations.

Lambeau was a player-captain at first.[4] Playing halfback in the then-popular single wing offensive formation, he was both the primary runner and passer. Lambeau threw 24 touchdown passes, rushed for eight touchdowns, and caught three touchdowns in 77 games. Lambeau was the first Packer to throw a pass, throw a touchdown pass, and make a field goal in Green Bay Packer franchise history.[1] He was also occasionally the team's kicker, kicking six field goals and 20 extra points.[5] He won his only NFL championship as a player-coach in 1929, thereafter coaching only.

Before joining the NFL, the Packers achieved an overall 19–2–1 record in 1919 and 1920.[1] Under Lambeau in the NFL, the Packers won six championships (1929, 1930, 1931, 1936, 1939, 1944). He compiled an NFL regular-season record of 209–104–21 (.657) with a playoff record of 3–2, 212–106–21 (.656) overall. Lambeau is still far and away the winningest coach in Packers history. His 104 losses are also the most by a Packers head coach.

The Packers' most successful period came in the 1930s, thanks to the additions of quarterback Arnie Herber and receiver Don Hutson. Herber and Hutson pioneered the passing game, which allowed the Packers to dominate their competitors throughout the 1930s.[3][6]

End of the Lambeau era in Green Bay

In 1946, Lambeau purchased Rockwood Lodge, a former Norbertine retreat, creating the first self-contained training facility in professional football. The purchase was controversial among the Packers' board of directors, many of whom balked at the $32,000 purchase price and $8,000 spent on renovations. Two of the directors nearly resigned. Lambeau's players grew to hate the facility as well, partly because they were severely battered by the brick-hard limestone under the fields.[7]

In addition, the Packers had begun noticeably slipping on the field after Hutson's retirement in 1945. Still, the Packers remained competitive until 1948, when they suffered their first losing season since 1933, and only the second losing season in franchise history.[8] The bottom fell out in 1949, when the Packers won only two games—at the time, their worst season ever.[9]

The Packers were also suffering financially, mainly due to the Rockwood Lodge purchase. Early in the 1949 season, Lambeau largely turned over control of the team to his assistants to devote his attention to the team's financial situation. Even reducing the payroll and his own salary were not enough to stanch the bleeding. By the end of the season, the Packers were on what seemed to be an irreversible slide toward bankruptcy. Desperate for cash, Lambeau found investors willing to pump money into the team if it abolished its then-unique public ownership structure. This proposal was considered rank heresy in Green Bay, and led to rumors that the NFL was pressuring Lambeau to move the team. Team officials responded by offering him a revised contract that stripped him of nearly all control over non-football matters. Lambeau rejected this offer almost out of hand. For all intents and purposes, this was the end of his 31-year tenure at the helm of the team he founded. However, he didn't formally resign until February 1, 1950,[10][11] seven days after his beloved Rockwood Lodge burned down in a fire that remains unsolved to this day. The insurance money relieved the Packers' financial woes at one stroke, and ensured they would stay in Green Bay.[7]

Other coaching jobs

While a player-coach for the Packers, Lambeau also coached his alma mater Green Bay East High School's football team from 1919 to 1921, compiling a 14–4–3 record.[12]

Lambeau coached the Chicago Cardinals in 1950 and 1951 and the Washington Redskins in 1952 and 1953 but was nowhere near as successful as he had been in Green Bay, winning only 12 games total in these four seasons. In August 1954, Lambeau got into a heated argument with Redskins owner George Preston Marshall in the lobby of Sacramento's Senator Hotel and was promptly fired.[13][14][15]

Lambeau completed his 33-year NFL coaching career with an official overall record of 229–134–22 (.623).

Personal life

Lambeau was married three times: first to Marguerite Van Kessel from 1919 to 1934, ending in divorce with one son. His second wife, Susan Johnson, was a former Miss California, and they were married from 1935 to 1940. He married Grace Garland in 1945 and was divorced in 1955.

Lambeau died on June 1, 1965, at age 67, in Sturgeon Bay from a sudden heart attack. While waiting for his girlfriend, Mary Jane Van Duyse to get ready for a date, he had stepped out of his new red Cadillac convertible and helped her father cut the grass and collapsed. Mary Jane was the Green Bay Packers Champion Majorette, and was a Packer Golden Girl.[16][17]

Legacy

2009-0620-WI010-GB-Lambeau
A statue of Lambeau stands near the main entrance to Lambeau Field.

Without Curly Lambeau, there would be no professional football in Green Bay. With help from co-founder George Whitney Calhoun and The Hungry Five, Lambeau helped keep the NFL in Green Bay and prevented the Packers from going bankrupt on multiple occasions. There may be no stronger expression of his impact on the Packers than the name of their current home stadium, Lambeau Field. The venue opened in 1957 as the second City Stadium and was informally called "New" City Stadium for its first eight years.[18] Just two months after his death, the stadium was renamed prior to the 1965 Green Bay Packers season to honor his contributions as founder, player, and coach.[19][20] Lambeau Field has become such an iconic facility that the Green Bay Packers and surrounding community have continued to remodel the stadium, instead of building a new one. This has made Lambeau Field the oldest continually operating NFL stadium.[21] The name Lambeau is so strongly tied to the stadium, that the Packers have never sold naming rights to the stadium, instead choosing to sell naming rights to the various entrance gates. During the 2003 renovation, the Packers erected a 14-foot (4.3 m) statue of Lambeau in front of the new Atrium entrance. Lambeau Street, in Green Bay's Packerland Industrial Park, is also named in his honor.

As a player and coach, Lambeau is credited with pioneering daily practices, the forward pass in the NFL, implementing pass patterns, and having teams fly to road games.[1] He was a second-team All-Pro for three season (1922–1924) and was named to the NFL 1920s All-Decade Team. As one of the last player-coaches, he also led the Packers to over 200 wins, won six NFL Championships, and coached eight future Pro Football Hall of Fame players on the Packers. He became the first coach to lead an NFL team to three consecutive NFL Championships (1929–31), a feat that has only been matched once by Packers coach Vince Lombardi (1965–67). For his contributions to football and athletics, Lambeau has been honored by multiple organizations. In 1961 he was elected to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame. He was part of the inaugural class of Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963, and the inaugural class of the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1970.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d "Hall of Famers: Earl L. (Curly) Lambeau — Class of 1963". Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  2. ^ "The story that was wrong on every count: Curly Lambeau's flirtation with the University of Wisconsin". Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c The Legend of Lambeau Field DVD
  4. ^ a b http://www.packershistory.net/1919PACKERS.html
  5. ^ https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/L/LambCu20.htm
  6. ^ "Curly Lambeau". Encyclopedia Brtannica. Retrieved August 3, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Fleming, David (September 19, 2013). "Blaze of Glory". ESPN The Magazine. Retrieved March 21, 2014.
  8. ^ Daly, Art (December 6, 1948). "Packers Close Out 'Worst' Season in History With 42–7 Loss to Cardinals". Green Bay Press-Gazette. p. 19. Retrieved October 10, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ "Green Bay Ends Worst NFL Year". Marshfield News-Herald. Associated Press. December 12, 1949. p. 10. Retrieved October 10, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ "Curly Lambeau quits to coach the Cardinals". Milwaukee Journal. February 1, 1950. p. 1, part 1.
  11. ^ "Lambeau quits for Card job; Isbell seeks Packer post". Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. February 2, 1950. p. 5, part 2.
  12. ^ Mink, Michael (September 3, 2014). "Curly Lambeau Passed The Test On The Way To NFL's Top". Investor's Business Daily. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
  13. ^ "Lambeau fired as Skins coach". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Associated Press. August 1954. p. 6.
  14. ^ "Lambeau dismissed as Redskins coach". Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. August 23, 1954. p. 9, part 2.
  15. ^ Don Bosley (March 5, 2000). "Sacramento's Big 10: This Summer's U.S. Olympic Track And Field Trials Figures To Make Major News, But The City's History Is Filled With Momentous Sports Happenings. Here Is A List Of The Ones Our Panel Thought Mattered Most...". Sports. Sacramento Bee. p. C1.
  16. ^ "Curly Lambeau is Stricken and Dies of a Heart Attack". Lawrence (Kansas) Daily Journal World. Associated Press. June 2, 1965. p. 18. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
  17. ^ "Lambeau, Packer founder, dies; led club to 6 pro league titles". Milwaukee Journal. June 2, 1965. p. 19.
  18. ^ "Crowd of 32,132 fills Green Bay's new City Stadium, sees Packers upset Bears". Milwaukee Journal. September 30, 1957. p. 7-part 2.
  19. ^ "Packer board backs Lambeau Field idea". Milwaukee Journal. UPI. August 3, 1965. p. 18-part 2.
  20. ^ "'Lambeau Field' voted by council". Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. August 5, 1965. p. 3-part 2.
  21. ^ "Expansion Planned for Lambeau". The New York Times. Associated Press. August 26, 2011. Retrieved June 28, 2013.

External links

1919 Green Bay Packers season

The 1919 Green Bay Packers season was their first season of competitive football. The club was formed by Curly Lambeau and George Calhoun with help from the Indian Packing Company. The club posted a 10–1 record against other teams in Wisconsin and Michigan.

1920 Green Bay Packers season

The 1920 Green Bay Packers season was their second season of competition. Mostly playing other independent professional teams in Wisconsin, the club posted a 9–1–1 record under player/coach Curly Lambeau.

1921 Green Bay Packers season

The 1921 Green Bay Packers season was their third season of competition and their first in the American Professional Football Association. The club posted a 3–2–1 league record under player/coach Curly Lambeau, earning them a seventh-place finish.

1923 Green Bay Packers season

The 1923 Green Bay Packers season was their fifth season overall and their third season in the National Football League. The club posted a 7–2–1 record under player/coach Curly Lambeau earning them third place. This was the Packers first season in Bellevue Park.

1924 Green Bay Packers season

The 1924 Green Bay Packers season was their sixth season overall and their fourth season in the National Football League. The club posted a 7–4 league record under player/coach Curly Lambeau earning them a sixth-place finish in the standings.

1925 Green Bay Packers season

The 1925 Green Bay Packers season was their seventh season overall and their fifth season in the National Football League. The club posted an 8–5 record under player/coach Curly Lambeau earning them a ninth-place finish. The season marked the first year the Packers played at City Stadium.

1926 Green Bay Packers season

The 1926 Green Bay Packers season was their eighth season overall and their sixth season in the National Football League. The club posted a 7–3–3 record under player/coach Curly Lambeau earning them a fifth-place finish. The season marked the second year the Packers played at City Stadium.

1927 Green Bay Packers season

The 1927 Green Bay Packers season was their ninth season overall and their seventh season in the National Football League. The club posted a 7–2–1 record under player/coach Curly Lambeau earning them a second-place finish.

1930 Green Bay Packers season

The 1930 Green Bay Packers season was their 12th season overall and their tenth in the National Football League. The club posted a 10–3–1 record under coach Curly Lambeau earning them a first-place finish and the Packers' second consecutive National Football League Championship.

1931 Green Bay Packers season

The 1931 Green Bay Packers season was their 13th season overall and their 11th in the National Football League. The club posted a 12–2 record under coach Curly Lambeau, earning them a first-place finish and the Packers third consecutive National Football League Championship. The Packers became the first team to win three consecutive NFL championships.

1937 Green Bay Packers season

The 1937 Green Bay Packers season was their 19th season overall and their 17th season in the National Football League. The club posted a 7–4 record under coach Curly Lambeau, earning them a second-place finish in the Western Conference.

1942 Green Bay Packers season

The 1942 Green Bay Packers season was their 24th season overall and their 22nd season in the National Football League. The club posted an 8–2–1 record under coach Curly Lambeau, earning a second-place finish in the Western Conference.

Dolly Gray impostor

The Dolly Gray impostor was an unknown American football player who played under the alias of Jack "Dolly" Gray, an end from Princeton University in 1922. He was rumored to be an All-American honoree in 1922; however, the only known player named Gray to be awarded consensus All-American honors at Princeton in 1922 was Howdy Gray, who was also an end. Under the alias of Gray, the impostor played in the National Football League in 1923 for the St. Louis All-Stars and the Green Bay Packers.

In 1923, the impostor approached Ollie Kraehe, the owner and player-coach of the NFL's St. Louis All-Stars. Kraehe signed him to the All-Stars where the impostor played in three games. After witnessing the poor quality of play in what he thought was Dolly Gray, an All-American football star at Princeton, Kraehe discovered that he was lied to and that the man claiming to be Dolly Gray was actually an impostor.

Kraehe decided to pull the deception that had been pulled on him on another team. After a 6–0 loss to the Cleveland Indians, Kraehe released the impostor to Curly Lambeau and the Green Bay Packers in exchange for cash he desperately needed to keep his team operating. From Lambeau's perspective, it appeared that he had gained the best player on the All-Stars roster. Two weeks later, the Packers played the All-Stars at Sportsman's Park. The game ended in a 3–0 Packers victory. After the game, Curly Lambeau cornered the St. Louis owner and questioned him about Dolly Gray. According to Lambeau, Gray played in just one game with the Packers and had played poorly. Then, after boarding the train for the team's game in St. Louis, he had mysteriously disappeared. Kraehe then admitted to Lambeau that the deal between the two clubs regarding Gray was a joke. He explained how the con man had deceived his way onto the All-Stars roster. Kraehe then thought that he would try to recycle the trick on Lambeau in good fun. Kraehe finally stated that it had always been his intention to give Lambeau back the money he spent on the impostor. The persons identity remains unknown.

George Whitney Calhoun

George Whitney Calhoun (September 16, 1890 – December 6, 1963) was an American newspaper editor and co-founder of the Green Bay Packers, a professional American football team based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. After establishing the Packers in 1919 with Curly Lambeau, Calhoun served the team in various capacities for 44 years until his death in 1963. Utilizing his editorial job at the Green Bay Press-Gazette, he became the team's first publicity director, helping to establish local support and interest. He also served as the first team manager and was a member of the board of directors of the non-profit corporation that owns the team. Although often overshadowed by the more famous Curly Lambeau, Calhoun was instrumental to the early success of the Packers. In recognition of his contributions, Calhoun was elected to the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1978.

List of Green Bay Packers head coaches

There have been 15 head coaches for the Green Bay Packers, a professional American football team of the National Football League (NFL). The franchise was founded in 1919 by Curly Lambeau and competed for two years against teams around Wisconsin and Michigan before entering into the American Professional Football Association, which is now known as the NFL.

Four different coaches have won NFL championships with the Packers: Earl Louis "Curly" Lambeau in 1929, 1930, 1931, 1936, 1939, and 1944; Vince Lombardi in 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, and 1967; Mike Holmgren in 1996; and Mike McCarthy in 2010. Lambeau is the franchise leader in career games (334) and career wins (209), while Lombardi has the best winning percentage (.754). Ray (Scooter) McLean has the worst winning percentage (.077). Four Packers coaches—Lambeau, Lombardi, Bart Starr and Forrest Gregg—have been elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, although Starr and Gregg are recognized as players. Lombardi and Lindy Infante have both been named the league's coach of the year by major news organizations.

As of January 2019, the head coach of the Green Bay Packers is Matt LaFleur, who was named to that position after Mike McCarthy was fired during the 2018 NFL season.

List of Green Bay Packers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

The Green Bay Packers are a professional American football team based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. They are currently members of the North Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL), and are the third-oldest franchise in the NFL. Founded in 1919 by coach, player, and future Hall of Fame inductee Curly Lambeau and sports and telegraph editor George Whitney Calhoun, the Packers organization has become one of the most successful professional football teams, having won a total of 13 professional American football championships—nine NFL Championships and four Super Bowls—the most in the NFL. The franchise has recorded 18 NFL divisional titles, eight NFL conference championships, and the second most regular season and overall victories of any NFL franchise, behind the Chicago Bears. In 1963, the Pro Football Hall of Fame was created to honor the history of professional American football and the individuals who have greatly influenced it. Since the charter induction class of 1963, 31 individuals who have played or coached for the Packers have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.Of the 30 inductees, 25 made their primary contribution to football with the Packers, while five only contributed a minor portion of their career to the Packers and two were assistant coaches. Of the original 17 individuals inducted in 1963, four spent the major part of their career with the Green Bay Packers. This includes the founder Curly Lambeau, the NFL's all-time offensive tackle Cal Hubbard, the 1941 and 1942 Most Valuable Player Don Hutson, and 1931 All-NFL player Johnny (Blood) McNally. The first two decades of the Hall of Fame's existence saw 17 Packers enshrined, including one inductee who was not a player for the Packers, Vince Lombardi. Coaching the Packers from 1959 to 1967, Lombardi led the team to five NFL Championships, plus winning the first two Super Bowls against the American Football League, and an overall winning percentage of .754. The most recent Packer to be inducted was Jerry Kramer in 2018.

List of Green Bay Packers starting quarterbacks

The Green Bay Packers are a professional American football team based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) and are the third-oldest franchise in the National Football League (NFL). The club was founded in 1919 by coach, player, and future Hall of Fame inductee Curly Lambeau and sports and telegraph editor George Whitney Calhoun. The Packers competed against local teams for two seasons before entering the NFL in 1921.

The Packers have had 46 starting quarterbacks (QB) in the history of their franchise. The Packers' past starting quarterbacks include Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees Curly Lambeau, Tony Canadeo, Arnie Herber, Bart Starr and Brett Favre. The team's first starting quarterback was Norm Barry, while the longest serving was Brett Favre. The Packers' starting quarterback for the 2018 season was Aaron Rodgers, who was playing in his 14th season in the NFL.

They are listed in order of the date of each player's first start at quarterback for the Packers.

The Hungry Five

The Hungry Five are the five Green Bay, Wisconsin area businessmen who were instrumental in keeping the Green Bay Packers franchise in operation during its early years. They raised funds, incorporated the team as a non-profit corporation, sold stock, established the Green Bay Packers Board of Directors and otherwise promoted the franchise.

The Hungry Five consisted of Curly Lambeau, attorney Andrew B. Turnbull, attorney Gerald Francis Clifford, Dr. W. Webber Kelly and Lee Joannes. Turnbull was the Packers' first president and publisher of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Joannes was the president for 17 years, helping guide the Packers through the Great Depression, near bankruptcy and a second stock sale. Kelly served one year as president, and also as team physician and as a board member. Clifford served on the Executive Committee for two decades. All have been inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.

Despite their years of service, only coach/player Curly Lambeau was ever paid a salary. “The Hungry Five” nickname was coined, as can best be determined, by Arch Ward, because they always seemed to have their hands out for money, since the franchise was often in financial trouble.

Wally Cruice

Walter Cruice (April 13, 1913 – December 7, 2001 (Indianapolis Star, December 9, 2001) was a professional American football player, assistant coach, and scout in the National Football League with the Green Bay Packers. He served as Chief Scout for 31 years under every head coach from Curly Lambeau through Bart Starr. During his time with the team, the Packers won five league championships, including the first two Super Bowls.

Curly Lambeau—championships and honors

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