A Look Back at 1930

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Green Bay successfully defended its championship in 1930, but it did not come easy. The team was 7-0 when it embarked on a season-closing seven-game road trip on November 9. That included a 14-7 victory over Benny Friedman’s New York Giants, won on a thrilling 70-yard touchdown pass from Red Dunn to Johnny Blood.

After starting the trip with a victory over the Bears, the Pack stumbled against the Cardinals and then lost the following week to the second place Giants to give the New Yorkers the league lead with an 11-2 mark. Within a week, though, the 8-2 Packers were back on top by beating Frankford on Thanksgiving and Staten Island the following Sunday. Meanwhile, the Giants lost twice to Staten Island and then Brooklyn, leaving the standings at 10-2 Packers and 11-4 Giants. Even though New York won their last two games, while Green Bay lost to the Bears and tied Portsmouth, the Packers won the NFL title .769 to .765. The surging Bears behind rookie Bronko Nagurski won their last five games and finished third.

The Packers were 6-0 at home and 4-3-1 on the road, 6-1-1 against losing teams and 4-2 against others. Red Dunn led in passing by completing 43 of 83 passes for 825 yards, 11 TDs and just seven picks. Verne Lewellen threw for 497 yards and rookie Arnie Herber added 205. Bo Molenda led in rushing with 459 yards, followed by Lewellen with 411, Herdis McCrary with 351 and Johnny Blood with 232. Blood led with 26 catches for 491 yards (18.9 average) and five scores. Lavie Dilweg nabbed 16 passes for 291 yards and two scores. Dilweg also led in interceptions with 6, including another touchdown.

Lewellen averaged 40.5 yards on 89 punts and led the team with 54 points. McCrary scored 36 and Blood 30.

Dilweg and Mike Michalske were named first team All-Pro. Dunn, Blood and Tom Nash were named second team and Cal Hubbard third team. Herber, halfback Wuert Engelman and tackle Red Sleight were the top rookies.

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All custom cards aside from the team card are colorized.

Unofficial and incomplete statistics are drawn from 1991’s The Football Encyclopedia: The Complete History of Professional NFL Football, from 1892 to the Present, compiled from the yeoman research of David Neft, Richard M. Cohen and Rick Korch.

Dick Deschaine

Born in Menominee, Michigan, just across the border from Wisconsin, on April 28, 1931, Dick Deschaine never went to college but made the Packers as a free agent in 1955 directly from local semipro football. Deschaine graduated from Menominee High in 1949 and went into the Marines, serving during the Korean Conflict. He was working for a Chemical company in 1955 and playing semipro ball when someone from the company wrote a letter to Packers coach Liz Blackbourn about Dick’s skill as a punter. Green Bay’s punter from 1954, Max McGee, had gone into the service, so Blackbourn had Deschaine in for a tryout and signed him.

Deschaine is one of just five Packers since the end of World War II to not attend college. The others were halfback Cliff Aberson in 1946, fullback Howie Ferguson from 1953-58, returner Charlie Leigh in 1974 and replacement center Greg Jensen in 1987.

Dick finished second in the NFL in punting as a rookie, third in 1956 and sixth in ‘57 before being traded to Cleveland in 1958. After one season as a Brown, Deschaine suffered a leg injury and was cut. Colts’ coach Weeb Ewbank offered Dick a shot with Baltimore, but he decided to retire for more lucrative business opportunities.

Although he was listed as an end, the 6-foot 205 pounder never caught a pass; instead, he was the second pure punter in the NFL, following Pittsburgh’s Pat Brady. The next Packer pure punter was Don Chandler in 1965. Since Ron Widby in 1972, Green Bay has used nothing but punting specialists. Deschaine is still fifth in team history in punting average among those with at least 140 punts and was voted to the Packers’ All-Time Team that was selected in 1976. Although he was known as a booming punter, only 31% of his punts were not returned, but that was just below average for his time.

Deschaine settled in Green Bay and worked in the automotive industry for 30 years before retiring. He continued playing fast-pitch softball in the area into the 1970s. Married for 46 years to his high school sweetheart, he died on May 20, 2018 at the age of 87. He was survived by four children and eight grandchildren.

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All custom cards are colorized.

Remembering Bill Kuusisto

Bill Kuusisto was born on April 26, 1918 in Herman, Michigan, but lived most of his life in Minnesota. He was an All-City player for Marshall High in Minneapolis and then played three years under Bernie Bierman at the University of Minnesota from 1937-39. He also lettered as a wrestler for the Gophers. As a senior, he was second team All-Big Nine guard and was selected in the eighth round of the 1941 NFL draft by the Packers.

The 6’ 228-pound Kuusisto played for the Packers for the next six seasons, frequently as a starter and wrestled professionally in the off season. He roomed with Hal Van Every and Ted Fritsch in Green Bay. After retiring from football in 1946, Bill continued to wrestle for another two years until an injury incurred in a match in Australia ended his career.

Kuusisto continued in the sport as a referee and became an assistant promoter in Minneapolis. He continued in that capacity until his sudden death from a heart attack on Memorial Day weekend in 1973. He was survived by his wife of 30 years, two daughters and two sons. College teammate Bob Bjorklund said at the time of Kuusisto’s death, “Bill Kuusisto was a quiet, unassuming man who concentrated altogether on playing his hardest. He gave everything and asked nothing. He was one of the most popular men on the squad.” Packer center George Svendsen added, “Bill was the most unselfish player. He was always pushing himself to the utmost and only for the good of his teammates.”

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All custom cards are colorized.

Summing up the 1920s

In the infancy of the NFL, the Green Bay Packers did quite well. Here is the top 10 standings for the overall decade of all teams that played at least five seasons, with league championships in parentheses:

New York Giants (1)        44-17-5                 .705

Chicago Bears (1)             84-31-19               .698

Frankford (1)                     64-26-12               .686

Green Bay (1)                    61-25-13               .682

Canton Bulldogs (2)         38-19-11               .640

Rock Island                         27-14-12               .623

Chicago Cardinals (1)      56-42-9                 .565

Providence (1)                  31-24-7                 .556

Detroit                                  22-18-9                 .541

Buffalo                                 39-37-12               .511

Due to the play-by-plays compiled by the Green Bay Press-Gazette during the decade, the Packers unofficial statistics are more complete than most teams. Curly Lambeau was the passing leader with 4,493 yards passing, well more than Red Dunn’s 1,731 and Verne Lewellen’s 1,492. Curly’s 24 TDs and 78 interceptions also lead the team. The only passer who has more known passing yards was Benny Friedman.

On the ground, Lambeau also led the Pack with 1,762 yards rushing, followed by Lewellen’s 1,666 and Myrt Basing’s 916. Elsewhere in the league, Paddy Driscoll and Tony Latone each topped 2,000 yards rushing in the ‘20s.

Charlie Mathys paced the Packers with 88 receptions, followed by Eddie Kotal’s 74, Lewellen’s 71 and Lavie Dilweg’s 59. Mathys was second only to Jimmy Conzelman for known receptions in the decade. Lewellen led the team with 10 TDs, just as he led with 23 rushing TDs. In interceptions, Lambeau recorded 21, Lewellen and Kotal 18 and Dilweg 14.

Lewellen and Lambeau were the two Packers to exceed 100 points in the period–Verne with 211 and Curly with 110. The league’s leading scorers were Paddy Driscoll with 402 and Joey Sternaman with 257, although Lewellen produced a league leading 35 touchdowns.

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Custom cards are all colorized.

Unofficial and incomplete statistics are drawn from 1991’s The Football Encyclopedia: The Complete History of Professional NFL Football, from 1892 to the Present, compiled from the yeoman research of David Neft, Richard M. Cohen and Rick Korch.

R.I.P. Willie Davis

We lost one of our best a few days ago: number 87 Willie Davis, one of the greatest defensive ends ever to play the game.  Davis had starred for Eddie Robinson at Grambling University and was one of the first of many NFL stars to emerge from that small black college in Louisiana.  He was a fifteenth round draft choice of the Cleveland Browns where another legendary coach, Paul Brown, switched him back and forth from offense to defense. Reportedly, Willie’s marks on Paul’s playbook tests were so high that he thought Davis was better suited to offense. Finally, Brown traded Willie to a third iconic coach, Vince Lombardi, for journeyman end A.D. Williams in 1960.

Lombardi valued speed and pursuit more than size and power on defense, so he put Davis at left defensive end where Willie’s great strength, quickness, and agility made him a five-time All Pro and five-time Pro Bowler in the 1960s. at 6’3” 240-pounds, he was essentially the same size as the linebackers who played behind him, but was perfect for the Packers’ attacking defense. He was a fierce pass rusher and had a knack for making the big play; Webster and Turney’s retrospective sack compilations place him with over 100, unofficially still the best in team history.

He was durable, never missing a game in 12 years with the Browns and Packers, and had the effervescent personality of a natural leader–he was known to his teammates as “Dr. Feelgood.” He was elected to the Packer Hall of Fame in 1975 and to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1981. In retirement he used all of those qualities to become an even bigger success in the business world.  He often would say that whenever he went into a sales meeting that the words and lessons of Lombardi went with him.  In 1994, Davis became the second black member of the Packer Board of Directors in 1994.

(Adapted from Packers by the Numbers)

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From this collection of custom cards, #1, #2, #5 and #14 are colorized.

A Card for Everyone: Tom Dahms

San Diego native Tom Dahms was born April 19, 1927 and starred locally at both San Diego High School and then San Diego State. The 6’5” 240-pound tackle then signed with the Los Angeles Rams in 1951 and started all 12 games as a rookie during the Rams’ championship season.

Dahms remained a mainstay of the Los Angeles line for four seasons. When new coach Sid Gillman arrived in 1955, he saw a glut at tackle and traded Dahms to Green Bay for end Stretch Elliott and a third round draft pick. Elliott was waived in training camp, and the draft choice turned out to be end A.D. Williams. Williams went into the service and never played for the Rams. Instead, he spent his NFL rookie season of 1959 in Green Bay before Vince Lombardi traded him to Cleveland for Willie Davis.

The Packers obtained Dahms to replace Art Hunter, who was drafted into the service in 1955 after just one year in Green Bay. Tom played well for the Packers in 1955, but in 1956 he was beaten out by rookies Forrest Gregg and Bob Skoronski and veteran John Sandusky, who had been acquired from Cleveland. Dahms was traded to the Cardinals on September 20, 1956. He spent one season in Chicago and one in San Francisco before retiring.

Tom went into coaching and spent 1959 at the University of Virginia, until returning to the NFL as the defensive line coach of the expansion Dallas Cowboys in 1960. Three years later, Al Davis hired him in the same capacity for the Raiders, and he spent 16 seasons in Oakland. When John Madden retired, though, Davis fired Dahms.

For eight years, Dahms bounced from being a health studio instructor to being a laborer who put chairs together for the San Diego city schools to selling insurance. Briefly, Tom also was an assistant with the semipro Yuba City Cougars and with San Diego City College. Finally, in 1988 he was hired to coach Mountain Empire High School, fifty miles east of San Diego, his hometown. Divorced and in declining health, he died just two years later at age 61 on November 30, 1988.

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Custom cards are colorized.

A Look Back at 1929, the First Championship


The Packers ended the first decade of the NFL with a bang. After taking a step up in 1927 with the joint acquisition of end Lavie Dilweg and back Red Dunn, Green Bay made the leap to champion status by obtaining three future Hall of Famers in ’29: back Johnny Blood, tackle Cal Hubbard and guard Mike Michalske. Rookie back Herdis McCrary from Georgia and rookie tackle Bill Kern from Pitt also played a strong role in the team’s success.

Green Bay started the season with a 5-0 stretch at home and then went on the road as of October 27 for an eight-game road trip in which they went 7-0-1, with a 0-0 tie with Frankford on Thanksgiving the only blemish. The Pack finished 7-0 against teams with losing records and 5-0-1 against all others. They beat the Bears three times by a combined 62-0 score, pitched eight shutouts and allowed just 22 points in 13 games. No team could compete with that defense, bolstered on the line by Hubbard and Michalske, and the recipient of 39 interceptions, three per game.

The Packers’ 198 points scored was second in the league to Benny Friedman’s New York Giants, and the two teams battled at the top of the standings all season until a showdown in New York on November 24 resulted in a 20-6 Packer victory, the only Giants’ defeat of the season.

Verne Lewellen, again, was the team’s biggest star, leading in passing with 504 yards, finishing second in rushing with 405 yards, punting 85 times for a 41.9 average and leading the Packers with 48 points, including a pick six. Johnny Blood had nearly as large an impact by leading the team with 406 yards rushing, catching 12 passes for 218 yards, passing for 271 yards, intercepting six passes, returning 7 punts for 156 yards and one touchdown, punting 46 times for a 39.5 average and scoring 30 points. Red Dunn was second in passing yards with 479 yards and threw for five scores, while also returning 41 punts for 406 yards and converting 11 extra points and two field goals. Lavie Dilweg led the team with 25 catches for 429 yards and with seven interceptions. Bo Molenda was third on the team in rushing with 401 yards, picked off five passes and was one of five Packers to throw a touchdown pass.

Lewellen, Dilweg, Hubbard and Michalske all were named first team All-Pros, while Blood, Kern and Jug Earp all received second team notice. Coach Curly Lambeau ended his playing career by completing two of five passes for 36 yards and an interception and rushing three times for nine yards.

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All custom cards are colorized.

Unofficial and incomplete statistics are drawn from 1991’s The Football Encyclopedia: The Complete History of Professional NFL Football, from 1892 to the Present, compiled from the yeoman research of David Neft, Richard M. Cohen and Rick Korch.

A Card for Everyone: Bernie Crimmins

Bernie Crimmins was born in Louisville, KY, on April 14, 1919 and was a three-sport star at St. Xavier High School before enrolling at Notre Dame in 1937. Playing under, first, Elmer Layden and then Frank Leahy. Crimmins played a different position each year: halfback as a sophomore, fullback as a junior and guard as a senior. As a 5’11” 195-pound guard, he was named an All-America and helped lead the Fighting Irish to a National Championship in 1941.

Bernie graduated in 1942 and captained the College All-Stars in their August contest against the champion Chicago Bears before enlisting in the Navy. He was commissioned as a Lieutenant and commanded a PT boat in the South Pacific, winning a Silver Star and Presidential Citation during his service.

Serving with Crimmins on the PT boat was former Packer tackle Ernie Pannell, and the two were transported home together in September 1945. Within a week, both signed with Green Bay and were thrown into action in week two against the Lions. The highlight of Bernie’s one NFL season was returning an interception 12 yards for a touchdown against the Boston Yanks on November 18.

In January 1946, Frank Leahy hired Crimmins as an assistant coach at Notre Dame, where he worked for six years before being named head coach at Indiana in 1952. That five-year stint was not successful with two 2-7 seasons and three 3-6 ones. In 1957, he returned to South Bend in an assistant’s role. With the hiring of Joe Kuharich as Notre Dame head coach in 1959, Crimmins moved on to Purdue where he served as an assistant under Jack Mollenkopf through 1964.

Crimmins left football to work for Quality Beer at that point and later worked for H&R Block before retiring. He was elected to the Indiana Football Hall of Fame in 1975, the Kentucky Basketball Hall of Fame in 1976 and died on March 20, 1993 at the age of 73. He was survived by his wife of 45 years, three sons and three daughters.

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Custom cards are colorized.

A Look Back at 1928


The 6-4-3 Packers slipped to fourth in the 10-team NFL in 1928, a disappointing season despite the team going 2-2-1 in its closing five-game road trip and posting its first winning road record at 3-2-1. Unfortunately, Green Bay was just 3-2-2 at home. The Pack was 2-2-2 against winners and an ok 4-2-1 against losers. On the bright side, the team did go 2-0-1 against the Bears, whom they bested in the standings for the second straight year.

Red Dunn was the leading passer again (45-123 for 700 yards, four touchdowns and 12 interceptions). Verne Lewellen was second with 402 yards, but he, halfback Eddie Kotal and Curly Lambeau combined for just three TDs against 15 interceptions. The team’s TD-Int ratio was a dreadful 7-27.

Lewellen led the team in rushing again with 349 yards and six touchdowns, while also catching 13 passes for three more scores, punting 136 times for a 41.1 average and picking off four passes. Kotal was second in rushing and led the team with 28 receptions for 508 yards and 10 interceptions on defense. Lavie Dilweg caught 18 passes and intercepted five. Dunn paced the team in punt returns and caught 15 passes. Harry O’Boyle was the leading placekicker and scored 23 points, second to Lewellen’s 45. Guard Bruce Jones had a pick six.

The line was bolstered by two rookies from the South: end Tom Nash of Georgia and guard Jim Bowdoin of Alabama. Lewellen and Dilweg once more were named first team All-Pro, while Kotal and tackle Roger Ashmore received second team notice.

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All custom cards are colorized.

Unofficial and incomplete statistics are drawn from 1991’s The Football Encyclopedia: The Complete History of Professional NFL Football, from 1892 to the Present, compiled from the yeoman research of David Neft, Richard M. Cohen and Rick Korch.

Lombardi in the Chicago Tribune, Part 3 of 3

The final installment of Cooper Rollow’s three-part series focused on strategy and was published on October 28, 1960.

Lombardi on his strategic approach:

Have you heard of a team exploiting a team’s weaknesses? Our strategy is the opposite. We break down our opponents at their strongest point. The reason is simple. There is no more effective way to destroy your opponent’s poise than to prove you can move against what he considers his strongest suit. Beat him at his strength and his weaknesses become more apparent.

Lombardi on molding the program to fit the talent:

In Green Bay, I coach basic football, not boring football, I hope, but fundamental strategy. Astute fans will notice that the Packers do not do all the things we asked the Giants to do. It is a mistake to attempt to mold personnel to a system. The system must be molded to the players. Frankly, I do not like the three-end system of offense. I prefer a system in which three backs are employed. But we use the three-end system because it is better fitted to our personnel.

Red Cochran on Lombardi powers of observation:

During a game last year, Vince noticed that one of our quarterbacks was grasping the ball too hard on pass plays. Vince told him to loosen up, to throw the ball instead of trying to knock down the goal posts. You should have seen the difference.

Red Cochran on what makes Vince special:

Nearly all successful coaches are good organizers, as is Vince. But few have his tenacity. He outshines all other coaches I have worked with in desire for perfection.

Lombardi dealing with gossip about Hornung:

I appeared at dozens of luncheons and banquets that winter and at every one of them I made it a point to mention the story and then declare I had evidence which exonerated Hornung. I want my boys known as football players not socialites.

Talent Scout Jack Vainisi on Lombardi’s two sides:

Vince can get tougher than any coach I have ever seen when he thinks someone is not giving 100 percent effort. On the other hand, he sometimes breaks down emotionally when he has to release a player.

Lombardi releasing second round pick Alex Hawkins in 1959:

I’m doing you a favor. You’re too cocky for our team. I’m sending you away so you can learn to be a football player.

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All custom cards but Hornung are colorized.