An illustrated history of one of professional football’s most storied franchises.
On Sept. 14, 1919, the Green Bay Packers played their first game in front of approximately 1,500 people. The spectators were separated from the field by rope, and team co-founder George Whitney Calhoun passed a hat among them for donations. A century later, Forbes values the Packers at more than $2.5 billion, the team’s stadium has a capacity of 81,441, and every home game since 1960 has sold out. In his second book, Beech (When Saturday Mattered Most: The Last Golden Season of Army Football, 2012), a senior editor at the Players’ Tribune and a former writer for Sports Illustrated, convincingly argues that through lean times (one playoff appearance between 1972 and 1994) and glory years (13 league championships, including three straight from both 1929 to 1931 and 1965 to 1967), the people of Green Bay have provided financial and moral support to their beloved squad, the NFL’s only publicly owned team. Biographical sketches of the team’s most prominent figures enhance the narrative, as do many intriguing factoids—e.g., devout Catholic and legendary coach Vince Lombardi disliked the philandering Curly Lambeau, the team’s co-founder and stadium namesake, and Green Bay was the nation’s leading producer of toilet paper, an industry that helped spare the city from the worst effects of the Great Depression. Beech fumbles only occasionally: He lists Super Bowl XLV between the Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers as “Super Bowl XVL.” Brett Favre’s freshman year at Southern Mississippi University was 1987, not 1990. The author’s assertion that the 1967 NFL championship game between the Packers and the Dallas Cowboys remains “the coldest game ever played” is debatable; the 1981 AFC championship game in Cincinnati represents the coldest temperature in NFL game history in terms of wind chill. But these are minor quibbles with an overall illuminating sports narrative.
A must for Packers fan and a worthwhile read for football enthusiasts in general.