by Dale Yelich
In Green Bay, Wisconsin, during the 60's, a football team was born that carried all the attributes attributed to the ideal team concept that was often stated but never realized. Things like discipline, hard work, perfection, unity, and having a strong leader to see it through.
Those attributes were mostly a myth, merely working ideas to come as close to those goals as possible. Yet, what happened to a football team during the 60's, nearly reaching every ideal stated above, was no myth. It was for real, and it turned into the most legendary team in professional football history.
Hallowed and considered a sacred entity in Wisconsin, The Green Bay Packers of the 60's are to that generation of sports fans as the Beatles were to the genre of music. They played their own tune, were the undisputed champions, and every other football team of that era strove to measure up to the Packers.
The coach himself is legendary, and when talking football to anyone then or now, few people would not recognize his name, Vince Lombardi. He crafted a team of has-beens, misfits, and superstars into one seamless football playing machine, and except for the two years of '63 and '64, essentially dominated the game unlike any other team before or since.
The green and gold of the Packers has since become the colors of royalty in Wisconsin, and not because of anything that has been recently achieved, but because of the past grid iron greats, with Lombardi at the helm. His team exemplified the axiom that the harder you work, the harder it is to fail.
Lombardi is considered the greatest football coach of all time, winning the NFL championship a record 3 times in a row, a feat that has been unequalled to this day, and in this age of prima donna, free agent, high salary players, it is unlikely that it ever will. So popular was Lombardi, that he had several appointments with and received letters from the reigning Presidents of the day, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. That alone is a true testament to his greatness.
But, it was the players who played as a member of his teams, which carried the name of the Packers to the pinnacle of success. People like Jerry Kramer, Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, Ray Nitschke, Willie Wood, Fuzzy Thurston, Jim Taylor and the list could go on. They all played together, sweated together, lived together and won together, as no team had ever done before.
The era of these Packers ended in 1967, after winning 5 championships in only 7 years, with 2 of those championships being the first ever Super Bowls. A single game played in sub-zero weather and called The Ice Bowl, is the single most recognizable football game from any era, and propelled the Packers to their 7th and last championship. It is a true classic moment for any sport, and in any conversation about football past, the Ice Bowl will not be far behind.
Their legacy lives on even today, as the Vince Lombardi trophy is awarded to the Super Bowl winner every year. The name Lambeau Field, where the Packers played their home games, has become, to the football faithful everywhere, a kind of pilgrimage site, where old memories still remain of the glory days in football history, and where The Green Bay Packers of the 60's, remain the Holy Grail.
Dale Yelich has been a creative freelance writer for over 25 years. Among all of his other writing projects, he is currently authoring a maintenance column for the LaCrosse, Wisconsin, Tribune, and you may read those articles at this link.http://www.rivervalleynewspapers.com/home/
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