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Earl Lambeau - Founds Green Bay Packers

Famous Sports StarsFootballEarl Lambeau Biography - Founds Green Bay Packers, Joins The Nfl, Career Statistics, Lambeau's Legacy, Chronology

Founds Green Bay Packers

In 1898, when Lambeau was born, Green Bay, Wisconsin was a busy commercial center, populated largely by northern European immigrants, and was noted for its breweries, cheese factories, and paper mills. Although it only had 30,000 residents, the town also had a symphony orchestra, street lamps, and trolley cars. What it did not have was a football team. Lambeau, who was a hero on his high school football team as well as during his freshman year at Notre Dame University, returned to Green Bay after a year at Notre Dame and took a job at a local meat company, the Indian Packing Company, but he never lost his desire to play football.

Each morning before going to work, Lambeau stopped at the home of his high school sweetheart, Marguerite Van Kessel and threw a pebble against her window; then they talked until his ride to work showed up. Van Kessel urged Lambeau to go back to school at Notre Dame, but he wanted to stay in Green Bay and marry her. In 1919, he did.

In that same year Lambeau and several friends decided that Green Bay needed an official football team. Lambeau convinced his employer to buy the team jerseys and equipment and let the team use the company's athletic field for practice, and in exchange, they named the team after the company.

Lambeau, who had played under famed coach Knute Rockne at Notre Dame, ran three practice sessions each week and taught the players what Rockne had taught him. In addition to being the team's coach, he was also its star player. Newspaperman George Calhoun was the team's business manager and publicist.

For their first season, the Packers played eleven other small-town Wisconsin and Michigan teams. They won the first ten games, then lost 6-0 to the Beloit Fairies; the Packers later claimed the game was rigged. For pay, the players passed a hat among the spectators at halftime, and split the proceeds. In that first season, they made $16.75 each. From this money, or their own funds, they had to pay any doctor bills resulting from injuries on the field.

During the team's second season, Lambeau introduced a new play: throwing the ball to other players instead of running with it and crashing through a line of opponents. Opposing teams hated this move, saying passing was for sissies, and when the Packers played a passing game against a team of miners in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Lambeau "had to run for his life," according to Jim Doherty in Smithsonian. Lambeau later remarked, "Those miners were tough."

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