Powered by:
as known from New York Timesas known from USA Todayas known from yahoo!
VA
Contains commercial content
The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Curly Lambeau: The Man Who Built the Green Bay Packers!

Curly Lambeau: The Man Who Built the Green Bay Packers!

Publish Date: 04/14/2022
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis
CURLY LAMBEAU - Curly Lambeau, former coach and founder Green Bay Packers.
Curly Lambeau: The Man Who Built the Green Bay Packers!

Everybody knows about Lambeau Field, but very few nowadays know anything about the man whose name it bears. Curly Lambeau founded, played and coached the Green Bay Packers starting in 1919, two years before the NFL came into existence. He shares this distinction with George Halas who founded the Bears that same year.

Lambeau started his football career as a star at Green Bay East High School where he was the captain of the team his senior year.  He was a good enough player to gain the attention of the legendary Knute Rockne at Notre Dame. He enrolled at Notre Dame in 1918 and made the varsity team as a freshman. A severe case of tonsillitis after his freshman year forced him to return home before his sophomore season.

Upon to returning to Green Bay, Lambeau went to work as a shipping clerk at the Indian Packing Company. While working there, Lambeau and his friend George Whitney Calhoun, founded the Green Bay Packers on August 11, 1919. They were originally named the Green Bay Indians after the packing company that they worked for after the company put up $500 for uniforms.  Shortly thereafter, the team’s naming rights were sold to the Acme Packing Company and they would forever be known as the Green Bay Packers.

Lambeau was the Head Coach of the Packers from 1919 to 1949.  During that time he ran the day to day operations of the team and had almost complete control of the entire organization. He started out as a player-coach, playing halfback in the old single wing offense as the primary runner and passer. In 77 games he threw 24 TD passes, rushed for 8 TDs and caught 3 TD passes. Lambeau was the first Packer ever to throw a pass, throw a TD pass, and convert a Field Goal. He won his only NFL Championship as a player-coach in 1929.

Lambeau’s 33 year career in the NFL as a Head Coach, 29 of which were with the Packers, was second only to George Halas.

He won 226 games, lost 132 and tied 22 (only Don Shula, Halas and Tom Landry won more). He won six NFL championships (only Halas won as many).

But his players never once carried him off the field in celebration. For every player who believed in him, there was another who despised him for being insincere and untrustworthy.

“I don’t think guys played out of respect for Curly as much as out of fear of Curly,” said Bob Snyder, who served as an assistant coach with the Packers in 1949. “A lot of guys didn’t like Paul Brown. A lot of guys didn’t like Lombardi. But they respected them. I think they were just scared of Curly.”

Lambeau wasn’t necessarily a tyrant on the field, but he had strict rules and he let everybody know who was boss.

He would slap players with steep, unreasonable fines in an age when they made meager wages. He would threaten their jobs. He would place the blame for mistakes and defeats squarely on their shoulders.

“I remember I called him up once after we lost a ball game,” said Art Daley, a retired sportswriter who covered the Packers in the 1940s for the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “Andy Uram fumbled at the end. I think it was (against) the Bears. Curly said, ‘We didn’t lose the ballgame, Andy Uram did.’ ”

Of course, players who were more secure were more willing to stand up to him.

“I remember a deal once where (Mike) Michalske and (Cal) Hubbard backed him against the wall one time over some money or something,” Howie Levitas, a director emeritus on the Packers’ board who began his association with the team as a water boy in 1928, said in reference to two of the team’s Hall of Fame linemen.

“They literally backed him against the wall in the dressing room.”

More often than not, when players had a beef with Lambeau, it was over money. They’d complain to each other that he had deceived them in negotiations and even reneged on the terms of their contracts. But the times where Lambeau lost control were rare.

He had a reputation for being a disciplinarian — much more so than for being a brilliant tactician.

Early in his career, he was considered one of the pioneers of the forward pass. He also has been credited with being the first coach to hold daily practices and watch film. But many of his players openly questioned his knowledge of the game.

Some even suggested that it had passed him by at the end. A proponent of the Notre Dame box, Lambeau was one of the last coaches in the NFL to switch to the T-formation. He made the move in 1947 but had little success thereafter.

“When I got on his staff, I was surprised,” said Snyder. “We had very few meetings. It didn’t seem like he had any system. The plays to the left side weren’t the same as the plays to the right side. And I don’t remember looking at movies.”

What made Lambeau such a success was that he was a master salesman and motivator.

Before the college draft was introduced in 1936, he sold a long list of great players on the idea of coming to Green Bay. And once they arrived, he inspired them to great success with his competitive fire, his enthusiasm and his powers of persuasion.

“He could really get you worked up,” said Snyder.

Lambeau would stir players with his speeches. He’d grab their attention by storming the sidelines: ranting and raving, stomping his feet and kicking at air. Before sending them into a game, he’d grab them by the jersey, incessantly pound them on the back for encouragement and push them to play the game of their lives.

“I was charmed by him,” said Dick Wildung, a former Pro Bowl tackle who played with the Packers from 1946-’51 and again in ’53. “I thought he was a good guy to play for.”

Wildung may have been in the minority.

“A lot of people didn’t,” said Johnston, “but I thought he was great.”

After he left the Packers at the end of the 1949 season, Lambeau would go on to coach the Chicago Cardinals 1950-51, then the Washington Redskins 1952-53. He had little success winning only 12 games in those 4 years.

As you see, the career and greatness of Curly Lambeau is not necessarily cut and dry as he was a very flawed human being but then who isn’t? There is little doubt that he was an integral part of why Professional Football has become one of the most popular sports in modern history.  The story of Curly Lambeau is a very fascinating one indeed and a lot more complex than I ever could have imagined.

CURLY LAMBEAU - Curly Lambeau, former coach and founder Green Bay Packers.

CURLY LAMBEAU – Curly Lambeau, former coach and founder Green Bay Packers.

Read Also
The Complexities of Bob Knight: The Greatest Coach of All-Time?
  Bob Knight, born in 1940 and raised in Orrville, Ohio, was ...
Top 28 Indiana High School Basketball players of all time: Big O, Larry, Damon and more
This list is based solely on what these guys did in their ...
Bet365 Promo
The Greatest College Basketball Team of All Time
Rating the greatest college basketball teams ever has been done many times ...
Top 18 Greatest College Football Coaches of All-time
Current active coaches are not included in this list. That means don't ...
Esteban de Jesus, Roberto Duran y AIDS (1972-89)
Many of us dream of celebrity sports fame, but only cruel individuals ...
Grading every NFL team’s picks from the 2021 NFL Draft
Quickly, click away if you’re going to get upset by reading draft ...
Every NFL team’s best player not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame- NFC East
The Pro Football Hall of Fame houses the greatest players in NFL ...
Predicting the next five Pro Football Hall of Fame classes
Induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio is ...
Ranking the top 200 players in the NFL ahead of the 2021 season
This list isn’t based solely on performances from the 2020 NFL season. ...
Sportsbook of the month
Bet365 - Get your Bonus Bet now! Get your Bonus Bet now!
Latest News
Formula 1, Round 1: The 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix
Formula 1 is back, baby! And we’re back ...
Kholmatov vs Ford: Did Raymond Learn From Early Tests? 
This Saturday night live on ESPN+ from the ...
The 10 Most Elusive Open-Field Runners in NFL History
Return men are not included on this list. ...
Pete Gray: The one armed wonder!
Pete Gray was born in the mining town ...
Ranking the top 10 Players and Coaches to go from the CFL to the NFL
The Canadian Football League is the oldest professional ...
Our Latest YouTube Videos
Video: Indiana Basketball Weekly: IU/Wisconsin Recap! Ware Goes Crazy, plus IU/Maryland Preview!
Indiana Basketball Weekly: IU/Wisconsin Recap! Ware Goes Crazy, plus IU/Maryland Preview!
Video: Big Ten Daily: IU/Wisconsin and Iowa/Penn State Recap, and Previewing Tonight's games!
Big Ten Daily: IU/Wisconsin and Iowa/Penn State Recap, and Previewing Tonight's games!
Video: Indiana Basketball Weekly W/Steve Risley: Indiana vs Iowa Recap and Penn State Preview!
Indiana Basketball Weekly W/Steve Risley: Indiana vs Iowa Recap and Penn State Preview!
Top Betting Sites
Top Betting Bonuses
Bet365
Bet365
Bet365 Review
4.7/5
BetMGM
BetMGM
BetMGM Review
4.7/5
FanDuel
FanDuel
FanDuel Review
4.6/5
Caesars
Caesars
Caesars Review
4.5/5
DraftKings
DraftKings
DraftKings Review
4.5/5
Bet365
Bet365 Bonus
First Bet Safety Net up to $2000 OR Bet $5 and Get $150
T&Cs apply
4.7/5
At bet365 we don't do ordinary, that's why if you sign up now you'll get the choice of two great New Customer Offers, the First Bet Safety Net up to $2000 or Bet $5 and Get $150 in Bonus Bets. Deposit required. Bonus Bets wager excluded from returns. T&Cs, time limits and exclusions apply. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-Gambler 21+
BetMGM
BetMGM Bonus
Bet $5 Get $150 Instantly in Bonus Bets
T&Cs apply
4.7/5
FanDuel
FanDuel Bonus
Bet $5 Get $150 in Bonus Bets
T&Cs apply
4.6/5
Caesars
Caesars Bonus
100% up to $1000
T&Cs apply
4.5/5
DraftKings
DraftKings Bonus
No Sweat First Bet up to $1,000
T&Cs apply
4.5/5
Our Team
Mike GoodpasterJosh SchwartzSimon BriffaMark LewisSamuel Teets
Mike Goodpaster
Mike Goodpaster
Chief Editor
Josh Schwartz
Josh Schwartz
Editor
Simon Briffa
Simon Briffa
Sports Editor
Mark Lewis
Mark Lewis
Editor
Samuel Teets
Samuel Teets
US Sports Veteran
Find out what the legends have to say about sports this week....
Find out what the legends have to say about sports this week....

Players must be 21 years of age or older or reach the minimum age for gambling in their respective state and located in jurisdictions where online gambling is legal. Please play responsibly. Bet with your head, not over it. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, and wants help, call or visit: (a) the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey at 1-800-Gambler or www.800gambler.org; or (b) Gamblers Anonymous at 855-2-CALL-GA or www.gamblersanonymous.org.

This site is using Cloudflare and adheres to the Google Safe Browsing Program. We adapted Google's Privacy Guidelines to keep your data safe at all times.

21+NCPG
Close
Players accepted in the US US Flag
Stake.us Exclusive Bonus
$55 Stake Cash + 260K Gold Coins + 5% Rakeback
Promo Code
Copy
Visit Site
T&Cs apply, 18+
Payment Methods
Bitcoin
Litecoin
Ethereum
Dogecoin
Highlights
  • Exclusive promo code: TGTSOCIAL
  • Play Plinko, Hilo, Crash and more!
  • Get Stake Cash bonuses every day!
Stake Originals
Dice
Crash
Plinko
Mines
×
Your Promo Code:
The bonus offer of was already opened in an additional window. If not, you can open it also by clicking the following link:
Visit Site