NEWS AND NOTES
OFFICIATING WORST HE'S SEEN - PARKER
NOVEMBER 25 (Detroit) - Buddy Parker, coach of the Detroit Lions, Thursday night called the officiating at Thursday's Detroit-Green Bay game "the worst I have
seen in 20 years of pro football." Parker, who started his
professional career as a fullback with the Lions in 1934,
made the angry comment on a television program. The
veteran coach's statement was doubly unusual in that
his team won the nationally televised game, 28-24, and
virtually clinched its third straight Western Division title.
Parker, apparently angered by a series of offside
penalties against Detroit, suggested "it might be a idea
to have a special TV program for officials who like to
parade in front of the cameras." The team of officials,
who usually works the league's nationally televised
Saturday night games, include William Downes,
referee; Joseph Connell, umpire; Louis Palazzi, head
linesman; Henry Wisenbaum, back judge and Sam
Giangreco.
SCOUTS PEG ROTE 'MOST FEARED' QUARTERBACK
NOVEMBER 27 (Milwaukee Sentinel) - Take it from a NFL
scout - Green Bay's Tobin Rote is the most feared
quarterback in the pro ranks. "It's frustrating to map a
defense against Rote. He's a good passer, but what
makes him doubly dangerous is his running ability. No
other quarterback in this league can step out of the
pocket and run like Rote. He can kill you because a
defense never exactly knows what Tobin is going to do."
Taking in Detroit, Thursday, was Chuck Drulis, assistant
coach of the Packers last season who was scouting the
Lions for the Eagles, their next opponent. Rote, a one-
man team if ever there was one, handled the ball on 98
plays, passing for one touchdown and scoring another.
He was masked and taped to protect his broken nose
and bruised shoulder. "Tobin was quite dejected, losing
this one," said Coach Liz Blackbourn Friday. "He played
a tremendous game, but what a bad day our receivers
had." Blackbourn revealed that Rote is in better physical
condition now than since the day he broke his nose in
Chicago several weeks ago. His charley horse in his leg
is not jammed - an indication that more running is
a-comin. "We went over to Detroit to win this one," said
Liz of the Packers' sixth too-close defeat. "Frankly, I
didn't believe it would be that close with our defensive
secondary weakened." Val Joe Walker was sidelined with
a wrenched knee and Gene White missed his fourth
game because of a back injury. Both will be available for
the 49ers game in San Francisco December 5. "We didn't
use anything difference on Detroit this time," added
Blackbourn. "But it was line which must have bothered
the Lions mostly. It played its bruising best. And did you
know John Martinkovic had a touch of the flu Wednesday
night? I wasn't going to use him, but what a game he
played!" Coach Buddy Parker of the Lions singled out
Roger Zatkoff and Clayton Tonnemaker as the best
linebackers in the business. The Packers' first touchdown
was scored on a pitchout from Tobin Rote to Breezy Reid
who praced 48 yards for the score. Al Carmichael was
sent out as a flanker and did not lateral to Reid as was
previously reported. Blackbourn gave his club a four-day
holiday before setting strategy and drills Monday for his
West Coast invasion.
LIONS DON'T QUALIFY AS GRACIOUS WINNERS
- EMPHASIZE 'BAD' DAYS - NO CREDIT TO PACKERS
NOVEMBER 27 (Milwaukee Sentinel) - Following
Detroit's 21-17 victory over the Packers at Green Bay
last Sunday, a member of the Lions' official family was
heard to predict: "We had a terrible day. We'll annihilate
those guys Thursday." The inference was obvious. The
Packers didn't belong on the same field with the Lions,
who were overconfident and nowhere near up for that one.
Came Thursday and another thriller that the Packers
finally lost, again by four points, after threatening to win it
right down to the final gun. So what came out of Detroit?
A news service story that emphasized the "bad game the
Lions got our of their system" and explained that the
champions played "loosely on both offense and defense"
and were "dull and unimaginative." And some lusty
screaming by Coach Buddy Parker about the officiating - "the worst I have seen in 20 years of pro football." According to the only specific part of the report, Buddy "apparently was angered by a series of offside penalties against Detroit." Significantly, he made no mention of the serious penalties dished out to the Packers in key spots for roughing the kicker and passer. It would have been interesting, too, to have the coach build up a "we were robbed" case out of the pass interference call against Carl Karilivacz, especially after publication of a picture in a Detroit paper showing the Lion defender hooking Max McGee's arm. In other words, the Packers were a lucky bunch of stiffs. Lucky they caught the Lions in a charitable, unimaginative mood and playing completely uninspired ball - not once, but twice over a four day span. Lucky they had the officials on their side. That's just plain silly on two counts. In the first place, winners serve their own purpose best in graciously giving the losers a pat on the back. No. 2: It isn't true that the games were close only because the Lions had an off day each time. The Packers had a lot to with that "off" business. All of which points to some underlying danger signs for the entire organization. The Lions have a fine football team but they have yet to prove they are blood relatives of Superman. They can be run and passed against. They can be tackled and blocked. Others are just as smart and fast and tough as they are. The day they start thinking otherwise, the day they get the idea the other team should pay to get in - that day can mean the beginning of the end. Bigger and better organizations have collapsed under their own weight. Maybe they're all overwhelmed by the tremendous attendance in recent years. Sure, they've packed 'em in. But they shouldn't forget the not too distant past when crowds of fifteen to twenty thousand weren't unknown the Auto City. Watching a game over television, it is impossible, of course, to pass judgment on individual calls. But I had the feeling that the officiating was the best I've seen in the pro league this year from the standpoint of mechanics. Referee Bill Downes and his co-workers gave signals clearly, spotted the ball accurately, kept the game moving and apparently were decisive in everything they did. A coach doesn't always agree with an official's judgment. Liz Blackbourn, for instance, probably questioned the roughing the kicker foul called against the Packers when Jug Girard was bumped and decked as an incidental part of a near block. Had a righto to question it, too. When it's all over, however, a fairminded coach usually looks only at the total job. Was it snappy or sloppy? Did the officials have the game under control? Did they call 'em as they saw 'em? If the coach's answer to himself is yes in each case, as a rule he soft-pedals difference of opinion in judgment matters.
'CALIFORNIA HERE WE COME', PACKERS CHANT
NOVEMBER 30 (Milwaukee Sentinel) - The Packers went back to work Monday preparing for the 49ers at San Francisco Sunday, and the oddsmakers promptly installed the West Coast club a 7 1/2 point favorite. It could be they're figuring the 49ers will be boiling after falling flat on their dignity at Baltimore Sunday, losing to the hapless Colts, 17-13. Coach Liz Blackbourn's troopers, addicted to losing the close ones too often, should be ripe to steal some paydirt glory. They have never found success in 49er territory. Physically, the Packers should be in good shape. On the other hand, San Francisco almost went to pieces when halfback Hugh McElhenny suffered a shoulder separation. The only doubtful starter for the Packers is defensive halfback Val Joe Walker, still bothered with a wrenched knee. Gene White, out since the Philadelphia game with a back injury, will bolster the Packer defensive backfield. Tobin Rote, the key man in Green Bay's success this season, was still nursing a charley horse as the Packers worked out lightly at City Stadium. However, Rote should be ready for the works Sunday. A Detroit game casualty was Stretch Elliott, who sprained his ankle. Trainer Bud Jorgenson will have Elliott ready for the 49ers. Breezy Reid, the Packer workhorse, continues to be the club's top ground gainer, having picked up 469 yards in 88 carries for a 5.3 average. Veryl Switzer, the league's best punt returned, dropped to 11.7 yards a return, having a fair catch tacked on him in the Detroit game. Rote needs only 40 more yards passing to surpass Cecil Isbell's 2,021 yards passing in one season. Incidentally, a 96-yard Rote to Billy Grimes pass in 1950 was the longest play in Packer history. Rote and Max McGee combined for a 82-yard touchdown thriller against the Lions. An 83-yard touchdown aerial play, New York's Frank Gifford to Eddie Price, is the league's longest this season. The Packers will enplane to San Francisco Friday with a workout scheduled there Saturday morning. It will give the team a chance to see the telecast of the Los Angeles-Baltimore game Saturday afternoon. Green Bay moves into Los Angeles after Sunday's game for the season's finale against the Rams.
CURRAN SUES
DECEMBER 1 (Phoenix) - Halfback Dick Curran said Tuesday he filed suit for $26,000 against the Green Bay Packers for being released by the Packers while his leg was still in a cast as a result of an injury. He said that under NFL rules a "player is protected against release while on the injured list."
PACKERS HAVE YET TO WIN AT 'FRISCO
DECEMBER 2 (Milwaukee Sentinel) - Hopes will be higher than Uncle Walt on a Saturday night when the Packers try to shake their heartbreaking luck and beat the 49ers for the first in San Francisco Sunday. Six league losses by 27 points! Playing the World Champion Detroit Lions to a near standstill twice! There's little doubt that any one of those six losses could have resulted in Packer wins with a decent break here and there. But the record shows four wins and six losses. And Sunday the 7 1/2 point underdogs will try to snap a six-game losing streak to the 49ers, the last Packer win being a 25-21 decision in the snow at Green Bay in 1950. Coach Liz Blackbourn's club almost turned the trick at County Stadium this fall before Y.A. Tittle came off the bench to engineer a 23-17 win. Tittle will be going all the way Sunday, but the 49ers will be without their great running halfback, Hugh McElhenny, out for the season with a separated shoulder. With the NFL season in the home stretch, Joe Perry of the 49ers is well on his way to a successful defense of his ball carrier honors. Perry has gained 870 yards on 135 attempts for a 6.4 average. Second is teammate John Henry Johnson with 634 yards. Norm Van Brocklin of the Rams maintained his passing leadership with an average gain of 10.34 yards and 11 touchdowns. Cleveland's Otto Graham moved up from fifth to second. The Packers' Billy Howton is tied with Pete Pihos, Eagles, and Bob Boyd, Rams, as runnerups to Bill Wilson of the 49ers as the league's best pass receivers. Wilson has grabbed 49 and Howton 44. Fred Cone, who did not play football until he tried out with Clemson, has developed into one of the NFL's greatest kickers - thanks to Ted Fritsch's teaching. Cone's career total of 108 extra points (24 this season) is second only to Don Hutson's mark of 174. Fred has also kicked nine field goals this season to give him a four year total of 20. Cone has thus kicked his way into fifth spot in Packer all-time scoring
GAME RECAP (MILWAUKEE SENTINEL)
(DETROIT) - The Green Bay Packers, playing their bruising
best, had the World Champion Detroit Lions on the ropes in
the last two minutes here Thanksgiving Day but the knockout
punch failed to click - a dropped pass giving pro football's
mightiest a 28-24 win. Veteran Al Carmichael, all along on the
Lions' 40 yard line, dropped a 50 yard Tobin Rote strike which
was touchdown destined. Eight plays later Bobby Dillon had a
chance to set up the clincher - if he could have hung on to
Detroit's Tom Dublinski's pitch. He didn't and that was the ball
game. Addicted to losing the close ones, it was another
heartbreaking loss for Coach Liz Blackbourn's club which has
lost six league games by only 27 points. But how those
Packers played! They outgained the champions convincingly
on the ground and in the air. It was a performance which kept
a standing room Briggs Stadium crowd of 55,532 jittery to the
very end in a game played under the lights on this cold,
gloomy day. They gave the Packers a standing ovation.
2ND 4-POINT LOSS
Here was a team which had played the world's best to a
standstill in a five day span. Last Sunday, it was an almost
similar 21-17 - four point loss to the champs. Green Bay was
hurt defensively with veteran Val Joe Walker sidelined with a
wrenched knee. And with Gene White, a sensational rookie
linebacker still out, it was a case of using anyone available.
Veryl Switzer filled in for Walker and did a tremendous job.
What really gave the Lions trouble was the Packer defensive
line, which played its brutal best against the champions.
HALT LIONS' RUNNERS
The Packers held such commendable runners as Bill Bowman
to eight yards in eight attempts and Bob Hoernschemeyer to
three yards in seven attempts. Lew Carpenter, the Lion ground
gainer, was the most effective, yet totaled only 39 yards on
six carries. These Packers, 16 point underdogs, produced
probably the thriller of the season in the third quarter, and it
could not have come at a more opportune time. Behind 28-17,
Rote, handicapped by a painful nose and charley horse,
uncorked the deadliest strike of his career. Thrown for a 13
yard loss on the previous play, he pitched a 47 yarder to Max
McGee, who scampered all the way from the Detroit 35. There
was no defender withing 20 yards of McGee as the play
covered 82 yards.
BACK IN GAME
It put the Packers right back into the game as the quarter
ended. It looked like another upset in the making before those
heartbreaking dropped passes. Layne, triggering the Detroit
attack, gained the coveted "Century Club" of the NFL, passing
for two touchdowns. The Lions' T-formation specialist now has
thrown 101 touchdown aerials in his professional career. His
100th TD toss tied the brawl, 7-7, in the first quarter. The
Packers went ahead again and the Lions knotted it again on
a gift score.
PASS INTERCEPTED
Rote, badly rushed by Sherwin Gandee, misfired to Howie
Ferguson. A rambunctious Jack Christiansen grabbed the ball
and scampered 30 yards untouched with five minutes left in
the half. Christiansen was the menace in the next quarter
when he fielded McGee's punt on the Detroit 39 and raced 61
yards up the center to give the Lions a commanding 28-17 lead. Not only the two key dropped passes, but several costly bobbles kept Rote's passing from denting the Lion defense when yardage was needed. Consequently, he completed only 13 of 38 aerials. The Packers commanded play in the first quarter, taking the lead when Al Carmichael took a handoff from Rote and lateraled to Breezy Reid on the Lion 43. It was off to the races for the Georgia Peach who went down the sideline for a touchdown. The drive covered 66 yards in four plays. Cone converted and the Packers were ahead 7-0. Detroit wasted little time bouncing back, scoring less than a minute later. With a second down and eight on their own 44, Layne hit Dibble for a first down on the Packer 29. Two plays later Layne flipped to Doak Walker on the two and the Doaker stepped into the end zone for the touchdown. Walker tied it up with his conversion. The second Green Bay touchdown drive was a beauty. Carmichael took Jim Martin's kickoff and returned it to his own 37. Rote passes to Ferguson on the Lion 35 and he raced to the Detroit 14, a gain of 49 yards.
ROTE SNEAKS FOR TD
Rote's next aerial bounced off Ferguson's shoulder pads. A nifty catch by Billy Howton out the ball on the Lions' 5. Four plays later Rote sneaked from the one and Green Bay was out in front again, 14-7. But the next Detroit equalized really hurt. It was too easy when Christiansen intercepted Rote' pass on the Packer 30 just before the half ended. Green Bay came right back after the intermission, going ahead on a 26-yard field goal by Fred Cone. Clayton Tonnemaker set up the score when he stole the ball from Jug Girard on the Detroit 24. Detroit got a real break minutes later when, on fourth down, the Packers' John Martinkovic was guilty of roughing Layne. Instead of getting the ball, the Packers saw Detroit set up its third touchdown from the Packer 40. A Layne aerial to Dibble shot the ball to Green Bay's 10. Layne then fired to Carpenter who ran into the end zone, the drive covering 60 yards in three plays. And when Christiansen returned McGee's punt for a touchdown near the end of the quarter, it looked as gloomy as the day for Green Bay.
82 YARD AERIAL
But the Packers were not to be denied. It was the time for the thriller of the day - the 82-yard touchdown pass, Rote to McGee. Cone booted the extra point and the Packers trailed, 28-24. Just four points behind and a whole quarter to play! Hardly any of the thousands here were thinking this was a ball game. With Dublinski throttling the Lions, they moved to the Packer 24 where Deral Teteak save a possible score, intercepting Dublinski's pass on the Packer 17 and running it back to his own 40. Determined to go for broke, the Packers, mostly on the ground, drove to the Lion 32 before drawing a penalty. On fourth down, Cone's try for a 42-yard field goal was wide to the right and Detroit took over. Detroit had a rough time moving and had to punt. This time Rote was set for the long one, the winning one - but it was dropped. That's football, they say. The Packers outgained the Lions, 133-85 on the ground, 217-214 in the air, and 350-299 in total yards. Reid was the Packer workhorse, picking up 61 yards in seven carries, his 45 yard romp being the longest. McGee's 82 yard touchdown pass catch was the longest, while Howton caught four for 34 yards.
GREEN BAY -  7  7 10  0 - 24
DETROIT   -  0 14 14  0 - 28
1st - GB - Reid, 48-yard run (Cone kick) GREEN BAY 7-0
2nd - DET-Doak Walker, 18-yard pass from Bobby Layne (Walker kick) TIED 7-7
2nd - GB - Rote, 1-yard run (Cone kick) GREEN BAY 14-7
2nd - DET - Jack Christiansen, 30-yard interception (Walker kick) TIED 14-14
3rd - GB - Cone, 26-yard field goal GREEN BAY 17-14
3rd - DET - Lew Carpenter, 8-yard pass from Layne (Walker kick) DETROIT 21-17
3rd - DET - Christiansen, 61-yard punt return (Walker kick) DETROIT 28-17
3rd - GB - McGee, 82-yard pass from Rote (Cone kick) DETROIT 28-24
PACKERS GO WEST FOR FINAL CONTESTS
DECEMBER 3 (Milwaukee Journal) - Lisle Blackbourn, Green Bay coach, was both happy and unhappy as his Packers took off by chartered plane from Billy Mitchell Field here Friday morning for their final NFL games, at San Francisco Sunday and at Los Angeles a week later. He was happy because of the new contract the Packers gave him Thursday. He was unhappy because of the physical and possibly mental condition of the Packers for their last two engagements. Victories would give them .500 for the season. "We're not in too good shape," Blackbourn said before the plane took off. Defensive back Val Joe Walker still is troubled by a locked knee. Gene White, another defensive ace in the backfield, is ready to go again. But the rookie from Georgia will have to shake off the rust of four weeks' inactivity. Linebacker Clayton Tonnemaker, Blackbourn said, "is gimping around a bad knee." And defensive end Stretch Elliott may play little against the 49ers Sunday, due to a strained ankle suffered against the Lions in Detroit Thanksgiving Day. One encouraging thing about Elliott's injury, though, was the way Gene Knutson, the rookie from Beloit by way of the University of Michigan, came through as his replacement. "Gene proved himself a capable defensive end," Blackbourn said. "He's a good prospect." Art Hunter, rookie offensive tackle from Notre Dame, may not be available for the coast contests. If he is, he hardly will be ready for peak performance. Hunter is about to be drafted into the Army and has been away from Green the last few days. With the Lions all but assured of their third straight Western Division title, Blackbourn could see little difference in the incentive for the Packers as compared with that of either the 49ers or the Rams. "I know it's hard to win on the coast," Blackbourn said. "I've been out there with both Marquette and Wisconsin. Perhaps it is the difference in temperature. But it seems to me that the West Coast teams always are higher than a kite when they play at home." Blackbourn said the Packers had a bad week of practice. "We were breaking camp, so to speak," he said, "and everyone was around saying goodbye to the players. It's not good, either, practicing on frozen ground - you just can't maneuver right. The boys didn't seem quite so eager as before, but you can't blame them after all the tough games we've had, especially those two with the Lions in five days."
49ERS FACE PACKERS; SHAW'S JOB SHAKY
DECEMBER 4 (San Francisco) - The weather may not be the only stormy situation at Kezar Stadium Sunday when the Green Bay Packers battled the San Francisco 49ers at 4 o'clock, Milwaukee time. The game will be broadcast over WEMP and WTMJ. If the Packers can beat the 49ers for the first time since their NFL series opener back in 1950, the San Francisco hierarchy is bound to sever its relations with Buck Shaw - the only coach in 49er history. Fans here are divided into several factions as a result of: 1) the 49ers' shocking skid from the Western Division lead and 2) Owner Tony Morabito's failure to give Coach Shaw a public show of confidence. Packer Coach Liz Blackbourn, realizing the critical situation, reasoned that his club would face a San Francisco team which has its back to the wall and is fighting mad. Although his Packers are seven point underdogs, Blackbourn declared they are physically and mentally fit to reverse the 23-17 fourth quarter victory the 49ers scored in Milwaukee last October. Only halfback Val Joe Walker and end Stretch Elliott, defensive stalwarts, are shelved with injuries. Shaw admits his pass defense is not strong. Twice the 49ers were beaten in the final seconds by long touchdown passes. Blackbourn, on the other hand, is hoping his receivers - chief of whom are Bill Howton, Max McGee and Howie Ferguson - hold on to Tobin Rote's passes. Dropped aerials cost the Packers two successive games with the Champion Detroit Lions. Joe Perry, 49ers fullback, has missed practice all week, but he rarely need work this late in the year. He has been soaking his injured knee in hopes he will be able to gallop for a hunk of the 130 yards he needs to boost his season total beyond the 1,000 yard mark for the second straight year. Art Hunter, Packer rookie tackle, hasn't worked out all week but is expected to play. He has been in Los Angeles conferring with his draft board.
PACKERS PREPARE FOR TITLE WITH 49ERS SUNDAY; WALKER READY
DECEMBER 4 (San Francisco) - The Green Bay Packers ran through a light drill at Kezar Stadium this morning in their final preparation for their NFL game Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. The Packers arrived from Milwaukee Friday afternoon in a chartered airliner, too late to test the stadium turf. The entire squad, from Coach Liz Blackbourn on down, were happy to find firm footing after a week of drilling on the frozen field at Green Bay. Sunday's game with the 49ers will be the first of two on the West Coast for the Packers who will meet the Rams at Los Angeles a week later. Blackbourn pronounced his squad in "nearly top shape" for the 49ers and indicated that even Val Joe Walker, defensive halfback sidelined by injuries for the past few weeks, probably would see action. "We still have some bumps and bruises," Blackbourn said after arrival, "but you have to expect those in this game, particularly after playing Detroit twice in less than a week. We could be a lot worse, certainly." The Packers, who have never beaten the 49ers in San Francisco, were hungry to avenge their 23-17 loss to Buck Shaw's boys at Milwaukee County Stadium in October. It took a spell of fourth quarter heroics by Y.A. Tittle to give the 49ers the victory after they trailed going into the final period. Green Bay, the league's hardluck team, has lost its six games by a total of 27 points - by one to Pittsburgh, by four each time to Detroit, by five and seven to the Chicago Bears and six to the 49ers. Despite the loss of Hugh McElhenny, the 49ers still have the NFL's top rushing backs in Joe Perry and John Henry Johnson. Perry leads the pro circuit with 870 yards in 135 attempts and Johnson had 634 in 124 tries. Tittle, his injured hand much better, will be in the lineup all the way offensively.
Detroit Lions (8-1) 28, Green Bay Packers (4-6) 24
Thursday November 25th 1954 (at Detroit)
with 228 points (51 this season) which moves him past the immortal Johnny Blood who had 224. Hutson, of course, is the untouchable leader with 825.
NEW CONTRACT FOR LIZ - PLUS RAISE
DECEMBER 2 (Green Bay) - Coach Liz Blackbourn, preparing to take his Green Bay Packers to California Friday for the windup of the 1954 NFL season, was given a new contract Thursday with an increase in salary. The Packer front office said the new contract - exact terms and duration not announced - was offered Blackbourn now "in view of the fine performance" of the club during his first year as coach. Blackbourn came here from Marquette University.
49ERS' SHAW KEEP PLAYERS' CONFIDENCE
DECEMBER 3 (Milwaukee Sentinel) - When the highly touted San Francisco 49ers returned to the West Coast Monday after a most disastrous road trip Head Coach Buck Shaw was faced with a new dilemma - the heat was on. Shellacked in Detroit by a 48-7 count and upset, 17-13, in the final minutes by the Baltimore Colts last Sunday - those things are not suppose to happen to a Shaw-coached team. This was to be the year for San Francisco, a team which has often been a bridesmaid but never a bride in the NFL title picture. But when the 49ers landed in San Francisco to prepare for Sunday's game with the Green Bay Packers, the squad went on record with a whole-hearted vote of confidence for their field boss. Gordy Soltau, Nick Feher and Bob St. Clair were among those outspoken in their praise of Shaw. Said Soltau: "Shaw is the best coach in the business. We're always well prepared for our games. And we've been just as well prepared for the ones we've lost as for the one we've won." Feher said this: "Shaw and his coaching staff of ours is tops. There is more thought given to the plays we use, for example, than any other ball club or any other team I've played for. And the way he handles men. He gets the very best out of them. That's a tremendous thing in itself." St. Clair contributed: "I've only been playing pro ball for two years. Maybe I'm not expected to know too much yet. But people have told me I've done real well on offense this year. Well, I never played offense before. The coaching is responsible if I'm doing a good job. Buck and the rest of the coaching staff taught me what to do." It's building up to one thing. The 49ers will be roaring for a crunching victory over the Packers. This is a must win for Shaw.