Detroit Lions (8-2) 34, Green Bay Packers (2-7-1) 15
Thursday November 26th 1953 (at Detroit)
GAME RECAP (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE)
(DETROIT) - The difference between victory and defeat is sometimes a few short yards. Green Bay's Packers had the world champion Detroit Lions on the ropes in Briggs stadium here Thursday morning. They were just three yards short of what easily could have been the knockout blow - a stunning 22 to 7 lead in the third quarter over a championship club that already had been "pressing" all through the first half. The Lions were ripe for an upset this Thanksgiving Day and the partisan crowd of 52,607 - a record Turkey Day gathering here - sensed it when the Packers drove from midfield to the Lion 15 in six plays early in the third frame. The big throng sat in silence as quarterback Babe Parilli jogged around right end and lateraled to Al Carmichael, who completed a 12-yard gain to the Lion three. Then, a deafening roar broke out as the ball squirted from under Carmichael and Jim Cain recovered the fumble on the three. The champions were off the ropes at that moment, though groggy, and Bobby Layne and Cloyce Box quickly took care of that condition by working a record-breaking 97-yard touchdown pass play to cut the Bays' lead to 15-14. The Lions added another touchdown a moment later for a 21-15 score, yet the Packers weren't finished yet. Facing a furious group of Lions, the Packers stormed 65 yards in 15 straight rushing plays to come within four yards of taking a 22-21 lead late in the third quarter. But again, it happened; this time Parilli, needing but one yards for a first down, threw a lateral into space after making the necessary yardage and Detroit recovered. Detroit went on to a field goal, a touchdown and another field goal in the fourth quarter for a final score of 34 to 15 - a reading that betrays the closeness of the 41st meeting between these two rivals. The Packers scored all of their points in the first quarter and the Lions added 14 in the third - when the Bays made their two ill-fated bids - and 13 in the fourth frame. This was a perfect game for millions of the nation's grid fans who saw the game on television. The ball changed 12 times on intercepted passes or fumble recoveries; the tackling and blocking was vicious; tempers were short; and some of the individual performances were record breaking. The 97-yard pass play was the longest in Lion history and third longest in league history. The Packers' Bobby Dillon intercepted four passes for what must be chalked up
as a new Packer record for number of interceptions. It was easily his greatest performance as a pro, but also his most heartbreaking. The swift Texan injured both knees with less than two minutes in the game and had to be removed from the field on a stretcher. He may be lost for the last two games on the west coast. Breaks were a dime a dozen in this thriller. All but one of the six touchdowns and one of the three field goals, including a 42-yarder by Fred Cone, were set up by pass interceptions or fumble recoveries. The Packers grabbed five Detroit passes and recovered two fumbles - both by Val Joe Walker. Ace Loomis got one interception and assisted Dillon on one of his four. The 22-point first bristled with breaks. Detroit took a 7-0 lead after swiping a Parilli pass; Cone booted a field goal after Dillon grabbed Layne's pass; Parilli threw to Bob Mann for 16 yards and a TD after Walker recovered Ollie Cline's fumble; and Parilli scored on a short keeper run after Bob Smith got off a 15-yard punt. Parilli directed the Packer offense except for a series near the end when Tobin Rote operated the spread, and were able to control the ball for 46 rushing plays against the Lions' 31. The Packers passed 13 times and Detroit 18. Detroit took statistical honors, 356 total yards to the Packers' 227. Detroit gained 141 through the air, although nearly 100 yards of that total came on one play, while the Packers settled for 73. The Bays' 154 yards rushing was exceptional through the Lions' tough line. The Lions ran for 215 yards, including 41 on a touchdown run by Bob Hoernschemeyer. But in the end, the Packer offense showed only 15 points and two "almost" touchdowns - any one of which might have enabled the Packers to win. The Packer defense played brilliantly and actually the turning point in this unit's performance was the 97-yard touchdown strike. Loomis went back with Box and then apparently misjudged the ball as he slowed down to go for an interception. Box was about three feet behind Ace when he hauled in Layne's perfectly thrown pass. It was Detroit's ninth straight victory over the Packers - a jinx that started in 1948. It was the Packers' third straight loss, including a 14-7 job to Detroit in Green Bay, since a tie with the Chicago Bears. The Bays how have a 2-7-1 record...The Packers got a seven-point sock in the teeth before the game was three minutes old. On second down after receiving the opening kickoff, Parilli's pass aimed at Howton was intercepted by Schmidt, to give the Lions position on the Packer 33, Schmidt returning six yards. Five plays later, the Lions had a 7-0 lead with 2:39 of the period as Hoernschemeyer hit for eight, Layne for 11 and Hoernschy for three to the 11. Hart took a short pass over the line to the three and Hoernschemeyer went over outside left tackle standing up. The complexion of the game changed swiftly. After the Packers were forced to punt, Dillon intercepted Layne's pass intended for Box on the Detroit 43. After Reid and Ferguson settled for seven yards in three tries, Cone, facing a driving snow, booted a field goal from the 44 for a 7-3 score with 7:15 gone. The Lions tried another play from their own 27 and Cline fumbled and Walker recovered on the Detroit 35. Parilli hit Elliott up the middle for 17 yards on the 18. After Reid gained two and a pass to Mann went high, Mann took Parilli's pass just inside the red flag on the goal line for a TD. Cone's kick was good, but the Packers were holding. His try from the 30 went wide and the score was 9-7...Detroit started from its own 18 but they wound up on the 11, with Martinkovic and Wildung getting key tackles. Smith helped the Packer cause (as the Bays had been helping other teams in recent games) by getting off a 15-yard punt and the Packers had an eight-point lead in four plays. Reid hit outside left tackle, skipped away from four Lions and raced 21 yards to the five. Cone got two-plus in two belts at the right side after which Parilli circled right end on a keeper for the TD. Boone juggled a low pass from center and Cone's extra point was low. But the scoreboard showed 15-7. After an exchange of punts, the Lions threatened as Layne threw to Box for 14, and to Girard for nine but Walker grabbed Layne's fumble on the Packer 27. Rush booted a low, long liner that Girard returned 32 yards before Tonnemaker tackled him hard on the Bay 23. With the heat on, the Packers stiffened, Loomis and Tonnemaker throwing Layne for a two-yard loss on third down, and forced a field goal. Martin, booting for the injured Doak Walker, missed from the 24...After Parilli hit Elliott down the middle for 16 yards, Rush was forced to punt, the Lions taking over on their own 17 to set the stage for a battle of interceptions just before the half. Dillon intercepted Tom Dublinski's long throw in front of Dorne Dibble on the Bay 36, but the Packers were forced to punt, the Lions starting over from their own 13. On second down, Loomis and Dibble fought for Dublinski's pass and Dillon intercepted it to launch a series of three straight interceptions on consecutive plays. From the Bay 42, Parilli hurled toward Howton and Jim David grabbed it to give Detroit the ball on its own 29. Loomis then grabbed Dublinski's throw aimed at Box. With only seconds left, Parilli decided not to take any more chances and ran up the middle for four yards. The second half wasn't 20 seconds old when the Packers put the Lions on the ropes. Dillon hurled the blow when he intercepted Layne's pass on the 50. Cone and Ferguson moved to the 47 and Rush took Parilli's pass to the 33 as the Lions started to reel. After Carmichael made four and Parilli's pass to Rush went off his fingertips, Carmichael took Parilli's screen pass and moved 14 yards to the 15. Then it happened, Parilli moved around right end nicely and lateraled perfectly to Carmichael on the 10, but Al fumbled under a horde of Lions on the three-yard line, Cain recovering on the spot, and the Packers' chance of a 22-7 lead went out of the window...The Packers almost got it back on Detroit's first play, Loomis barely missing an interception of Layne's incompleted pass to Girard in the left flat. On the next play, Layne uncorked his 97-yard touchdown pass play to Box, who got behind to Box who got behind Loomis and took the ball perfectly thrown ball on the Bay 45. The Lions started to rage on the unexpected long touchdown and they got an excellent break after the Packers made five yards in two tries. Bingaman, the Lion middle guard, batted up Parilli's third down pass and grabbed the ball on the Bay 42. After an incompleted pass, Hoernschemeyer cut wide about right end and moved down the sidelines for a TD and Martin's boot made it 21-15. The Lions, obviously coming up for the kill, were shocked as the Packers, starting from their own 31, belted to the Detroit four-yard line in 14 running plays before they recovered Parilli's wayward lateral. Cone opened with a nine-yard thrust around left end and Carmichael hit the right side for four to the 44. Cone, Carmichael and Reid punched 13 yards in three tries to the Detroit 43. After Cone and Reid made eight, Parilli went around right end on a keeper, lateraled to Reid and blocked out Christiansen to pave the way for Reid's 11-yard gain to the Lion 24...Cone hit off left tackle, fumbled and Reid recovered for a seven-yard gain. Cone made it a first down on the 14 in two tries. Carmichael, on a lateral from Parilli, made six and Cone moved right guard for one. Cone tried the left side for two yards. Then on fourth down, Parilli circled right end on a keeper and made enough for a first down. Just before he was hit he lateraled but no one was around to take the ball - except Christiansen who scooped up the ball on the nine and raced 91 yards into touchdown land, apparently unaware that a fumbled lateral cannot be returned. This strange loss of the ball all but broke the Packers' mental outlook on life and the Lions, with Gedman getting off runs of 14 and 27 yards, Hoernschemeyer going 17 and Layne passing to Dibble, rolled 75 yards to the Bays' 16. At this point, the Packers were penalized for roughness, giving the Lions a first down on the eight. With Zatkoff, Loomis and Wildung getting key tackles, the Bays stiffened and Martin booted a field goal from the 12 for a 24-15 lead. With 10 minutes left and in need of 10 points to go in front 25-24, the Packers launched a drive from the 33 and quickly moved to midfield when Parilli completed his first pass to Howton for 14 yards. But two downs later, Parilli fumbled when swarmed over by a host of Lions and Doran recovered on the Packer 39. Ben Aldridge made the Packers' sixth interception of the day on the two but the Bays went into the spread. Rote ran for five yards to the 31 but on the next two plays he was thrown for losses of 1 and 18 yards when receivers couldn't get into the open. Rush punted to Smith, who lateraled to Girard who in turn lateraled to Christiansen for an odd five-yard return to the Packer 45. The Lions quickly drove to the 17 yard line where two penalties on them stalled the attack. Martin stepped back on the 25 and booted his second field goal for a 34-15 margin. On the drive, Dillon injured his knee and had to be carried off the field on a stretcher. On the last play, Parilli hurled to Cone for 12 yards.
GREEN BAY - 15 0 0 0 - 15
DETROIT - 7 0 14 13 - 37
GREEN BAY DETROIT
First Downs 13 17
Rushing-Yards-TD 48-154-1 30-210-3
Att-Comp-Yd-TD-Int 13-7-13-1-3 81-8-160-1-5
Sacked-Yards 3-30 2-19
Net Passing Yards 73 141
Total Yards 227 351
Fumbles-lost 5-3 3-2
Turnovers 6 7
Yards penalized 5-48 5-25
1ST - DET - Bob Hoernschemeyer, 3-yard run (Jim Martin kick) DETROIT 7-0
1ST - GB - Fred Cone, 44-yard field goal DETROIT 7-3
1ST - GB - Bob Mann, 16-yard pass from Babe Parilli (Cone kick failed) GREEN BAY 9-7
1ST - GB - Parilli, 2-yard run (Cone kick failed) GREEN BAY 15-7
3RD - DET - Cloyce Box, 97-yard pass from Bobby Layne (Martin kick) GREEN BAY 15-14
3RD - DET - Hoernschemeyer, 41-yard run (Martin kick) DETROIT 21-15
4TH - DET - Gene Gedman, 4-yard run (Martin kick) DETROIT 28-15
4TH - DET - Martin, 22-yard field goal DETROIT 31-15
4TH - DET - Martin, 25-yard field goal DETROIT 34-15
GREEN BAY - Breezy Reid 13-67, Fred Cone 14-35, Al Carmichael 7-28, Babe Parilli 6-11 1 TD, Howie Ferguson 6-9, Tobin Rote 2-4
DETROIT - Bob Hoernschemeyer 11-97 2 TD, Gene Gedman 5-44 1 TD, Bob Smith 3-39, Bobby Layne 4-16, Ollie Cline 2-10, Jug Girard 3-5, Lew Carpenter 2-4, Jack Christiansen 0-(-5)
GREEN BAY - Babe Parilli 13-7-103 1 TD 3 INT
DETROIT - Bobby Layne 13-7-150 1 TD 2 INT, Tom Dublinski 5-1-10 3 INT
GREEN BAY - Carl Elliott 2-33, Bob Mann 1-16 1 TD, Al Carmichael 1-14, Billy Howton 1-14, Fred Cone 1-13, Clive Rush 1-13
DETROIT - Cloyce Box 2-110 1 TD, Bob Hoernschemeyer 1-10, Dorne Dibble 1-10, Jug Girard 1-9, Gene Gedman 1-8, Leon Hart 1-8, Ollie Cline 1-5
The most bizarre two-week stretch in Packers history
A fired Gene Ronzani refused to say goodbye by Cliff Christl
If it wasn't the most bizarre two-week stretch in Packers history… Well, let's just put it this way: It would be hard to imagine anything topping it. You be the judge. Here's the timeline, from Nov. 23, 1953, to Dec. 6, 1953.
Nov. 23 – On the Monday after the Packers turned the ball over six times and succumbed to San Francisco, 37-7, before a crowd of 16,378 at Milwaukee County Stadium, the executive committee treated the players and coaches to a luncheon at the YMCA. Following the lunch, the 11-man executive committee went into a meeting and the players went to practice.
Nov. 25 – At 6:30 p.m., the night before Thanksgiving, the Packers' executive committee gathered in attorney Fred Trowbridge's office in the Bellin Building, according to the minutes of the meeting. The members voted to appoint a committee to meet with head coach Gene Ronzani on Friday morning, two days later, and inform him that the Packers wished to terminate his services, but he could choose to resign instead and receive his full salary through Feb. 6, 1954, and termination pay of $7,500 that was spelled out in his contract. The full committee appointed members Fred Leicht, Verne Lewellen and Trowbridge to handle the matter. Ronzani was in his fourth season and the Packers were 2-6-1 at the time.
Nov. 26 –The Packers lost their Thanksgiving Day battle to Detroit, 34-15, at Briggs Stadium after blowing a 15-7 halftime lead. The Lions improved to 8-2 with the victory and would go on to win the NFL championship.
Nov. 27 – The executive committee convened at 10:25 a.m., again at Trowbridge's office, and the three members of the committee assigned to handle the coaching matter reported they had briefly talked with Ronzani, but he refused to resign or even discuss his situation with them and left the building. At that point, Dominic Olejniczak, another member of the executive committee, left the meeting and spent considerable time on the phone talking with Ronzani before finally convincing him to resign. Ronzani transmitted his resignation and the committee voted to accept it. The meeting adjourned at 11:55 a.m. At 1 p.m., the Packers' board of directors met at the Hotel Northland, where Ronzani informed the 18 members who were present that he had submitted his resignation as head coach, vice president of the executive committee and member of the board at 11:50 that morning. Ronzani, who had compiled a 14-31-1 record as Packers coach, immediately left the meeting. It was adjourned at 1:30 p.m. In between the two meetings, team president Russ Bogda announced Ronzani's resignation and said his three assistant coaches – Hugh Devore, Scooter McLean and Chuck Drulis – would be in charge of the team for its final two games on the West Coast and share authority equally. The Green Bay Press-Gazette reported it would be the first time in NFL history that a team would have three head coaches serving at once.
Nov. 28 – The players had a second straight day off. The Press-Gazette reported practice would resume at 3 p.m. Sunday. It also reported that Bogda and the three interim coaches refused comment. Ronzani told the paper that he wished the Packers "the best of luck in the future." The Milwaukee Journal reported the next day that two candidates had submitted formal applications on Saturday: Tom Hearden, former coach at Green Bay East High School and St. Norbert College who had helped coach the freshman team at the University of Wisconsin that fall, and former Packers star Clarke Hinkle.
Nov. 29 –The Packers' executive committee held a Sunday morning meeting at the team's office building on South Washington Street and voted to fire Drulis as one of the three interim coaches, according to The Journal. Bogda and former team president Lee Joannes were assigned to speak to Drulis, according to the minutes. Behind closed doors, scout Jack Vainisi reported to the executive committee that Drulis had told him to watch his back because his job was in jeopardy and to make copies of his scouting reports to protect himself. McLean vouched that he had overheard the conversation between Drulis and Vainisi. Bogda met with the players before their Sunday practice and told them, according to the Press-Gazette's Art Daley, "We've had our troubles this season, but remember that all of Green Bay will be backing you all the way in your last two games."
Nov. 30 – The Packers practiced that Monday morning, but a blanket of snow prevented them from getting much done. Ronzani and Drulis spoke to the players briefly. After practice, the executive committee held a luncheon for the players at the YMCA cafeteria.
Dec. 1 –The Packers left on an 11 a.m. Chicago & North Western train for San Francisco with a transfer in Chicago. And, lo and behold, Ronzani joined them on the train. During the stopover in Chicago, around 3:30 p.m., Ronzani told The Associated Press, "I'm not a member of the party, naturally, but I'm interested in some of the players and if I can give them any tips, I'll be glad to." The AP also reported Ronzani had done just that as the players awaited their train for San Francisco. Meanwhile, the executive committee met at the Northland for two hours and mapped plans for hiring a new coach when the season ended. Bogda also reported to the committee that Ronzani "had removed from the Packer office considerable property belonging to the corporation, and certain correspondence, scouting reports, and play diagrams." The committee voted to have Trowbridge write Ronzani and ask that the property be immediately returned. Bogda reported that Drulis had agreed to resign and his resignation was accepted as of Nov. 29.
Dec. 2 – Daley reported in his "Sports Cocktail" column in the Press-Gazette that Ronzani had closeted himself in the Packers' office building from 12:30 p.m. the previous Friday, shortly after he had met with the board, until 10 a.m. Tuesday, about an hour before the Packers' train departed. "Granting a little time to clean out his desk, etc., Ronzani should have been cleared out by sometime Saturday," Daley wrote. "His presence ruined all chances of the co-coaches to prepare for the San Francisco game and accustom themselves to the change. The heat was fierce in the Packer office these past few days." Oliver Kuechle of The Journal reported Bogda was surprised to learn that Ronzani was on the train with the Packers and quoted him in that day's paper as saying, "It's all a little embarrassing perhaps, but there's nothing we can do."
Dec. 3 – The Packers arrived in San Francisco at 5 p.m. and headed to the Sonoma Mission Inn in Boyes Hot Springs, Calif., about 50 miles north of the city. Devore and McLean had hoped to hold a practice that evening, but it was rained out. Ronzani arrived on the same train and headed to a downtown hotel, where he told a reporter, "Why shouldn't I come out here?" He added, "Remember, I had planned on this trip anyhow. I like California." He said he planned to spend a day at the racetrack, attend Sunday's game and then head to Los Angeles, where the Packers were scheduled to play the Rams in their final game on Dec. 12.
Dec. 4 – With just two days remaining before their game in San Francisco, the Packers returned to the practice field for the first time since Monday. The Press-Gazette quoted Devore and McLean as saying, "Everything is swell."
Dec. 5 –The Packers stayed at the Sonoma Mission Inn and faced a 50-mile bus ride to Kezar Stadium the next morning.
Dec. 6 – With Ronzani watching from the press box, the Packers suffered their worst loss of the season, bowing to the 49ers, 48-14, in a steady rain that turned the field to mud. "I certainly didn't expect that it would be that bad," Ronzani said of the score. Before the game, he said he had offered to call the Packers' plays, but members of the team's board of directors forbid it. Instead, Ronzani spent the game calling the plays for the reporters around him. When Packers quarterback Babe Parilli threw an interception that the 49ers' Rex Berry returned 30 yards for a touchdown, Ronzani told those within earshot, "That's what coaches get blamed for. All season long, I've told Parilli and Tobin Rote not to scatter arm their passes. It's better to eat the ball than to throw it up for grabs." Ronzani also grumbled at one point that he was unable to get a feel for how the players felt before the game because he was barred from talking to them. "I don't know," he said. "I couldn't even go into the dressing room." The Associated Press reported the Packers players held a dinner for Ronzani after the game.
Postscript: The Packers lost to the Rams, 33-17, the following Saturday in their final game and finished 2-9-1. The Los Angeles Times reported the morning of the game that Ronzani was going to watch it from the press box, but there were no sightings reported afterward, or none that could be uncovered anyway. A month later, Lisle Blackbourn was hired as Ronzani's successor. (SOURCE: Packers.com)
FIRE GENE TODAY
NOVEMBER 26 (Green Bay) - The Milwaukee Sentinel learned Thursday night that Packer coach Gene Ronzani will be fired when the executive board convenes here Friday morning. Hugh Devore, assistant coach, is expected to handle the Bays for their remaining two games.
DEVORE, DRULIS, MCLEAN IN CHARGE FOR LAST TWO GAMES
NOV 27 (Green Bay) - Gene Ronzani resigned today as head coach of the Green Bay Packers. Russ Bogda, president of the Packer corporation, announced that the executive committee has accepted the resignation, effective immediately. He also announced that the club's three assistant coaches - Hugh Devore, Chuck Drulis and Ray McLean - will be in charge of the club for the remaining two NFL games on the west coast. Ronzani's resignation, submitted to the executive committee this morning, came less than 24 hours after the Packers absorbed a 34 to 15 defeat at Detroit Thursday. Ronzani had been under fire by the fans for most of the current season which is approaching the worst in the team's history. The club has a record of two wins, seven losses and one tie thus far in '52. How the three coaches will conduct their operations was not known immediately. They have been given equal authority. It was the first time in the history of the league that a team was led by three coaches. There has been a number of two-coached squads. Ronzani was in his fourth year as head coach. He replaced Curly Lambeau, founder of the Packers and their head coach for 30 years, on Feb. 6, 1950. Lambeau has resigned Feb. 1, 1950 to become head coach of the Chicago Cardinals. Drulis and McLean both are in their third season as assistant coaches here. Devore is in his first, having been signed last spring. Ronzani coached the Packers in 46 National League games and finished with 16 victories, 31 losses and one tie, through the Thanksgiving Day loss in Detroit. The native of Iron Mountain, Mich., compiled a 3-9 record in 1950 as he picked up the remains of two losing seasons left by Lambeau. The record was the same in 1951, 3-9, but enthusiasm mounted after Ronzani picked Babe Parilli, Bill Howton, Bobby Dillon and several other stars in the college draft in January of 1952. Ronzani turned in a six-six season last fall and the Packers last fall for the league championship as late as the 11th game. They lost their last three games to Detroit, Los Angeles and San Francisco. A bright season was predicted for 1953 on the basis of the improvement in 1952 over the previous year. However, the Bays' offense was seriously damaged when Howton suffered several broken ribs the week before the league opener. Ronzani's record thus far shows two victories - both over the Baltimore Colts - and seven defeats, two to the world champion Detroit Lions and one each to Cleveland, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Chicago Bears, and the lone tie against the Bears in Chicago. During his tenure as head coach, Ronzani traded frequently in an effort to bolster the club. In the most successful of approximately 15 deals, Ronzani obtained defensive halfback Val Joe Walker and the New York Giants' first draft choice next January for former Army quarterback Arnold Galiffa. Galiffa was selected on the 17th round in the 1950 draft by Lambeau, despite the fact that he was headed for three years in service.
PACKERS MEET TODAY ON RONZANI OUTSTER
NOV 27 (Green Bay) - Executive board of the Green Bay Packers met this morning to hand coach Gene Ronzani's his walking papers, the Associated Press learned today. Hugh Devore, assistant coach, is expected to handle the NFL team for its remaining two games. Packer president Russell W. Bogda declined to confirm or deny the report but it is a virtual certainty that Ronzani IS on his way out. The only question is when. Executive board members, some of whom earlier favored Ronzani's retention, now reportedly agree that he must go, but are undecided whether to dispose of him now or wait until the season ends December 13. Rumors that Ronzani's days were numbered have circulated all season as the Packers, picked in early forecasts as likely contenders, floundered dismally. The howling started when the club dropped four straight exhibition games and grew louder after a 27-0 shutout by the Cleveland Browns in the opener. The Packers suffered their seventh defeat yesterday, against two victories and a tie, losing to Detroit, 34-15. The executive board made surprising acknowledgement of the fans' dissatisfaction with the opening loss to Cleveland. A statement issued then by Bogda said the board has "confidence in its coaching staff" and "there will be no changes". Later, when the Packers' record showed four losses against two victories, a players' delegation visited the board and declared it had "full confidence" in Ronzani. Bogda declined to comment Wednesday on a report that a coaching change was planned before season's end, commenting merely: "You know the situation up here." The Packers have had only two coaches during 35 years of operation. E.L. (Curly) Lambeau, who organized the club, coached it until his resignation and replacement by Ronzani in February 1950. Last January, although his three-year record showed only 12 victories and 24 losses. Ronzani was given a new three-year contract at an estimated $12,000 to $15,000 a year, but reportedly containing a dismissal clause permitting the Packers to buy it up at any time for $7,500. Ronzani was a member of the Chicago Bears' organization for 17 years, as player and assistant coach, before joining the Packers. Green Bay currently is in the cellar of the league's Western Conference. At San Francisco, the Chronicle says Green Bay asked Ivy Williamson of Wisconsin and retired coaches George Sauer and Bernie Bierman if they'd be interested in coaching the Packers. The Chronicle's pro football writer, Bruce Lee, recalled that both Green Bay players and directors earlier had given Ronzani votes of confidence. He said Packers players, declining to be named, "laughed and explained: That was done out of respect for whoever shall be the new coach. We figured that the team is so badly shot with discontent and is so completely disorganized now, it would be a dirty trick to bring in a new man and force him to try to bring order out of chaos. Our vote merely means that Ronzani has to finish out this messy season and a new coach can start with clean slate next year." At Toronto, the Globe and Mail says in a story from Los Angeles that the Packers offered George Trafton, coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the last three years, a three-year coaching contract at $17,500 a season.
RONZANI OUT AS HEAD COACH OF THE PACKERS
NOV 27 (Green Bay) - Gene Ronzani "resigned" today as head coach of the Green Bay Packers. The burly ex-Marquette University and Chicago Bears star, whose Packer teams have won only 14 games in the past four years, agreed to step out as head coach at the request of the NFL club's executive board. It was understood the board agreed to pay him $7,500, the amount stipulated in a dismissal clause of his three-year contract which has two seasons to run. Ronzani, the second coach in Green Bay's 35 years of professional football, replaced E.L. (Curly) Lambeau in February 1950. In three full seasons his teams won 12 and lost 24 games. This year the Packers have won two, lost seven and tied one. Hugh Devore, Ray McLean and Chuck Drullis, Ronzani's three assistants, were named to handle the club for its final two games against Los Angeles and San Francisco on the West Coast. An executive board member said there has been no discussion on a permanent successor and that the board would "take its time". An appointment is expected to be made, however, before the league's draft meeting in January.
RONZANI OUT; AIDES HANDLE PACKERS
NOV 27 (Green Bay) - The second cycle in the colorful 35-year old history of the Green Bay Packers came to an end Friday with the dismissal of Gene Ronzani as head coach. (This confirmed an exclusive Milwaukee Sentinel story earlier this week.) Ronzani, whose teams won only 14 of 46 NFL games in just short of four years, was permitted to resign the post he inherited from E.L. (Curly) Lambeau February 6, 1950. The Packers' executive board, however, reportedly paid him the $7,500 provided in the dismissal clause of the three-year contract he signed last January. Coaches Hugh Devore, Ray McLean and Chuck Drulis were named to handle the Packers in the two games remaining on the 1953 schedule - at San Francisco and Los Angeles. The club leaves Tuesday for the West Coast. Packer teams under Ronzani posted the poorest record in the history of the club which, in representing the league's smallest city, population 46,235, has depended on winning teams to remain in operation. His 1950 and 1951 teams finished with 3-9 records and this year's squad has a 2-7-1 slate with two games to go. The 1952 Packers split even in 12 games. Only three times before have Green Bay teams finished under .500 - in 1933, 1948 and 1949. The club has won seven championships, the last in 1944. Ronzani's only previous coaching experience before coming here was with Chicago Bear farm teams at Newark and Akron. He has been a member of the Bears' organization, as a player and coach since 1933 when he left Marquette University after winning nine athletic letters. The sad saga hit bottom this year. The Packers dropped four straight exhibition games after preseason word the club was loaded, then lost three league games in succession. They won only two games, both from Baltimore. In eight games, including the four exhibitions, the Packers were shut out in the second half.
PACKERS LAUNCHING 'NEW ERA' WITH RONZANI'S BEST WISHES
NOV 28 (Green Bay) - The Packers had the best wishes of former head coach Gene Ronzani today as they prepared to launch a temporary “new era” in the club’s long and colorful history. Assistant coaches Hugh Devore, Chuck Drulis and Ray McLean – placed in charge of the team following the resignation of Ronzani yesterday – will take over active direction of the Packers in practice at 3 o’clock Sunday afternoon. The team will be launching preparations for the Forty Niner game in San Francisco a week from Sunday. No practice was held Friday and today since the Bays played in Detroit Thursday. Ronzani, who head-coached the Packers in 46 NFL games since he took over Feb. 6, 1950, said he will speak to the players before the workout. The husky onetime Chicago Bear star and assistant coach wished the Packers “the best of luck in the future” as he closed out his affairs at the Packer office. “The Packers will always be a credit to Green Bay and the National league wherever they play,” Ronzani said, adding, “I know they’ll always give 100 percent and I hope it’s good enough to win; so far it hasn’t been.” Looking over the current season, Ronzani said that “it was the best squad I’ve ever coached; the spirit never was higher than during the season in view of all the adverse publicity about the team and the staff. At no time during the season did the Packers become disorganized and lose control of a game.” As to the club’s future, Ronzani said that “with additional help the Packers will become a contending team and will stay that way.” Ronzani said he could not comment on plans for his own immediate future. Ronzani was the second head coach in the 34-year history of the Packers. He replaced Curly Lambeau, founder and head coach of the team for 30 years, six days after Lambeau resigned in February of 1950 to take over the head coaching job of the Chicago Cardinals. Lambeau presently is head coach of the Washington Redskins – a position he took over at the start of the 1952 season. Russ Bogda, president of the Packer corporation who announced yesterday noon that Ronzani had submitted his resignation, had no further comment today. The resignation became effective immediately and the Packer executive committee appointed Devore, Drulis and McLean to take charge of the club for its last two games. The three assistants will have equal authority. They started preparations for the west coast contests Friday afternoon. The Packers will be looking for revenge in both California matches. They lost to the Forty Niners 37 to 7 in Milwaukee last Sunday and dropped a 38 to 20 decision to the Los Angeles Rams in Milwaukee Oct. 11. The Bays’ 1953 finale in LA is set for Saturday afternoon, Dec. 12. Hampered all season by damaging injuries, the Packers suffered a serious blow in the 34 to 15 loss to Detroit Thursday. Defensive halfback Bobby Dillon injured ligaments in his knee with less than two minutes left in the game, and may miss the last two games. Dillon finished out his sophomore season on a brilliant note, intercepting four passes to give him 10 swipes for the ’53 campaign thus far. He intercepted four throws last fall as a rookie. The Packers couldn’t be blamed for placing a large “X” around the 20-yard line in front of the Detroit bench (both teams sit on the same side of the field in Briggs stadium) the next time they invade Detroit. That’s where fullback Fred Cone was injured a year ago Thanksgiving day. Cone, too, was knocked out of the Bays’ last two games…Members of the Packer coaching threesome had “no comment” yesterday afternoon as they went ahead with plans for the last two battles. Devore, oldest of the trio at 41, is in his 20th year of coaching, although it is his first in pro football. He was signed by Ronzani last spring after being left without a home base following New York University’s decision to quit football. A 1934 Notre Dame graduate and grid star for three seasons, Devore served as ND head coach in 1945. He later coached at St. Bonaventure for four seasons and then went to NYU. Devore hails from West Orange, N.J., is married and father of six children. McLean and Drulis became Packer assistants in 1951. Drulis, a star lineman with the Bears for six seasons, played with the Packers in 1950. The former Temple university guard was an all-pro lineman in 1947 and 1948. Drulis, 35, is married and father of two children. During the offseason, Drulis is in the used car business with former teammate Ray Bray. McLean, who will be 38 Dec. 6 – the day the Packers battle the Rams, replaced Ray Nolting as backfield coach after the 1950 season. The former Bear halfback great was head coach at Lewis college for three years before coming to Green Bay. He played with four Bear championship teams in eight years and was rated as one of football’s fastest halfbacks. McLean played college ball at St. Anselms in Manchester. N.H. Now a resident of Green Bay, McLean is married and father of a son…Speculation on the Packers’ head coach in 1954 started almost immediately after Ronzani resigned yesterday. And from now until the Packer Corporation decides on a successor to Ronzani, the names of scores of possibilities will be booted around by fans throughout the country. Packer officials likely will make a decision shortly after the close of the season (Dec. 12) to give the new coach an opportunity to clear the decks for the college player draft in January. Jack Vainisi, Packer talent scout and administrative assistant, presently is working out plans for the draft. Hundreds of potential stars are being sounded out as to their availability to play pro football.
PREXY PROMISES GENERAL MANAGER TO RUN PACKERS
NOV 28 (Milwaukee Sentinel) - The Green Bay Packers, faced with the necessity of starting over for the second time in their history, are getting off on the right foot for the first time by recognizing the need for a general manager to take over the duties often assumed by many and specifically delegated to the executive committee of 12. That assurance was given Friday by Russ Bogda, club president, who stated flatly "I will press for giving complete authority to one boss." Bogda agreed quite frankly that an old weakness dating back to the early days of informal operation - the division of powers among interested directors and executive committee members - must be eliminated if the Packers are to regain their position of leadership in the NFL. "We have at least one good candidate for the job in mind," Bogda added. "His identity can't be revealed, for obvious reasons. But rest assured we want to do this thing up right this time." The club president, incidentally, admitted the accuracy of the Sentinel's story of Wednesday morning, when it was revealed a "secret" meeting would be held that night for purposes of bringing the "Fire Gene Ronzani" movement to a head. Ronzani's actual "resignation" followed by only a matter of hours the it's-going-to-happen-today news in Friday's Sentinel...'SECRET' MEETING DOESN'T STAY SECRET: The mere fact that there was an information leak - for the 'steenth' time in Packer annals - is the best possible proof that (1) there is nothing like a secret meeting when two or more people know about it and (2) group action is strictly for the birds. If a general manager in fact as well as name is to be selected, as seems likely, all talk about candidates for the head coaching job, included alleged "sure things", is premature. For it is fair to assume that the chief executive would insist upon having the No. 1 voice in selection of the new coach as well as publicity chief, ticket director and such other paid personnel as he might choose to have on a full time basis. The coaching line is forming. No mistake about that. But there is reasonable doubt that all those mentioned to date have been contacted or would even be interested. A San Francisco newspaper, for instance, was the first to toss Ivy Williamson's name into the hopper. To which the Badger coach replied: "I know nothing about it." The pitch for Bernie Bierman, whatever its source, makes more sense, for the ex-Minnesota head man is believed open to offers to get back into active coaching. The same for George Sauer, ex-Packer star now coaching at Baylor...TRAFTON ALREADY 'IN', SAYS TORONTO: Hugh Devore, reliably reported to have been offered the top job in mid-season and now sharing the responsibilities with Ray McLean and Chuck Drulis, naturally is considered a leading candidate. Tom Hearden, a native of Green Bay who coached successfully at Green Bay East High School and St. Norbert's College, also is assured of considerable support. Frosty Ferzacca is another "hometowner" who will be very much in the running if he decides to toss his hat into the ring. Frosty developed a sting of outstanding teams and individual stars at Green Bay West. The prize coaching rumor story came out of Toronto and concerned George Trafton, ex-Chicago Bear star and later assistant coach with the Rams and Packers who handled the Winnipeg Blue Bombers the last three year. According to that yard, the Packers already have offered Trafton a three year contract at $17,500 a year. That offer was promptly denied by Green Bay. In the meantime, according to Bogda, a screening committee will be appointed and then proceed to accept applications, contact possible candidates and otherwise get the preliminaries out of the way - for final action by a general manager, let's hope.
SAD SAGA OF RONZANI ENDS
NOV 28 (Green Bay) - The lamentation in this onetime citadel of professional football has been muffled and now is heard the question of who will be commissioned to repair the fortunes of the Green Bay Packers. Gene Ronzani, head coach of the Packers two games short of four years, was dismissed Friday. The executive board, facing rising dissatisfaction over the team's stature in the NFL, permitted him to resign immediately. Ronzani reportedly was paid the $7,500 provided in the dismissal clause of the three-year contract he signed last January. Thhe executive board will "take its time" in selecting a new coach, a member said. But it's likely the appointment will made before the NFL draft meeting in January to permit the coach to have a say in picking new Packers from this year's college stars. The speculation over the new coach has started and likely won't abate until he's chosen. A San Francisco newspaper reported the Packers have approaches coaches Ivy Williamson of Wisconsin and George Sauer of Baylor and retired coach Bernie Bierman of Minnesota. And a Toronto paper said Green Bay has offered the job to George Trafton, coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Also considered possibilities are Hugh Devore, present assistant coach of the Packers; Tom Heardon, a native of Green Bay, who compiled a good record as coach at St. Norbert College; Frosty Ferzacca of Green Bay West High School; Mike Michalske of the Texas Aggies, and Eddie Kotal of the Los Angeles Rams. But it's all speculation. Packer President Russel Bogda says: "We have at least one good candidate in mind but his identity can't be revealed for obvious reasons." The Packers have two games left on their 1953 schedule - at San Francisco and Los Angeles. Devore and assistant coaches Ray McLean and Chuck Drulis will handle the team in those engagements. Ronzani came to the Packers in February of 1950 after E.L. (Curly) Lambeau, founder and head coach of the team since 1919, resigned. Since then Ronzani's club have won only 14 of 46 league games, the poorest record in the 35-year history of the team. His 1950 and 1951 teams finished with 3-9 records, in 1952 the Packers broke even in 12 games and the slate so far this year reads 2-7-1. Only three times before Ronzani has the Packers finished under .500 - in 1933, 1948 and 1949. The club has won seven championships, the last in 1944. Ronzani, a nine-letter athlete at Marquette University, has been a member of the Chicago Bears' organization as a player and a coach since 1933 when he took the Packers. He had been head coach of Chicago farm teams at Newark and Akron. His tenure here, at a salary said to have been $12,500 annually, was marked by dissatisfaction almost from the start. His staff of assistants showed at least one change every year and reports of player dissension circulated annually. The sad saga hit bottom this year when the Packers floundered after pre-season reports that they were contenders. The executive board decided three days ago that Ronzani had to go, but was in doubt when to cut him off. Thursday's 34-15 loss to Detroit apparently resolved the issue.
KNOWS NOTHING, SAYS WILLIAMSON
NOV 28 (Madison) - Ivy Williamson, football coach at the University of Wisconsin, today said "Nobody has even talked to me about the coaching job at Green Bay." He declined further comment on a report a San Francisco newspaper that he has been approached as a possible successor to Gene Ronzani, until Friday head coach of the Green Bay Packers.
RUMOR LAMBEAU IN PACKERS' PLAN
NOV 28 (Green Bay) - The Green Bay Packers professional football team, organized in 1919, today appeared headed for a "new deal" in administration and coaching for 1954 as its Executive Committee pondered the appointment of a general manager and a successor to Gene Ronzani, who resigned as head coach under fire Thursday. The Packers will be directed by Ronzani's three aides - Hugh Devore, Ray McLean and Chuck Drulis - in their final two games of the season on the West Coast. The team leaves today for San Francisco where it will meet the 49ers December 6 before winding up its season on December 12 against the Rams at Los Angeles. The possible "new deal" for the Packers in 1954 lies with the Executive Committee, comprised of local businessmen. It recently considered the appointment of a general manager to handle the duties now thrust upon the head coach in addition to the latter's handling of the team. If the post of general manager is created for the Packers then the team will be in the market for two men for 1954 - a head coach as well as a general manager. E.L. (Curly) Lambeau, now coach of the Washington Redskins and founder of the Packers in 1919 and the team's coach for 30 years, has been mentioned as a prospect for the general manager's job. Lambeau, still well-liked here, was not available in Washington, D.C., for comment upon the report that he might become general manager of the Packers. But George Marshall, owner of the Redskins, said that "it's all news to me." A spokesman for the Executive Committee said Friday night that no permanent successor has been considered as head coach and that the committee would "take its time". An appointment, however, is expected to be made before the league's draft meeting in January.
RONZANI BREAKS SILENCE, SEES PACKERS TITLE IN FEW YEARS
NOV 28 (Green Bay) - Gene Ronzani, who resigned under fire as head coach of the Green Bay Packers, broke his silence and wished the club "the best of luck in the last two games." The Packers left for the West Coast to complete the season without Ronzani who turned in his resignation Friday at a special meeting of the Packer executive committee. Ronzani's three assistants were placed in charge of the team for the final two games at San Francisco and Los Angeles. Ronzani said Saturday he wanted to "wish my coaching staff the best of luck in the last two games." Assistant coaches Hugh Devore, Chuck Drulis and Ray McLean will share responsibility for the last-place Packers' fortunes for the rest of the campaign. Ronzani said, "I know the Packers are on a good solid basis and with some necessary improvement, they will be a championship club again in a few years." He said he had no hard feelings about his forced resignation which came about after the fans demanded that he be fired for the Packers' poor showing this season. "I want to wish the players, fans and everyone the best of everything in the future," Ronzani said. "I don't want to make any excuses, but we have had more injuries than any ball club in the league this season. We probably haven't publicized them as much as some of the other clubs, but we were hurt bad." Ronzani said he had already received two offers of coaching jobs, but he said he wouldn't make any decisions right away.
GENE RONZANI TO REST, THEN DECIDE FUTURE
NOV 28 (Green Bay) - Gene Ronzani, who left the Green Bay Packers after coaching the NFL team to its worst showing in history, said Saturday "it's just one of those things." The long-time Chicago Bear player and coach who took over as head coach of the Packers in 1950 and guided them to only 14 victories in 46 starts, said he already has received several coaching offers, including one as head coach. "I want to think things over," he said. "Maybe I'll go into business." But first, he said, he'd take a vacation - welcome after the last stormy months of his tenure. "I'll be listening to the games on the radio when the boys play," he said.
NOT CONTACTED: IVY
NOV 28 (Madison) – Ivy Williamson, football coach at the University of Wisconsin, today said, “Nobody has even talked to me about the coaching job at Green Bay.” He declined further comment on a report by a San Francisco newspaper that he had been approached as a possible successor to Gene Ronzani, until Friday head coach of the Packers.
RONZANI BOWED OUT WITH NO-BLAST RECORD INTACT
NOV 29 (Milwaukee Sentinel - Lloyd Larson) - Gene Ronzani's reign as head coach of the Green Bay Packers is a thing of the past. So it no longer matters whether or not he was and is a better or worse coach than the record indicates. Either way, it is only fair to give him a hundred on his final report card in two important "subjects": 1 - Right up through the very minute he resigned with the pressure gun in his back, he had yet to sounds off publicly by way of shifting the heat from himself and his coaching assistants to his players following any of the disappointing defeats of the last four seasons. What went on in squad meetings I have no way of knowing. Perhaps individuals were raked over the coals privately for mechanical and mental blunders, which were as numerous as they were costly. He would be something less than human if he failed to do an occasional raking job. But to my knowledge, he never looked for self-pity by getting on any player for the public to hear or read about. That's quite different from the usual pattern, especially in the professional ranks, where coaches have gone on record time and again in blaming everybody but themselves. Fines, too, were practically unknown on Ronzani's clubs for the simple reasons that, as he often explained, "You can't build winning spirit by slapping fines on the boys." Gene took his separation notice like a man. Right or wrong, it wouldn't have been too unusual if he had bowed out with some sort of a bitter blast at what had developed into an almost impossible coaching situation. But there was no bitterness. Sadness no doubt, but no bitterness. Instead, he wished everybody connected with the Packers well - players, club executives and the thousands of interested fans. "If I'm ever on the other side, I will try my best to beat the Packers, just as I tried my dead level best to win for them as head coach," he said. "But whenever they are playing any club except the one I'm connected with, I'll be pulling for them." Although he refused to elaborate, there was more than a hint in that statement that Ronzani may wind up with another NFL club. Rumor has it that a new head coaching assignment is a definite possibility. In short, the spirit of once-a-Packer-always-a-Packer prevailed. Which should give a lot of people an idea, for there is considerable evidence that Packerland has become a house divided. Ronzani made only this brief but emphatic reference to the never ending rumors and the season-long "shooting" at coaches and players alike: "I deny absolutely all claims of dissension on the squad. A lot of those tales were downright vicious and, believe me, they were tough to take at times. In fact, I'm still amazed that the boys managed to do as well as they did. They were the direct opposite of 'civil war' guys - the best group I had the pleasure of working with in my four years at Green Bay. What the rumormongers did to me and the other coaches was relatively unimportant. The real damage was to the players." Did that behind-the-scenes pressure lead to a vicious circle of more jittery tension, more mechanical failures and more defeats? Specifically, did it cause the Packers to blow those almost-victory games to the Bears and Lions? "All I'll say is I know deep down in my heart that only Cleveland and Pittsburgh gave us good beatings, so judge for yourself," was the reply. And now for the rebuilding job. A complete job, it must be - off the field as well as on - if the Packers and Green Bay hope to say in pro football's big league.
HAMILTON DEFEATS WINNIPEG FOR TITLE
NOV 29 (Toronto) - Ed Songin, one-time Boston College quarterback, pitched the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to a 12-6 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and kept Canada's professional football championship in the east. Songin, who played both fullback and quarterback at Boston College in the 1046-49 period, got the better of Indian Jack Jacobs, former Oklahoma and Green Bay Packers star, in a duel of "imports" from the United States. His passing efficiency gave Hamilton the coveted Grey Cup, emblem of Canadian football supremacy, in a game that was a real thriller for the crowd of 27,500 that jammed every seat in the University of Toronto's compact Varsity Stadium. To Canadian fans, the Grey Cup final, bringing together the champions of the east and west, is a combination of the Army-Navy and Rose Bowl games, with a touch of the World Series and the Kentucky Derby thrown in.
DRULIS LEAVES PACKERS TO VISIT SICK FATHER
NOV 29 (Green Bay) - The Green Bay Packers will be without the services of assistant coach Chuck Drulis when they leave Tuesday for the West Coast for games with the San Francisco 49ers Sunday and the Los Angeles Rams a week from Saturday. Jug Earpe, the Bays' publicity director, announced Sunday Drulis had received word that his father was seriously ill at his home in Girard, PA, and left to be with him. The Packers will be handled by the remaining two coaches, Hugh Devore and Ray McLean, for the season-closing games. The Bays went through a spirited drill here Sunday afternoon and have another scheduled Monday before departing for California.
PACKERS FACING 'TWO BIG JOBS'
NOV 30 (Green Bay) - “We’ve had our troubles this season but remember that all of Green Bay will be backing you all the way in your last two games.” That’s how Russ Bogda, president of Green Bay Packers, Inc., finished up his “official announcement” talk before the Packers’ practice at City stadium Sunday afternoon. It was the club’s first drill since the resignation of Gene Ronzani as head coach Friday morning. The Packers played in Detroit Thursday and had the next two days off. Bogda gave the players the official word on Gene’s action and then told them that assistant coach Chuck Drulis would not be with them for the trip to the west coast. Drulis has received word that his father was seriously ill at his home in Girard, Pa., and left to be with him. Drulis and assistant coaches Hugh Devore and Ray McLain were placed in charge of the club by the Packers’ executive committee after accepting Ronzani’s resignation. Bogda reviewed the season briefly, told about the coaching changes and added: “We’ve got two big jobs left – Los Angeles and San Francisco. We’re expecting you to do your absolute best and every Packer fan is expecting the same. You can be sure that every Packer backer will be behind you in these last two tough games.” Regarding next year, Bogda said that “we hope to see you all back again next year.” The first workout under Devore and McLean was especially spirited as the players worked out the kinks and bruises received in the Detroit game. No game plans were unfolded but the team exercised hard in punting, passing and running. Three regulars were missing from practice – Bobby Dillon, Dave Stephenson and Bill Forester. Dillon, selected as the Packers’ most valuable player in the Detroit game, was en route to his home Sunday in Temple, Texas. Dillon suffered pulled ligaments in his knee and would've been unable to play in the last two games. The defensive star intercepted four passes against the Lions. Forester, the outstanding
rookie lineman, hurried home shortly after the Detroit game. His wife is suffering from pneumonia in Dallas. He expects to join the club on the coast. The Foresters have been under a heavy strain for the past four weeks. Their six-month old son was seriously ill and under the care of specialists in Milwaukee. Two weeks ago, the child was removed to Texas and specialists there since have given up hope for the infant. Stephenson went to Spencer, W.Va., to visit his family after the Detroit game and was grounded en route back to Green Bay yesterday. He arrived last night. Co-coaches Devore and McLean are facing a big job in setting up a road block to stop the powerful San Francisco Forty Niners. Coach Buck Shaw’s ‘Frisco club downed the Packers 37 to 7 in Milwaukee a week ago Sunday and yesterday defeated Baltimore 38 to 21. The Forty Niners are still in the Western conference championship race and likely will be quite frisky. The Packers managed to gain consistently against the Forty Niners, but we able to put together only one sustainable touchdown march. Other than Dillon, the Packers are in good physical condition. Running particularly hard yesterday was Gib Dawson, the former University of Texas star who was placed back on the active list shortly before the Detroit game. Chosen the most valuable player in the College All Star game last August, Dawson had been plagued by injuries most of the season.
PACKERS LEAVE FOR TWO WEST COAST GAMES
DEC 1 (Green Bay) - The Packers left Green Bay today for the west coast and the final two games of the 1953 NFL season – the San Francisco Forty Niners next Sunday and the Los Angeles Rams Saturday afternoon, Dec. 12. In charge of the group of 31 players were Co-Coaches Hugh Devore and Ray McLean. The team will be up to full strength, 33 players, for the two games barring injuries and assuming that defensive halfback Marv Johnson will be ready for active duty. Johnson, who suffered a shoulder separation in the Colt game in Baltimore Oct. 31, has been at his home in California for the last three weeks, taking treatment and getting back into condition. One other player will join the club on the west coast. He is defensive linemen Bill Forester, who is in Texas with his wife who is suffering from pneumonia. In addition, the Forester’s son is seriously ill. Devore said yesterday that “we don’t know definitely whether Johnson can play or not until we arrive in California.” The Packers are in need of a defensive halfback replacement to fill in for the departed Bobby Dillon, who suffered knee injuries in the Detroit game Thursday. Out for the rest of the season, Dillon already had left for his home in Texas. Due to events of the weekend, the two-man coaching staff has been handicapped in making plans for the ‘Frisco game. “We haven’t had much time here,” Devore said, “but we will have plenty of time to talk over the game on the way out.” A number of group meetings will be held during the trip, Devore said. The Packers worked out Sunday afternoon and Monday morning, but a covering of snow on the stadium turf hampered play timing in the Monday drill. Before the practice, Gene Ronzani, former Packer head coach, and Chuck Drulis, former Bay assistant, spoke to the players briefly. The squad was a guest of the Packer executive committee at a luncheon at the YMCA Monday noon. The Packers are scheduled to arrive at Sonoma Mission Inn in Boys Springs, Calif., at 3:20 p.m. Thursday and the coaches hope “we arrive on time because we may be able to get the boys out for a loosening up period before dark.” The only full-scale practice will be held Friday. The Packers will remain at Sonoma Mission Inn next week to prepare for the Ram game. They’ll go to Los Angeles a week from Thursday, headquartering at the Hollywood Roosevelt.
RONZANI TO CALGARY? COLTS EYE NEW PILOT?
DEC 1 (Green Bay) - Gene Ronzani, former head coach of the Green Bay Packers, has been asked to take over the reins of the Calgary Stampeders of Canada’s Western league, according to the Toronto Globe and Mail. The Calgary coaching job was left open by the recent resignation of head coach Bob Snyder, a former Packer assistant and onetime head coach of the Los Angeles Rams. (Ronzani, who resigned Friday, could not be reached this morning for comment.) In Baltimore, Keith Molesworth, head coach of the Baltimore Colts, said Monday night that “no one knows whether he is coming or going” on the coaching staff and “I had heard rumors about me being fired.” However, the Colts’ front office toned down any talk of discontent, and Don Kellett, president and general manager, said he was “completely surprised” at the report. At the same time, the Baltimore Sun reported it had learned authoritatively that Molesworth was slated to take over the football helm at the University of Virginia. Molesworth said he had been approached by a representative from Virginia and also had received several other offers but declined to say what they were…COLTS HAVE 3-7 MARK: At Charlottesville, Va., Gus K. Tebell, athletic director at Virginia, stated that Ned L. McDonald would remain head coach there. Tebell called the Baltimore report “ridiculous” and added, “McDonald is our coach and is going to remain our coach.” Molesworth complained Monday night that the front office had failed to talk contract with the coaching staff. “No one knows whether he is coming or going,” he said. “I believe the whole staff would be relieved if it could know where it stood. I had heard rumors about being fire, but I thought I was doing a pretty good job. The way it is now I don’t know.” Baltimore’s new entry this year in the NFL has a 3-7 record, having lost the last five games.
PACKERS READY FOR COACH APPLICANTS
DEC 1 (Green Bay) - The Green Bay Packer executive board met Tuesday afternoon and mapped procedure to get the best possible head coach to replace Gene Ronzani before the NFL's annual draft meeting January 28. A screening committee, composed of four executive board members whose names will be held in strict confidence, will study applications. President Russ Bogda said that applications for the coaching job are now open. Applications should be addressed to Bogda, 349 South Washington Street, Green Bay. Meanwhile, the Packer prexy indicated that the executive committee was giving serious consideration regarding a general manager directing the club. The Packers have always operated with an executive board. The Packers left Tuesday morning for San Francisco. Boarding the same train was Ronzani. The Calgary Globe and Mail reported Tuesday that Ronzani has been asked to take over the reigns of the Calgary Stampeders of Canada's Western League. On reaching Chicago, Ronzani told newsmen the report he would become the Calgary coach was "news to me." "There has been no direct offer made to me concerning the job," said Ronzani. Ronzani is accompanying the Packers to the West Coast to watch their closing games. "I'm not a member of the party, naturally, but I'm interested in some of the players and if I can give them any tips, I'll be glad to," Ronzani explained.
GREEN BAY NOT A COACHES' GRAVEYARD; 4 IN 35 YEARS!
DEC 1 (Green Bay) - The official history of the Packers, as recorded authentically (no bar rumors, thank you) in these pages day to day, currently is embarking on a new and short chapter, entitled, “Co-Coaches!” Never before in history have the Packers been head-coached by more than one man until Friday when the Packer executive committee appointed Hugh Devore, Ray McLean and Chuck Drulis to pilot the club in its remaining two games following the resignation that day of Gene Ronzani as head coach. Drulis dropped out of the picture Sunday, leaving the reins in the hands of Devore and McLean. The Packers aren’t exactly famous for coaching changes, like, say, the Los Angeles Rams who change top men almost annually. You just don’t rate until you’ve coached the Rams! But for pure amusement, it can be pointed out that our Packers are catching up. It took the Bays 34 years to get two coaches, but they gained three of ‘em during the space of three hours Friday morning and then lost one of them two days later. Lambeau, who founded the club, coached the first 30 years – still an all-time National league coaching service record, and Ronzani missed four full seasons by two games. While these are obvious facts, they are pointed out to emphasize for the public to behold that Green Bay is not a coaches’ graveyard the likes of Los Angeles, Chicago Cardinals, Washington and one or two others. Lambeau, for instance, led the Packers to six World’s Championships and then experienced a gradual decline in fortune three years after the sixth, in 1944. Ronzani, with records of 3-9 in 1950, 3-9 in ’51, 6-6 in ’52 and 2-7-1 thus far this years, had ample time in which to revive the spirits here. Those records with any other club in the league would have meant curtains much sooner…Looking back to Ronzani’s finale in Detroit, the two clubs performed a feat that won’t likely happen for years and years to come. They had three pass interceptions on three consecutive plays in less than two minutes. And in the space of 12 plays, the two teams worked out a total of five interceptions in about three minutes of playing time. The three-in-a-row interception period started with the Lions on their own 11-yard line. Tom Dublinski hurled toward Dorne Dibble and Packer Ace Loomis flipped the ball out of his hand as they fought for it, and Packer Bobby Dillon grabbed it for the first interception on the Detroit 42. Babe Parilli then aimed a pass at Bill Howton, but Jim David sprung out of nowhere to intercept it on the Detroit 29. On the very next play, Loomis grabbed off Dublinski’s throws at Cloyce Box on the Packer 27. With a few seconds left in the half, Parilli decided against taking a chance and “snuck” the ball into the line to run out the clock. Five plays before these three straight, Dillon edged in front of Dibble and took Dublinski’s pass and two plays after the unusual three, Dillon swiped Bobby Layne’s throw at Dibble. Dillon intercepted four passes. “That must be a new record,” Ronzani said after the game. The league record book doesn’t list any mark for the number of interceptions by a player in a single game, but we’ve never heard of a player grabbing off more than three in one game…Speaking about interceptions, the Packers and Colts had pass interceptions on two consecutive plays in their game here Oct. 18. Val Joe Walker grabbed off Fred Enke’s pitch with a leaping catch on the Packer 49 and on the next play Tom Keane intercepted Parilli’s throw on the Colt 29…In the Packer-Bear game in Chicago Nov. 8, these two clubs recovered enemy fumbles on consecutive plays. Breezy Reid fumbled a pitchout on the Bear 35 and S.J. Wittman recovered. On the next play, Billy Stone fumbled and Loomis recovered on the Bear 47…And speaking about odd ones, this occurred in the Packer-Lion game in Green Bay: Gus Cifelli, the Packers’ big right tackle who came to the Bays from Detroit, recovered a Packer fumble in midair for a short advance. Leon Hart, the Detroit end, leaped off the Detroit bench and yelled, “Atta boy, Augie.” Said Cifelli later, “I guess Leon just forgot himself; we’d played side by side at Notre Dame for three years and then for three years with the Lions.
PACKERS SEEKING 'BEST MAN' AS COACH
DEC 2 (Green Bay) - The selection of a head coach for the Packers loomed today as one of the most important decisions in Packer history. Facing the tremendous task of picking the third head coach in 35 years was the Packer executive committee – a group of eleven men, headed by Russell W. Bogda, president of Green Bay Packers, Inc. The executive group, which laid the groundwork for selecting the next coach at a two-hour meeting yesterday, feels that the “new man” will have an important bearing on the success of the team on the field and the sale of season tickets in 1954 and other future years. The committee realizes the importance of its decision and won’t be hurried into picking a head coach. The group indicated as much yesterday in its announcement that the committee “hopes to make a decision in plenty of time for the National league draft meeting Jan. 28,” which is nearly two months away. The deliberate plan is an about-face from the 1950 change. Curly Lambeau, founder of the club and its head coach for 30 years, resigned on Feb. 1. Six days later, Gene Ronzani was announced as the new head coach. In 1950, time was an important factor. The committee also announced that “the Packers have set up a procedure for securing the best possible man available for the head coaching position” and added: “All applications will be treated in the strictest confidence and will be screened for final action by the executive committee. Applications should be addressed to President Russell W. Bogda.” The committee will make every effort to keep all applications in strict confidence. The group will make no announcement of names, which means that prospective names appearing around the country will be coming from sources other than the Packer committee. The group’s chief reason for keeping the matter confidential is to prevent any embarrassment on the part of the applicant. For instance, a coach who applies for the job already may have a good position. The committee also is anxious to keep Packer fans from being seriously divided over the various prospects. The final selection, if the top candidates were known, might result in keen disappointment to “half the town,” so to speak, and could possibly result in an unfair feeling toward the man who is chosen. It is expected that the committee will make a complete survey of all “possibilities”, and thoroughly study the qualifications of all candidates in a thorough manner. The committee, in its pursuit of the “best man available”, undoubtedly has set up various qualifications for a head coach. For example, he must have a knowledge of modern football and ability to coach it. He must be a leader of men. He must have executive ability as it applies to head coaching. He must have ability to organize his own staff and work harmoniously with all members of his staff. He must have a sense of public relations. And he must have a good personal reputation and a happy home life. If the committee can find a man who fits those qualifications, hen the future of the Packers will be in good hands…To illustrate how the names of prospective coaches of head coaches will pop into print, we received a telephone call last night from Bob Moir of the Winnipeg Free Press, who told us that George Trafton, coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and onetime line coach of the Packers, was headed for the Packers. We recited a few of the paragraphs above and Moir was convinced that the
Trafton story originated from where he thought it came from in the first place – a friend of Trafton’s out in California. There’s a feller out west by the name of Rigs Rigsby (sounds rather Hollywoodish, eh what?) who has been plugging George for the Packer job all during the past football season. Rigby operates what he calls the West Coast News Service. Moir was interested for two reasons – first, because Trafton is known well in Winnipeg and his future is news and seconds because Trafton is on his way out as Winnipeg mentor. “What about Ronzani getting this Calgary job?” we asked Moir. And Moir laughed, “Oh, that’s Rigsby again!” But, Moir agreed that it’s conceivable that Ronzani would end up in Canada. Both the Calgary and Winnipeg jobs are being vacated by former Packer assistants – Bob Snyder at Calgary and Trafton at Winnipeg. As one newspapersman to another, the cross-country conversation agreed that “it’s got the makings of a pretty good story.”
RONZANI NOT REPAYING PACKERS FOR HIS 'FREE' RESIGNATION
DEC 2 (Green Bay) - The Packer organization – in the process of accepting the resignation of Gene Ronzani as head coach – was careful to protect the future of the onetime Chicago Bear star. At no time did the group publicly announced that Ronzani was being fired for the simple reason that such a maneuver would make it difficult for Ronzani to find a job with some other club in the National league – or even Canada. The horrible details that generally attach themselves to such a situation were withheld – to make it easier for Ronzani in his future coaching life. We thought Gene was allowed to resign with complete ease; no public airing of “uncomfortables” that actually set in after Ronzani grabbed Parilli, Howton and Dillon and others in the 1952 draft. In short, everything was forgotten – for Ronzani’s protection in the future…What did Ronzani do in return for this “official protective silence?” He holed up in his office from Friday afternoon (the announcement was made at 12:30 last Friday afternoon) until around 10 o’clock Tuesday morning. Granting a little time to clean out his desk, etc., Ronzani should have cleared out by sometime Saturday. His presence ruined all chances of the co-coaches to prepare for the San Francisco game and accustom themselves to the change. The heat was fierce in the Packer office these past few days. It was no secret that Co-Coaches Hugh Devore and Ray McLean were anxious to get on the train Tuesday and start preparation for the Forty Niners…But what happens? Ronzani gets on the train, too! He wasn’t permitted in the Packer car, but his mere presence made it “uncomfortable” for the two coaches – not to mention the 30-odd players. At first, it appeared that Ronzani was only going to Chicago. The Associated Press office in Chicago, upon the request of this department, was asked to check when the team arrived at 3:25 yesterday afternoon. The AP man got this quote from Ronzani: “I’m not a member of the party, naturally, but I’m interested in some of the players and if I can give them any tips I’ll be glad to.” We received a wire for Packer publicist Jug Earp as the train stopped in Clinton, Iowa, about 7 o’clock last night. The Jugger said: “Gene on the same train with squad. Going to San Francisco. So far so good. Going for rest.”…We can think of a lot better places than San Francisco to go for a rest at this time of the year. But the fact remains that Ronzani apparently insists on creating as much turmoil as he can by just being present like a ghost of the immediate past – ready to haunt and confuse the minds of the players. We’d like to know what Ronzani has in mind. His statement to the AP about “tips to the players” was to put it mildly, stupid. Maybe the San Francisco press can unearth some of Ronzani’s intentions. The statements coming back should be interesting. Under it all is Ronzani’s complete lack of willingness to give the Packers a fair shake in return for the gentleness with which they let him off the hook…We (the Press-Gazette) received that proverbial last straw last Friday afternoon. We encountered Ronzani in the Packer office about two hours after the announcement and, in the presence of Devore, McLean and Chuck Drulis and the office girl, told Ronzani this: “Sorry, Gene, that this had to happen.” We had the feeling that anyone would toward a man who had just lost their job. But here’s what he said: “Well, the stories in the Press-Gazette didn’t help.”…These things, not to mention a million “discourtesies” (and that’s a mild word) along the line, could have been left unsaid. But as long as Ronzani continues to plague the “bigger-than-any-one-man” Packers, it will become increasingly more difficult for him to find a head coaching job in the National league. “These things” get around, you know!
REID TENTH IN GROUND GAINING
DEC 2 (Green Bay) - Packer left halfback Floyd (Breezy) Reid ranks 10th in the NFL in ground gaining, according to weekly statistics released today by the office in Philadelphia. It was the first time Reid had placed among the top 10. Reid has carried the ball 73 times – 90 less than leader Joe Perry of San Francisco – for 421 yards and an average of 5.8 yards per try. Charley Trippi of the Chicago Cardinals is ninth with 95 carries for 430 yards and an average of 4.5 Fullback Perry, who will run against the Packers in San Francisco Sunday, reeled off 872 yards in his 163 carries for 5.3. Fullback Dan Towler of Los Angeles is second with 742 yards in 130 attempts for an average of 5.7. Among the top 10, only one players has averaged less than four yards – Fran Rogel of Pittsburgh, whose 527 yards in 137 attempts measures out to 3.8. The only other Packer to leap among the leaders was defensive halfback Bobby Dillon, who is in a three-way tie with Jack Christiansen of Detroit and Ray Ramsey of the Chicago Cardinals in pass interceptions, with nine each. Dillon swiped four in last Thursday’s Detroit game but suffered an injury that will keep him out of the Bays’ last two games on the west coast. Tom Keane of Baltimore leads in pass interceptions with 10, returning ‘em 97 yards. Christiansen carried his nine back 194 yards, Ramsey 191 and Dillon 112. The tied three each returned one for a touchdown.
DEVORE AND MCLEAN IN CHARGE
DEC 3 (Green Bay) - To clarify Gene Ronzani’s game of tag-along, Packer President Russ Bogda stated the following for the record today: “Co-Coaches Hugh Devore and Ray McLean – they and they alone – will be in charge of the Packers for the club’s last two games this season on the west coast.” Ronzani resigned as head coach of the Packers Friday and finally cleared out of the Packer office about an hour before the Packers left at 11 o’clock Tuesday morning on the first leg of their train trip to San Francisco. Ronzani boarded the same train (the North Western) here and then took passage on the Packer train out of Chicago Tuesday evening. The train was scheduled to arrive in San Francisco at 5:30 this evening, Green Bay time. The Packers will head for Sonoma Mission Inn, 40 miles north of ‘Frisco. It is not known yet whether Ronzani will remain in San Francisco or go to the inn which is a public hotel. Ronzani stated in Chicago that he wasn’t a member of the official Packer party “but I’m interested in some of the players and if I can give them any tips I’ll be glad to.” This would indicate that Ronzani might trail the club into Sonoma Mission Inn, thus creating an embarrassing situation for Devore and McLean – not to mention the players. Ronzani’s unexpected “jump”, Bogda said, “is a little embarrassing but there’s nothing we can do.” The Packers’ contract with Ronzani terminated last Friday. He is traveling in the same train as a “private citizen” so to speak…Playing their first home game since they tangled with the Chicago Bears Nov. 1, the Forty Niners are expected to get a warm welcome when they take the field against the Packers Sunday. Still in the running for the Western Conference championship – they are one game behind Detroit – the Forty Niners could possibly draw one of the largest crowds of the season, with good weather. The Packers will run into one of those “little” situations again Sunday. The Bear-Detroit game in Detroit will be just about over when the Forty Niners and Packers start action – due to the difference in time. If the Bears should happen to upset Detroit, the Forty Niners will be particularly tough to handle. This same situation occurred when the Packers played in Los Angeles in 1951 and 1952. The Packers will close out their season in Los Angeles Saturday afternoon, Dec. 12. The Forty Niners close against Baltimore in ‘Frisco Dec. 13…Every game in the NFL this weekend will be televised into various parts of the country. The Packer-‘Frisco game will be piped into Los Angeles, San Diego, Fresno and Bakersfield – all California cities. The Rams will play their weekend game against Baltimore on Saturday afternoon and 30 cities from coast to coast, including Baltimore, will see it. The game of the week will be the Bear-Detroit game which will be viewed in Green Bay on WBAY-TV Sunday afternoon at 1 o’clock. It will carried on a 51-station hookup. Other games Sunday send New York to Cleveland, Pittsburgh to Washington. Eight stations will carry the Philly tilt; four the Cardinal test; and 27 the N.Y. match.
EASY DAY FOR 49ERS
DEC 3 (San Francisco) - The San Francisco 49ers, preparing for their game with the Green Bay Packers in Kezar Stadium Sunday afternoon, had it easy yesterday at their Menlo College training camp. Coach Buck Shaw put his team through a light workout, stressing pass defense. The Packers, who left Chicago yesterday by train, were beaten by the 49ers, 37-7, in the snow in Milwaukee during the local pros’ three week eastern swing. Shaw’s club, clinging to second place, will be out to hand the Packers their second loss in Kezar. The 49ers hope for a Chicago Bear victory over Detroit so that their chances for a Western Conference title might remain strong.
RONZANI SAYS HE'S NOT LEAST BIT BOTHERED
DEC 3 (San Francisco) - Gene Ronzani, who was permitted to resign as coach of the Green Bay Packers last week, still is traveling with the team - as a vacationing fan. Arriving Thursday, Ronzani was told the Green Bay executive committee was embarrassed by his presence on the same train as the Packers, who had a 2-7-1 record under him. "Maybe the brass was embarrassed but I wasn't and neither were the kids I coached," he said. Ronzani said he'd watch the Packers play the San Francisco 49ers here Sunday and the Los Angeles Rams a week later in their NFL windup.
PACK WORKS LONG, HARD IN DRILL FOR 49ER CONTEST
DEC 4 (Boys Springs, CA) - The Green Bay Packers worked long and hard today as they unlimbered in preparation for their NFL game against the San Francisco Forty Niners Sunday afternoon. It was the first workout since last Monday morning in Green Bay, and co-coaches Hugh Devore and Ray McLean were impressed by the spirit of the club. The team left Green Bay last Tuesday morning and arrived here at 5 o’clock Thursday evening. This community is 50 miles from San Francisco and will serve as a training base next week for the finale against the Rams in Los Angeles Saturday, Dec. 12…TALKED ABOUT 49ERS: Devore and McLean said today that “everything is swell”. A number of group meetings with the players were held on the way out and “the boys talked a lot about the Forty Niners and their chances of beating them,” the coaches said. The coaches had planned to conduct an outdoor practice upon arrival, but a heavy rain put a stop to that. It was clear this morning, however. The players ran into a familiar and welcome face when they arrived – Marv Johnson, the defensive halfback who suffered a shoulder separation in the Baltimore Colt game in Baltimore Oct. 31. Johnson has been placed on the active list and will play against the Forty Niners. He had been working out on his own at his home in San Francisco. Johnson will take the place of Bobby Dillon on the active list. Dillon suffered injuries to both knees in the Detroit game Thanksgiving day and was sent to his home in Temple, Tex. Return of Johnson will permit the Packers the use of a four-man defensive halfback platoon if they so desire. Marv joins up with Val Joe Walker, Ace Loomis and Bennie Aldridge. Dillon left as the team’s leading pass interceptionist. He snatched off a total of nine, including four in the Detroit game. Johnson ranks second with four grabs, Walker and Aldridge each have three and Loomis two. Also joining the team on the west coast was Bill Forester, the rookie guard from Texas. Forester left for home shortly after the Detroit game because of illness in his family. Sunday’s game will be something of a homecoming for two players – Aldridge and offensive halfback J.R. Boone, who played with the Forty Niners last year. The Packer-Forty Niner game is an important chapter in San Francisco’s drive for the
championship, and Forty Niner coach Buck Shaw is keying his players for an all-out effort. The Forty Niners figure the Packers will be high due to the resignation of Coach Gene Ronzani, who accompanied the team to the west coast in a private capacity.
RONZANI SAYS: "I HAD PLANNED ON THIS TRIP, ANYHOW...'
DEC 4 (San Francisco) - Among the group of Green Bay Packers who arrived today, but not exactly with them, was Gene Ronzani, their fired coach. He traveled with them across country on the train, ate meals with his former players, had chats with them in his compartment, admitted that it undoubtedly was “highly unusual” procedure, and chuckling unabashedly, said “it probably caused some embarrassment, didn’t it?” Ronzani was deposed Friday night after the Packers had lost to Detroit and assistants Ray McLean and Hugh Devore were named to take charge for Green Bay’s game Sunday here against the San Francisco 49ers and next Saturday in Los Angeles. But Ronzani caught the same train to San Francisco and will also journey to Los Angeles…”I LIKE CALIFORNIA”: “He did,” asked 49er head coach Buck Shaw in amazement and “he will? Well, you can’t beat that, can you?” “Why shouldn’t I come out here?” asked Ronzani blandly. “Remember, I had planned on this trip, anyhow. I like California. This is the first chance I’ve had for a vacation in three years, despite a clause in my contract – that’s my ex-contract – that said I was to get three weeks vacation a year, so why not take advantage of the chance. I have no family, so I can move as I please.” The stocky, curly-haired Ronzani, whose eyebrows arch continuously in a question mark, is staying in a downtown San Francisco hotel. The Green Bay team is at Sonoma Mission Inn, 51 miles north of the city. “No, I wouldn’t impose myself on them while they’re training,” said Ronzani. “And I don’t plan to sit on the bench or the phones at the game Sunday.” (Ronzani will be the guest of the San Francisco Chronicle in the press box Sunday.)…NON-FOOTBALL TOPIC: “On the train, whenever a player – and all of them stopped at some time or another to chat with me in my compartment, in a different car from the team’s – asked a football question, I’d answer as briefly as possible, then turn the conversation rapidly to a non-football topic. No, I didn’t feel any bitterness about traveling with them and yet not being with them, nor of living apart from the boys in preparing for a league game.” When Ronzani checked into his hotel, the management met him in the lobby, asked if the room was satisfactory, or would a suite be preferable? “Hold it,” laughed Ronzani, “I’m traveling on my own now.” The ex-coach plans a day at the Bay Meadows races, visits with his friends here and in Los Angeles, and in general relaxing plus the two football games…TRY TO ADVISE OR SUGGEST: “You know,” he says wistfully, “the Packers are a good team. A far better team than the record shows. It has refused to crack or become disorganized. We’ve been under tremendous pressure. You’ll never know how bad it was at times,” somewhat angrily. “The boys have ignored it as far as they could and tried to snap the slump. All I could do – or any coach could do – is try to advice or suggest. Of course, I got blamed for the fumbles and the incomplete passes and what the second guessers thought were bad quarterback calls – but that’s all part of the job, I guess.”…TWO SOLID OFFERS: “And if this messy business of firing me helps the Packers any, I’m all for it. If it really helps, I’d rather have that than an undefeated season. But I’ll say this. I have two solid offers to coach in pro football. I don’t plan to make a decision for a couple of months, but if I do go to another team, I’d do my darndest to beat the Packers just as I tried to help them win. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they won this Sunday against San Francisco.” He said again wistfully, “I hope so. The boys deserve it. I’ll sure be rooting for them.”
PACKERS VALUABLE TO STATE, PRO GRID: IVY
DEC 4 (Green Bay) - “I sincerely hope the present difficulties the Packers are in have a favorable outcome…” That was Ivy Williamson’s reaction to the Packers’ change in the coaching department and the club’s current record – two wins, seven losses and one tie, as he addressed members of the Men’s Quarterback club at Washington Junior High School Thursday night. Williamson, the “gentlemanly coach” from the University of Wisconsin, declared that “the Packers are valuable to the State of Wisconsin and professional football itself.” Introduced by Tom Hearden, former football coach at Green Bay East and St. Norbert college and presently freshman coach at Wisconsin, Williamson said that “before I came out to Wisconsin from the east, the thing I knew most about Wisconsin was the Packers and Green Bay.” Down in Madison, Williamson said, “we are the university and the fans are sure that the Packers and Green Bay will soon have winning football again.” The only other reference to the Packers last night was made by Chief Quarterback Jerry Atkinson, who told quarterbackers after opening the meeting that “it is imperative that we back the two young fellas (Co-Coaches Hugh Devore and Ray McLean) and the Packers in their last two games on the coast.” He suggested that the quarterbackers and fans maintain “positive thinking toward the present situation regardless of which side of the fence you are on.” Atkinson said that a number of fans are planning to wire “best wishes” to the Packers in their game against San Francisco and added: “It wouldn’t be a bad idea for all of us to do the same.” Hearden, in introducing Williamson, said that “everyone must agree that Ivy led Wisconsin out of the football woods; he has a Big Ten record of 21 victories, seven defeats and four ties in his stay in Wisconsin.” Hearden added: “Williamson teaches sound fundamental football and his team will make few mistakes.” Williamson, during the course of his talk, said “there is little difference between victory and defeat; actually only two points separated Wisconsin from an undisputed Big Ten championship.” He referred to the Ohio State game which Wisconsin lost 20 to 19. Pointing some of his remarks to high school football players who were guests at the meeting, Williamson listed various requirements to play good football – ability to play the game, desire to play and win, willingness to work and make sacrifices and morale. He called Alan (The Horse) Ameche, Wisconsin’s hard-running fullback, “the greatest fullback in the country.” Likening Ameche to the desire to play and win, Williamson said that after the tie with Minnesota, “Ameche came to me and said ‘isn’t that a heck of a way to finish the season?’ And he didn’t say heck, either.” There is no secret formula to winning football games, Williamson said, adding, “it’s nothing but a lot of hard work. Success doesn’t come easy. Some have had good fortune, including myself, good breaks along the way.” Williamson said he was “sorry that we don’t have more boys from Green Bay on the Wisconsin squad.” The Badger coach narrated the film of the Wisconsin-Illinois game, won by the Badgers 34 to 6, and heaped praise on the running of Ameche and the defensive play of Ronnie Locklin, won player-of-the-week honors for his performance. No Packer film was shown since both the San Francisco and Detroit game pictures are on the coast with the team. It is hoped to show next Sunday’s Packer-Frisco game at next Thursday’s meeting.
MATTHEWS READY TO REJOIN 49ERS
DEC 4 (San Francisco) - Clay Matthews may finally return to action at defensive left end when the San Francisco 49ers battle the Green Bay Packers Sunday afternoon in Kezar Stadium. The big end from Georgia Tech is running strongly again after a layoff of one month due to a groin injury. End Coach Jim Lawson actually was optimistic yesterday over Matthews’ recovery, but he had his fingers crossed. Last week in Chicago, Matthews was running well enough to indicate he could play against the Baltimore Colts. Then he ran into a puddle on Stagg Field and aggravated the injury. Then the medicos indicated Matthews might be through for the season. Now he’s a possibility…BURKE ONLY CASUALTY: Now only Don Burke, the large left linebacker, is on the extremely doubtful list. Burke has a pulled Achilles tendon and it is very slow repairing. Joe Morton, the yearling linebacker who had the job in early season but lost it through inexperience, played outstanding ball against the Baltimore Colts. He can well replace Burke while the big man rests for the anticipated playoff games to come. The 49ers still believe that the Chicago Bears will knock off the Detroit Lions in Detroit Sunday. The veterans believe further than the New York Giants will beat the Lions in the Polo Grounds in the last game of the season. This is optimism at its greatest, but should both beliefs materialize the 49ers will be home free as champions of the western division. All they’ll have to do then is beat the Cleveland Browns to bring the first title to San Francisco. That’s all. Despite their dreaming, the 49ers are not looking over the Green Bay team they beat 37-7 in the snow in Milwaukee two Sundays back. Weather and a sloshy gridiron prevented the Packers from making full use of their famous spread plays engineered by Tobin Rote. If the turf is dry here Sunday the Packers can be expected to throw the widespread book at the 49ers…NEW COACHES: There’s another angle to the care the 49ers are showing for Green Bay. They’ll be under direction of new coaches, Hughie Devore and Ray McLean, for the first time. Gene Ronzani was released (with pay) after Detroit whipped the Packers on Thanksgiving Day. The Packers, picked in early season as a strong contender for the western division title, are certain to perk up after the coaching change. Football teams generally do. Whatever the outcome, the Sunday game should be a dandy for extracurricular action. There was more whumping and whomping between players in the snow battle than we’ve seen in a pro contest all year. The Packers like to fight a good game and the 49ers manage to take care of themselves. If clear weather prevails, and it generally does for the 49ers, a crowd of from 28,000 to 30,000 is expected to welcome the heroes back from their month of foreign field wars...PACKERS ARRIVE: Green Bay's Packers arrived here late yesterday afternoon via train and departed immediately for Boyes Hot Springs to train.
Coaches Devore and Mclean announced that all of the squad is ready for the repeat performance against the 49ers except Bobby Dillon, defensive halfback. Dillon wrecked his knee in the Detroit defeat and was left at home. The Packers will pick up today Marvin Johnson, former San Jose State halfback, who has been in retirement in Los Gatos. Johnson is the player who intercepted a pass to set up the winning touchdown for the Los Angeles Rams over the Cleveland Browns in the championship game in 1951. The Packers acquired him midway through the 1952 season. Also expected to join the squad is Bill Forester, mammoth yearling fullback from Southern Methodist. Forester was called home by the illness of both his wife and newborn son.
RONZANI JUST A 'FAN' AS BAYS DRILL ON COAST
DEC 4 (San Francisco) - The Green Bay Packers worked out some 50 miles to the north of here Friday under the direction of coaches Hugh Devore and Ray McLean in preparation for their game Sunday with the San Francisco 49ers. The Packers' deposed coach, Gene Ronzani, who made the trip here on the same train with the team, meanwhile, enjoyed himself in San Francisco. "Why shouldn't I come out here?" he asked newsmen blandly. "Remember, I had planned on this trip anyhow. I like California. This is the first chance I've had for a vacation in three years, despite a clause in my contract - that is, my ex-contract - that said I was to get three week's vacation a year. So, why not take advantage of the chance? I have no family, so I can move as I please." Ronzani said he would not "impose" himself on the team while it was training at Sonoma Mission Inn. He said he did not have any feeling of bitterness in not being with the team, or of living apart from the boys while they were preparing for a league game. He declared the Packers "are a good team - a far better team than the record show. I wouldn't be surprised if they beat the 49ers Sunday. I hope so. The boys deserve it. I'll sure be rooting for them."
DEPOSED GREEN BAY COACH HERE – ‘NOT EMBARRASSED’
DEC 4 (San Francisco Examiner) – Gene Ronzani, deposed coach of the Green Bay Packers, had no apologies for accompanying the team to San Francisco he said on arrival with the team yesterday. The Packers play the 49ers on Sunday. Informed that the executive committee of the Packers was embarrassed by his traveling on the same train as the team from which he had been detached, Ronzani declared: “Maybe they were embarrassed but I wasn’t and neither were the kids I coached.” Ronzani explained it was his first opportunity for a vacation since he became head coach of the Packers in 1950. “I had a day of fishing now and then but no real vacations. I thought it was time I took one and I got the same train as the team. I’ll see the game here and the one in Los Angeles next week. Meanwhile, I’ll renew a lot of acquaintances and enjoy myself.” Ronzani figures that he will have a job in pro football again. He indicated he has had several feelers, including one from Calgary, Canada, that he hadn’t heard about until he ready it in the papers. It is known that the erstwhile Green Bay mentor, who was paid off to the tune of $7,500 under an escape clause in his contract which had two years to run, will contact executives of the Petri Wine Company while here. He worked for Petri in the Milwaukee and Green Bay areas in the offseason. Milwaukee has been his home since his undergraduate days at Marquette University.
25,000 TO SEE BAYS PLAY 49ERS
DECEMBER 5 (San Francisco) - The San Francisco 49ers, charging down the home stretch of the NFL season in spectacular fashion, clash with the Green Bay Packers at Kezar Stadium Sunday. The kickoff is set for 4 p.m. (Milwaukee time). A crowd of 25,000 is expected. A few weeks ago, the 49ers seemingly were out of contention in the Western Conference of the league. But they won three out of four in their last road trip and they have returned home only one game out of the lead. With a season record of 7-3, they are only a step behind the defending champion Detroit Lions, who hold an 8-2 mark. While the 49ers will line up as the favorites, coach Buck Shaw said he and his players were not overlooking the fact that Green Bay can field a rugged club. Only defensive end Clay Matthews and linebacker Don Burke are doubtful participants for the San Franciscans. On the Packer side, safety Bob Dillon, rated high in the defensive backfield, is definitely out of action. Dillon will be replaced by Marv Johnson, who is being recalled from the injured reserve.
GREEN BAY PASSES ENDANGER 49ERS
DEC 5 (San Francisco) - Green Bay’s petulant Packers will try to pass the San Francisco 49ers to destruction tomorrow afternoon on Kezar Stadium’s greensward. Coaches Hugh Devore and Ray McLean welcomed the brand new sunshine and the quick cessation of rain at Boyes Hot Springs by sending the Green Bays through their first full scale workout since Thanksgiving Day, when they almost whipped the Detroit Lions...EX-SPARTAN ON JOB: It was their joint opinion that conditions now were right for opening up the Packer air show, complete with spread formations and engineered by Tobin Rote and Babe Parilli. When the 49ers beat the Packers, 37-7, in Milwaukee two weeks ago it was snowing, and the Packers couldn’t go into their aerial circus. It was the same in Detroit. “We haven’t had the time or opportunity to change any of our offensive game,” Devore said yesterday. “But this beautiful weather will give us a chance to show our air arm against the 49ers.” Marvin Johnson, former San Jose State halfback who will replace the injured Bob Dillon as defensive wingback, was on the job and so was Bill Forester, 6 foot 3 and 230 pounds of tackle, Johnson has been out of action more than a month with a bruised shoulder but has kept his legs in shape. Forester stopped off in Texas to see his wife, who has been very ill. Johnson will have a tremendous job to do. Dillon was one of the finest defensive backs in the loop, particularly against the forward pass. He grabbed off four of Bobby Layne’s tosses in the Detroit game…WEATHER A HELP: “Clear weather will help us,” Devore continued. “It doesn’t make so much difference to the 49ers. They’ve got the running game that will go in soft going and they’ve got Tittle who seems equally talented passing to Soltau and Wilson with a wet or dry ball and field. Tittle really has come into his own, our scouts report. He has plenty of poise back there and mixes his plays well, rotating Joe Perry, Hugh McElhenny and Joe Arenas so that he gets the most of all of them.”…EYES ON CHICAGO: “I know the 49ers will be tougher than ever because they expect the Chicago Bears to knock off Detroit for them,” Devore conceded. “And they may realize that expectation. I saw the TV of the Bears’ win over the Rams and believe me they earned their upset victory. Chicago really has hit its stride. The Bears gave the game ball to George Blanda and he deserved it, not alone for the marginal field goal he kicked but because of the way he passed and handled the offense. I will not be surprised if they give the Lions a tough afternoon.” The 49ers were trying to anticipate any changes in the attack and defense of the Packers since Gene Ronzani’s resignation and the assignment of the coaching to Devore and McLean. The coaches were trying to figure if the new bosses have had time to install any new offense, but have about decided that they have not. They’ll look for the air arm of the Packers to assert itself.
PACKERS FACE 'FRISCO IN DEBUT UNDER CO-COACHES
DEC 5 (San Francisco-Green Bay Press-Gazette) - The Green Bay Packers play their first game under their new co-coaching setup when they battle the San Francisco Forty Niners in a NFL contest in Kezar stadium Sunday afternoon. At the helm will be Hugh Devore and Ray McLean, who were appointed, along with Chuck Drulis, as co-coaches of the club immediately after the resignation of Gene Ronzani as head coach Friday, Nov. 27. Drulis resigned last Sunday. Ronzani, who tagged along to the west coast – riding in the same train with the club, will witness the game from the pressbox. The two co-coaches likely will split up during the game – with McLean probably working the telephones “upstairs” and Devore operating on the sidelines. Answering the phone on the sidelines likely will be the quarterback who is actually not on the field of play. The Packers will remain at their training base, the Sonoma Mission Inn, which is fifty miles from San Francisco, tonight and will take a bus to Kezar Stadium Sunday morning, arriving there in time to dress and take the field for pregame workouts. The Forty Niners, still in the thick of the Western Conference championship race, will be making their first home game in a month, and a crowd of around 30,000 is expected. Excellent weather is predicted. The size of the crowd may be affected by the outcome of the Chicago Bear-Lion game in Detroit, which will be over about a half hour before the Packer-Frisco kickoff. The Detroit game will start at 1 o’clock Green Bay time and the Forty Niners and Packers go to work at 4 o’clock GB time. If Detroit loses, Frisco can tie for the lead by beating Green Bay. San Francisco is a big favorite to stop the Packers – probably by about 17 points. The Forty Niners demolished Green Bay 37 to 7 in their battle at Milwaukee two weeks ago. The Packers will be below strength on defense due to the loss of Bobby Dillon who was injured in the Detroit game and lost for the rest of the season. Dillon, who intercepted four Lion passes, will be replaced by Marv Johnson, who will be playing his first game in over a month. Johnson suffered a shoulder separation in Baltimore Oct. 31. Devore and McLean likely will come up with some changes from past offensive and defensive procedure, although none of them likely will be radical due to the lack of practice time. The team drilled for the first time after the Detroit game Thanksgiving Day, on Sunday, and then worked Monday before leaving on Thursday, the trip ending drills until Friday…EXPECT ALL-OUT BATTLE: The Packers were in good spirits today despite the unusual events in the past 10 days and Devore and McLean are looking for an all-out battle. The possibility of slight offensive and defensive changes is keeping Coach Buck Shaw of the Forty Niners in a worried state. He is anxious to see the type of defensive setup the Packers employ – especially with Dillon out of the lineup. The Packers are expected to lead off with Babe Parilli at quarterback, Fred Cone at fullback, Breezy Reid at left half and Al Carmichael at right half. The Packers’ biggest problem will be to stop the Forty Niners’ great running backs – Joe Perry, Joe Arenas and Hugh McElhenny. These three have been making the Forty Niners’ air game, not the best in the league, quite effective.
49ERS BATTLE GREEN BAY, HOPE BEARS UPSET DETROIT
DEC 6 (San Francisco) - San Francisco’s ever hopeful 49er footballers will know, before they go to the Kezar Stadium turf to battle the lowly Green Bay Packers this afternoon, whether they can tie the Detroit Lions for the western division title or whether they must hope and pray for another week. The Detroits play the king-slaying Chicago Bears in the motor city some three hours before the local combat begins. Papa Bear George Halas promised five weeks ago that he would do all in his power to help the 49ers to the title his Bears deprived them of last season here. George has also promised to take care of the Los Angeles Rams. And his Bears did that last Sunday, knocking Hamp Pool’s contenders out of the race…ROUGH FRAY LOOMS: Another Bear victory today would put the 49ers into a tie for first place in the western division. But they must beat the Green Bay Packers, who come here under new coaching auspices and with malice in their hearts. The 49ers are not too friendly with the team they whacked, 37-7, in the snows of Milwaukee two weeks ago. There were six different fistic tiffs that cold, gloomy afternoon and Nick Feher wound up picking his front bridge out of a snow bank after the game ended…PACKERS DANGEROUS: Hughie Devore, former Notre Dame and St. Bonaventure coach, is the new boss of the Packers, along with Ray McLean, former racehorse halfback of the Chicago Bears. They were handed the responsibility of getting Messrs. Parilli, Rote, Howton, Cone, et al, back on the winning track after Gene Ronzani was paid off following the Detroit defeat on Thanksgiving Day. Just what effect the coaching change will have can only be guesses but it is football history that the new broom always gets a lot of sweeping done while it is new. The 49ers have no intentions of letting down whether Detroit loses or doesn’t. Captain Bruno Banducci’s leaguers have scored 37 and 38 points in each of the past two games to beat Green Bay and Baltimore. Buck Shaw’s men should respect the Packers despite the ease with which they beat them. Just four days later after that, the Green Bays led the Detroit Lions in a Thanksgiving Day battle, only to lose it when Babe Parilli tossed off an ill-advised lateral that was picked off and later fumbled within the five yard line. The Packers had led 15-7 when the incidents occurred that deprived them of an upset victory. Then, too, the day the 49ers’ Joe Perry ran them into the soggy turf in Milwaukee, the conditions prohibited the Packers from using their famous spread plays with Tobin Rote doing the flipping to men stationed from border to border. Today, the Packers will be enabled to put on their spread passing and running show although Devore and McLean may have changed their attack. They had had nine full days to do so. The 49ers all can play. Both Clay Matthews, end, and Don Burke, linebacker of the defensive unit, have started recovering from hemorrhaged groins and pulled Achilles tendon muscles, respectively. Matthews has been out four games and may be withheld again but he can be used. The Packers report they’re all playable and all angry over the way the season has gone. They were picked early as contenders for the title but lost their zip when pass catching Bill Howton, end, was injured and missed the first four contests.