Preseason: Cleveland Browns 21, Green Bay Packers (1-4) 13
Saturday September 19th 1953 (at Cleveland)
GAME RECAP (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE)
(CLEVELAND) – The Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns toyed with each other here Saturday night in preparation for bigger things ahead - the Packer-Brown NFL opener in Milwaukee next Sunday, to be more specific. The Browns won the final non-leaguer for both clubs by a score of 21 to 13, while the Packers gained that proverbial psychological advantage for the 1953 league kickoff. But any resemblance between Saturday night's battle and the impending classic next Sabbath is strictly coincidental. Both outfit, while they put on a highly-interesting battle complete with fisticuffs, did their best to confuse each other. Like so: The Browns used three formations - an unbalanced line with the T, the spread, and, of course, the straight T; they tried a run off a fake place kick and the same off a fake punt. What's more, substitute quarterback George Ratterman played the entire first half and part of the fourth quarter, and pitched 17 passes - 11 more than he hurled all last season. The Packers, on the ground, fed the Browns on a two-layer sandwich - halfback Breezy Reid and fullback Howie Ferguson, who gained 114 of the Packers' 116 yards rushing. Fullback Fred Cone played briefly and halfbacks Larry Coutre and Al Carmichael lugged only five times. With Bob Mann working only the last few plays, the Packer
passing game looked off color - only sixty-nine yards being gained in the air. Injuries, however, forced the Packers to confine their attack to a small group. Backs J.R. Boone, Bobby Jack Floyd and Gib Dawson didn't make the trip and Mann and Cone were hobbled with hurts. The contest was played in a driving rainstorm, a twist that reduced the attendance to 22,336 but didn't detract from the entertainment on the field. For Brown Backers, the game was a fine advertisement. The Packers went ahead, 13-0, at the half but the lead was cut to 13-7 in the third quarter. In the nightcap period, the Eastern division champs scored twice to win going away. Thus, the Browns got off the floor to win while the Packers grew more and more impotent. This was the fourth straight game in which the Packers failed to score in the second half. They have not registered in the second half since they scored seven in the third quarter and seven in the fourth in the 31-7 win over the New York Giants last Aug. 22 - one month ago tomorrow. The setback here was the fourth straight this non-league season and the third straight (against no wins) to the Browns since 1950. The Browns whipped GB 28-7 in '50 and 21-14 in '52. Next Sunday's game will be the first league match between the two clubs. The Packers were victimized by one of the finest exhibitions by passing put on any quarterback in many a year. The high-efficient Otto Graham, who never worries about calling plays because each one is sent from the bench by "running" guards, made his first appearance at the start of the second half and completed his first nine passes, two for touchdowns, missed one, completed two, missed one (that was dropped), and then completed four more, including one for a TD. In one quarter and a half, Graham completed 15 out of 17 attempts for 213 yards and three TDs. One other TD throw, incidentally, was nullified by a holding penalty. Despite the heavy rain, the game's five TDs resulted from forward passes. The Packers' Tobin Rote hurled five completions, the payoff a four-yarder to Ferguson, for the first TD in the first quarter. Late in the second frame, defensive back Marv Johnson grabbed a Ratterman pass, deflected by Sherman Howard, and raced 76 yards for a TD. Graham threw to Dante Lavelli for 15 and 11-yard TDs and to Horace Gillom for a 35-yard air score. The Packers intercepted three passes, two by Johnson - all off Ratterman - while the Browns grabbed one off Rote and one off Parilli. Each team fumbled twice - not bad considering the weather. Probably the biggest surprise of the game was the running of Ferguson, who gained 56 yards in 14 attempts - an average of four per try - and caught three passes for 13 yards. Big Dave Hanner had himself a hot night in the line, while Clayton Tonnemaker got a lot of tackles. Bill Forester, who earlier in the season worked at tackle, linebacker and fullback, got a shot at middle guard. Feeling each other out, the two clubs played give and take during the first half of the opening quarter, Gillom punting twice and Parilli once. Gorgal intercepted Rote's pass but the Packers got the ball right back when Johnson grabbed Ratterman's pass on the Packer 40. Dillon scoopted it up and ran to the Brown 40, from where the Packers drove to a touchdown in nine plays. Two plays netted two yards so Rote threw to Howton twice for 10 yards to the Brown 28. Rote hurled to Carmichael on an attempted pitchout for 14 yards and to Ferguson for 10 yards and then to Howie again for four and the TD. Cone's kick made it 7-0. With Ken Carpenter running 27 yards and Chick Jagade and Dub Jones biting off big chunks of yardage, the Browns moved to the Packer 18 where a fake place kick missed a first down by inches early in the second frame. The Browns got another chance for a FG a moment later but Lou Groza missed from the 46. After a Parilli punt, Johnson and Gorgal again exchanged interceptions, with the Browns starting a drive on their own 44. They moved to the Packer 25 on Ratterman's 12-yard pass to Howard and Jagade's running, but Johnson grabbed off a hard pitch off Howard's shoulder on the Packer 24 and raced down the sidelines in front of the Browns' bench on a 76-yard TD gallop. Actually, the Browns scored following a "break" in the third frame. The Packers forced Gillom to punt by throwing Graham for an eight yard loss, but Ace Loomis fumbled the boot and Bill Willis recovered on the Packer 15. On the first play, Lavelli ran behind Loomis in the corner of the end zone and took Graham's throw for a TD. Groza hit the first of three extra points. The Packers made the first first down of the second half a moment later when Ferguson ripped off 17 yards in three tries, starting on his own six, but Parilli was forced to punt. The Packers got the ball right back when Clayton Tonnemaker recovered Jagade's fumble on the Packer 44. The Bays just missed a first down so Parilli punted and Graham went to work, leading his team on an 82-yard TD march. Carpenter caught one for 20 yards and Brewster nailed two for 16 on the Packer 40. Billy Reynolds caught a perfecto for 26 to the Bay 14. At this point, Marion Motley was held to three yards on two tries but on third down Lavelli caught one in back for a TD. The Packers picked up a pair of first downs, but Parilli was forced to punt and the Browns flew 76 yards, not to mention another 15 yards for holding, for a TD. The payoff was a 35-yarder that Gillom and Loomis juggled on the five, with Gillom finally grabbing it and running over. Near the end, Parilli completed a 10-yarder to Stretch Elliott for 10 yards to the Brown 39. On the next two plays, 250-pound Brown middle guard Cleo Wallace ran through the line unmolested to all but nail Parilli trying to pass. On the last try, the two squared off briefly.
GREEN BAY - 7 6 0 0 - 13
CLEVELAND - 0 0 7 14 - 21
GREEN BAY CLEVELAND
First Downs 10 19
Rushing-Yards-TD 32-116-0 33-155-0
Att-Comp-Yd-TD-Int 28-13-69-1-2 34-21-271-3-3
Yards Lost Passing 0 22
Total Yards 185 404
Fumbles-lost 2-1 2-1
Turnovers 4 4
Yards penalized 2-31 4-44
1ST - GB - Howie Ferguson, 4-yard pass from Tobin Rote (Fred Cone kick) GREEN BAY 7-0
1ST - GB - Marvin Johnson, 76-yard interception return (Kick failed) GREEN BAY 13-0
3RD - CLE - Dante Lavelli, 15-yard pass from Otto Graham (Lou Groza kick) GREEN BAY 13-7
4TH - CLE - Lavelli, 11-yard pass from Graham (Groza kick) CLEVELAND 14-13
4TH - CLE - Horace Gillom, 35-yard pass from Graham (Groza kick) CLEVELAND 21-13
GREEN BAY - Breezy Reid 12-56, Howie Ferguson 14-56, Larry Coutre 2-4, Fred Cone 1-0, Babe Parilli 1-0, Al Carmichael 2-(-2)
CLEVELAND - Ken Carpenter 5-48, Chick Jagade 13-45, Sherman Howard 3-14, Marion Motley 3-5, Dub Jones 3-4, Billy Reynolds 3-4, P. Jones 1-2, Ray Renfro 1-0, George Ratterman 1-(-1)
GREEN BAY - Tobin Rote 13-7-38 1 TD 1 INT, Babe Parilli 15-6-31 1 INT
CLEVELAND - Otto Graham 17-15-213 3 TD, George Ratterman 17-6-58 3 INT
GREEN BAY - Bill Howton 3-20, Howie Ferguson 3-13 1 TD, Carleton Elliott 2-17, Al Carmichael 2-15, Bob Mann 1-4, Breezy Reid 2-0
CLEVELAND - Pete Brewster 5-47, Dante Lavelli 4-54 2 TD, Ken Carpenter 4-52, Billy Reynolds 2-54, Ray Renfro 2-16, Horace Gillom 1-35 1 TD, Sherman Howard 1-11, P. Jones 1-9, Marion Motley 1-(-7)
HEAVY SOD TO BE LAID ON FIELD FOR FOOTBALL
SEPT 21 (Milwaukee) - The transformation of County Stadium from a baseball diamond to a football field was begun by engineers and a crew of 18 workers even before stragglers in Sunday's closing baseball crowd of 36,011 had left the park. Green Bay will open its NFL season here against the Cleveland Browns next Sunday. The transformation will include there major changes: The pitcher's mound will be removed. Sod will be laid on all skinned parts of the infield. Left field bleachers will be moved to be used as a football stand. The rectangular football field, 120 feet by 160 feet, will be laid out parallel to the first base stands. The 18 men who took over Sunday evening worked until 11:30 o'clock laying sills on which the bleachers will rest. Monday morning the main crew of 60 workmen began the job of dismantling the bleachers and reassembling them in their new position. Sod two inches thick will be laid on the skinned part of the infield. The west sideline of the field will be 40 feet from the base of the grandstand - and parallel to it. The east sideline will be the same distance from the new east bleachers. Roughly 21,000 sears will be available between the end lines of the football field - 13,500 in the permanent grandstand, 6,700 in the east bleachers and 1,100 in the present right field bleachers which will remain where they are. The total capacity of the park for football will be 35,646. The north end of the football field will be about 10 feet south of the visiting team dugout. The dugout itself will be boarded up for football and fences next to it padded. The field markings, last touch in the transformation, will be made Saturday night after a soccer game. Green Bay will use the Braves dressing room, the visiting team the baseball visitor's room. Frederic Mendelson, Stadium manager, will have 10 hour shifts on the job each day until the work is completed. "This is the first time we're going through this, and we'll have to feel our way," he said. "We should be finished in ample time, however. And it will be a good football arena, just wait." Mendelson suggested that spectators with field seats should use the present right field bleachers entrance.
PACKERS' CARMICHAEL IS PROUD NEW FATHER
SEPT 21 (Los Angeles) - A new father is halfback Al Carmichael, whose touchdown meant Southern California's 7-0 Rose Bowl triumph over Wisconsin last New Year's day. An eight pound eight ounce son, Al, Jr., was born here Saturday. Carmichael now plays for the Green Bay Packers.
RONZANI CUTS FULLBACK FLOYD, 7 OTHER PACKERS
SEPT 21 (Green Bay) - The Green Bay Packers Monday asked waivers on two veterans and six rookies as they pressed to meet the league player limit of 33. Placed on waivers were veteran fullback Bobby Jack Floyd and tackle Washington Serini. The rookies released were tackle Bill Skyinkus of Syracuse, tackle Jack Morgan, Michigan State; halfback Paul De Van, Iowa State; end Bill Georges, Texas; end Bob Noppinger, Georgetown; and end Andy Hillhouse, recently acquired from the Bears. The Packer squad was thus reduced to 36, three over the league limit that be met Tuesday. Ronzani said that he would go along with the 36 men he still has left until Saturday night, taking advantage of a provision in the rule on player limits which permits a team to retain more than 33 men for four days beyond the Tuesday deadline, provided they receive their full salary for four full days. He will make his final cut Saturday to reach the limit of 33 by Sunday's game. Meanwhile, coach Gene Ronzani stepped up drills in preparation for the league opener against the Cleveland Browns at Milwaukee County Stadium Sunday. Regarding the perennial tough Cleveland, Ronzani believed it was the finest team the Packers played during the exhibition season. "They've got a lot more horse than we've got," said Ronzani, "plus a lot of good holdovers from a championship team." Not bitter with his club's 1-4 exhibition slate, Ronzani implied that the Packers would go all out for the one that counts Sunday. "We're going to drill on both offense and defense this week. Still, it's going to take a lot of guess work to beat those Browns." The Packers will leave by train Saturday noon for the Milwaukee engagement. The Browns are expected to arrive in Milwaukee Friday.
PACKERS PARED DOWN TO WORKING SIZE
SEPT 22 (Green Bay) - Before going into the various "angles" on next Sunday's Packer-Brown clash in Milwaukee, let us reserve today for the purpose of counting noses. The Packers went to work this morning with 36 players, thus making it easier to remember the names, and, more important, get things done. The team was reduced from 44 athletes to three dozen by Coach Gene Ronzani in one mighty slash of the axe Monday afternoon. Today, Ronzani said that he has "decided to keep the squad at 36 players so that more consideration can be extended to boys who are now on an equal basis." Since the squad must be reduced to the league limit of 33 for the opener, it is expected that further cuts will be made later this week. Placed on waivers were two veterans - fullback Bobby Jack Floyd and tackle Wash Serini. Floyd underwent an operation on his heel at training camp early in August and had not responded. Serini was picked up on waivers from the Bears a year ago. Five rookies were put out on waivers - guard Bill Skyinskus, who was obtained in a trade with the New York Giants for a draft choice; Jack Morgan, Michigan State tackle; halfback Paul DeVan, who was obtained on waivers from Los Angeles; Bill Georges, defensive end from the University of Texas; and Bob Noppinger, defensive end from Georgetown. Andy Hillhouse, rookie from Texas A and M, here on a look-see basis was sent home. Probably the biggest surprise was the cutting of Floyd, the bolting fullback from Texas Christian. But Howie Ferguson, who has no college experience, showed enough against Cleveland last Saturday night to win himself a job. Ferguson will share the fullbacking job with veteran Fred Cone. Ferguson played two years of service football after graduating from prep ball in New Iberia, La., and came up with the Los Angeles Rams last fall. He showed plenty of
drive in the College All Star game for the Rams in '52, but was released shortly before the season started. He was signed as a free agent by the Packers last spring. The current Packer team has 11 halfbacks, seven tackles, five ends, four linebackers, three guards, two centers, two fullbacks and two quarterbacks. Nine rookies made the squad - halfbacks Al Carmichael, Gib Dawson, Val Joe Walker and Don Barton; tackles Floyd Harrawood and Vic Rimkus; linebacker Roger Zatkoff; center Jim Ringo; and handyman Bill Forester. Four members of the team saw service with other pro clubs - defensive halfback Bennie Aldridge, with the New York Yanks and San Francisco Forty Niners; J.R. Boone, with the Chicago Bears and Forty Niners; defensive end George Hays, with Pittsburgh; and Ferguson, briefly with the Rams. All saw league competition except Ferguson. On an active basis, the roster is currently at 35 since Barton will be unable to play because of a fractured ankle suffered in the New York Giant game Aug. 22.
CONVERTING COUNTY STADIUM INTO FOOTBALL FIELD
SEPT 22 (Green Bay) - Milwaukee County stadium, where the Milwaukee Braves set a new National league attendance record this year, was being changed today into a football field. The Green Bay Packers will open the NFL season Sunday at the stadium against the Cleveland Browns and will play two other games there this fall with Los Angeles and San Francisco. Changes being made include removal of the pitchers' mound, sodding of the skinned portion of the infield, erection of bleaches and laying out of the gridiron. The playing field which runs north and south will parallel the first base line. Seating capacity will be increased for football to 35,646 from the present 36,011 for baseball.
PROTECTION GIVEN OTTO MORE ALARMING THAN COMPLETIONS
SEPT 22 (Green Bay) - The Packers were victimized by, among other things and people, a terrific exhibition of passing by Mr. Otto Graham, the Browns' mechanical quarterback, in Cleveland Saturday night. Graham completed 15 out of 17 pitches in a driving rain for 213 yards and three touchdowns. No opponent could do much about accuracy like that - a fantastic hurling percentage of 88 percent. However, more alarming to us than Graham's hot night was the fact that he had time to eat a sandwich and order ice cream before each throw. There was just one occasion on which Graham was hurled for a loss trying to pass; just one. It came on Graham's first offensive play of the game. He entered the contest at the start of the second half after George Ratterman quarterbacked the first. Otto went back to pass on that first call and was nicely dumped by the Packers' "new" middle guard, Bill Forester. That's the only time the Packers placed a hand on the Peerless One. Oddly enough, that one happy instance might have been the turning point of the game because it forced the Browns to punt from their own 39. Might have been, that is. The ensuing boot was fumbled by Ace Loomis and the Browns recovered on the Packer 15 - a "gain" of 46 yards. From the 15, the Browns scored in one play. Then, the rain and the passes came down harder. P.S. Hope it doesn't rain in Milwaukee Sunday!...Graham's "lifting" of the Browns from a 13-0 deficit to a 21-13 victory hammered home once again the value of the quarterback. The Browns looked like an ordinary team under Ratterman in the first half - a period in which they moved the ball well but just couldn't score. Graham merely walked on the field and the curtain of protection around him grew ironlike, except on that one occasion. Speaking about quarterback, what about the Packers' signal callers? The two Bay Boys, Tobin Rote and Babe Parilli, finished two-three in the NFL passing derby last year, which, incidentally, Graham placed fourth. Judging by the Packers scores, it would appear that Tobin and Babe have yet to approach their 1952 brilliance. Rote actually didn't "come", it seemed, until the Pittsburgh game in Milwaukee. Babe displayed flashed of form along the way but nothing consistent. His faking left the Brown line in a trance a couple of times Saturday night, but the passes were off key. There's an old grid bromide that a quarterback is only as good as the line in front of him. It's true that Rote and Parilli have had little protection this year (can you forget the Redskin game?), but on the other hand the two QBs don't seem to have the consistency that characterized their play last year. Maybe all this will change in one week - the offensive line growing tougher and the two QBs getting hot. Keep your fingers crossed, fellers!..Bert Bell, commissioner of the NFL, addressed the Packers in Cleveland Saturday afternoon. Annually, Mr. Bell gives each team a "heart to heart" talk, warning them about gamblers, explaining the league's option and contract systems, and wishing them a good, hard-fought league season. Bell is closer to the players, themselves, than any other sports commissioner. The wonderful little guy from Philadelphia knows just about all of them by their first names. He understands the problems because he played college and pro ball himself and he understands the problems of the coaches because he coached in the National league....Moose Gardner, a Packer in the middle 1920's, saw the game and hashed over old times with his former teammate, Jug Earp, the Packer publicist.
PACKERS RELEASE EIGHT MEN; THREE MORE TO GO BY SATURDAY
SEPT 22 (Green Bay) - The Green Bay Packers Tuesday acquired a fullback and a tackle in trades with the Washington Redskins and Detroit Lions. Fullback Johnny Papit, a two-year Redskin veteran, and tackle Gus Cifelli, three year man with the Lions, are expected to be in Green Bay Wednesday as the Packers drill for the league opener against the Browns at Milwaukee County Stadium Sunday. The Packers gave up an undisclosed draft choice to both the Redskins and Lions. Papit, a standout ball carrier at Virginia in his collegiate days, played little with the Skins in 1951 because of injuries. Last year he averaged three yards per carry in gaining 102 yards in 34 tries. Cifelli, who stands 6-1 and weighs 240, was the Lions' regular offensive tackle. He graduated from Notre Dame, where he helped the Irish to an unbeaten season in 1949. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Browns released six men, including halfback Fred Bruney who was sent to the San Francisco 49ers. Bruney was a former Ohio State star. Others released by the Browns include tackle Ed Rowland, end Don Steinbrunner, end Bob Schnelker, guard Cleo Wallace and fullback Willie Carter.
PACKERS GET 'CHARMER' CIFELLI FOR OPENER AGAINST CLEVELAND
SEPT 23 (Green Bay) - The Packers held one of the Detroit Lions' 30-odd "Cleveland Charmers" today - Mr. August B. (Gus) Cifelli, a 240-pound offensive tackle. Cifelli, like his former Lion teammates, never has played a losing game against the Browns - a string composed of four victories, including the 1952 World Championship playoff, and one tie. And, needless to say, Packer coach Gene Ronzani is hoping some of Cifelli's "charm" works next Sunday when the Green Bays open their 1953 NFL season against these same Browns in Milwaukee. Cifelli was one of the two players obtained yesterday by the Packers. The other athlete is Johnny Papit, a fullback-halfback from Washington. The Packers gave undisclosed draft choices for the players. Ronzani indicated that more players might be coming in today or Thursday. To help make room for the new players, tackle Floyd Harrawood was placed on waivers. The Packers will go into Sunday's opener with about 38 players, although only 33 (the league limit) will be eligible to play. Under a new rule this year, NFL teams must reduce their roster to 33 on Tuesdays prior to Sunday's games. However, teams may carry more than 33 players provided the clubs pay their full salaries for the period. Cifelli, a former Notre Dame star in his fourth season of pro ball, helped the Lions beat the Browns 28-21 in an exhibition in 1951 and three times last year, 21-10 in a non-leaguer, 17-6 in league play and 17-7 in the championship battle. The two clubs played a 24-24 exhibition tie this year. The Detroit lineman is expected to plug up the gap left by 235-pound right tackle, Steve Dowden, the Baylor hero who was forced out of his sophomore season
because of death in his family. Oddly enough, Dowden also came to the Packers from Detroit - in the trade that sent Jug Girard to the Lions a year ago. Cifelli, who stands 6-3, was an offensive fixture during the Lions' championship drive. He played on three unbeaten teams (1947-48-49) at Notre Dame and then served 31 months in the Pacific as a machine gunner with the Marines. He received the Purple Heart and was discharged for combat wounds. Cifelli won the heavyweight boxing championship at Notre Dame in 1949. A native of Philadelphia, Cifelli is a year-around resident of Detroit. The newcomer turned 27 last February. Papit, nicknamed Rapid, stands six-feet and packs 184 pounds. He never has had a chance to really stand out in pro football. Papit came to the Redskins in 1951 after a spectacular career at the University of Virginia, but saw little action because he was playing behind brilliant Bill Dudley. Last fall, Papit was floored most of the year with a back injury. Under Dudley, Papit averaged four yards a try and last fall, in limited action, carried 32 times for 102 yards. A native of Philadelphia, Papit gained 3,047 yards, averaging 6.1 per try, and scored 27 touchdowns in three season at Virginia...Howie Ferguson, new Packer fullback, was rewarded with a wrist watch from Colonial Jewelers of Milwaukee today for bring selected most outstanding Packer player in the Brown game last Saturday night. A player will be so honored after each Packer game...The Packers continued workouts in the secrecy of City stadium today. The first intensive practice was held Tuesday as Ronzani unfolded some of the strategy he plans to use against the Browns. One of the phases of practice this week will be defensive against Otto Graham's passes. The Brown quarterback had an unusually hot night against the Packers Saturday, completing 15 out of 17 for 213 yards...The Packers will be going after their first victory over the Browns Sunday. Cleveland won three non-league games from the Pack, 38-7 in Toledo in 1950, 21-14 here in '52, and 21-13 last Saturday. Sunday's game will be the first league clash between the clubs and also the first football battle in Milwaukee's new County stadium. The Packers will leave for Milwaukee on the 11 o'clock North Western Saturday morning. They'll headquarter at the Schroeder hotel. The Browns, due in Milwaukee Saturday, are staying at the Pfister hotel.
CAN'T MATCH BROWNS, SAYS RONZANI, BUT....
SEPT 23 (Green Bay) - "Position for position, we don't belong on the same field as the Cleveland Browns," mused Green Bay Packer coach Gene Ronzani Wednesday as he looked forward to the NFL opener at Milwaukee County Stadium Sunday afternoon. "But, our boys feel pretty good after that 21-13 loss at Cleveland last week, so maybe there's some hope for us," Ronzani added. Some of the Packers still were hobbling through drills, but as yet no one has definitely been ruled out of the opener. John Papit, new fullback acquired from the Washington Redskins, took part in his first workout while tackle Gus Cifelli, purchased from Detroit, arrived too late to drill. "I don't know how much help they'll be to us against the Browns," Ronzani said, "but they should be ready to go in our next game." One of the brighter points of the Packers' performance has been the defense, especially against passes. "Cleveland's Otto Graham is the only player to toss a touchdown pass against our first string secondary," Ronzani said. One key to the outcome of the opener lies in the continued improvement of fullback Howard Ferguson, Ronzani pointed out. "He bowled over a few Browns and that's the kind of running we need," said Gene. Ferguson is six feet, one inch tall and weighs about 215 pounds, making him the largest fullback on the squad. He was purchased from the Los Angeles Rams last spring. The hard-running Ferguson never went to college.
PACK ROOKIES IN KEY ROLES VS. BROWNS
SEPT 24 (Green Bay) - The season of 1952 was probably the biggest "rookie year" in Packer history. A total of 11 simon-pures were in the Packer lineup when they engaged the Chicago Bears in the league opener, including such outstanding athletes as Babe Parilli, Bill Howton, Bobby Dillon, Deral Teteak - to mention a few. The current season of 1953 will open in Milwaukee Sunday afternoon with seven Packer rookies making their play-for-pay debut. Green Bay's opponent, the Cleveland Browns, will present six S-Pures. The Packer rookies who survived the long training grind are: Halfbacks Al Carmichael, 185 pounds, the club's No. 1 draft choice from the University of Southern California; Gib Dawson, 175, No. 4 selection from the University of Texas; and Val Joe Walker, 180, a speedster from Southern Methodist who was obtained in a trade with the New York Giants. Center Jim Ringo, 225 pounds, No. 7 draft choice from Syracuse university. Tackles Bill Forester, 235, No. 4 pick from Southern Methodist; and Vic Rimkus, 220, No. 10 selection from Holy Cross. Linebacker Roger Zatkoff, 210, No. 5 draft pick from the University of Michigan. The half-dozen Brown rookies are headed by Doug Atkins, the 6-8, 250-pound defensive end from Tennessee. Others are halfbacks Kenny Konz of LSU and Billy Reynolds of Oklahoma; guards Gene Donaldson of Kentucky and Chuck Noll of Dayton; and center Tom Catlin of Oklahoma. All of the Packer rookies will fight for Green Bay U in key positions. Carmichael and Dawson, left and right halfbacks, respectively, represent some of the new speed that Coach Gene Ronzani plans to unleash this year. They are matched with four pro veterans - J.R. Boone, Larry Coutre and Johnny Papit. Ringo and veteran Dave Stephenson will be out to perform the chores vacated by Jay Rhodemyre, while Forester must fill the valuable shoes of Ray Bray, the brilliant middle guard who retired last winter after 11 pro seasons - 10 with the Bears...SIX FROM OTHER CLUBS: Rimkus and Zatkoff loom as valuable replacements for some ace veterans. Rimkus will be fighting to back up such tackles as Dave Hanner, Dick Wildung, Dick Afflis, Gus Cifelli and Howie Ruetz is in the running with Bob Forte, Clayton Tonnemaker and Deral Teteak. The Packers have one other player who could be listed as a rookie. He is Howie Ferguson, the new fullback who played for the Los Angeles Rams during the training season in '52 and then was cut shortly before league action started. He was signed as a free agent last spring. The Packers will tee off with something like six pro veterans from other clubs - defensive halfback Bennie Aldridge of the Forty Niners, defensive end George Hays of the Steelers, offensive halfback J.R. Boone of the Bears and Forty Niners, tackle Gus Cifelli of Detroit, Johnny Papit of Washington and Ferguson...Of the 11 rookies who played in the 1952 openers, only six are with the current edition. Playing as sophomores this year are Steve Dowden, Dick Logan, Howton, Parilli, Teteak and Dillon. The other five gonees are Steve Dowden, Chuck Boerio, George Schmidt, Bobby Jack Floyd and Bill Reichardt. Dowden finished the 1952 campaign, but was unable to return because of a death in his family; Boerio was cut after the first game; Schmidt was released later in the season; Floyd was placed on waivers last Monday; and Reichardt is in the Air corps. The 1953 Packers have two highly-touted sophomores who played here as rookies in 1950 - linebacker Clayton Tonnemaker and halfback Larry Coutre, both of whom spent the 1951-52 seasons in the Army. Guard Len Szafaryn is also starting his second season in Green Bay after spending the last two years in the Army, but Len played one year with Washington...The Packers held their last intensive practice this afternoon after a morning of classroom work. The squad will start to taper off Friday and then hold a light workout Saturday morning before leaving. Two practice sessions were held Wednesday. Gus Cifelli, the new tackle obtained from the Lions in a trade for an undisclosed draft choice, reported today. Johnny Papit, the halfback picked up from Washington in the same kind of deal, practiced with the team Wednesday afternoon.
PACKERS STRESS PASS DEFENSE IN WORKOUT
SEPT 24 (Green Bay) - Pass defense was emphasized Thursday as coach Gene Ronzani pushed his Green Bay Packers through a strenuous workout for Sunday afternoon's game against the Cleveland Browns at Milwaukee County Stadium. The way star passer Otto Graham punished the Packers last Saturday was the major reason for the accent on pass defense. Graham pitched three touchdowns for the Browns, tossing to Dante Lavelli, his chief target (two TDs), and a flock of fast backs headed by Ray Renfro and Billy Reynolds. Graham, who hurled 17 passes and completed 15 for 213 yards, was in the game only during the third quarter and part of the fourth. While Graham was in there, the major Packer defensive burden falls on John Martinkovic and George Hays and the defensive backfield of Bobby Dillon, Bennie Aldridge, Marv Johnson, Ace Loomis and Val Joe Walker. Fans can depend on the Packers for a bit of passing, too, with Tobin Rote and Babe Parilli at the trigger and Bill Howton, Bob Mann and Stretch Elliott on the receiving end. In last Saturday's game, an exhibition affair, Howard Ferguson, fullback, was selected as the outstanding Packer player. He carried the ball 14 times for 56 yards and scored the first Packer marker.
TV DEAL HELPS NFL OPEN 34TH YEAR
SEPT 24 (Philadelphia) - The NFL embarks on its 34th season Sunday, financially bolstered by a $1,300,000 package deal for television rights. It's the biggest TV deal in pro football history and the first test of the league's plan of scheduling Saturday night games as a means of permitting more TV coverage of out-of-town games without cutting down home game attendance. Now the fan can see a pro football game televised from out-of-town Saturday night and still see the home team play the next day - or vice versa. And NFL Commissioner Bert Bell predicts one of the closest races in league history - which could give the grandstand attendance a shot in the arm, obviously...EACH CLUB GETS SLICE: "Every team is improved," said Bell in painting a rosy picture of the new season. "It certainly looks like one of the closest races in the history of the league. A 9-3 season record should be good enough to win in either division this year." Each club will get a chunk of TV proceeds left after telecast costs are taken off. And millions more TV viewers than ever before will peer through the ozone at NFL scatbacks and bruisers. Only areas within a 75-mile radius of an NFL contest will be blacked out from watching another league game on television. Games will be carried on the ABC and Dumont networks each week with a number of national and local advertisers picking up the tab.
PACK LOSES BILL HOWTON FOR 3-4 GAMES DUE TO HURT IN BROWN GO
SEPT 25 (Green Bay) - Bill Howton, the Packers' outstanding all-the-way pass catcher, will miss the first three or four games this season because of injuries. That was the terrible news from the Packer training camp today as Coach Gene Ronzani sent the club through its last heavy workout for the 1953 NFL opener against the Cleveland Browns in Milwaukee Sunday afternoon. Ronzani revealed that Howton failed to respond to treatment for injuries suffered in the non-conference game against the Browns in Cleveland last Saturday night. Howton, outstanding rookie in the league last year, was hurt in a pileup after he caught a pass. One Brown brought him down with a tackle around the legs and another Clevelander leaped on him while he was down. It was the first real injury right end Howton suffered as a pro. He went through 12 league games unscathed last season, though he was belted around aplenty as enemy clubs attempted to put him out of action. Oddly enough, Howton said he had a "hunch" before the Brown game. "While we were warming up, it suddenly occurred to me that I might get those pads. I never wore the things before and I don't know what made me think about them before this game. Well, the game was nearly ready to start as I just didn't give it another thought. Next time, I'll play those hunches,” Howton remarked. The loss of Howton loomed as a staggering blow to the club’s aerial attack – best in the league in 1952. It breaks up the vaunted pass-catching pair – Howton and Bob Mann, the light-footed and quick-as-a-cat left end. They formed a fearsome two in ’52 – Howton, with his breakaway speed which accounted for 13 touchdowns and 1,231 yards and Mann, with his exceptional ability to decoy, fake opponents out of their shoes and make “impossible” catches. The two of 'em ‘scored 19 TDs last year – one less than half of the club’s 40 for the season. The brunt of Sunday’s attack against the Browns likely will fall on Mann and his seemingly twice-as-tall teammate, Stretch Elliott, who is no slouch as a pass catcher himself. Elliott came through
at some opportune moments last fall, and next Sunday’s opener will be a “must” for the Long One…CHANGE THE ‘THINKING’: Loss of Howton will change the “thinking” on the part of the Packers’ change-of-pace quarterbacks, Tobin Rote and Babe Parilli, both of whom became quite accustomed to pitching TD passes to Howton last year. Benching of the club’s leading scorer, which could possibly reduce the Packers’ scoring chances, will throw additional emphasis on the Bay defense. The Browns, if past performances mean anything, are chiefly a “throwing” clubs with Otto Graham pitching and ends Dante Lavelli and Darrel Brewster and a host of backs receiving. Thus, the Packers’ regular outer defense, composed of Marv Johnson, Bennie Aldridge, Val Joe Walker and Bobby Dillon, will get its toughest test. This foursome, incidentally, permitted only one TD by throwing in the exhibition season. The Browns’ ground game, spearheaded by fullbacks Marion Motley and Chick Jagade, must be stopped by the club’s defensive line anchored by veteran tackles Dick Wildung and Dave Hanner and the linebackers – Bob Forte, Clayton Tonnemaker, Deral Teteak and Rog Zatkoff…The Packers’ official roster was reduced to 35 players yesterday with the release of tackle Vic Rimkus, rookie from Holy Cross. The list does not include Don Barton, the rookie halfback who is on the shelf with a broken ankle…Defense was featured in practice Thursday afternoon after a morning blackboard session. Both offense and defense occupied the Packers in drills today. The team will work out lightly Saturday morning before boarding the 11 o’clock North Western for Milwaukee. They’ll headquarter at the Schroeder hotel, while the Browns, due in Saturday, will stay at the Pfister hotel. Sunday’s game will be the first in the new Milwaukee County stadium. Packer ticket chief Carl Mraz estimated that approximately 25,000 would attend the game. “Anything over that figure would be a pleasant surprise,” he pointed out. Close to 17,000 tickets have been sold for the game thus far…The Packers will be playing in their 381st NFL game since 1931, when the circuit started operation. In the 33 league campaigns, the Packers scored 229 victories, 129 losses and 22 ties for a percentage of .639. The Browns will be playing their 91st professional football league game, and their 41st in the NFL. Their record includes 76 victories, 11 losses and three ties for a fat percentage of .873. In four years of play in the All-America conference, the Browns posted 45-2-3, and in three season in the NFL, starting in 1950, they scored 31 victories against nine setbacks and no ties. Two of the Browns’ nine NFL losses came in championship playoffs. The Packers and Browns will be meeting for the first time in a league game. They played three non-conference games with the Browns winning all of them, 38 to 7 in ’50, 21 to 14 in ’52, and 21 to 13 last Saturday.
'MYSTERY' PACKERS DUEL BROWNS IN OPENER SUNDAY
SEPT 26 (Milwaukee) - What’s wrong with the 1953 Packers? That question, which has been asked all over Packerland the last few weeks, may be answered – in part, at least – when the Green Bays open their 34th season in the NFL against the Cleveland Browns in County stadium here Sunday afternoon. Kickoff is set for 1:30. The current Packers rank as one of the “mystery” teams in the National league. They were picked as a possible championship contender away last July, but the non-conference record shows only one victory – a 31 to 7 decision over the New York Giants - and four consecutive losses, including a 21-13 setback at the hands of the Browns in Cleveland a week ago tonight. For a spell during the non-league season – especially after the first loss – it appeared that the Bays were playing under wraps. But the last two battles showed only a slight “comeback”. A crowd of 25,000 – more if the weather is perfect – will be out to see the mysterious Packers and the out-in-the-open Browns, a team that never finished out of a championship playoff in seven years of pro football. The Browns, by the way, posted four victories, one loss and one tie in non-league activity. Gene Ronzani, on the eve of his fourth season as Packer head coach, pointed out that “we can’t match the Brown personnel and every one of our boys will have to reach the heights of his ability if we are to win.” Earlier in the week, Ronzani indicated that the league season “will remove a lot of doubts” about the Packers. The Packers will open Sunday with a serious handicap – an injured Bill Howton, the club’s outstanding pass receiver who caught 13 throws last year for touchdowns as a rookie. Howton was hurt in the Brown exhibition finale and failed to respond to treatment. He’ll miss the first three or four league games. With Howton out of the picture, the Browns will change their defense and concentrate on Bob Mann – a dangerous receiver in his own right – and Stretch Elliott, who previously played under Mann or Howton. Mann will be at his usual left end spot and Elliott will take over at right. Mann likely will be covered by two or three defensemen, all of which will make the passing of Tobin Rote and Babe Parilli more difficult. The quarterbacks, however, also will have such backs as Gib Dawson, Breezy Reid, Larry Coutre, Al Carmichael, J.R. Boone, Howie Ferguson and Freddy Cone to employ as receivers. While the passing remains a question mark due to the absence of Howton, the Packers figure they can run against the Browns. They gained 116 yards rushing in Cleveland for their best ground figure of the non-league campaign. Since 114 of those yards were gained by Reid and Ferguson, the Packers feel that a varied attack would produce even more stripes. Coach Paul Brown’s Clevelands, off what they showed in the exhibition against the Pack, are still a tough, rugged and clock-like crew, despite reports that some of their long-time veterans are getting old. Basically a run-pass team, with (generally) Otto Graham hurling to Dante Lavelli on one play and the fullback carrying on the next, the Browns loom even tougher with the arrival of two new halfbacks – Kenny Konz and Billy Reynolds, who will share the pounding with Ken Carpenter and Dub Jones. They carry two of the best fullbacks in the business – Marion Motley and Chick Jagade. Against this offensive array, the Packers will come forth with an improved defense – especially behind the line – Clayton Tonnemaker, Bob Forte, Deral Teteak and Rog Zatkoff as linebackers and Bobby Dillon, Val Joe Walker, Marv Johnson and Bennie Aldridge in the “outfield”. Most observers feel that this game will be decided in the line, which is a safe assumption because most games are decided there. The Bay line offensively has been bolstered by the addition of tackle Gus Cifelli, the former Detroit Lion who never played a losing game against the Browns. The defensive wall will be helped along by the return of Dick Wildung, former Packer great who sat out the ’52 campaign. One rookie and a pro veteran from another club will be in the defensive Bay line – Bill Forester of SMU, who will debut at middle guard, and George Hays, the former Pittsburgh Steeler, at Ab Wimberly’s defensive end spot…The Packers will be out to break their last half jinx. The Bays were unable to score a point in the last halves of their last four non-league games. For the five games, the Pack counted only 14 points in the last two quarters – all against the Giants. The Bays scored 66 in the first half for a total of 80 for the five tilts. Green Bay also allowed 80 markers, but opponents scored 51 in the second half. During the 12 league games last year, the Packers scored 295 points – 147 in the first half and 147 in the second. Over the same route, the Packer opponents scored 312 points – 133 in the first half and 179 in the second…The Packer are staying at the Schroeder hotel here while the Browns will be at the Pfister. The Bays will return home Sunday night on the 10 o’clock North Western…Sunday’s game will be the first football match in the new County stadium. It also will be the first league meeting between the Browns and Packers. It will be the first Packer league opener ever played in Milwaukee.
NFL TOP OPEN 34TH SEASON ON SUNDAY
SEPT 26 (Philadelphia) - The NFL christens its 34th season Sunday with a wide open race in sight and not a team in the loop to boast of an unbeaten exhibition record. Television views will see two of the half dozen season openers, the Chicago Cardinals and Washington Redskins going at it in one TV thriller and Detroit Lions trying up in the other. Thirty-seven Dumont network stations will air the Detroit battle as the Lions open defense of their NFL title against a fast-improving Steeler eleven at Briggs Stadium, while 59 stations of the ABC network will be in on the TV pipeline from Comiskey Park in Chicago…GOOD CHANCE TO REPEAT: With a single loss to mar their exhibition record, the Lions are given a good chance to resume where they left off last year after defeating the Eastern Division champion Cleveland Browns in the playoff. The Browns open against Green Bay at Milwaukee with a so-so chance for another title. Detroit’s only exhibition nemesis, the Philadelphia Eagles, invade San Francisco and the New York Giants play the Los Angeles Rams at the Coliseum in a battle of 1952 runners-up for the Eastern and Western division crowns. The Chicago Bears, winner of but two exhibition clashes, help the new Baltimore Colts make their debut at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore after a disastrous season under the flag of the Texans playing out of Dallas last year. The schedule calls for a total of 72 games to be played during the course of the season that ends on Dec. 13. Should playoffs be necessary, they will be staged a week later. The championship game, under a new league ruling, must be played after Christmas. This year, it will be played on Dec. 27 in the home city of the Western conference champion.
PACKERS HERE FOR OPENER
SEPT 26 (Milwaukee) - Gene Ronzani's Green Bay Packers and Paul Brown's Cleveland Browns both arrived in Milwaukee at about the same hour Saturday noon and the cast was complete, except for the officials, and the stage set for the opening of the NFL season at the Stadium Sunday afternoon. The Browns arrived from Cleveland by air, the Packers from Green Bay by train. Despite the licking suffered in an exhibition at Cleveland a week ago, 21-13, and the loss of end Bill Howton because of injuries Friday, Ronzani had a surprisingly chipper outfit in tow. There was an an undercurrent of feeling that they could give the Browns an interesting afternoon, and with a bit of luck even beat them. "We're not in the best of shape," Ronzani said, "but the boys have showed a lot of spirit and hustle the last few days. We have a chance." Stretch Elliott will start in place of the injured Howton. While only Don Barton, who has a broken ankle; guard Len Szafaryn, who has a torn ligament, and Howton will not play, the Packers have other men with injuries which may slow them down. Dick Wildung, Dick Logan, Babe Parilli, Jim Ringo, Val Joe Walker, Gib Dawson and Fred Cone all have bruises and cuts of some kind. The Browns arrived not in best of shape themselves, however. Fullbacks Marion Motley and Harry Jagade and guard Lynn Houston did not work out at all this week because of injuries. Cleveland pitched its camp at the Pfister Hotel, Green Bay at the Schroeder. The Browns ruled two touchdown favorites. All work has been completed on the field with only the markings to be made. A crowd of 27,000 or 28,000 is expected.
SUNDAY MARKS BROWNS' 100TH OFFICIAL GAME
SEPT 26 (Milwaukee Sentinel) - If it's true that the first 100 are the hardest and from then on it's comparatively easy sailing, rival pro football teams are going to have nothing but more trouble with the Cleveland Browns. By coincidence, the Browns will be playing exactly their one hundredth game as they collaborate with the state's own Packers in opening the NFL season Sunday at the Stadium. The big day will mark a couple of important firsts - the first football game in the magnificent $5,000,000 Stadium and the first appearance of a Cleveland team in Milwaukee. Take a look at what the Browns have done over the seven year span since the club was organized in 1946: 83 victories, 13 defeats and three ties. Winner of four straight championships in the All-America Conference (no longer in existence) and one in the NFL, and twice runner-up in the NFL! So it's no accident that the Browns have replaced the once mighty Bears as the perennial team to beat. Anyone who knows Paul Browns can be reasonably sure that the situation isn't going to change too much either. Certainly there is no indication this year. The boss man is too well loaded with talented operators. In fact, only a half dozen rookies have been able to make the regular squad this year. Which is a typical experience at Cleveland, proving that Brown built mighty well from the start. Among the newcomers who already have earned their spurs is Doug Atkins, giant defensive end from Tennessee. Atkins stands 6 feet 8 and weighs 250 pounds. Wouldn't you like to try to push him around for a living? But don't get the idea that Atkins is the biggest man in the five man defensive line that the Packers and other league rivals will try to outfox and overpower. On the contrary, he is lighter than three of the other four and is close to 10 pounds under the average of the five. The other end, Lenny Ford, packs 255 pounds on a 6-4 frame. Tackles Don Colo and Darrell Palmer weigh 260 and 240, respectively, and the middleman, Jerry Helluin, a cool 290. Does anyone still believe size means nothing in big time football? Here's a tipoff on longevity as it applies to football: Only eight of the original cast are still in there giving their all for the dear old Browns and the attractive paychecks they are assumed to be getting regularly. No. 1 among the eight, now as in 1946, is Otto Graham, great passer and occasional fancy runner. The mechanical man, as he is called, chalked up his very best passing average last year - 235 yards per game in 12 league games. Apparently he is taking up where he left off in '52 despite the mileage he has piled up. Frank Gatski, all-league center the last two years; Lou (The Toe) Groza, who has yet to miss a try for point in league play, and Dante Lavelli, Graham's favorite passing target and one of the very best in the pro business, also are about as prominent as ever. Lin Houston, offensive guard; George Young, defensive end; Marion Motley, 238 fullback, and Bill Willis, defensive middleman are easing off a bit. But, like the other originals, they show no signs of being through. The latter observation may be unnecessary, for it's a matter of record that a player is either a Brown or through - not both.
PACKERS, BROWNS OPEN NFL SEASON HERE TODAY
SEPT 27 (Milwaukee Sentinel) - They'll be playing for the blue chips Sunday, and Coach Gene Ronzani's Green Bay Packers figure to give the powerful Cleveland Browns a run down to the wire in the NFL opener for both teams at Milwaukee County Stadium. Game time is 1:30 p.m. A crowd of
upwards of 25,000 is expected to take in pro football's debut at the Stadium. While the Packers sport a none too impressive 1-4 exhibition record and will be going without their star end, Bill Howton, the club as a whole is rarin' to pin the Browns' ears back. Psychologically, the Ronzanimen won't be giving an inch to the Paul Brown-coached Browns. At Cleveland last week, the Packers roared off to a 13-0 halftime lead only to see Otto Graham pass the Browns to a strong second half finish and a 21-13 victory. In none of the losses has the margin been greater than eight points. So it looks like the Packers, once they find themselves, are capable of giving the best of them a rough go. The loss of Howton cannot be minimized. His presence on the receiving ends of Babe Parilli and Tobin Rote's passes constituted 50 percent of the Bay's offense. In 1952, Howton's first pro year, he led the league in yards gained on pass receptions with a total of 1,231. Included were 53 catches, 13 of them for touchdowns. Stretch Elliott will replace Howton at end, with Bob Mann at the other flank. Familiar faces in Green Bay's lineup will include Fred Cone, Breezy Reid, Dick Wildung, Bob Forte and Bobby Dillon, among others. Sure to share the spotlight are halfback Gib Dawson and Val Joe Walker, a pair of top-flight rookies. The Browns, as usual, will feature the aerial artistry of Graham along with a strong running game. Graham's No. 1 target will be end Dante Lavelli, one of the loop's top flankmen. The Packer Football Knothole Club will have 500 boys attending the game. Other games Sunday, Chicago Bears at Baltimore; New York at Los Angeles; Philadelphia at San Francisco; Pittsburgh at Detroit and Washington at Chicago against the Cardinals.