San Francisco 49ers (2-6) 17, Green Bay Packers (2-6) 16
Sunday November 18th 1956 (at Green Bay)
GAME RECAP (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE)
(GREEN BAY) - If there's supposed to be some sort of giant balance wheel that judges winning and losing over the years, maybe the Packers' 17 to 16 loss to the San Francisco Forty Niners at ancient City Stadium just had to be. The Packers baptized the area they now play in back in 1921 with a 7 to 6 victory over Minneapolis. It was their first NFL game off the banks of the East River. Sunday, they played their last league game on the historic turf and this time, 35 years later, the hand of destiny that seems to give no one more than an even break in life somehow entered the picture and wrote a bitter ending - just as bitter as that first league win was glorious. All this may sound a bit sentimental and/or mystic but how else do you account for three tried and true Packer veterans losing the ball on fumbles in the last six minutes - and the Forty-Niners recovering all of 'em. And if this seems like Black Week in the Packers' 1956 season, it still isn't over. The Bays must play the front-running Lions in Detroit Thanksgiving Day before a live gathering of 50,000 and a nationwide television audience of millions. The Packers are now in a three-way lock with the two West Coast clubs, 'Frisco and Los Angeles, in fourth place or the Western division cellar, as you wish, each with 2-6 marks. Few folks, and 17,906 were on hand Sunday, will argue that the Packers were the best team on the field and few doubted that the Bays would win - especially when the Pack bulged its muscles with a quick touchdown with 9:45 left in the
game, setting the score at 17-16. Even the Forty Niners seemed resigned as the Packers allowed a first down and then forced them to punt. Then things happened, like so: The punt popped out of Al Carmichael's hands and J.D. Smith recovered on the Packer 20 with 6:11 left! Gordy Soltau missed a field goal from the 26, thanks to a rush by Val Joe Walker, giving the Pack a chance to win on a field goal! The Packers drove 58 yards from their own 20 to the Forty-Niner 22 where Howie Ferguson fumbled and Bob Holladay recovered with 2:12 left. And Rote fumbled and Stan Sheriff recovered on the Packer 37 with 31 seconds and two pass plays left! Ironically, a former Bear and Ram did the key recovering - Smith and Holladay, respectively. And, for more irony, the difference between losing and trying was an extra point - after the Packers' first touchdown. The pass back from center was high; Rote was rushed getting it down; and Fred Cone's kick was low and blocked by Leo Nomellini. That first touchdown, a tipping catch by Bill Howton on a 39-yard pass from Bart Starr, gave the Packers a 6-0 lead in the first quarter. Cone booted a 20-yard field goal in the second quarter for a 9-0 edge. The Forty-Niners, with Y.A. Tittle replacing Earl Morrall at quarterback, moved 77 yards in 10 plays, with Tittle sneaking one yard with 23 seconds left in the half. Frisco took a 14-9 lead with five minutes left in the third quarter on an 86-yard run by Hugh McElhenny - the longest run from scrimmage in the league this season, and upped the lead to 17-9 on Soltau's 32-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter. Two minutes later, the Packers made it 17-16 on Rote's one-yard sneak. That was it. In the final breakdown, the Packers' inability to score cost 'em the game. The Bays defensed the visitors down to one concerted drive and a respectable 17-point total. McElhenny can run 86 yards on anybody. The Packers had the ball 10 times at or near midfield but moved in only once twice for touchdowns and once for the field goal. The worst loss of the ball were on an interception of a Starr pass in the end zone in the second quarter and Ferguson's fumble in the fourth period. While Packer protection of the passer was generally good, the Forty Niners threw Starr for losses of seven and nine yards and Rote for a loss of seven. Two of the "setbacks" came on third down plays and each forced a punt by Dick Deschaine who punted five times. The Packers came up with 348 yards - a good deal of it between the 30-yard lines, against the Forty Niners' 354. The Bays out-passed their foes 210 yards to 149, but the visitors had the edge in rushing 205 to 138. Frisco's total, of course, was stretched out of proper shape by McElhenny's 86-yard run. This was Starr's debut as a starter and the good-looking prospect came up with a .333 average. His first series included a smearing of seven yards; he guided the Bays 73 yards in eight plays for a touchdown on the next; and then he moved the Bays 34 yards in six plays before Moegle intercepted his floater aimed at Howton in the end zone on his third try. Percentagewise, Rote had his best day, pitching six completions in 10 tries for 147 yards and Starr completed three out of six for 63. Howton and Gary Knafelc caught six of the passes, getting three, with Billy stretching his out to 121 yards on receptions of 39, 37 and 49 yards. The Forty Niners, who rolled up 24 first downs against the Packers' 16, made three of 'em before the Bays started moving with six minutes left in the first quarter. Operating in the backfield composed of Jack Losch, Bill Roberts and Ferguson, Starr, on his second series, pitched to Knafelc for 17 to the Packer 47. Losch hit twice for seven and Joe Johnson banged six to the 40. After Ferguson made one, Howton took Starr's pass on the five and galloped in at 12:30 of the period, as the point try went blooey. A poor punt by Morrall set the Packers in motion from their own 44. Losch made four on the last play of the first frame and Starr hurled to Knafelc on the first of the second period. Ferguson ripped off four and then 16, with John Sandusky getting a good block, to the 25. Losch made six in two tries, but Moegle then intercepted in the end zone. With Tittle hurling two short passes to Connor for gains of 15 and nine yards, Frisco moved to midfield where Joe Perry fumbled and Deral Teteak recovered on the Packer 40. The gifts didn't help and an exchange of punts followed. Starting from his 47, Rote hurled a 37-yarder to Howton on the Forty Niner 16, Losch gained two, Rote intercepted two passes, so Cone booted a field goal from the 20 for a 9-0 lead at 11:20 of the second heat. McElhenny opened Frisco's comeback with runs of 12 and 13 yards after which Tittle hit Wilson for 14 and 13 to the Packer 20. In the next four plays, Ken Gorgal, the new Packer defensive back, was called twice for interference and the second was on Arenas in the end zone. The penalty gave Frisco the ball on the one and Tittle leaped over for the score. Soltau converted at 14:35. Losch gained 12 yards on the first two plays of the second half but Starr was slammed back nine yards trying to pass and Deschaine had to punt. Six-foot-nine-inch Bob St. Clair partially blocked the punt and the ball went only 17 yards. Frisco moved deep into Packer territory on Tittle's passes to Wilson (17 yards) and Arenas (11) but Bill Forester ended that by intercepting on the nine and returning 11 yards. Again the Packers moved midfield - on Rote's 24-yard pass to Knafelc, a five-yarder to Losch and Ferguson's five-yard run, but again the attack stalled. Frisco took over on its own 14 and on the first play, McElhenny hit outside his own left end, roared over Gorgal who missed a clean tackle at the line of scrimmage, and sailed down the Packers' sideline for the touchdown. Soltau made it 14-9 at 10:55. Rote completed a 19-yarder to Carmichael to reach midfield again but on fourth down Rote was smeared back nine trying to pass. The visitors quickly moved down for Soltau's 32-yard field goal, thanks to Tittle's passes of 19 and 15 yards to Soltau to set the score at 17-9 with 2:30 gone in the last period. Taking over on their 36 after Carmichael's 28-yard kickoff return, the Packers scored in five plays. Rote couldn't pass but found daylight and ran 16 yards to the Frisco's 48. Howton took Rote's pass around the 30 on the right side, reversed the field, shook off tacklers, ankled like a halfback, picked up a good block by Ferguson, and finally went out of bounds on the Frisco three-yard line for a 45-yard gain. Ferguson banged to the two and Rote went over on his second try. Cone's kick made it 17-16 with 5:15 gone.
ROTE GOES 30
Frisco picked up a first down on its own 41 but Morrall was forced to punt, bringing up Al's fumble, the ball popping out of his hands before a Forty Niner hit him. McElhenny gained seven yards in two tries to the Packer 13, but Nate Borden tossed him for a six-yard loss on third down, forcing Soltau's field goal try that missed badly as Walker rushed him. On the first play from the 20, Rote set sail around his left end on a keeper for 30 yards to the 50. Johnson hit for seven on two cracks and then Cook took Rote's short pass for 17 yards to the 26. Fergie fumbled on the next play. With 54 seconds left, the Packers took over on their own 42. Rote rolled out to his right for a pass but was tackling for a two-yard loss. Losch went to his right trying to pass but wound up running to his left for a three-yard gain. On third down, Rote fumbled as he went back to pass when hit by Bruce Bosely and Sheriff recovered. Perry gained 15 as the game ended.
SAN FRANCISCO - 0 7 7 3 - 17
GREEN BAY - 6 3 0 7 - 16
SAN FRANCISCO GREEN BAY
First Downs 24 16
Rushing-Yards-TD 41-226-2 34-138-1
Att-Comp-Yd-TD-Int 24-15-190-0-1 16-9-210-1-1
Net Passing Yards 149 181
Total Yards 375 319
Fumbles-lost 3-1 3-3
Turnovers 2 4
Yards penalized 3-25 4-21
1st - GB - Billy Howton, 39-yard pass from Bart Starr (Fred Cone kick blocked) GREEN BAY 6-0
2nd - GB - Fred Cone, 20-yard field goal GREEN BAY 9-0
2nd - SF - Y.A.Tittle, 1-yard run (Gordie Soltau kick) GREEN BAY 9-7
3rd - SF - Hugh McElhenny, 86-yard run (Soltau kick) SAN FRANCISCO 14-9
4th - SF - Soltau, 32-yard field goal SAN FRANCISCO 17-9
4th - GB - Tobin Rote, 1-yard run (Cone kick) SAN FRANCISCO 17-16
GREEN BAY - Tobin Rote 5-45 1 TD, Jack Losch 13-45, Howie Ferguson 11-31, Joe Johnson 4-17, Bart Starr 1-0
SAN FRANCISCO - Hugh McElhenny 18-140 1 TD, Joe Perry 12-56, John Henry Johnson 7-31, Y.A. Tittle 3-3 1 TD, Earl Morrall 1-(-4)
GREEN BAY - Tobin Rote 10-6-147, Bart Starr 6-3-63 1 TD 1 INT
SAN FRANCISCO - Y.A. Tittle 20-14-133 1 INT, Earl Morrall 4-1-16
GREEN BAY - Billy Howton 3-121 1 TD, Gary Knafelc 3-48, Al Carmichael 1-19, Fred Cone 1-17, Jack Losch 1-5
SAN FRANCISCO - Bill Wilson 5-59, Clyde Conner 3-33, Gordie Soltau 2-32, Joe Perry 2-3, John Henry Johnson 1-16, Joe Arenas 1-10, Hugh McElhenny 1-(-4)
'THOSE 3 FUMBLES LOOKED LIKE THEY WERE PUT IN AS PLAYS,' SAYS 49ER COACH
NOV 19 (Green Bay) - "Those three fumbles looked like they were put in as plays." The speaker was Frankie Albert, freshman head coach of the San Francisco Forty Niners, and he had reference to the Packers' fourth quarter ball handling misfortunes which contributed mightily to the West Coast eleven's eyelash victory at City Stadium Sunday afternoon. Albert, stocking-footed and settled back in a capacious Hotel Northland armchair while holding court for newsmen, was happy to not that "all those fumbles were recovered by new men, you know." The "new men", Bob Holladay, Stan Sheriff and J.D. Smith, have been acquired via the waiver and free agent route in recent days. Frankie wasn't ready to concede they were the only major items, however. "Tittle (Y.A.) had a good day passing, too," he asserted and, as might be expected of a former quarterback, added, "I thought his play selection was good." Somebody asked if he thought the frigid weather had affected the Californians' play? "I don't know - it might have had a good effect," he grinned. "We haven't been able to win in our weather." (It was 105 when the 49ers lost to the Rams in Los Angeles a week earlier). The Packers' Bill Howton was mentioned and Frankie shook his head in wonder. "That run of Howton's - when he cut back," Albert exclaimed, emitting a long whistle. "Boy, can he go." This called to mind the fact that another fair country runner, the 49ers' Hugh McElhenny, had been injured in a fourth quarter crash along the north sidelines. "McElhenny got kicked in the ribs or something and it knocked the wind out of him," Frankie volunteered, "but he's all right now." A 'Frisco writer asked if the victory had made any change in his outlook? The reply was immediate and confident. "We can finish up
with 6-6 now," the 49ers' youthful chief declared, largely for San Francisco consumption. "This club (now 2-6) can do it if they just make up their minds to it. This is the lift we needed." It remained for Dan McGuire, the 49ers' silver-haired publicitor, to add the final touch. "It was poetic justice," he smiled. "Holladay gets cut after the Packers beat the Rams because of what Howton did to him. We pick him up and today he makes a recovery that beats the Packers – so he got revenge.”…The Packers, who had unhappily slogged from the muddy turf of City Stadium for the last time to the bitter-sweet strains of “Auld Lang Syne”, were hardly in the mood for chit-chat. There was a heavy, even oppressive silence, broken occasionally by whispers in isolated corners of the cluttered dressing room. Most of them made their way to the showers without a word, speaking only if spoken to. Congratulated upon a rousing overall performance, Deral Teteak managed a weak smile and countered, “Not good enough.” What had been the story on McElhenny’s long touchdown run? “We had the linebackers rushing and he cut inside of us,” Bull explained. Across the room Jack Losch, who had the busiest day of his young pro life, allowed it had been enjoyable. “It felt pretty good,” he admitted. He had been given a fair going over, it was ventured. “Oh, a little bit,” Jack grinned, “but you’ve got to expect that.”…BALL PUNCHED OUT: He was more concerned over that one-point deficit on the scoreboard. “I don’t see how a team can play the games we have,” Jack puzzled, “and get so many bad breaks.” In another corner, Fred Cone was thinking along the same lines. “If we could have kept the ball when we were down in there the last time,” he signed, “we would have had a field goal for sure.” Howie Ferguson, just returned from the shower, was still in a black mood. Had the ball been punched from his arms on that fourth quarter fumble? “I had it knocked out,” he snorted disgustedly, “when I was tackled.”…Coach Liz Blackbourn, probably never more unhappy over a defeat, admitted, “This one was really rough to take.” “There wasn’t too much difference between our clubs,” Liz was convinced. “But you’ve got to have a little break to win. The way things have been going for us, this one would be almost amusing if it weren’t so ironic.” Never one to live in the past, before leaving, he informed his aides “we’ll have to start a little earlier Monday morning.”…RIGHT SPIRIT: He watched from the sidelines, since rookie Bart Starr was at the controls, but nobody was happier over the Packers’ first touchdown in the opening quarter than the man Starr replaced, Tobin Rote. Watching Billy Howton mince into the end zone after taking a long pass from Starr, Tobin grinned broadly and declared, “Wasn’t that a hell of a catch?”…PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE: “Watch for an onside kick, watch for an onside kick,” Blackbourn called to the 49ers as they lined up awaiting the kickoff following Fred Cone’s second quarter field goal. “That ought to get ‘em up,” Liz asserted, then chuckled as Frisco’s Ed Henke moved three or four yards closer to midfield…HAPPY? REUNION: Referee John (Red) Pace was forcibly reunited with an old buddy on a Green Bay street Saturday night, he reported. “Dan (Headlinesman Dan Tehan) and I were on our way down the street to get a sandwich when a fellow came flying through the swinging doors of a tavern and into my arms. The way it looked, I saved him from tumbling into the street. When he got straightened around, he said, “Red Pace! It turned out he was and old P-boat pilot I flew with in World War II.”…EDUCATIONAL NOTE: Members of the 1956 Ripon College football squad and Coach Jerry Thompson were present to see how the pros do it at first hand. Also in attendance was the Menominee (Mich.) High School grid varsity.
CITY STADIUM BELONGS TO CAL FOR 15 MINUTES
NOV 19 (Green Bay) - The Packers and 49ers were supposed to be the principal attraction at City Stadium Sunday, but for 15 minutes the historic field belonged to Cal. Between the halves at what may be the last professional football game in the old stadium, George Whitney Calhoun was honored. It was a fitting if long overdue tribute to the man who, with Curly Lambeau, conceived the Green Bay Packers, and whose unflagging enthusiasm through the years fanned the tiny spark struck during a casual street corner conversation into a flame that became the wonder and delight of the sports world. Fitting, too, that the tribute should be paid in City Stadium, which Cal, as much as any other man, helped create on land that once belonged to his great grandfather and founder of Green Bay, Daniel Whitney. Curly Lambeau has received most of the credit for the creation and development of the Green Bay Packers. It is taking nothing from Lambeau, however, to insist that Cal deserves nearly equal credit. Without him there might never have been any Packers, and even if they had been born they never have attained the status they eventually achieved. Curly got the spotlight, but Cal never cared. In fact, he wanted it that way. It was probably inevitable that these two should get together in some such enterprise as produced the Packers. Calhoun, as sports editor of the Press-Gazette, had followed Curly's athletic career from his East High days. As far back as 1916, before Cal became a P-G staff writer, he had covered the heroics of the slender, black-haired Belgian lad who had broken he seven-year domination of West High in the still-young East-West football series. A former player himself, Cal loved football with a fervor he has never lost. A Green Bay native, although he grew up in Buffalo, N.Y., Cal had played a lot of end for Buffalo Technical High School and later for the University of Buffalo. It was a football injury in college, aggravated by bumps sustained as a hockey player, that ended his own athletic career. Once the Packers were launched, Cal became their most fervent drum beater, high priest and guardian of the coffers. He not only wrote all the publicity in the early days but he personally passed the hat that provided their only income. As times improved but before any formal organization was effected, he needled such early backers as Joe Deloye, Emmett and John Claire into providing financial assistance. Cal was an original incorporator of the club, with Nate Abrams, Joe Ordenz and Lambeau, in 1922. When it was taken over by Green Bay businessmen headed by A.B. Turnbull a year later, he became secretary and publicity director, a dual capacity in which he served until 1940. He was one of the first and still is a member of the board of directors. The first championship era meant happy days for Cal. He always traveled with the team on the long eastern jaunts, inspiring columns of the most colorful publicity ever enjoyed by any professional sports organization. He had his own unique way of doing it. Unlike the usual publicity man, who haunts the sports department of the newspapers, Cal made the sportswriters come to him. Arriving in New York, he would install himself in the Packers' hotel and wait for them to rally round. They all came, too - even the best of the Old Guard that included the beloved John Kieran of the New York Times, Bill McGeehan and Pat Gannon of the Herald-Tribune and George Trevor of the Sun. In addition to his traveling secretary and publicity duties, Cal was also the guardian of the pass gate wherever the Packers played. A genius at spotting a free loader, he was the toughest gate keeper to outflank in pro spots. "Gates Ajar" Calhoun they called him in those days from the Mississippi to Sandy Hook, the best "pass defense" in the National League and the only "goalie" in professional football. Cal had been a hockey goalie in his youth and old habits are hard to break. Beside, he knew from bitter experience what it was like to subsist a football team out of the contents of his hat. Trying to see the Packers play for nothing was, in his book, a form of treason beside which the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor was a gesture of the purest sportsmanship. The best gate-crashing brains in the business beat vainly against his massive shoulders. In fact, the only group ever to outmaneuver him consistently weren't pros at all, but a gang of hometown boys - the original Packer Lumberjack Band. Increasing pressure of his publicity forced him to give up the secretaryship in 1940, but he continued as publicity director through 1946. He also covered out of town games for the Press-Gazette until 1940 or 1941. Cal isn't quite sure, but he wrote his last Packer story in one of those years. He was inactive from 1947 through 1949, although continuing as a club director, but was back in the publicity harness with Jug Earpe in 1950. When he relinquished the reins in September 1954, he also discontinued his weekly newsletter. This bulletin had for years been as familiar a piece of mail in the front offices of NFL clubs as the telephone bull, and usually far more welcome. Commissioner Bert Bell expressed regret at its passing with a warm personal letter. As a former sports editor and writer, Cal always has had a healthy respect for statistics. The result is a collection of historical material on pro football unique in its volume and completeness. No book on pro ball could be authentic without his assistance, and everyone written in the past 25 years has had it. He was a chief collaborator for Roger Treat's Official Pro Football Encyclopedia, published a few years ago. Until he quit traveling with the club after 1944, Cal had seen every game played by the Packers except the Hawaiian exhibition in 1932. He was sick and unable to make that trip. It was probably just as well. Considering the impact of the colorful Packers on Honolulu - still fresh after many years - there's no telling where it would have ended had he been there too. As one who has yet to miss a Packer home contest and who saw all the Packer games through 1944 - although he never saw a kickoff until 1947 - Cal has witnessed nearly every great moment in the team's long history. Of them all he considers the classic 1929 conquest of the Giants in New York as the high water mark for both team and individual effort. The victory itself was a superlative team triumph, but, to his mind, the game also provided the greatest individual in Packer annals - a punt by Lewellen that staved off a possible Giant score at a critical moment and led the way to the decisive Green Bay touchdown. Standing in his own end zone, Lew lifted a whopper into a cross wind that came down on the Giant 25, then went out of bounds on the five yard line...ALMOST GOT INTO PLAY: Cal almost got into that one himself for one play. As the Packers came downfield in the closing minutes and the crowd began to encroach on the end line behind the Giant goal, Cal joined the attempt to keep it back. When Johnny Blood crashed over for the final score, Lew threw a flying block that just missed knocking Cal out of the park. Yesterday afternoon all the long years of devotion, the triumphs and the disappointments, the laughs as well as frustrations, came into focus. There were speeches, messages of congratulation from all over the country, and a number of gifts, including a solid gold lifetime NFL pass, a Packer blanket for Cal and a special one for Patsy Twosee Tiger. And as the cheers of thousands broke over the head of the proud man standing on the dying turf, nearly 40 years of Packer history flashed by. Spine-tingling, those cheers. They even cracked the hardest shell that ever camouflaged a soft and sentimental heart.
TARZ TAYLOR SUFFERS SEVERE HEART ATTACK
NOV 19 (Chicago) - John (Tarz) Taylor, assistant line coach at Marquette University from 1929-40 and line coach of the Green Bay Packers under Gene Ronzani from 1950-52, was in serious condition at Illinois Masonic Hospital here Monday after suffering a heart attack following the Bears' football game Sunday afternoon. Taylor, 59, now serving as a scout for the Bears, was stricken while signing autographs outside Wrigley Field after the game. He was taken into the Bears' office where Ed Rozy, Chicago trainer who competed at Marquette while Taylor coached there, administered oxygen. He was later removed to the hospital. A native of Duluth, Minn., Taylor went to school at Hamline University and later transferred to Ohio State, where he was named an All-American guard in 1920. He played in the Rose Bowl game, which Ohio State lost to Stanford. In World War I, he served in the Navy. Taylor played on several pro teams, including the Bears. A colorful and extremely generous man, he was an assistant coach at Michigan State, Ohio State and Ohio University before coming to Marquette in 1929. He served at Marquette under Frank Murray and later under Paddy Driscoll, present Bear coach. He was a guest on a radio interview at Wrigley Field shortly before he was stricken.
PACKERS CAN ATONE FOR PAST BY WHIPPING DETROIT
NOV 20 (Green Bay) - The Packers can atone for a flock of sins by whipping the Lions in Detroit Thanksgiving Day. This has been a wicked season – two wins and six losses, to be exact, but a victory over highly-favored Detroit would go a long way toward wiping out the bitter memories of six of the last eight Sundays. Did somebody say victory over the Lions? Who said that? How are the Packers ever going to beat Detroit! The Packers couldn’t beat the team with the worst defense in the league – San Francisco! How can they beat the team with the best defense – Detroit? Fortunately, for the Pack, there is such a thing as an upset – plus that old pro football saw about “any team being able to beat the other on a given Sunday.” But the old slogan won’t even work; the game is on Thursday. If our continuity seems a bit off, there’s a reason; we’re caught between a wave of optimism and pessimism o’er these 1956 Packers. Green Bay should be sitting with a 5-3 record at the moment instead of 2-6. The Bays never should have lost the second Colt game (28-21), the Cleveland
game (24-7) and, of course, the battle with San Francisco (17-16). The Packers were favored to win each of the aforementioned games. At Baltimore, they ran into a cold first half, Lenny Moore, and lack of offensive punch near the end; against Cleveland, they had little taste for the hard-hitting Brown defenders; and against Frisco, they showed little offense considering the fact that the Forty Niner defense is the weakest in the league. Detroit represents the absolute finest in defense – 109 points in eight games, an average of 13.6 per enemy. Before Sunday’s game, by comparison, Frisco had given up an average of 29.1 points per foe. The Pack had given up 28.1 before holding Frisco to 17. The Packers, it appears, will have no point feast Thanksgiving Day. But the Packers can score, and Western Division totals today show the Bays with more points than the Lions, 175 to 172. It’s only a field goal’s difference, but it’s a slim hope. The Bays, given a hot day offensively, can whip any club in the league. They proved that by producing 80 points in successive victories over Baltimore (38-33) and Los Angeles (42-17). But since then, their offensive totals in four straight setbacks were 21, 7, 14 and 16 – an average of 14.5. The Lions haven’t been a high scoring club this season; they have depended on their rugged defense. The Lions’ offensive totals for eight games are 20 (over Green Bay 20-16), 31, 24, 20, 16, 17, 17 and 27 despite the presence of a healthy Bobby Layne for an average of 21.5 per start. The Packers’ trick is to keep Detroit down to its 21.5 scoring average and bring their own offensive average up to 22 or over. Neither team will have much chance to prepare their “tricks”, due to the short week…Packer coach Liz Blackbourn had to keep one eye on John H. Weather as he called for a combination of loosening up exercises and defensive work this afternoon if the reported snow and/or rain holds off, he may even include some offensive practice. The main offensive session will be held Wednesday morning – the last practice of the week. The team will leave from Austin Straubel field in two chartered North Central planes at 2 o’clock Wednesday afternoon. No practice was held Monday, but there was a squad meeting at 2:30 in the afternoon. The Bays came out of the 17-16 loss to San Francisco in good physical condition with one exception – tackle Jerry Helluin, who suffered some bruised ribs. Jerry likely will be ready for Detroit but Gene Knutson will be ready just in case. Blackbourn is undecided at the moment on his starters for Thursday. He led off with a three-rookie backfield vs. Frisco, Bart Starr at quarterback, Jack Losch at left half and Bill Roberts at right half – plus veteran Howie Ferguson at fullback.
DEFENSE PAID TRIBUTE TO AL, HOWIE AFTER FUMBLES
NOV 20 (Green Bay) - That old bungaboo, ball control, had a finger in the Packers’ 17-16 loss to the Forty Niners Sunday. Frisco had the football for 65 plays – 41 rushes and 24 passes, and the Packers had it for 50, including 34 rushes and 16 passes. Thus, Frisco had the ball 15 times more than the Packers had it. The reason was simply that the Packers couldn’t force the Forty Niners to punt “right away” – or rather on an opening series, except on two (out of 13) occasions. This is reflected in the first down totals: Frisco 24, Packers 16. The Packers didn’t hold on the first series until midway in the fourth quarter – when it became absolutely necessary with the score 17-16. The first such success came when the Forty Niners recovered Al Carmichael’s fumble on the Packer 20. Hugh McElhenny then was held to one yard in three tries and Gordy Soltau missed his field goal. The second and last first-series stop came after the Forty Niners recovered Howie Ferguson’s fumble on the Forty Niner 22. McElhenny and Y.A. Tittle gained five yards in three tries and Earl Morrall had to punt. Those two first-series stops seemed like a tribute from the defense to heart-broken Carmichael and Ferguson. Before the two stops, the Forty Niners consumed a heap of time with first downs. In the first quarter, they had the ball three times, making one first down the first shot, two the second, and one the third before giving up the ball. They got three more the second frame, making two first downs, one and finally seven for a touchdown. They put together three on their first effort with the ball in the third frame before Bill Forester ended it with an interception, then added a big “one” on McElhenny’s 86-yard run, and then put together three for Soltau’s field goal early in the fourth heat. The visitors made one first down before Morrall delivered the punt that Al fumbled. After Tobin Rote’s fumble, with 31 seconds left, Joe Perry made a first down as the game ended. The Packers had the ball 12 times and actually only failed to get at least a first down on four occasions. In the first half, the Packers had the ball six times. They missed a first down on the first; went for a touchdown on three first downs the second; picked up two first downs before Dickie Moegle’s intercepted on the third; missed on the fourth; made one first down to set up Fred Cone’s field goal on the fifth; and made five yards on the sixth when time ran out in the half. The Packers never failed to make at least one first down on their six tries with the ball in the last half – except on the sixth when Rote fumbled. There was one first down on the first effort; two on the second; one on the third; three and a touchdown on the fourth; two on the fifth (before Ferguson fumbled); and none on the sixth. What caused the Packer loss? Lack of consistent gaining on the part of the Packers’ offense and lack of consistent squelching of the Forty Niner offense on the part of the Packer defense. Consistency instead of a lack of same would have reduced the three fumbles in the last six minutes to a mere statistic. It all adds up to a team loss!
TARZAN TAYLOR OUT OF DANGER
NOV 20 (Chicago) - John L. (Tarzan) Taylor, former Ohio State and Chicago Bears football star, was reported out of danger yesterday by his attending physicians at Illinois Masonic Hospital “barring complications.” Taylor, who is 61, suffered a heart attack in the Wrigley Field press room after the Bears-Los Angeles game Sunday. He was a line coach for Michigan State, Ohio State, Marquette, the Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Colts.
'I CAN'T RUN WITH BALL', SAYS LIZ OF PACKER FUMBLES
NOV 20 (Milwaukee Sentinel) - The Packers could have beaten the 49ers Sunday - 17,986 faithful Green Bay burghers believed that and the Frisco bench wouldn't have denied it after walking off with a 17-16 victory. There was an air of confidence in City Stadium after Tobin Rote engineers a 64-yard touchdown drive in five plays with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game. It showed the Packers could strike back with lightning success. The 17,986 thoroughly frozen customers sat glued to their seats, anxiously waiting for that game winning chance. It came with four minutes left and Rote didn't disappoint as he directed a 57- yard drive which reached the 49ers' 23 before disaster struck. Then that heartbreaking fumble by Howie Ferguson, of all persons, wiped out any chance for an easy Fred Cone field goal or a possible touchdown. So a loose ball bounced the Packers into a three-way cellar tie and chances of getting out are mighty slim. When asked about that costly bobble Monday, Coach Liz Blackbourn shot back, "I can't carry the ball." These are tough days for the Packer coach, who is and always will be a tough loser. His club has now dropped four in a row and Thursday faces the unenviable task of meeting the roaring Lions at Detroit. Yet, Blackbourn was as confident as any Packer backer Sunday. "I surely thought we were going to beat the 49ers until Fergy fumbled," confessed Blackbourn. "Those fumbles, those fumbles!" The outcome easily could have been a 17-17 deadlock had Cone's first extra point been successful. Blackbourn said a high pass from center wrecked Cone's try and not the charge of 49er Leo Nomellini, who was given credit for blocking the kick. Hugh McElhenny made pudding out of the Packers' defense with a dazzling 86 yard run in the third quarter, but Liz wouldn't serve judgment on the Bay miscues until he had seen the films. "But one thing is for sure," Blackbourn emphasized. "McElhenny is one heck of a runner to catch if he breaks through." Recently acquired Ken Gorgal (a Bear castoff) was the only Packer who had a chance to get McElhenny. But a desperate lunge near the goal line failed. When asked if anything impressed him, Blackbourn answered, "It's hard to be jovial the way things are going. Oh, I though Bart Starr handled the team well. We'll start him against the Lions. And Cone deserves more attention he's been playing very well lately." The Packers tossed only 16 passes against the 49ers, a season low. Yet, Billy Howton continued to live up to expectations by grabbing three for 121 yards. Shadowed by a 49er twosome all afternoon, Howton grabbed Starr's third pass one handed for a 39 yard touchdown romp. In the second period he was hemmed in by J.D. Smith and Dicky Moegle, yet took Rote's pass away from the pesky foes for a 37 yard gain. And in the fourth quarter Billy grabbed a 13 yard Rote pitch and did some of the fanciest running by a Packer this season as he zigged and zagged his way to the 49er three for a 45 yard advance which set up Green Bay's last score. On the other hand, the Packers in general and Gorgal in particular, were suckers for Y.A. Tittle's short sideline strikes. Tittle completed 14 of 20 for 133 yards in the three quarters he played.
PACKER TROUBLES START IN SMOKE FILLED ROOM
NOVEMBER 20 (Milwaukee Journal - Oliver Kuechle) - No few of Green Bay's troubles this football season, and the Packers have lost four games in a row and are settled in last place in the Western Division, can be traced right back to their own failures in a smoke filled room. They haven't drafted well. The team is sputtering as it is today not because it doesn't have good passing (Rote on a hot day is as good as any of them) or good pass catching (Howton and Knafelc can catch the ball with any of them) or a hard driving fullback (Ferguson on two good legs can drive with the best) or the makings of a good line generally (except for guards) or good coaching, or good conception of attack, or good conception of defense. The team is sputtering as it is largely because it doesn't have any grade A halfbacks - blockers or runners...WHERE, OH WHERE? Where is a back like Lenny Moore (Baltimore) or Preston Carpenter (Cleveland) or Howard Cassady and Don McIlhenny (Detroit) or Joe Marconi (Los Angeles) or Henry Moore (New York) - and they are all in their very first year. Or where is a back like Long Gone Dupre (Baltimore) or Bobby Watkins (Bears) or Dave Middleton (Detroit) or Ron Waller (Los Angeles) or Dick Moegle (San Francisco) - and they are only in their second year. The Packers just haven't got 'em, let alone top notch halfbacks of an older vintage, and in the draft they had a crack at most of them. The Packers have gone with Breezy Reid, finally released the other day or Al Carmichael, a fine platoon man on punts and kickoffs but not a driving back from scrimmage, or Joe Johnson, a scrappy little fellow, but not a game breaker, or Jack Losch, who was No. 1 on their list this year but who has not come up to expectations, or Bill Roberts, who was picked up as a free agent. The halfback situation is just a little sad...TOUGH LUCK, TOO: One extenuating point there may be. Lisle Blackbourn took over with things so badly run down, he began to build from the bottom. He wanted a defense and he drafted linemen above all in his first couple of years. And he has had just a little tough luck in some of the backs he did draft. Buddy Leake of Oklahoma, drafted high in 1955, decided to play ball in Canada and Veryl Switzer of Kansas State, drafted in 1954, and a dandy, was called by the military. Generally, though, the drafting of the backs has left a lot to be desired - and today it is showing up. Of 31 backs drafted since Blackbourn took over, exactly two are with the club today: Losch and Bart Starr. Two others who would be with the club are in the service: Switzer and Max McGee. Just take a look at the backs who haven't cut it in the last three years, or who refused to report or who quit football: 1956 - Bob Burris of Oklahoma (No. 6 in the draft), Gordon Duvall of SC (9), Bob Laughrey of Maryland (10), Max Burnett of Arizona (12), Charlie Thomas of Wisconsin (14), Vaughn Alliston of Mississippi (15), Hal O'Brien of SMU (21), John Popson of Furman (22), Bob Lance of Florida (28) and Rod Hermes of Beloit (30). 1955 - Buddy Leake of Oklahoma (3), Bob Clemens of Georgia (7), Ron Clark of Nebraska (11), Ed Adams of South Carolina (13), Fred Baer of Michigan (14), Charles Brackins of Prairie View (16), Lynn Beightol of Maryland (17), Carl Bolt of Mississippi Southern (20), Bill Brunner of Arkansas Tech (22), Sam Pino of Boston (29) and Bob Saia of Tulane (30). 1954 - Tom Allman of West Virginia (4), Max McGee of Tulane (5), Bill Oliver of Alabama (12), Dave Johnson of Rice (14), Des Koch of Southern California (16), Art Liebscher of Pacific (21), Clint Sathrum of St. Olaf (23), Evan Slonac of Michigan State (28) and Veryl Switzer drafted No. 1 by the Giants for the Packers in a deal. The drafting of backs just hasn't been good...LOT OF GOOD ONES: On Monday, another draft will be held in Philadelphia, or a partial draft. The coaches will get together to make a bonus choice, with only the Packers and Cardinals still in the running for this selection, and four or five rounds of the regular draft. And Packer fans everywhere certainly will have their fingers crossed that the club will fare better in the matter of halfbacks than it has. Who are the good ones this year? A lot of them for a change. Among quarterbacks there will be Hornung of Notre Dame, Dawson of Purdue, and Brodie of Stanford and among other backs, Arnett of Southern California, Swink of Texas Christian, Peaks of Michigan State, Shofner of Baylor, Woodson of Illinois, Wells of Clemson, Brown of Syracuse - and Brown might be the best back in the country - and Crawford of Wyoming. Just so the Packers get a fair share of them. The bonus choice, if they get it, would be a big help.
ARE LIONS BETTER THAN THE BEARS?
NOV 20 (Detroit) - Chicago’s big bad Bears and the Detroit Lions are tied for first place in the torrid battle for top honors in the Western Division of the NFL. So is the voting of unbiased coaches who have been unfortunate in playing both Detroit and Chicago. As of today, it stood 2-2 in the balloting for the No. 1 team in the division. Sid Gillman, who currently coaches the Los Angeles Rams, picked the Bears Sunday after his team dropped its second game to the Midway Monsters. Gillman was quoted as favoring the Bears “but only slightly.” He has been beaten twice by both Detroit and Chicago. From the other West Coast precinct, coach Frankie Albert of the 49ers still strings along with the Lions. He picked Detroit three weeks ago and still thinks the Lions have a better all-around football team. From the East, Baltimore’s Weeb Ewbank voted for Detroit: “I think the Lions will beat the Bears,” he said. “They’re a much better defensive club. They (the Bears) won’t be able to stop Detroit. We couldn’t, and I think we’re a better defensive team than Chicago.” Lisle Blackbourn, who will bring his Packers into Briggs Stadium Thanksgiving Day, is another Bear fan. He saw the Bears roll over the Packers, 38 to 13 and 37 to 21. That convinced him. After all, the Lions only beat the Packers, 20 to 16. Naturally, the coaches involved in all of this voting have their own ideas. And the run for the top-team rating is still tied. Ewbank is the only coach who can boast that he’s beaten the 1956 edition of the Bears. None of the others have even come close. The big showdown will come next month when the Bears and Detroit clash in two of the last three games on the schedule. But right now the Lions have other worries. Scouts Lou Zarza and Bob Ivory, who looked at the Packers Sunday, will report to coach Buddy Parker in time to start serious workouts Tuesday mornings. The Lions will have only two days in which to rig their defenses for the Packers. The club worked briefly Monday in light limbering up drills. Perhaps a fine performance against these Packers Sunday will change Blackbourn’s mind in the voting. One thing is certain. The Lions can’t take the Packers lightly. Tobin Rote is having one of his best years passing. In fact, he leads all the quarterbacks in ground gained by the aerial route. Bill Howton is the league’s leading pass receiver and has scored 10 touchdowns on passes from Rote. Physically, the Lions will be in top condition for the Packer game. There were only a minimum of bruises after the rough contest with the Colts Sunday. Even Don McIlhenny, who missed his second game Sunday, will probably be back for at least limited action. After Thursday’s game, the Lions will get a brief vacation to rest up for the Bear tussles. And then we’ll have the final results of the poll.
6-6 IN '56? PACK MUST BEAT DETROIT LIONS FIRST
NOV 21 (Green Bay) - Despite their current four-game losing streak, the Packers can still match the 1955 record of six wins and six losses. The Bays’ present 2-6 reading means that they will have to win their last four games. That’s a large order in view of the fact that the first-place Detroit Lions are the first of the remaining opponents. The Packers battle the Lions, who have an awesome 7-1 record, in the sixth annual Packer-Lion Thanksgiving Day classic in Briggs Stadium here tomorrow. Kickoff is set for 11:05 a.m., Green Bay time, and the contest will be televised nationally, with an audience of some 30 million fans in every state in our land. After Detroit, the Packers play at Chicago Cardinals Dec. 2, at San Francisco Dec. 8 and at Los Angeles Dec. 16, but at this moment they have their hearts set only on upsetting the Lions’ championship ambitions. The experts aren’t figuring the Packers’ hopes because the Lions are solid two-touchdown favorites. The Chicago Bears, all of Packerland and millions of Packer fans throughout the U.S., will be pulling for the Pack. The Bears have a special reason; a Bay win would give the Bruins undisputed possession of first place in the Western division. The Lions respect the Packers’ air arm, which ranks third in the league, and any hopes the Bays have of winning rest squarely on the Pack’s success with the forward pass. Rushing will be vital for the Packers but the Bays’ ground game ranks rock bottom in the league and there’s no particular reason to expect it will bust out with 200 or 300 yards. Besides, the Lions’ defense against rushing is the second best in the league. On the rushing side, however, there’s a good chance fullback Howie Ferguson will break loose with his best effort tomorrow. He’s been limited to 278 yards in 74 carries for an average of 3.1 – way below par for him. He might be the man to keep Detroit’s excellent pass defense honest. The Lions are likely to be Bill Howton-conscious because the Rice Redhead is having his best year since he became a pro in ’53. Bill is locked in a three-way tie for first place in pass catching with Billy Wilson of Frisco and Frank Gifford of New York, each with 35 catches. Howton has stretched his catches to a fantastic 926 yards and that’s what worrying Bill Christiansen, Yale Lary, Jim Davis and Carl Karilivacz – not to mention his 10 touchdown catches, just three less than he caught in ’52. The Lions also have noted that Gary Knafelc, the Packers’ rugged left end, is starting to make foes unhappy again. Gary has 20 catches for 280 yards. With Knafelc snaring six TD catches, the ace ends have scored 16 of the Bays’ 24 touchdowns. The Lions undoubtedly will concentrate on them but Rote and Starr have had plenty of success with alternate receivers like Ferguson, Fred Cone, Al Carmichael and Jack Losch. The Lions probably won’t turn their full attention to Howton and Knafelc unless they are able to stack up a quick lead, which is what the Bears were able to after they piled up an early 21-0 edge. But that’s where the Packer defense enters the picture. The unit, which limited Frisco to 17 points last Sunday but still permitted 24 first downs, will have to stop the rushing of Leon Hart, Jug Girard, Hopalong Cassady and Gene Gedman first and then try to do something about Bobby Layne’s third-down (that’s what hurt us) passes to the backs and the Lions’ top end – Dorne Dibble and Dave Middleton, who each caught 24 pitches thus far. The Packers are staying at the Fort Shelby Hotel here tonight. They are due to land at the Detroit City airport about 4 o’clock this afternoon in two chartered North Central planes. The team will leave in the two NC charters immediately after the game, arriving at Austin Straubel field about 5 o’clock Thursday evening – in time for Thanksgiving dinner…CROW?: The Packers found a live crow – in a cage – in the middle of their dressing room when they returned from practice Monday afternoon. A Milwaukee scribe wrote, in his report on the Bays’ loss to Frisco, “the Packers have nothing to look forward to but crow for Thanksgiving dinner,” referring to the Detroit game. Bob Houle, Bay sportscaster, brought the bird out as a reminder…Detroit coach Buddy Parker isn’t worrying about the Lions looking past the Packers to the Bear game Dec. 2. “We’ll worry about the Bear game when it comes time. We’ve never had that trouble before. Anyway, there’s no reason for us to take Green Bay lightly,” Parker said. Regarding the Lions’ last-place finish in ’55, Parker said: “We had some injuries, a few weaknesses, and some complacency, but we probably were the best last place team in the history of the league.”…Packer coach Liz Blackbourn, looking forward to a chance to grab a “big one”, was undecided on his starting quarterback for Thursday but it’s likely he’ll go with veteran Tobin Rote, who has had some of his best games here. The starters against Frisco included three rookies – Bart Starr at quarterback, Jack Losch at left half and Bill Roberts at right half. It’s possible Losch will work with Howie Ferguson at left half quite a bit, with Fred Cone playing fullback.
PACKERS GET ONLY ONE TEEDEE IN TURKEY DAY 4TH QUARTERS
NOV 21 (Green Bay) - The Packers have yet to win a Turkey Day classic in Briggs Stadium. The Packer-Lion Thanksgiving Day series started in 1951 and in each of the five games the Detroits came out with the turkey and trimmins’ – 52 to 35 in ’51, 48 to 24 in ’52, 34 to 15 in ’53, 28 to 24 in ’54 and 24 to 10 in ’55. In points for the five games, Detroit has the edge, 186 to 108. The five-game series shows some odd trends. The Packers, for instance, have cut the Lions down gradually in points – 52, 48, 34, 28 and 24. But the Bays don’t figure to reduce on that 24 since their defense hasn’t set the league on fire this season. If only the first quarters of the five games counted, the Bays would have four wins and one tie. The Bays held a 14-10 edge at the end of the first frame in ’51; it was tied 3-3 at the end of the opening frame in ’52. The first quarter score was 15-7 for Green Bay in ’53. The Lions never scored in the first quarters of the games in ’54 and ’55, with the Bays holding leads of 7-0 and 10-0, respectively. In the five games, the Packers out-counted Detroit 49 to 20 in the first quarter. The Bays have petered out something fierce in the last halves of the five shows, being outscored 100 points to 31. The fourth quarters are frightful, 44 points to 7 for Detroit. Green Bay hasn’t scored a point in the fourth frame of the last four games. The only Packer TD in a Turkey Day fourth quarter came in the ’51 test. Here’s the composite Turkey Day scoring:
DETROIT 20 66 56 44 – 186
GREEN BAY 49 28 24 7 – 108
The Thanksgiving Day spectacle is generally a big day for the rookies since the game is televised into every corner of the country. In other words, in many cases it’s the first chance for the rookie to perform – via TV – before his former classmates and hometown fans. For instance, Florida will see Jack Losch as a pro for the first time. Jack, a native of Williamsport, Pa., was a favorite at Miami University. The same goes for Bart Starr and the folks down in Alabama. Bob Skoronski is familiar to his alma mater, Indiana fans, but it’ll be his first performance before the folks in his native Connecticut. Forrest Gregg of SMU won’t be a pro novel in Texas since the Packers’ games in Chicago are piped down that-a-way. The game usually has a “championship” touch in that the press box is jammed with press, radio and television folks and college coaches looking for offensive and defensive hints for next season. The crowds seem to be out for a day, and the Packers and Lions generally respond with a wide open game. The two teams averaged 58 points between ‘em in the last five games. That’s a lot of excitement!
LIONS TO GET FILL OF PASSES BEFORE TURKEY
NOV 21 (Detroit) - There won’t be any turkeys flying around Briggs Stadium Thursday afternoon, but you can bet the house and lot that there will be plenty of pigskins in the air. Off their performance in the eight games played so far this season, the Green Bay Packers will try to puncture the Lions’ pass defense, early and often. And, off that record, they have the equipment to do it. Billy Howton, one of the finest ends in the league, is having his best season. He’s gained 926 yards on 35 receptions so far. Of more immediate concern is the fact that Howton has scored 10 times after taking the passes. Playing with Howton on the other end is Gary Knafelc, who is as hard to cover as his name is to pronounce. He’s picked off 20 passes for another six touchdowns. Last week, the Lions were faced with the problem of stopping the potent running attack of the Baltimore Colts. This week, the defensive backs will have the big problem – stopping long aerials. The Packers have scored 24 touchdowns this year – five more than the Lions have tallied – and 16 of them came on passes. The two ends have scored all of the touchdowns made with passes. Howton is busy rewriting the records established by the great Don Hutson, who was a pretty fair pass catcher in his day. On the firing end of this aerial bombardment is Tobin Rote, a veteran who likes to wind up and throw a football as far as he can. He has gained more yardage than any other passer in the league this season. Rote completed 91 of 194 passes for 1,413 yards. On those tosses, he’s collected 15 touchdowns. Perhaps, after watching the Baltimore Colts’ success against the Lions’ defense last Sunday, Coach Liz Blackbourn has high hopes of scoring an upset. The Colts riddled the Detroit defenders for 324 yards while completing 17 of 30 tosses. But you can bet that Detroit’s defenses will not be set up to stop running plays as they were against the Colts. In the first meeting between the teams, the Packers completed 9 of 23 tosses for 98 yards. Howton caught five of those for 76 yards and Knafelc one. Each scored a touchdown. Carl Karilivacz and Jimmy David turned in a masterful job of pass coverage in that game. It’ll take a duplicate performance to repeat the victory with some help from the guys up front putting pressure on Rote. The Lions are expected to be ready for the Packers. Charley Ane, who missed the final quarter of the Colt game, will return to his offensive center post. Jack Christiansen, who was kayoed by an elbow in the fourth quarter, will also be back at his regular safety post. There were no other serious injuries in the game.
PACKERS WHET THEIR KNIVES, WILL TRY TO CARVE UP DETROIT
NOV 21 (Milwaukee Journal) - The Green Bay Packers will get their last chance to help determine the NFL's Western Division champion when they meet the Detroit Lions at Detroit Thursday in their annual Thanksgiving Day game. Need it be said that the Packers are underdogs? They have lost four straight games and share last place with San Francisco and Los Angeles. Each has won two and lost six. Buddy Parker's Lions, who beat the Packers in the league opener at Green Bay, 20-16, meanwhile, share first place with the Chicago Bears. Each has won seven games and lost one. "The only way to beat Detroit," Coach Lisle Blackbourn said Wednesday, "is for us to begin playing a little better football. With the way things have gone, it's a real problem even to keep the incentive high." Blackbourn said that he would start Bart Starr, Alabama rookie, at quarterback again and alternate him with veteran Tobin Rote. The Packers have no serious injuries. Detroit will counter with Bobby Layne at quarterback. The cocky Texan is having a good year after suffering arm miseries all last season. He has adequate runners in Hopalong Cassady, Leon Hart, Gene Gedman and Don McIlhenny (who has been injured) and fine receivers in Dave Middleton and Dorne Dibble. The Lions win on defense, though. They have permitted only 13 1/2 points a game, best record in the league. Sunday they held Baltimore's fine runners to 58 yards. They set their defense to contain the wide runs and let the Colts have the short passes. Baltimore gained 308 yards in the air and failed to score a touchdown. Detroit won, 27-3. Detroit's defense revolves around Joe Schmidt, rated by Green Bay coaches and others as the best linebacker in the league; solid tackles Ray Krouse and Bob Miller and talented deep men Jack Christiansen, Yale Lary, Jim David and Carl Karilivacz. The Lions, who fell from first to last place last year, are seeking to become the first team in league history to make the jump from last to first in a season. They have been helped a lot by the fact that five draft choices (Cassady, McIlhenny, Cronin, Reichow and Tracy), six service returnees (Lary, Gedman, Bowman, Campbell, Spencer and Perry) and one man obtained in a trade (Krouse) made their 33 man squad. If the Packers could score no more than two touchdowns against either the Bears or San Francisco, it is not likely they will get very far in the Lions' den.
LIONS EXPECT TO WIN EIGHTH GAME
NOV 21 (Detroit) - Detroit's revitalized Lions, bulging with defensive might, were odds on favorites here tonight to defeat the Green Bay Packers in their annual Thanksgiving day game tomorrow. Equally as optimistic as the oddsmakers were the scalpers who envisioned brisk business with the announcement today that Briggs Stadium will be filled to overflowing for the fourth consecutive time this season when the teams kick off at 11 o'clock Chicago time. The scalpers, however, may be in for a surprise. Weather forecasts are not expected to be conducive to ticket sales tomorrow morning. Detroit will rely largely on its defense, which has surrendered only three touchdowns in its last four starts, to produce its 14th victory in its last 15 meetings with the Packers and to give the Lions temporary possession of first place in the western division of the National league with a record of 8 and 1. The Bears, with whom the Lions are tied at the moment, must wait until Sunday in New York to play their ninth game of the season. Green Bay, in the midst of a four game losing streak, arrived by plane tonight in good condition with Tobin Rote reported ready to resume his starting role at quarterback. Rote's passing and that of rookie Bart Starr of Alabama are the chief hopes of the Packers, who have gained only 888 yards rushing in eight games. In addition to the passing of Rote and Starr to Bill Howton, the league's leading receiver, the Packers bank heavily on tradition. They have always been difficult for the Lions on Thanksgiving morning, and in all but the first game of their all-time series with Detroit, dating back 22 years and 46 games, they have never been shut out. Coach Buddy Parker of the Lions said tonight he did not expect the impending showdown series with the Bears, which opens in Briggs stadium a week from Sunday, to have any effect on the Lions' play. "We've never had that trouble before," he said. "And I don't imagine the boys will worry about the Bears games until we get to them. After all, there is no reason why we should take Green Bay lightly." Parker lists three reasons for the Lions' resurgence this year after finishing in the cellar in 1955. Foremost was a rearranged and reinforced defense; added running strength from rookies Hopalong Cassady and Don McIlhenny, and Bobby Layne's improved passing. "Last year," he reminded listeners, "we had some injuries, some complacency after two championships and some weaknesses." Layne's passing, perhaps, has not improved so much as the veteran's general well being. He is not troubled with the chronic shoulder this year as he was last fall and the season before. They said early as Layne goes, so will the Lions go, and the big Texan is going hellbent for playoff money.
WILL LIONS FEAST ON PACKERS?
NOV 22 (Detroit) - Nice juicy white meat or dark distasteful crow? Which will the Detroit Lions be having for their Thanksgiving Day dinner after battling the Green Bay Packers in Briggs Stadium in the traditional Turkey Day game which starts at noon? If the Lions can stop the long, accurate passes of Tobin Rote, and provide a little offense of their own, they can move into the top spot of the league again – if only for three days. In their last start the Lions were called upon to stop a brilliant running combination. This time it’s the aerial phase of football that concerns Coach Buddy Parker and his assistants. Rote has been pitching passes with reckless abandon all season. He’s clicked for 15 touchdowns. His favorite receivers are the first string ends, Billy Howton and Gary Knafelc. Those two receivers have accounted for all of the Packer touchdowns scored via passing. Howton, the leading pass receiver in the league, has 10 scoring catches. Knafelc has six. It would appear that Jimmy David, Jack Christiansen, Yale Lary and Carl Karilivacz will have a busy afternoon. A new backfield alignment for the Packers won’t permit too much spreading of the Lions’ defense against running plays, either. They probably will start Howie Ferguson, normally a fullback, at the left halfback spot and Fred Cone at fullback. Al Carmichael is the right half employed as a flanker for pass receiving. Rote, of course, is the quarterback, with Bart Starr, a rookie, likely to see some action at the spot, also. The Lions will stick to the winning combination that has rolled to seven victories in eight starts this year. Bobby Layne will be at quarterback, with Jim Doran and Gene Gedman at the halves and Leon Hart at fullback. With Dorne Dibble and Dave Middleton at the ends, the pass receivers in Sunday’s game will number four of the top 10 pass grabbers. Dibble and Middleton are tied for sixth place with 24 each and Howton leads with 35. Knafelc is tied for 10th with 20. The Lions’ running game will be bolstered for this encounter by the return to action of Don McIlhenny, who was brilliant until sidelined with a leg injury. He probably will be used only in spots. All of the other Lions are available for full time duty, as are all of the Packers. Although it will be blacked out locally, the game will be televised from coast to coast by CBS. A capacity crowd of more than 52,000 fans is expected. A few reserved and bleacher seats and standing room will go on sale at 9 a.m. at the stadium advance ticket office. Gates open at 10 a.m.
ALL NOT LOST FOR PACK - EVEN IF THEY ARE TAGGED WITH 7TH DEFEAT
NOV 22 (Detroit) - All is not lost if the Packers lose today. And by the time you lean back with your Press-Gazette this afternoon, you’ll know what the Packers did against the Lions in Briggs Stadium. If the Packers are forced to take their seventh defeat, they stand a good chance of drafting first, exclusive of the bonus, in the NFL’s early draft next Monday in Philadelphia. The Packers, of course, want victory here more than the top draft pick. There was a parallel here a year ago when a loss for the Lions would have given them first choice. They won, however, (24-10) and “tied” with San Francisco for the first pick. The Bays, before today, were tied with San Francisco and Los Angeles with the lowest percentage in the league - .250 on 2-6 each. If the Bays lose (horrors) and the Forty Niners and Rams both win (Frisco plays at Philadelphia and LA at Baltimore), the Pack will get first choice. If all or two of three loses, coin flipping will decide the first picker. The Packers stand a chance of getting the two top players in the country since they are in the running with the Chicago Cardinals for the bonus choice. The bonus drawing (out of a hat) will precede the regular shortened draft. Only four rounds will be selected Monday - and maybe a few more if all of the teams agree. The agreement isn't likely though since Washington is reportedly against it. The rest of the draft will be held at the league's annual convention in January. What do the Packers need in the way of draft choices? Some say backs. Other point to linemen. It depends some on what position YOU think is weak. Packer coach Liz Blackbourn, not revealing names, wants "the best players available." The figures on the Packers' first eight games this season against the average for the 12 games a year ago points to a need for a person or persons to advance the ball on foot and a person or persons to stop the other team when it is on foot. That, friends, would indicate that the Packers need hard-running back. Briefly, Packer backs gained an average of 111 yards rushing per game in this season's first eight games; they averaged 197 last season. There has been a drop off to say the least. Enemy backs gained an average of 221 yards rushing per game in the eight tests this season; they averaged 181 yards last season. Again, a decrease in efficiency. The Packers have improved themselves in only one aerial department - pass offense. They zoomed their per-game yardage by passing from 148 to 157 over '55. There was a drop in pass defense. The present team permitted an average of 167 yards in eight of the 1956 games. Last year, the defense against passing average was 140 yards - quite a difference. The needs, then, would seem to be many but they could be broken down in the following order: (1) Offensive backs, (2) defensive cornerbackers, (3) offensive tackles, (4) defensive linemen who could be tackles and/or ends, and (5) linebackers. These needs may alarm members of the current team but the present standings still indicate that some of the positions could use bolstering. These needs are also based on anticipated losses to the military. Complicating Blackbourn's task is the fact that the current personnel could improve in '57. Statistics show that some of the Bays' backs are below par; some have improved. There are no stix on the linemen, linebackers and defensive backs but Blackbourn's system of rating each player on each play will readily show improvement or the opposite. After today, the Packers have three games to produce - and maybe shape Blackbourn's thinking on the bulk of the draft in January.
PACKERS LIKELY TO PICK ONE OF SIX COLLEGE ACES
NOV 22 (Green Bay) - He couldn’t be specific for various reasons, among them the fear of giving comfort to the enemy, but Chief Talent Scout Jack Vainisi intimated Wednesday night the Packers will select one of six collegiate luminaries if they win the bonus choice in next Monday’s early NFL draft in Philadelphia. The “big six”, listed in a discussion of Packer draft strategy at the ninth session of the Quarterback Club in the WBAY auditorium, include Ron Kramer, Michigan’s All-American end; Paul Hornung, king-sized Notre Dame quarterback; Jon Arnett, University of Southern California tailback; John Brodie, Stanford quarterback; and halfbacks Clarence Peaks of Michigan State and Jim Brown of Syracuse. Elaborating on this theme, Vainisi observed that “Kramer and Hornung are the two finest athletes in college football today.” “Kramer has only one weakness,” he smiled. “He’s overanxious – he likes to kill people, which could cost you 15 yards now and then. Hornung is considered the greatest athlete in Notre Dame history.” Both of them are subject to early service calls, however, Vainisi reported. “Kramer may go into service before next fall and he is scheduled to spend three years in the Air Force while Hornung has dropped out of ROTC and therefore is vulnerable to the military draft.” Discussing the other possibilities, the Packers’ veteran ivory hunter characterized Brown as a “great football players, perhaps the No. 1 back in the country” and called Brodie “a tremendous short thrower,” but added that the Stanford star “is from a wealthy family and not sure he’d like the hard knocks of pro football.”…BETTER THAN GIFFORD: As for Arnett, reliable USC observers consider him “the greatest running back they’ve ever had – even better than the Giants’ Frank Gifford,” Vainisi reported. Peaks, he said, “is the finest back in the Big Ten – a big fellow at 6-1 and 211. Only question mark with him is the fact that he has had knee surgery recently – but his doctors say he’ll completely recover.” The Packers are not the only NFL entries with serious designs on Hornung, Arnett and Brodie, Jack revealed. Three other clubs have privately committed themselves on this trio, the Chicago Cards, only team aside from the Packers still up for the big payoff, announcing they will take Hornung
Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr (15), making his first start, looks downfield against the San Francisco 49ers at old City Stadium on Nov. 18, 1956. 49ers linebacker Matt Hazeltine (55) rushes at right. Press-Gazette archives
The view looking north from old City Stadium during the Green Bay Packers' last game there on Nov. 18, 1956. A less-than-capacity crowd of 17,986 saw the Packers lose 17-16 to the San Francisco 49ers. Press-Gazette archives
Green Bay Packers quarterback Tobin Rote (18) looks downfield against the San Francisco 49ers at old City Stadium on Nov. 18, 1956. From left are 49ers defensive linemen Bruce Bosley (77) and Ed Henke (75), Packers guard Forrest Gregg (75) and 49ers defensive tackle Leo Nomellini (73). Press-Gazette archives
Green Bay Packers receiver Gary Knafelc (84) hauls in a pass against the San Francisco 49ers at old City Stadium on Nov. 18, 1956. He's flanked by 49ers safeties Bob Holladay (27), left, and Dicky Moegle (47), right. The Packers lost 17-16. Press-Gazette archives
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Y.A. Tittle (14) dives over the goal line on a 1-yard touchdown run during the second quarter against the Green Bay Packers at old City Stadium on Nov. 18, 1956. Packers linebacker Tom Bettis (65) is closest to Tittle. Packers defensive end Nate Borden (87) is at right. Press-Gazette archives
San Francisco 49ers halfback Hugh McIlhenny (39) changes direction to try to evade Green Bay Packers safety Val Joe Walker (47) on an 86-yard touchdown run during the third quarter at old City Stadium on Nov. 18, 1956. From left are 49ers center George Morris (52), Packers defensive end Gene Knutson (81) and 49ers receiver Billy Wilson (84). The Packers lost 17-16. Press-Gazette archives
Green Bay Packers co-founder George Whitney Calhoun, center, is honored at halftime of the game between the Packers and the San Francisco 49ers at old City Stadium on Nov. 18, 1956. Calhoun is assisted by Jim Cook, a former Green Bay East High School star who played for the Packers in 1921. Press-Gazette archives
City of Green Bay workers are using graders to begin shaping the bowl for the new stadium. This photo looks North toward Highland Avenue (now Lombardi Avenue). The West side of the stadium was built into the hillside along Ridge Road. The surveying for the new facility had begun on October 11, 1956. The city had purchased 48 acres of farmland from Victor and Florence Vannieuwenhoven for $73,305 and annexed it to the city. By the end of the year, the city approved plans for the new stadium submitted by John Sommerville, a local architect. George M. Hougard & Sons were hired as the general contractor. Despite sometimes uncooperative weather and brief strikes by carpenters and plumbers, the new City Stadium was ready for use for the 1957 season opener against the Chicago Bears on September 29, 1957. (Photo credit: Packerville.blogspot.com)
if they should win the bonus while the San Francisco 49ers have designated Brodie as their No. 1 choice and the Los Angeles Rams have tabbed Arnett as their top pick. A number of other leading pro prospects were mentioned, chief among them Louisiana State’s Earl Leggett, Washington’s George Strugar, Lamar Lundy and Len Dawson of Purdue and TCU’s Jim Swink…DAWSON TO BROWNS?: Leggett, 6-3, 265-pound tackle, “will go in the first round,” Vainisi predicted, adding that Strugar, 6-5 and 245, is “one of the top tackles in the country. As for Swink, he’s a medical student and will play pro football only if he can combine it with medical school.” “Dawson has tremendous pride in his ability,” Jack said, “and is without a doubt the best passer in college football – but he won’t run with the ball. He has patterned himself after Otto Graham and it is very likely the Cleveland Browns will draft him. Lundy, 6-6 ½, is not recommended as an offensive end, but should be a real great defensive end, according to our informant, Bill Daddio.” Answering queries on Wisconsin stars Pat Levenhagen and Dave Howard, Vainisi indicated they both are considered prospects as corner linebackers, Jack, pinch hitting for Head Coach Lisle Blackbourn, in Detroit awaiting today’s game with the Lions, said that Packer draft plans are based to a large extent upon the reports of 22 college coaches in their employ throughout the nation, among them Abner Wimberly, Baby Ray, Mike Michalske and Jimmy Finks, in addition to contacts with the players’ coaches. The bonus choice, plus the first four rounds, will be completed at Monday’s meeting.