1956 Green Bay Packers
PACKER-RAM WINDUP BLUEPRINT OF SEASON
DEC 18 (Green Bay) - The Packer-Ram game Sunday furnished a sort of blueprint of the Packers' 1956 season. The campaign can be, generally speaking, drawn up in four words - Good offense, good defense! Los Angeles scored 49 points, pointing to little defense, and Green Bay counted a respectable 21. Green Bay's defense against points is last in the league, 342 being scored by foes in 12 games. The Bay offense produced 264 points, a total that was topped by only three other teams - Chicago Bears (363), Detroit (390) and Los Angeles (291). New York also scored 264. In his three Packer campaigns, Coach Liz Blackbourn has fostered a gradual improvement in offense - 234 points in '54, 258 in '55 and 264 in '56. The defense has gradually declined, giving 251 in '54, 276 in '55 and 342 in '56. Blackbourn, in his resume for the benefit of the press and radio in the Packer dressing room after the game, pulled no punches: "Our defense was terrible and there'll have to be some changes made. Anytime we don't even make the other team punt, there's something wrong. The offense played well." It's a bit early to be talking about specific changes yet, what with the bulk of the draft coming up in January, but it was quite evident that most of the Packer defensers were in no mood to play - let alone knock somebody around. Rams Tom Wilson, who established a new league record with 223 yards in 23 carries, and Norm Van Brocklin, who completed a fantastic 17 out of 22 passes for 289 yards, can thank the Packers for their Monday press raves...155 IN FIRST HALF: Wilson at times gained fat yardage through the Packers' strong, over-shifted side. While he'll develop into one of the league's best runners, Wilson isn't league-record caliber right now. He gained 155 yards in the first half alone - and still no defense in the second half. Van Brocklin really had himself a hot afternoon but he received way too much time and his receivers were getting loose. The Dutchman completed 11 out of 15 for 192 yards in the first half which ended with the Rams out in front by 35-7...The game marked the sure retirement of one Packer - Buddy Brown, guard and offensive captain. "I sure would have liked to end it all with a victory but I guess everybody's got to take the bad with the good," Buddy remarked while having a strained back rubbed down in the dressing room after the game. A six-year man in pro football (four with the Packers and two with Washington), the 31-year old veteran said he enjoyed his playing with the Packers and added: "He'll (Blackbourn) win it all some day, but you can't do it without some horses to pull the plough. He's a good, sound coach and he's bound to start winning plenty."...Other than Brown's back strain, the Packers came through with no bad scratches. That apparently wasn't the intention of Leon Clarke, the Rams' big offensive end, who was trying to pull an Ed Meadows on the Packers' Bobby Dillon. Clarke twisted Jim Capuzzi's neck something fierce on the last play of the first meeting in Milwaukee and Bobby stepped over and kicked Clarke. Clarke swore he'd get revenge - in the public prints in LA last week. What happened? "Well, I'm all in one piece," Dillon drawled later, "but he was out after me all right. He was pretty free with the elbows every time we came together. Van Brocklin warned me (on the field during the game) what Clarke was up to and, knowing Van, I'm sure he wasn't just trying to
make me shy away from Clarke."...Packer players scattered to their homes throughout the country after the game, some leaving right after the game. Several Texas players were stranded in the Los Angeles International airport Sunday night when fog closed it in until early Monday. Packer coaches arrived in Green Bay Monday night following delayed departures in LA and Chicago.
HORNUNG TO INK PACKER PACT NEXT MONTH?
DEC 18 (Green Bay) - Paul Hornung, Notre Dame's All American quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner, will sign a professional contract with the Green Bay Packers early next month, the United Press learned today in Chicago. (The Packers had no comment today.) Hornung met with representatives of the Packers last week and discussed two types of contract, for one year and three years. He will accept the three year offer. One complication in the negotiations was that Hornung still faces military service, but it was expected an arrangement would be worked out whereby the contract would be in abeyance while he is in service. Hornung was scheduled to meet this week with officials of the Vancouver, B.C., team, which holds draft rights to him in the Canadian League, but the conference has been postponed and will be held in San Francisco when Hornung is there to play in the East-West game Dec. 29. However, a source close to Hornung said today that "the Canadians don't have enough money to get him to play in Canada." A major reason was that his mother wants him to play in the United States.
ONLY FOUR PLAYERS KNEW ABOUT ROTE'S 39-YD. KEEPER
DEC 18 (Green Bay) - The 1,000-yard Packer-Ram battle in Los Angeles Sunday was filled with many long-gaining offensive plays. Defensers of both teams seemed surprised to death most of the time - the Rams especially on the Packers' first scrimmage play of the afternoon. Starting from the Packer 23 following recovery of a Ram fumble, quarterback Tobin Rote sailed around his own left end on a perfectly executed keeper for 39 yards. There's a story to that play. It seemed that only four of the 22 players on the field at the time knew it was coming. The 11 Rams were in the dark - plus seven Packers. Packer coach Liz Blackbourn was telling about it later. "Rote, Johnson, Ringo and Knafelc knew what the play was. We hatched it out privately in the dressing room and it worked beautifully as our guards pulled to the right to block for Johnson, who they thought was getting the ball. You should have seen the look on Skibinski's face when he saw that Johnson didn't have the ball. We had tried it several times last year but this was the first time this year," Blackbourn explained. Johnson, of course, had to know so he could take the handoff properly and fake around the right end. Knafelc had to know so he could pull a defender away from his left end. Ringo had to know for the simple reason that Rote just might need a blocker when he reached wide open spaces. And that's just what happened; Ringo took out two Rams with a beautiful block after Tobin had raced about 15 yards. The Rams, while Rote concealed the ball on his hip, suckered over to the Packers' right side. Rote was finally put down by a couple of quick-reacting defensive backs on the Ram 38. That one gain out-distanced all of the Packers' 11 previous game-opening plays put together by nine yards. The next-longest game-starter was nine yards by Johnson against San Francisco in Green Bay. Rote wound up leading the Packers in rushing with 78 yards in seven attempts, making up some for the loss of fullback Howie Ferguson. Blackbourn figured that "Ferguson being gone cost us one more touchdown. We might have scored 28 instead of 21, but that wouldn't have been enough the way our defense was playing." Packer defensive end Nate Borden was cheered as "Hi fighter" when he made a late appearance at the seventh annual Miller Brewing Co. banquet for the team at the Hollywood-Roosevelt Hotel Sunday night. Borden was booked out for taking a poke at Duane Putnam on a Ram extra point try in the second quarter. Loss of defense because Nate was one of the few Packer defenders making clean, sure tackles. Nate, of course, was a victim of one of those "second punches." Putnam delivered the first, Borden said, and "I waited my turn; and they (the officials) saw me." There was quite a bit of slugging by both teams - most unusual considering the lack of real viciousness on the part of the tacklers." Bill Sullivan, the former Packer director now living in San Diego, sat on the Packer bench with his son John. Bill, who went west for his health, has been feeling better and passed on his best to his many friends in Green Bay. "I miss them all," he said. Tom Wilson, the Rams' rookie back who ran 223 yards to set a new National League single game rushing record, made the understatement of the year after the game: "I never knew I was close to the record until that last series. I hoped I was close to 153, which would give me 400 for the season and might (get that) get me a job with the team next year." It was announced with two minutes to go that Wilson had broken Dan Towler's Ram record of 205 yards. We were hoping the Packers would dump him for a loss for the purpose of salvaging at least some little sunshine Sunday, but Wilson carried six more times for 18 yards. Thus, the Packers not only allowed a record rushing total but they permitted the longest interception of the season and one of the longest in league history - Will Sherman's 95-yard runback of Rote's pass!
LIZ TO DO SOUL SEARCHING BEFORE TAKING STEPS FOR '57
DEC 19 (Green Bay) - Packer Coach Liz Blackbourn tapped his letter opener on his knee, gazed out over the frozen Fox River today and repeated our question: "What happened this year?" The veteran mentor, finishing his third campaign at the Packer helm, started from the beginning of the 1956 campaign: "We all had high hopes after our fine finish in 1955. The fans felt the same way. I felt the biggest job was selling the players on the fact that they would go all the way - at least improve on the previous year. We went through the training season in good shape and won without any particular strain. Then we ran into the two best teams in the league (Detroit and Chicago Bears, who finished last Sunday with 9-3 and 9-2-1 records, respectively) and lost to both of them. Two things might have hurt us for those two games - the extra week's layoff after the last exhibition and injuries to Breezy Reid and John Martinkovic. But those are side issues and I'm inclined to believe that we were beaten in those two games by better teams. They shook our confidence but we came back fine after those two losses and won the next two (over Baltimore and Los Angeles) and we were right back in there. Then we ran into the turning point of our season at Baltimore. The Colts were a super team that day and had things going for them - like Moore's run just before the half. The Colts that day were something to behold. What's worst, we took a terrible physical beating and we were badly weakened. We were far from ourselves in losing to Cleveland the next Sunday but came up with a good effort in losing to the Bears in Chicago. San Francisco was coming back strong after a slow start and, you know, they have a strong defensive line. We fumbled too much and they managed to win. Detroit? That was a traditional thing and everybody wanted that one real bad. It was a great demonstration by Rote and our success in that game helped us win the next one (over the Chicago Cardinals), too. Losing Ferguson early in San Francisco was a tough blow and hurt our offense. The Forty Niners had the good fortune of getting exceptional performance out of most of their men, and they were determined to win for their home fans. In Los Angeles, we couldn't get our defensive men to work." And that last sentence pointed up Blackbourn's big problem for 1957. "We thought we had the makings of a good defense - until that last game. I'm going to do some soul searching in the next few weeks before taking any steps to correct the situation," Liz said. Blackbourn spoke of the difficulties of defense, explaining that "defense is a lot of desire. The best defense in the league can look extremely weak if the proper effort isn't made. It isn't that way as much on offense." As an example, a sharp performance by a quarterback, an end or a rusher can lift up the entire offense. On defense, for instance, a hot showing by one of the linebackers or defensive back won't necessarily soup up the whole defense. Blackbourn's problem didn't end with the season since he stands to lose Bob Skoronski, Bart Starr and Jack Losch to service. Already lost to Uncle Sam is Forrest Gregg. "Losing Skoronski and Gregg will hurt our offensive line. They did a good job. Starr looks like a comer and he'll probably be around for a long time," Blackbourn said. Liz already has a good draft nucleus, headed by Paul Hornung and Ron Kramer, both highly-touted offensive and defensive products, on which to build a comebacking team next fall. "We've got a good start on our draft and we expect to pick up some additional help when we finish the draft in January. Then, if it's necessary, I'll be willing to trade some future draft (1958) choices to further strengthen our team next year," he added...Final league individual figures showed today that the Packers' Billy Howton finished second in pass catching to the 49ers' Billy Wilson. Howton caught 55 (his career high) for 1,188 yards (tops in the league) and Wilson snared 60 for 889 stripes. Tobin Rote wound up eighth in passing, based on average gain per pass attempted, but led the league in attempts (308), completions (146), yards (2,203) and touchdown passes (18). Howton and Fred Cone finished in a third place tie in scoring, each with 72 points. Dick Deschaine, despite a 46-yard average in his last game, ranked second in punting with 42.7 behind Norm Van Brocklin, who averaged 43.1. Al Carmichael placed third in kickoff returns with an average of 28.1 and Bobby Dillon was in a third place knot in pass interceptions with seven.
FAST WHISTLE NO HELP QB'ERS TOLD
DEC 20 (Green Bay) - The Packer-Ram film wasn't available for showing at Wednesday night's Quarterback Club meeting and, if we may add some salt and pepper, maybe it's just as well. The pictures of the 49-21 Packer setback don't exactly flatter the Packers - especially the defensive platoon, but Tobin Rote's 39-yard run is pretty well worth the price of admission to the QB session in the WBAY-TV studios. Incidentally, the films, taken by a Los Angeles concern, were delayed in the Christmas mailing rush. In previous years, the windup game was a week earlier - just ahead of the Yule mail slowage. With or without the picture, Packer coach Liz Blackbourn was on hand to announce hard-working Joe Johnson as the most valuable player in the Ram contest and answer questions from a small but enthusiastic band of Quarterbackers. Johnson received a watch from Fairmont Foods and Blackbourn received one for his part and interest in the program. The subject of officiating came up in regard to the Bobby Layne incident in the Chicago Bear-Detroit Lion game and the mentor felt that he couldn't comment on it because he didn't see the game. In answer to a question on the dead-ball rule (fast whistle) in force for the first time this year, Blackbourn said "the fast whistle (killing the ball) hasn't helped a bit this year. Rather, it seemed to confuse us because sometimes the plays would be stopped immediately and other times they'd be allowed to stretch it out. I was in favor of a dead ball rule, but the rule as applied last season didn't work out. I hope they either go back to the old rule (allowing a runner to get up and go) or go to the college rule." Blackbourn said "I'm sure the league will take steps to constantly improve the officiating, and that would include Monday meetings of the officials to view pictures just as the coaches and players do." Somebody suggested that another official be added and Liz, chuckling, commented: "There are enough of them now." There was an example of an unusually fast whistle in the Ram game. On a kickoff, Bill Forester caught the short kick and ran into a flock of Rams. He kept his feet and actually moved about 10 yards and into the clear. As he ran through the Rams, the ball was blown dead. Funny thing, the vast audience let loose with a long and loud boo, apparently feeling that the Bay runner should have been allowed to proceed. Blackbourn was asked about Gene Knutson and Tom Bettis and explained that Knutson was used in spots on defense. "We don't know if he would have done a better job than John Martinkovic or Nate Borden at defensive end but he was valuable as a replacement anywhere in the defensive line," he pointed out...PLAYED A LOT: As to Bettis, "Tom was about the same as Knutson but he played a lot. Bettis is trained to play all linebacking positions - and so are Deral Teteak and Roger Zatkoff. We think Bettis is a good player and not a substitute. Use of our linebackers depended on the type of defense we used. We played a 4-4 against the Cardinals, including Forester as a linebacker and it worked out very well." A QB'er asked if the Packers would draft (in January) in the same position as they did last month and Liz laughed: "No, there was something good came out of the bad. We'll draft according to the way we finish the season." Philadelphia, which finished with 3-8-1, will draw first and the Packers will then flip with Los Angeles and possibly Baltimore (if the Colts lost to Washington Sunday) for second...Liz left today for Florida where he'll scout two bowl games - the Orange and North-South matches. He will attend practice of the North-South teams and get a close look at a number of still-undrafted prospects. The North-South game is Dec. 26 and the Orange Bowl Jan. 1, featuring Clemson and Colorado.
PACK LANDS FOUR BERTHS ON WESTERN ALL-STAR 11
DEC 20 (Los Angeles) - The Green Bay Packers won four positions Wednesday on the Western Division team that will play the Eastern Division squad in the seventh annual NFL Pro Bowl game here Jan. 13. Making the team for the first time was Packer quarterback Tobin Rote, who will share the signal calling and passing with the Chicago Bears' Ed Brown and the Detroit Lions' Bobby Layne. Also named were Packers Billy Howton, Roger Zatkoff and Bobby Dillon. Howton was listed as a right (flanker) back with Harlon Hill of the Bears and Billy Wilson of San Francisco manning the ends. Zatkoff and Dillon will play in the defensive platoon. Dillon is the only non-Detroiter in the defensive outfield. He joins Lions Jim David, Yale Lary and Jack Christiansen. The Western team, to be coached by Paddy Driscoll of the Bears, is ready made for passing and the all-pro game usually is an aerial battle. Driscoll won't decide on his starters until practice is well underway.
OUR DEFENSE IS ABSOLUTELY SHOT, SAYS DISAPPOINTED COACH LIZ BLACKBOURN
DEC 20 (Los Angeles) - "I was tremendously disappointed with the season. My assistants were terribly disappointed. I guess the fans were, too." So spoke Liz Blackbourn, coach of the Green Bay Packers. The coach made the observation after the Packers closed out their schedule Sunday by absorbing a terrible, 49-21 beating from the Rams that dropped Green Bay into a last place tie in the Western Conference with Los Angeles. The teams finished with 4-8 records. Blackbourn completed his
his commentary with "never in my life have I had this many yards, first downs and all that run up against me. It was crushing." The Rams, a Packer victim earlier in the season, rolled up 611 yards from scrimmage and picked up 33 first downs. The Packer defense, which had shown some signs of greatness during the season, collapsed on the final Sunday. Blackbourn told how serious was the problem later when he said "our defense is absolutely shot as far as personnel goes." He indicated that draft choices Paul Hornung and Ron Kramer will be counted on in a rebuilding when they sign. The final Packer performance came apart late in the first period, when with the score tied 7-7 and Green Bay driving for a touchdown, Will Sherman intercepted a Tobin Rote pass and ran 95 yards for a touchdown. Green Bay never had a chance after that. Hampton Pool, former Ram coach who now does talent scouting for them, said "that's all it takes in a game like that. A team gets behind with nothing at stake and they just can't help it. There is no incentive and they can't snap back." Pool then pointed out that a tackle by defensive lineman Art Hauser of the Rams may have been the big thing in the game. He explained that just before the interception by Sherman, " Rote got hit. Just after he released the ball and was still up on his toes Hauser nailed him." I didn't think Rote would get up," Pool said. "He did, but he was never the same again. His passing, his play calling lost their sharpness. Hauser's tackle may have been the big play." After that there just wasn't anymore - for the Packers.
NFL STATISTICS SHOW PACKER DEFENSE POOR
DEC 20 (Green Bay) - Collapse of the Green Bay Packers defense in 1956 is pointed up in the 12-game statistics released by the NFL Wednesday. In 1955, the Packers yielded 3,862 yards, about average for the league. In 1956, Packer opponents racked up 4,710 yards against them, ranking Green Bay as the poorest defensive unit in the league. Offensively, the Packers matched or bettered their 1955 record in most departments. They gained more net yardage, more yards passing, averaged slightly less a rush and scored 264 points compared with 260 a year ago. However, they yielded 324 points, compared with 276 in 1955. In 1955, the Packers finished third in the Western Division with a 6-6 record. This year, they tied for last with 4-8. Green Bay finished second to the Los Angeles Rams in passing, with 2,398 yards gained through the air, compared with 2,419 for the Rams. The Packers are fourth in yards gained passing and running, second last in yards gained rushing and fourth in average gain a rush.
ROTE TO RETIRE - UNLESS WIFE CHANGES HER MIND
DEC 21 (Houston) - Tobin Rote, veteran quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, said he will retire "unless my wife changes her mind." "As far as I am concerned, I'm through," he said, but added "salary will have something to do with whether I return, of course. I wouldn't take a cut and I would not go back for what I got last year. Seven years is enough of pro football for me." Rote's two-year contract, paying a reported $18,000 a year, expired with the Packers' final 1956 game at Los Angeles last Sunday. In explaining about his wife, Rote said "it's all up to Betsy. We have three children and another on the way. Two will be in school next year, and my wife definitely says she will not return to Green Bay. She doesn't want to move every year." Rote talked of retirement earlier in the season when he was injured and sat out most of the first game with the San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay. He returned to action four days later, Thanksgiving Day, and had a tremendous day, one of the best of his career, as he led the Packers to an upset victory over the Detroit Lions. Packer coach Liz Blackbourn said after the Detroit game that he didn't really believe Tobin was serious about retirement. The former Rice star has carried the quarterback burden almost alone since he joined the Packers. He was on occasion the best passer the pro league had to offer and also a hard runner. Playing behind Rote this past season was rookie Bart Starr who is due for a hitch in the Air Force and does not expect to be available next season. Returning to the Packers from military service will be signal caller Bobby Garrett, who was traded to Green Bay by Cleveland just before he entered the service. The Packers also have draft rights to Notre Dame's star quarterback, Paul Hornung, who has not signed but apparently will as soon as he completes post-season game. Rote, who lives in Houston, said he plans to return to work in the sales department of a local transportation company.
PRO FOOTBALL DIRTY GAME? HUMBUG!
DEC 21 (Green Bay) - Dirty football? Humbug! Pro football isn't dirty - any more than college or high school football. Football as played by the pros is extremely rough and part of the job is to slow down the other team. One way of doing this is extra-hard tackling. It's not uncommon to hear something like this before a game: "If we can get a clean shot at so and so we won't have to worry about him the rest of the afternoon." Actually, there's nothing wrong in that type of thinking - nothing illegal. If all the linebackers, for instance, got together and decided they'd tackle like wildmen when the other team's most dangerous backs carry the ball. you and you and you would call it good defense because the heroic back wouldn't get far. You can imagine how opponents set their cap when the Packers' Tobin Rote carries. The rub, of course, comes when tackles or blocks are made illegally - such as Ed Meadows' tackle on Bobby Layne in the Bear-Lion game. Actually, that wasn't dirty - it was illegal because Meadows slammed Layne down when Bobby didn't have the ball. The real error in that play was that the official didn't call a 15-yard roughing penalty. Which lead us to the point of today's epistle, suggested by Tom Miller, the Packer publicity chief who, himself, was a roughie as a pro. Miller feels that more fuss should be made about illegal play. He would have the officials point out the offending player for all to behold. "They'd stop in a hurry," Tom added. And for out two cents, we'd like to suggest that offending players be forced to raise their right arm when a penalty is called on them - like in basketball. There would be less confusion to fans, the folks in the pressbox, and a darned sight less illegal stuff. Probably the worst penalty in our book is holding among linemen. The officials can hardly see these nasty little tricks. It's a common practice among linemen and they usually play the percentages, feeling that they've done the job well if they can get away with it half the time. Holding, if it results in a good gain, often leads to hot tempers, and, bingo, the first thing you know somebody is slugging, kneeing, screeching, biting or kicking. The Packers can't be considered an ungentlemanly team in view of final league statistics for all but the Washington-Baltimore game Sunday. Green Bay has suffered only 42 penalties for 393 yards. This isn't the "leastest" in the league because Washington has 39 for 328. But the Redskins have one game left. By comparison, the Chicago Cardinals had the most penalties - 79, and Detroit had the most penalty yards, 668. The Cards were stepped down to the tune of 626 yards and Detroit had 66 penalties. The Bears, who were pointed at by the Lions, had 67 penalties for 553 yards. For the 59 games thus far, officials called 694 penalties for 6,287 yards. That's a lot of offsides, holding, roughing, etc. But the penalties have dropped over '55 when 720 were called for 6,693 yards and over '54 when officials called a whopping 852 for 7,753 yards. Who said pro football is dirty?...On the family side of pro football, Packer quarterback Tobin Rote repeated in Houston, Tex., today what he said during the season in Green Bay - as regards retirement. Rote reported that his retirement will be based on salary negotiations with the Packers for '57. He says he wouldn't take a cut in salary and "I would not go back for what I got last year." Tobin has something of a family problem and his wide, Betsy, may be instrumental in getting him to put away the moleskins for good. "We have three children and another on the way and she says she doesn't want to go back to Green Bay next year." Incidentally, Rote is thrilled with the idea of playing in the Pro Bowl game but, as he explained, "I always wanted to make it sometime when Betsy could go with me. Now, when I'm finally in, she can't make it. We'll have No. 4 maybe in February." The game is Jan. 13.
POOL PRAISES PAUL HORNUNG, KRAMER; '52 PACKER GAME HAMP'S TOP THRILL
DEC 22 (Green Bay) - The big, burly guy filling one of the airliner seats coming back from Los Angeles Monday looked like Hamp Pool. And it was! The former Los Angeles head coach (1952-53-54) now scouts talent for the Rams and operates for the College All Stars. At the moment, he's making plans to open a boys' camp in California. "There are so many youngsters now and everyone of them likes that camp life," Hamp beamed between thoughts on football. Pool talked about some of the "wonderful players" taken in the recent draft and defended the Rams' selection of Jon Arnett, the Southern Cal back, as their first choice: "It isn't often you can get a top-flight athlete from your hometown, but he'll be a real pro. He can run and catch passes and should be a big favorite in Los Angeles." The conversation got around to the Packers' two top choices - Paul Hornung, the Notre Dame quarterback, and Ron Kramer, the Michigan end. Pool had seen both of them in action. "Hornung is just a tremendous all-around player. He's fast to begin with, you know, and he likes it good and rough. He's not the best passer in college football, but there's a reason for that. They only practice passing for about 15 minutes a week at Notre Dame. He'll pass for 40 to 45 minutes a day with you people and he'll develop into a great passer. They don't stress passing at Notre Dame likes the pros, of course. Kramer did things in college that a pro won't do until after a year or two. He's got an unusual stance in that line. He keeps his tail low and his head and shoulders high - just the opposite of most linemen. He fakes with his head and shoulders on every play and when he's in on a two-teaming, heaven help the tackle they take out. He's a blaster and rough as they come." Pool was telling about Len Dawson, the Purdue quarterback who was Pittsburgh's No. 1 draft choice: "Now there's a smart one and he'll be a big help to the Steelers. Purdue had the ball on Notre Dame's 15 and had third down and something like two yards to go. They were down to the corner of the Notre Dame stadium and the fans were really screaming. Dawson went up to the line of scrimmage and noticed that Notre Dame had its defense all bunched up near the line of scrimmage. Notre Dame figured they'd crash the center for the first down. With all this noise, Dawson shook his head and walked over to the official and asked him to quiet down the crowd. Couldn't hear himself giving the signals! While the official was waving the crowd quiet, Dawson quickly apparently called a new play. He went up to the line with his team, pitched the ball out and somebody went 15 yards for a touchdown - around Notre Dame's close defense. I suspected what he was up to and he admitted it after the game. Actually, the crowd noise didn't bother him at all." The confab got around the Rams. Pool felt that "the Rams have excellent all-around strength. Oh, they could use a little more weight in the defensive line - if anything, but otherwise they're as tough as you'll find." What happened this season? He explained that it was a morale problem that has its start at the top of the organization. Owners of the club are fairly well split and this reflects to some extent on the team. Pool, himself, had a similar troubles during his tenure and gave way to Sid Gillman after the 1954 season. Hamp's teams posted 9-3 in 1952, 8-3 in 1953 and 6-5-1 in 1954 - an overall 23-11-2, not counting a division playoff loss to Detroit in '52. Hamp said his biggest thrill in pro football came at the expense of the Packers. He was on the coaching sidelines the day the Rams scored 24 points in the last 12 minutes to overcome a 28-6 deficit and win 30-28. "We won eight in a row after that game. If we'd lost we would have had a terrible season. You lost that game by trying to sit on a lead too soon, although I've got to admit that everything broke just right for us. Bob Waterfield was great. He never played that day until he went in during the last quarter. We could tell it on the sidelines when the Packers went into that protective shell and started to run and punt. When we did score, you came out of it and started to pass. Then we picked off your passes." And so it goes at 18,000 feet!
PACKERS HAD COMPANY IN '56 MISERY
DEC 24 (Green Bay) - The Packers had company in the Disappointment Department in 1956. Remember? This was supposed to be the season that any of the 12 clubs had a chance to win the NFL title - or at least a divisional crown! Tight race, etc.! What happened? Only four of the 12 teams won more games than they lost - or finished above .500. One of the remaining eight broke even, Washington, with 6-6. Thus, the league wound up with seven aspirin cases and the biggest aspirin cases and the biggest headache was Los Angeles which skidded from the Western Division championship down to a cellar tie with Green Bay, which, in turn, dropped from 6-6 to 4-8. Also among the Disappointees was Cleveland, which zoomed from the world's championship down to a paltry 5-7. The four better-than-.500 clubs collected 33 wins, 13 losers and two ties. This select group was headed by the one-two clubs in the (tight?) Western sector - the Chicago Bears, with 9-2-1, and the Detroit Lions, with 9-3, for a total of 18-5-1. In the Eastern, New York had 8-3-1 and the Chicago Cardinals 7-5 for a winning total of 15-8-1. The eight also-rans wound up with 37 wins, 57 losses and two ties. For the 72 games, the four top clubs, with those 33 wins, did nearly the same winning work as the four losing teams. By comparison, the 1955 season showed five teams with above-.500 finishes - not much different than '56, but in 1954 seven of the 12 clubs had .500-plus records. The Western division race actually was rather dull from a six-club standpoint. The Detroits won their first six games and the Bears won five of their first six, making it a two-team race in a hurry. The Packers' sector had only one clear-cut upset - one that had a true bearing on the division championship. That would be the Packers' 24-20
victory over the Lions in Detroit Thanksgiving Day. That, as it developed, knocked the Lions out of the title. They finished a half-game behind the Bears. A victory over Green Bay would have put Detroit's record at 10-2 and the Bears at 9-3-1. Memory of that Detroit game helps remove some of the sting from Green Bay's disappointing campaign - plus the victory over the Chicago Cardinals the following week. That win practically eliminated the Cards from Eastern title contention, but, as the race turned out, New York would have won anyway...THE BIG HURTS: Two of the five foes in the Western division handed the Packers four of their eight defeats - the Bears and San Francisco. The Bays split with Baltimore, Los Angeles and Detroit in the Western, defeated the Cards and lost to Cleveland in the Eastern. In posting 6-6 a year ago, the Packers split with Detroit and Los Angeles, beat San Francisco twice, lost two each to the Bears and Baltimore in the Western and defeated the Cards and lost to Cleveland in the Eastern. The big hurts for the Packers in '56 were San Francisco, Cleveland and Baltimore. Frisco's two wins included a 17-16 job in Green Bay; the Packers played a poor game against Cleveland; and the Bays had the Colts on the ropes in Baltimore in the fourth quarter but couldn't apply the knockout blow. The final standings left the Packers in a good position for the draft in Philadelphia next month. Philadelphia, with a final ranking of 3-8-1, will draw first and Green Bay and Los Angeles will flip for second. The 12 clubs will draft the last 25 rounds. The first five rounds were completed in November.
HORNUNG TOP GRIDDER IN 'OUTSTANDING' VOTE
DEC 24 (Green Bay) - The Packers' two top draft choices - Paul Hornung and Ron Kramer - received votes in the balloting for Associated Press outstanding male athletes of 1956. Mickey Mantle, the New York Yankee outfielder, won the honor with 333 votes, including 82 first places. Notre Dame quarterback Hornung, the Bays' bonus choice, placed sixth with 63 votes and six firsts. Kramer, the Michigan end and Packer first pick, was 13th with 15 votes and four firsts. Hornung was the leading football candidate in the poll. Track star Bobby Morrow was second, boxer Floyd Patterson third, basketballer Bill Russell fourth, and no-hit pitcher Don Larson fifth. Other football stars honored were Tommy McDonald of Oklahoma eighth and Johnny Majors of Tennessee 12th. Hornung was picked for
his outstanding work in Notre Dame's losing cause. Hornung had to go nearly 60 minutes in every game. Mantle, who performed so many outstanding feats in baseball this year that it's hard to imagine anyone challenging his position, almost doubled the score of his nearest rival in the poll, Olympic triple gold medal winner Morrow. And he trebled the vote given to Patterson. Mantle was named first on the ballots of 82 of the 192 sports experts participating in the poll, second on 31 and third on 25. On the usual scoring basis of three points for first, two for second, one for third, he accumulated 333 points. Morrow, with 26 first-place votes, received 168 points. Patterson, with 12 firsts and 112 points, edged out another Olympian, San Francisco basketball star Bill Russell, but six points for third place. Mantle will receive the Fraternal Order of Eagles-Frederick C. Miller memorial award in recognition of his winning the AP poll for male athlete of the year. The trophy was awarded for the first time last year, when Ohio State football star Howard (Hopalong) Cassady won the AP poll. This large silver trophy and a similar one for the female athlete of the year will be presented at a dinner, Jan. 21, in the million dollar ballroom of the Eagles in Milwaukee with Joe E. Brown as toastmaster. Judge Robert Cannon is head of the arrangements committee. The announcement of the winner of the poll for the outstanding female athlete will be made early next week. Mantle won the "triple crowd" of batting - the American League hitting, home run and runs batted in championships. All season long he threatened Babe Ruth's greatest record, that of hitting 60 home runs in a season, and he wound up just short of it with 52. He batted .353 and drove in 130 runs. He also led the league in scoring with 132 runs and compiled a slugging percentage of .705 by hitting for 376 total bases. Then, hobbled by injuries and with his legs tightly taped, Mantle played a leading role in the Yankees' World Series victory over Brooklyn. As a result, he was the unanimous choice as the league's most valuable player.
CUB BUCK IS RECOGNIZED
DEC 24 (Green Bay) - Howard (Cub) Buck, who is known to football fans throughout Wisconsin and widely across the nation, has been chosen for a place in the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame. Although Buck has been away from active participation in the game and engaged in business in Rock Island, Ill., for a number of years, he has not been forgotten by those who study the records of sports. It has been said that his record as a tackle on the Wisconsin team would have entitled him to this honor and that is probably true. Nevertheless, he added to his record materially in the five years he played with the Green Bay Packers. He was a great player, an outstanding placekicker, and a student of the game. But he brought something more to the game. This something more to the game. This something is difficult to define but it is suggested by the terms dignity, cleanness and fairness. No one could ever think of Cub Buck as a dirty player. He was a good player and a hard player, but one who, with no sign of pretense, raised the game a notch in the estimate of most watchers. We are happy that this honor has come to him while he is good health and active. It is a well-deserved tribute.
CARMICHAEL RETURN PACKER HIGHLIGHT
DEC 26 (Green Bay) - Now that the rescheduled Washington-Baltimore game is in the books, the NFL's individual statistics are finally complete, according to word today from the league headquarters at Philadelphia. The Packers, in the eight departments of play, made of with two seconds, a third, a tie for third, a fourth, a sixth, a seventh and a blank (among the leaders) in rushing. While these figures generally reflect the Packers' fourth-best offense in the league, the Bays also had a hand in a new league record in '56 - Al Carmichael's 106-yard return of a kickoff against the Chicago Bears here Oct. 7. Carmichael's jaunt, behind excellent blocking and his own quick-stepping, broke by one yard the record of 105 set by Frank Seno of the Chicago Cardinals against the New York Giants Oct. 20, 1946. Al's return, coming off the toe of the Bears' George Blanda, came at 6:35 of the first quarter and gave the Pack a 7-7 tie after the Bears had marched 65 yards to score at 6:20. Al wound up third in his specialty this season with 33 kickoff returns for 927 yards and an average of 28.1. In four Packer seasons, Carmichael has returned 93 kickoffs for an average of 26.9 and two touchdowns. The other TD came on a 100-yard runback against Cleveland in '55. Billy Howton and Dick Deschaine topped the Packers with second-place finishes in the league, Howton with his 55 pass catches for 1,188 yards and Deschaine with his punting average of 42.7. Howton had his best catch year ever, his total exceeding the 53 he nailed as a rookie in '52. He had his best yardage and touchdown total that season, 1,231 and 13. Billy Wilson of San Francisco beat out Howton, who led most of the season, with 60 catches. Norm Van Brocklin of Los Angeles topped Deschaine in punting with 43.1. Howton, in five Packer seasons, now has caught 229 passes for 4,347 yards and 36 touchdowns. Twice, he averaged over 20 yards per catch - 23.2 in '52 and 21.6 in '56. He placed sixth in the league in '52; 26th in '53 (he was injured, and played only half the season); fourth in '54; third in '55; and second in '56. Oddly enough, the Packers placed three players among the league's top 10 scorers - Fred Cone and Howton, each with 72, for a tie for fourth place, and Tobin Rote with 66 for 9th. In other departments, Bobby Dillon finished in a tie for third with seven interceptions; Carmichael placed sixth in punt returns with an average of 7.9; and Rote placed seventh in passing with an average gain per attempt of 7.15. Rote, however, led the league in four phases of passing - attempts (308), completions (146), yards (2,203) and touchdowns (18)...The Packers will have one player in the North-South game in Miami tonight - Mike Hudock, a 225-pound center of the University of Miami. He'll be in the starting lineup for the South team. Hudock was the first junior drafted by the Packers last January for delivery in '57. He was their 11th choice. Coach Liz Blackbourn has been in Miami the past few days scouting the North-South training camps and will sit in on tonight' game and the Orange Bowl Jan. 1. Packer assistant coaches also will be scouting bowl games and a number of "bird dog" scouts and former players will be present at others. Ray McLean will take in the Sugar Bowl game in New Orleans and the Senior Bowl in Mobile Jan. 5. Lou Rymkus will view the Gator Bowl battle and the Tangerine Bowl. Abe Stuber is assigned to the Blue-Gray game in Montgomery, Ala., Saturday. Earl Klapstein is on the west coast for the East-West game Saturday and the Rose Bowl Jan. 1. Packer administrative assistant and scout Jack Vainisi will take in the annual college coaches convention in St. Louis Jan. 7-11 to talk over player prospects with their mentors...Veryl Switzer, Packer halfback now in the Air Force, will marry Miss Fern Nannett Stalnaker in the First Baptist Church in Tulsa at 6:30 this evening. Miss Stalnaker is the daughter of the Rev. Dr. and Mrs. Calvin Stalnaker of Tulsa.
PACK RANKS SECOND IN PASSING
DEC 27 (Green Bay) - So you're running a hat store. It's the end of the year; business was just about the same as 1955; but you're starving. What do you do? Look over the books and snoop around and see what the hat store down the street did. You find that you sold the customers that entered your joint but not enough of 'em entered. The opposing hat store had more customers and sold 'em, too. Now you're running a football team - which just happens to be the Packers. You did as much yards and points (novelty store) business as in '55, but the 11 guys down the street did twice as much as you. And you're starving, like the hat merchant. What to do? Look at the figures, fellow businessman, and see what cooks. Commissioner Bert Bell's year-end ledger holds a lot of secrets and it's like the Wall Street Journal, Dun and Bradstreet, and the Local Association of Commerce all wrapped up in one package. For the football businessman (the coach, that is), the ledger tells all - in cold, calculating figures. It shows, as an example, that your Packers, generally, had their most difficulties in keeping the other team from scoring. Your team was at the bottom of the league in points allowed (342), in first downs allowed (246), in first downs rushing allowed (129), in total yards allowed (4,710), in yards rushing allowed (2,619) and in opponents average gain per rush (5.1). The Packers were also close to the basement of the league in other defensive departments - such as the number of times your opponents rushed and the percentage of the enemy's pass completions (55.4). Bell's Big Book, on the newstands today. shows that your team did right well with the ball. The Bays, for example, led the
league in passing first downs (112), passes attempted (171) and touchdown passes (21), and ranked second in yards passing (2,398). The Packers were 5th in total yards gained (3,819), sixth in average gain per rush (4.2), and fourth in touchdowns (36). In reviewing the season recently, merchant Liz Blackbourn stated that "our pass defense held up well in 1055 and balanced our inability to stop the rushing. This season, our pass defense also had trouble." Thus, the coach indicated that both phases of defense (pass and rush) found a rocky path in '56. Such key "salesmen" as Bobby Dan Dillon, Val Joe Walker, John Martinkovic, David Hanner, Bill Forester and others, it appears, had trouble moving their products. At the moment, Blackbourn and his sales force are on "vacation" from immediate action,
1956 NFL Pro Bowl - West Team player Bobby Dillon of the Green Bay Packers (Photo by Bob D'Olivo/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images)
1956 NFL Pro Bowl - West Team player Billy Howton of the Green Bay Packers (Photo by Bob D'Olivo/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images)
1956 NFL Pro Bowl - West Team player John Martinkovic of the Green Bay Packers (Photo by Bob D'Olivo/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images)
1956 NFL Pro Bowl - West Team player Roger Zatkoff of the Green Bay Packers (Photo by Bob D'Olivo/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images)
1956 NFL Pro Bowl - West Team player Howie Ferguson of the Green Bay Packers (Photo by Bob D'Olivo/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images)
This handwritten letter, by famed talent scout Jack Vainisi, thanks Julius Tucker for his great work in helping deliver Paul Hornung, the Heisman Trophy winner. Vainisi goes so far to say this regarding Tucker's help: "Without your help I know that our visit may have been fruitless." Vainisi even added that he reached out to commissioner Bert Bell to let him know of Tucker's fine job. (Source: Heritage Auctions)
which won't start again until next August. While the salesmen are thinking it over, Blackbourn and his department managers are hunting new store personnel - in hopes that nobody will be starving a year from now. P.S. Pardon the "story" approach today. Yacking with a straight face on yards since last August can get a bit boring.
HOWTON, DILLON MAKE UP ALL-PRO FIRST TEAM
DEC 27 (Green Bay) - The Green Bay Packers placed two players on the United Press all-professional first team - end Billy Howton on the offensive squad and Bobby Dillon on the defensive unit. Green Bay had one player on the second team - quarterback Tobin Rote. A fellow Texan, Bobby Layne of Detroit, was named quarterback of the first squad. Howton and Dillon are five-year Packers and Rote has put in seven campaigns. Two Packers received honorable mention - guard Bill Forester and linebacker Roger Zatkoff. The UP selections, made by 28 sportswriters who covered the 1956 season in the various league cities, included nine New York Giants and Chicago Bears on the 22-player first player roster. Detroit won five berths; the Chicago Cardinals, Washington and Green Bay each won two; and Pittsburgh and Philadelphia one each. Cleveland, strongly represented on past all-pro clubs, Los Angeles, Baltimore and San Francisco failed to land a man on the first team...CASARES GETS 23: Rick Casares, 225-pound Chicago Bear fullback, led all players in balloting with 23 votes out of a possible 28. Frank Gifford of the Giants and Ollie Matson of the Chicago Cardinals ran away with the halfback voting. Harlon Hill, the Bears' fleet end, also had a clear-cut margin. Jack Christiansen of Detroit was the outstanding vote collector on the defensive team as he shared the safety spots with Dillon for the fourth straight year. While Los Angeles failed to place a player on the first team, Andy Robustelli, the defensive end who was traded to New York for a first draft choice, made the defensive unit.
FIVE PACKER DRAFTEES IN TELEVISED BOWL BATTLES
DEC 28 (Green Bay) - Five Packer draft prospects can be inspected by Packerland fans in televised bowl football games over the New Year weekend. Three will cavort Saturday afternoon and the other two are in action Jan. 1. One highly-touted draftee, first pick Ron Kramer, won't be in action since he's playing basketball for the University of Michigan. He was a sure selection for the East-West game. One of the prospects - tackle Clyde Ledbetter of Baylor, was selected as a junior a year ago for delivery in '57. The 240-pounder will compete in the Sugar Bowl against Tennessee Tuesday afternoon. He'll wear No. 79. The other New Year day "local attraction" will be halfback Joel Wells, co-captain of Clemson and the Packers' No. 3 selection. He'll battle against Colorado in the Orange Bowl and will wear No. 47. Quarterback Paul Hornung of Notre Dame, the Packers' bonus choice; tackle Dalton Truax of Tulane; and tackle Carl Vereen of Georgia Tech will play Saturday afternoon. Hornung will be the starting QB for the East team in the East-West game and likely will wear No. 5, the same number he made famous at N.D. Vereen, who will wear No. 76, will battle against powerful Pittsburgh in the Gator Bowl and Truax will be in the Gray lineup in the Blue-Gray game. Truax will wear No. 71...Packer draft prospect Mike Hudock performed in the North-South game in Miami Wednesday night and one of the spectators was Packer coach Liz Blackbourn. Hudock was drafted as a junior last January. In a report back to the Packer office today, Blackbourn said Hudock appeared to be a "good looking prospect as a center and linebacker." Blackbourn scouted both the North and South camps and will take in the Orange Bowl game Tuesday. Lou Rymkus, Abe Stuber and Earl Klapstein also will view bowl games over the weekend and interview prospects for possible selection at the draft in Philadelphia Jan. 31...Billy Howton, veteran Packer end, will represent Packer players at a two-day meeting in New York today to set up an association similar to that developed by major league baseball players. Each football club will have one player representative. Creighton Miller, former Notre Dame halfback and now a Cleveland attorney, has been hired by the players to serve as their lawyer...BRIEFS: Packer draftee Joel Wells has been selected by his Clemson teammates as the team's most valuable player...Hamp Pool, former Los Angeles Ram head coach, has agreed to sign as head coach of the Toronto Argonauts. Pool, who will sign a two-year contract shortly, replaces Bill Swiacki...The Detroit Lions announced that veteran offensive tackle Ollie Spencer became the first player to sign a 1957 contract with the Lions...The Baltimore Colts have inked halfback Jackie Simpson of Florida, their fourth draft choice...Washington Redskins owner George Marshall, tired of reading stories suggesting Joe Kuharich wants to return to the collegiate ranks, told his coach today to hurry up and make up his mind if he wishes to remain at the Washington helm. Kuharich, who is on the West Coast to scout the annual East-West game in San Francisco, earlier this
this week declined to say whether he intends to coach the Redskins next year. Marshall said he is "tired of these evasive answers," and wants Kuharich to confirm or deny publicly that he wants to return to college football.
HORNUNG INJURY DROPS ODDS ON EAST-WEST TILT
DEC 29 (San Francisco) - The oddsmaker were shaken today when it was learned that a "minor injury" may knock Paul Hornung, the East team's sparkplug, out of today's Shrine East-West game. As of late Friday the "wise money" had the East, with Hornung at the key quarterback spot, a one-touchdown favorite in today's annual classic in Kezar Stadium. However, it was disclosed late last night that the Notre Dame sensation suffered a "minor elbow bruise" in a practice session and the elbow "had swollen like a balloon" less than 15 hours before game time. Gene Perry, athletic news director at Santa Clara University, said he was in the dressing room when the trainer worked on Hornung's arm. He quoted Hornung as saying: "If I have to play tonight, I couldn't make it." The East was installed as the favorite for the 32nd Shrine charity classic partially on the All-America qualities of Hornung and guard Jim Parker of Ohio State. But there are All-Americans dotted on both teams. Five men on each side made either the first, second or third United Press All-American clubs. And all 24 players from each side are expected to see action. The game will be televised and broadcast nationally by the National Broadcasting networks, starting at 4 o'clock Green Bay time. The forecast is for clear and sunny weather, with the temperature around 65. A crowd of 61,000 was expected.
NFL PLAYERS IN FIRST MEET
DEC 29 (New York) - Player representatives of NFL teams met in an all-day session Friday with attorney Creighton Miller to discuss proposals for setting up an organization similar to that of major league baseball players. It was their first meeting. Miller, a former Notre Dame halfback, declined to disclose any of proposals made at the session. He said he would issue a statement after the final meeting Saturday afternoon. It is known, however, that one of the key player demands is for payment for practice and for exhibition games, especially for young players who are cut from the squad before the regular season begins. That's also when the first paychecks are issued by the clubs. The Cleveland Browns already have agreed to pay a weekly salary during the training and exhibition part of the campaign but this will come from the players' contract total. Those who fail to make the team will be paid for their efforts. Players who met with Miller included Bill Howton, Green Bay; Kyle Rote, New York; Don Colo, Cleveland; Norm Van Brocklin, Los Angeles; Norb Hecker, Washington; Y.A. Tittle, San Francisco; Bill Pellington, Baltimore; Jack Jennings, Chicago Cardinals; Joe Schmidt, Detroit; and Adrian Burk, Philadelphia.
PACKER CAPTAIN BROWN RETIRES
DEC 30 (Green Bay) - Buddy Brown, guard and offensive captain for the Green Bay Packers, announced his retirement Friday. Brown, 31, played four seasons with the Packers and two with the Washington Redskins. He is a high school teacher and basketball coach at Wynne, Ark. He said in leaving, "Coach (Liz) Blackbourn will win it all some day, but you can't do it without horses to pull the plow."
NFL PLAYERS TO PRESENT FOUR MATTERS TO LOOP
DEC 31 (New York) - The NFL, which has just completed its most successful season, will start 1957 with the newly-organized Players Association ready to present four matters to Commissioner Bert Bell and the club owners. The association wound up its first formal meeting Saturday in New York. It selected quarterback Norm Van Brocklin of the Los Angeles Rams, end Kyle Rote of the New York Giants and its attorney, Creighton Miller of Cleveland, to present its objectives to Bell and the owners. Billy Howton represented Green Bay. The representatives, in a statement describing the reasons they set up the association, said "they would like to discuss with the commissioner and the owners" the following matters: 1. Recognition by the NFL of the Players Association; 2. Training camp expenses; 3. Injuries; and 4. Pensions.
DEC 31 (San Francisco) - What was a collection of West football all-stars turned into a mutual admiration society after a 7-6 victory over East collegians. They each gave credit to each other. John Brodie of Stanford, the nation's leading collegiate passer, hit 11 of 22 and was voted the Shrine game's outstanding game. The Saturday victory gave the West a 15-13 edge with four ties in the charity game played before a Kezar Stadium full house of 61,000. The Shrine Hospital for Crippled Children is expected to receive in excess of $250,000 from the game. Washington's Dean Derby's point after touchdown proved the clincher. UCLA's Don Shinnick was voted the game's top lineman. Paul Hornung, the Green Bay Packer bonus choice, had bruised his elbow in practice but directed the East attack most of the game. He completed 15 of 24 passes, one for a touchdown, and had two intercepted.