The Early Legacy of the Green Bay Packers

Lombardi Trophies

The Early Legacy of the Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame is home to four championship trophies, one of which was awarded to the team in 1967 after they defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 in the first Super Bowl game. Standing at 22 inches tall, this sterling silver trophy is on public display for all fans to share in the team’s success. The early journey of the Green Bay Packers to being awarded the first “World Professional Football Championship Trophy” was one filled with hardships and triumphs.

The four Super Bowl trophies on display in the Championship Gallery at the Packers Hall of Fame

The Curly Lambeau Era
In 1919, Earl “Curly” Lambeau, an employee of Indian Packing Company, decided that he wanted to start a professional football team in the small town of Green Bay, Wisconsin. Since Lambeau needed financial support in order to do so, he turned to his employer and convinced them to sponsor the team. With financial support from the meatpacking facility, Lambeau and his high school rival, George W. “Cal” Calhoun, were able to recruit professional football players through the Green Bay Press Gazette, a local Wisconsin newspaper. Later, in 1921, as a result of the sale of Indian Packing to Acme Packing, the team joined the American Professional Football Association as the “Acme Packers.” Soon after, the Acme Packers would become the Green Bay Packers, the name we recognize today. In these early years as a franchise, the Packers experienced economic hardships, low game attendance, roster shortages, and even disenfranchisement. However, the team was able to overcome many of these difficulties and begin to build a well-respected franchise. This early success was highly attributable to the help and the dedication of players and coaches such as Lambeau, who the stadium would later become named after in 1965.


Vince Lombardi is awarded the first Super Bowl trophy
[Photo from Vernon J. Biever Photography, LLC]

The Vince Lombardi Era
Another man who continued to build the successful franchise of the Green Bay Packers was Vince Lombardi. On January 28, 1959, Lombardi accepted the position of head coach and general manager of the Green Bay Packers. When he accepted this position, the team had just experienced their worst season ever with a 1-10-1 finish. Despite this, in his first year with the Packers, Lombardi finished 7-5 and was named Coach of the Year. During his time as head coach of the Packers, he never experienced a losing season and won a total of 5 championships, one of which was Super Bowl I. The first Super Bowl game took place on January 15, 1967 at the Los Angeles Coliseum and was a showdown between the Green Bay Packers of the NFL and the Kansas City Chiefs of the AFL. The Packers, led by coach Lombardi and quarterback Bart Starr, defeated the Chiefs 35-10 and were awarded the first “World Professional Football Championship Trophy” which is now on display in the Packers Hall of Fame.

Lambeau Field Atrium Entrance; home of the Hall of Fame

Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame inductee bronze footballs

The Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame Today
The Green Bay Packers, the only publicly owned football team in the NFL, are truly a people’s team – a team that has created an identity for Wisconsinites to celebrate and to be proud of. Although the Packers are based in the smallest city to have a major sports team, they were the first professional football team to have a Hall of Fame solely recognizing them. Therefore, the Hall of Fame serves as a place for the Green Bay community and sports community to celebrate and to share in the team’s history. If you consider yourself a cheesehead or are interested in learning more about the team, a visit to the Packers Hall of Fame is an absolute must!

Prior to being put on public display in the Packers Hall of Fame in 2003, the trophy was displayed in the administrative offices at Lambeau field.

August 11, 1919 Green Bay Packers were founded by Earl “Curly” Lambeau and George Whitney Calhoun
August 27, 1921 The “Acme Packers” were granted membership in the American Professional Football (later called the National Football League)
December 8, 1929 Won their first NFL Championship title – Bears vs. Packers
September 29, 1957 First game is played in new City Stadium
January 28, 1959 Packers hire Vince Lombardi as head coach and general manager
June 1, 1965 E.L. “Curly” Lambeau, founder and first coach, dies at age 67
September 11, 1965 New City Stadium is renamed and dedicated as Lambeau Field
June 8, 1966 AFL-NFL merger agreement announced
January 1, 1967 NFL Championship Game – Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys
January 15, 1967 First Super Bowl – Packers beat the Chiefs
December 31, 1967 NFL Championship Game (Ice Bowl) – Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys
January 14, 1968 Second Super Bowl – Packers beat Oakland
February 1, 1968 Vince Lombardi resigns as Packers head coach but continues as general manager
September 3, 1970 Lombardi passes away at age 57 from cancer
1970 "World Professional Football Championship" Trophy was renamed the Vince Lombardi Trophy to honor his death

Wisconsin Life: Packers Hall of Fame

Why I choose this object?

My name is Madison Polack, and I am currently a senior at UW-Madison graduating in May of 2022 with a real estate and history degree. I am originally from Green Bay, Wisconsin, so I have been a devoted Packers fan my entire life. Some of my favorite memories as a kid was going to Packers games with my grandpa and twin brother. I honestly do not think any sports venue beats Lambeau field – mostly on a cold December day. I have vivid memories of my toes being so frozen that I could barely walk, but the atmosphere at Lambeau on game days is unbeatable. Therefore, I chose this object because I love the city I come from and the football team that is based in that city. This first trophy is a symbol of success and pride for the team and city of Green Bay. Additionally, the trophy serves as a visual representation of the history and transformation of football as an integral part of Wisconsin’s culture and identity.

Madison Polack


History 401 [Spring 2022]

Leslie A. Bellais