Monthly: January 2018

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Johnny “Blood” McNally On The Ice Bowl

Milwaukee Badgers,

One of early pro football’s most colorful characters was hall of famer John McNally.  Nicknamed “blood” from the Rudolph Valentino movie Blood And Sand, McNally was know as the vagabond half back who started his career with the Milwaukee Badgers, Pottsville Maroons, Duluth Eskimos, and Pittsburgh Pirates.  But he is most remembered for his seven seasons with the Green Bay Packers where he helped guide the team to four championships between 1929-1936.

By 1970 he was still affiliated with the Packers and wrote a piece naming the Ice Bowl the greatest game ever played.  It appeared in the 1970 21st Annual Midwest Shrine Game program, an annual preseason game that had the Packers host the Bears in their home-away-from-home, Milwaukee County Stadium.  Here is the piece in its entirety.

Blood Calls ’67 Packer-Dallas Game ‘Greatest’

The greatest game I ever played in or saw? Come now, who can make such a choice? There were scores of great ones and time erodes memory.  What may have been the greatest 20 or 30 years ago has lost its impact and been replaced by another.

Maybe because of that, if the question must be answered, my thoughts turn to one of the more recent games.  I think the greatest was the championship game with Dallas on an ice covered field in Green Bay on the last day of December, 1967.  Green Bay won, 21–17.

There must be guidelines first even to attempt a choice.  It must be a game between two closely matched teams.  It must be a game for large stakes. It must be a game filled with 60 minutes of suspense.  It must be a game of great plays and great demonstrations of skill, daring, good judgment, and endurance.  It must be a game in which the lead changes a few times.  It must be a game decided on the last play.  It must be a game in which the fan is emotionally wrung out at the gun.

The game played in Green Bay on that last day of 1967 meets all these guidelines – and really two more.  It was played in weather 13 degrees below zero and was won in the closing stages by a crippled team with a third string man at fullback.

I’m sure few cities if any have ever enjoyed as many cocktails as Green Bay that night or ever woke up on the first day of the new year with fewer hangovers.  Such is the power of real joy.

To cap everything on this bitterly cold afternoon, quarterback Bart Starr called his own number on the ultimate of all clutch plays, the last one, and scored on a sneak from the two foot line over the tangled bodies of Green Bay’s Jerry Kramer and Dallas’ Jim [sic] Lilly.

The final play as called was anything but a show of egotism.   It was instead an example of uncommonly sound and courageous judgment followed by extreme muscular effort.  What Starr showed was the ultimate in responsible and brave leadership.  It has to be his finest moment as a football player.

Yes, the 1967 championship game with Dallas was the greatest I ever saw.  It shook me as no other has in more than 40 years.

Taken from Tripoli 21st Annual Midwest Shrine Game, August 15th, 1970

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The Ice Bowl: 50th Anniversary New Documentary

Topps, 1967 NFL Championship, Ice Bowl, Green Bay Packers, Lambeau Field, Dallas Cowboys

Michael Meredith, son of Don, has produced a fine documentary on this game called, The Timeline: The Ice Bowl [check out the trailer here].  It is told more from a Cowboys perspective but is enjoyable from any perspective!  Many players are interviewed and in the 4 years Michael Meredith spent researching and shooting the documentary, 12 players have died, so it is fitting that this be released near the 50th anniversary of the game.

The much fabled Ice Bowl (official name: 1967 NFL Championship Game) has taken on such legendary status that has been called the NFL’s greatest game. Two teams battling in the most extreme of elements is what football is supposed to be about – not replay, not “touching” the passer, and not end zone celebrations with or without props.  Not much need be said about the game, but this RetroCard set tells a chronological story in words and pictures.  Featured heavily in this set is the fan’s contribution and their resilience in –40˚F wind chills. Few people left and when the gun sounded at the end of regulation, they tore down the goal posts!  That’s hard core.

The design of this set is a knock off of the 1964-1967 Philadelphia Gum cards that produced NFL cards for a short time in the 60s.  RetroCards is calling this set “1968 Philly Action,” and is part of a series of team sets that will also be released in this design.

Players featured included Bart Starr, Boyd Dowler, Chuck Mercein, Travis Williams, Vince Lombardi, Jerry Kramer, Don Meredith, Danny Villanueva, Lance Rentzel, Dan Reeves, Bob Lilly, Lee Roy Jordan, George Andrie, Tom Landry, and of course, the fans.  Order your set here.

The Timeline: The Ice Bowl [check out the trailer here].