If you know me...
You know I love two things:
History, and of course,
the Green Bay Packers
So don’t be surprised when I tell you that I like watching game clips from the ‘80’s and ‘90’s. I know what you’re thinking and, hey, I get it. I don’t really know how I even came to actually enjoy watching these old games. I’m pretty interested in those decades in general, so I figured they offered some kind of glimpse into a foregone time. On the outside it doesn’t make much sense. Why watch a game that I, presumably, already know the outcome? Why watch a game from 30 years ago with pre-HDTV quality? Why…and so on. I have a few reasons.
Let’s start with history.
I’m intrigued by the Packers of the 1980’s who, mired in mediocrity, posted all of 2 winning seasons in the entire decade. One of those came in the strike-shortened season of 1982 while the other was a 10-6 finish in 1989, not even good enough for the playoffs.
Oddly, I want to know more about these seasons. Up until the past couple of years I knew nothing about the ‘80’s teams. For good reason, I know (the Packers had two 4-12 seasons - ‘86 and ‘88). But all this time I’ve been calling myself the biggest Packers fan in NorCal yet couldn’t name a soul who played for the team between 1970 and 1992. By contrast, I could go up and down the roster from 1996 (more on this later). Growing up a Packers fan since the age of 4 and being born in 1993, I’ve been fortunate enough to watch mostly-competent footballs teams throughout the years. I grew up watching Favre and was 17 (my favorite number) when Rodgers and the Packers won Super Bowl XLV.
Combined with the Packers’ success in the ‘60’s, I assumed the Packers had always been good. There was a reason why the ‘70’s and ‘80’s were black holes in my personal Packers history database. While they never played worse, I’d argue they never looked better. More on this later…Here’s a play that sums up the ‘86 iteration and the period as a whole: 3rd and 1 at the 2, rookie Kenneth Davis gets the outside hand off and has a wide open hole to pay-dirt only to slip, fall, and lose 2 yards.
So I watch what games are available on YouTube. Perhaps these games serve as reminders for how fortunate I am to go from watching one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. Favre to Rodgers, in other words.
Why I like watching the Packers of the ‘90’s should come as (slightly) less of a surprise. The Packers were actually good for most of the decade. Great for a stretch, too. But I never actually got to watch any of the games, what with being like 4 years old and all (although I did get my first Favre jersey at 4). So I like seeing them in their ‘90’s hey-day. And, I knew these guys. At this very moment they are the last Super Bowl winner to rank first in scoring offense and scoring defense in their championship-winning year. (Mom/CLo: you might know what that means, but in case you don’t, that means they scored the most points that year and allowed the fewest points. If you already knew, sorry I doubted your collective football knowledge.)
As much as Rodgers means to me now from watching him play as a teenager and now adult, Favre meant as much if not more as a kid. The moment I got my first #4 jersey in Greendale, Wis. the Packers were cemented in my heart. Winning three MVP’s in a row ‘95, ‘96, and ‘97 (the only player to win three in a row), I think it goes without saying that this was the best version of Favre. His combination of mobility, accuracy, and arm-strength was as good as Rodgers’ now. At that point, he was the best to ever play the position.
Yeah, Montana won 4 Supe’s and Unitas was, whatever (too long ago for me to know any specifics on his game), but Favre played the position better than anyone up to that point. Fuck all the interceptions. Quarterbacks played differently at that time. The rules didn’t favor the offense and the passing game as heavily as they do now.
But back to the Packers uniforms of the 80’s, specifically 1984-1988, and the other reason I like watching these old games. For starters, the team had yet to truncate the sleeve striping pattern from 5 stripes to 3. That happened prior to the ‘97 season, although some players (mostly along the offensive and defensive lines) had their sleeves cut shorter in the years leading up to the team-wide change. Not only did the Packers still sport their lovely 5 stripes, their “G” logo was placed prominently in the middle of the striping. The stripes provide the perfect background for the “G” logo and really make it pop off the uniform. I think that effect would be lost if the logo was on the sleeves sans striping. It’s also a decidedly '80’s look, as the Cardinals, Falcons, Seahawks, and Bears all placed logos on their sleeve striping over the decade as well. What else can I say…I just love this look.
Moving on to the pants. For 42 of the 50 seasons since Lombardi arrived in Green Bay in ‘59 and provided the basis for the uniforms the Packers wear to this day, the pants striping has been green-white-green on a yellow body. When former Lombardi player Forrest Gregg became head coach in ‘84 and added the “G” to the sleeves, he also added an extra yellow stripe on the pants in the middle of the white stripe (now green-white-yellow-white-green). Okay, I just made a realization as I’m typing! This pants striping is essentially the collar-striping of the away jersey. There’s a meta-uniform connection to the yellow stripe after all, which I had always just thought was extraneous and essentially there for the hell of it. I now have a totally new appreciation for these pants! Cool…anyway, not only did Gregg add that dope yellow stripe, he added numbers to the pants hip as well! The white numbers in a green oval with white outline are the perfect touch to complete the ultimate Packers look. The Colts and Cowboys also added uniform numbers to their pants in the 80’s. While other teams have worn logos on their pants over the years (Saints, Panthers, Ravens) only the Packers, Colts, and Cowboys have worn numbers on their hips.
Unfortunately, the Packers restored the classic green-white-green striping in ‘88 and then axed the “G” from the sleeve prior to the ‘89 campaign. At least they added a gold band to the green portion of their striping from ‘88-’91, as you can see in the image to the left.
The Packers still look good in the modern NFL, but they could look so much better. At least in my eyes. Which won’t be viewing any more decades old football again until September.