Monday, July 21, 2014

Packers Go Pro

1921 Green Bay Packers Sponsored by Acme Packing Company

In our last post, we described how the Geen Bay Packers began. We also identified the chief organizers that established the team --Abrams (local athlete, business man, and Lambeau pal), Lambeau (best athlete in town with larger than life personality and great ambition and drive), Peck  (Indian Meat Packing Manager and original sponsor) and Calhoun (old school newspaper man who would write news/sports coverage to tireless promote the team).  But, the Packers would not have become a professional football team without the proper alignment to the NFL.  Someone had to make the trip to Ohio to do that.

Ohio is considered the cradle of professional football and there had been loose associations there in the early years of semipro football. If the Packers were going to thrive as a professional football team, they needed to ally themselves with the American Professional Football Association (APFA), an organization born in Canton, Ohio, in 1920.  APFA was named the National Football League in 1922 and it would become the first successful national league. 

Newspaper man George Calhoun was aware of the American Professional Football Association and understood what it might offer to Green Bay. But challenges loomed. The Geen Bay sponsor, the  Indian Packing Company, was no longer.  Another packing company, the Acme Packing Company merged with the Indian Packing Company before the start of the 1921 season. The consolidated company retained the name, Acme Packing Company. 

Luckily,  John Clair from Acme was persuaded to apply for an NFL franchise. At the league’s meeting, Clair’s representative obtained the franchise for the tidy sum of $100. (Some believe Clair paid less that $100, but the important point for modern fans is to understand that the amount was small.)  It turned out it was too low when the league was clogged up with poorly organized groups and schedules that changed all too often.  It would get straightened out when NFL President Joe Carr implemented changes that helped establish more control on the process. 

So the Acme Packing Company stepped up to replace the Indian Packing Company and sponsor the Packers for their first APFA season and their second season overall.  Thus, although Acme was not the original Green Bay Packers sponsor, it would be their name on the jersey of the 1921 team, the first truly professional Geen Bay Packers team. 

Copyright 2014, Sporting Chance Press.   This post is taken from a new book called Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Have Won Three or More Championships by Patrick McCaskey--available at  Burghardt's Sporting Goods in Wisconsin,  a growing number of select stores in Illinois such as Lake Forest Book Store, Millikin University Bookstore, C & A Inspirations in Champaign, Love Christian Center in Kankakee, the Little Way in Crystal Lake, St. Anne's Gift Shop in Orland Park,  the Christian Shop in Palatine, and more.   The book can be bought online as well on Amazon.