A History Lesson for the NFL

Saturday, October 21, 2017
by Patrick Dorinson

In 1919 a shipping clerk of the Indian Packing Company’s plant in Green Bay, Wisconsin asked his boss for some money to buy uniforms for a football team he was starting. His boss agreed and gave him $500.

That man was Curly Lambeau and the team he founded became the Green Bay Packers, one of the founding members of the American Professional Football Association which in 1922 became the National Football League.

 The players on that first Packers team were employees of the packing company and were tough men who carried heavy sides of beef and were strong handed butchers who prepared the meat to be packed in cans that fed a nation.

Those who watched them play were also working class folks from the very same packing plants.

The NFL of those early days was made up of hard men who sweated in packing plants and steel mills and mines and factories.

In 1936 they held their first draft and players from America’s colleges began to come into the league.

The first draft choice was the first ever Heisman Trophy winner Jay Berwanger from the University of Chicago. Jay was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles who couldn’t reach a deal with him so they traded him to the Chicago Bears. The Bears also could not reach a deal with Berwanger either.

Instead Berwanger took a job at a rubber plant.

The players in the original NFL were not highly paid celebrities. They were regular folks drawn from the blue collar Americans who built this country with their bare hands.

Because the salaries for most players were not enough to support a family, they had to hold regular jobs in the offseason right alongside the fans who bought the tickets to see them play.

And they didn’t live in gated communities and have fleets of fancy cars. They lived next door to their fans.

The bond between the players and the fans was strong back then but today that bond no longer exists.

Oh there are still the working guys and gals who buy the tickets and jerseys, but the players have become pampered celebrities who don’t live next door.

And their connection to the real world is fleeting.

It doesn’t matter where they came from-many from hardscrabble backgrounds-because once they enter into the world of glitz and celebrity their world changes forever and they lose touch even with their own backgrounds.

And the owners of these teams build ever larger and more technically advanced stadiums so that fans can enjoy the “NFL Experience”.

But the average working class fan who supported the league through its early growing pains and development for almost 100 years now is being priced out of going to a game as owners charge outrageous seat licenses so that they can have Sushi Bars and stadium clubs with $10 beers and vegetarian hot dogs.

And they expect those same working class folks to approve government subsidies to build their billion dollar pleasure palaces which now resemble shopping malls more than football stadiums.

The player’s protests about the National Anthem have only demonstrated that in pursuit of the almighty buck, the NFL has forgotten its roots and abandoned the very people who made it the number one spectator sport in America.

The men who played and coached in the NFL of the past were people like Tom Landry, son of an auto mechanic and Chuck “Concrete Charlie” Bednarik son an immigrant Slovakian steel worker.

When the chips were down in the dark early days of World War ll these men from vastly different parts of America raised their hands and swore an oath as they went off to war never knowing if they would survive to play in the NFL.

They did it because they were men who knew that for all the hardships of their lives this was still the best country on earth and they weren’t about to let any German Nazis or Japanese militarists deprive them of their freedom.

It is something our enemies never seem to understand.

Perhaps instead of caving in to the demands of highly paid entertainers they should remember the Tom Landrys and Chuck Bednariks and the countless others who bought the tickets who have sacrificed for the country and the flag that represents us all.

So here is your Cowboy Wisdom for the Week and it is from Abraham Lincoln who signed the Emancipation Proclamation that begun the long process of equality under law that we still struggle with today.

“Standing as I do with my hand upon this staff and under the folds of the American flag, I ask you to stand by me so long as I stand by it”.

With our enemies around the globe emboldened, now more than ever, it is time to stand by the flag and with the ghost of Lincoln and many thousands of others who have died so that flag can continue to be the beacon of freedom to the world.

Stand up NFL!