Before There Were Helmets: Earl (Curly) Lambeau

Earl Curly LambeauWe’ll start the series with the man who’s name adorns the field at Green Bay, WI, a man who, at one time, was player, coach, and president of the team… Curly Lambeau.

From the first time the Packers stepped on the field, a passing attack was an integral part of the aggressive Packer offense. Lambeau and the Packer were able to effectively use the “forward pass” despite league regulations that made it difficult.

In a world dominated by hatless men desperately trying to control the line of scrimmage in an attempt to move their lumbering running attack downfield, the elegant Packer pass attack explosively chewed up massive amounts of yardage on their way to the endzone.

In Lambeau’s own words, “Our offense those days was 75 percent passing. Other teams passed in desperation, we threw on first down.”

Offenses in Curly’s time had no quarterback. The halfback would line up in what would now be called shotgun formation. Most would take the snap and hand off or follow lead blockers into the hole while the big men up front tried to get the defensive line moving backward. However, Lambeau, with his passion for the pass, was more of a halfback/quarterback hybrid.

Throwing a forward pass in those days was difficult. The ball was much more like a rugby ball. It was larger than the streamlined projectile used today. It was a clumsy ball to throw, but Curly threw it well.

The Packer passing attack electrified the game. Fans who had become accustomed to scoring on par with a soccer match or hockey game suddenly were on the edge of their seats as the Packer passing attack moved the ball down field. The result…

In his career with the Packers (as player and coach), he led the Packers to six world championships in his 31 seasons with the team.

On June 1, 1965 Curly Lambeau died. In his memory, the Packers renamed their current football field (City Stadium) Lambeau Field.

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