SPECIAL TO PACKERLAND PRIDE
BY KEVIN BONESKE
The Green Bay Packers kicked off their plans to celebrate the football team’s 100th season with a news conference April 9 in the Lambeau Field Atrium.
Green Bay Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy appeared along with the team’s historian, Cliff Christl, to discuss the events planned over the next 16 months leading up to the franchise’s 100th birthday Aug. 11, 2019.
“Our motto has been, ‘You only turn 100 once,’” quipped Murphy, who noted a committee was formed five years ago to plan for the team’s centennial.
Being that the Packers’ founding predated what is now known as the National Football League, which was a year old and called the American Professional Football Association when Green Bay joined in 1921, Murphy said celebrating the Packers’ 100th season in 2018 will take place a year before the NFL observes its centennial.
“We’re going to be celebrating one year in advance of the National Football League celebrating its 100th season, so you’re going to get a lot of 100-season celebrations over the next two years,” Murphy said.
He noted the Packers over the next 16 months will celebrate their 100 years in a number of ways and have a “100 Seasons” team logo on their uniforms and various merchandise.
Beginning in June, Murphy said a traveling interactive exhibit known as Lambeau Field Live will go around the state to different events. This year’s destinations include Summerfest in Milwaukee, the Northern Wisconsin State Fair in Chippewa Falls, EAA Airventure in Oshkosh, the Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis and the Taste of Madison.
Murphy said Lambeau Field Live will include Packers alumni appearances, Play 60 programs for youth, a virtual reality experience and a satellite Packers Pro Shop, and Packers Hall of Fame.
It will be free to those already attending the events where the exhibit will be brought over the next two years.
“At a lot of those events, you may have people who aren’t necessary football fans,” Murphy said. “I mean, if you’re at Summerfest, maybe you’re a Packer fan, maybe you’re not. But this will expose the Packers and our history to maybe a group of people that wouldn’t know about the Packers otherwise.”
To coincide with this year’s start of training camp, following the annual Packers Shareholders meeting at Lambeau Field the evening of July 25, Murphy said a free four-day festival known as the Packers Experience will be held outside of the stadium July 26-29.
“Different activities you’ll see in terms of the Packers Experience will be a movie theater showcasing an excerpt from the 100 seasons documentary, a replica of the team locker room – so many people don’t have an opportunity to get into our locker room, so I think that will be well-received – USA Football – we’ve been working closely with them, we’ll have clinics put on by USA Football – alumni interviews, various photo stations, activities for fans of all ages as well as live music,” he said.
Murphy said the entire documentary, which will be a 10-part series with each part featuring a decade of Packers history, will be completed in 2019.
Murphy said the Packers’ first regular-season home game this September will include a Celebration Weekend to mark 100 seasons.
“It will combine our annual traditional alumni weekend, which also includes a Green and Gold Gala,” he said. “And we’ll combine what we did last year – remember we had the free kickoff – so we’ll have a kickoff concert and we’ll have a special alumni gathering with more than 65 alumni on hand. It should be a great way to kick off the season.”
Included among the elements of the celebration taking place in 2019, Murphy said, will be the publication of a book on the Packers’ 100 seasons being written by Christl that will include historic photographs.
Christl, who previously covered the Packers as a sportswriter before becoming the team’s historian four years ago, said the book will be about the franchise’s history, rather than his opinions on the team.
“The most important thing is the book isn’t about me, it’s about the Packers’ history, so I’m going to keep myself out of it,” Christl said. “I don’t want to inject any opinion. I don’t want any ratings. Somebody else might tell me I have to, but as of now, my plan is to just tell the history and probably in a decade-by-decade approach. I don’t want to rank players or (what’s) the greatest game, or anything like that. Just stick to the facts, basically.”
Christl said he doesn’t know at this point what the size of the book will be.
“I think the plan is to do a coffee table book, but I think they’re thinking big,” he said. “I don’t know if all the numbers have been crunched, so I guess we’ll see.”