“Lindy Infante, the hard-luck former coach of the Green Bay Packers and the Indianapolis Colts, died Thursday October 8th 2015, he was 75”.
This short statement online was all it needed to galvanize me into writing my “American Odyssey” because Gelindo “Lindy” Infante made me and Margaret so welcome when we visited Green Bay, Wisconsin during his tenure as Head Coach of the Packers. This journey would only have been possible in America, it would simply not have happened in the top league of association football in England. When I was introduced to Lindy he talked to me like I was his next door neighbour and arranged for me to watch games at Lambeau Field and at Milwaukee County Stadium, a true gentleman. Was it because someone from England had taken such an interest in the Gridiron game or was it simply because Green Bay is a unique city that welcomes all football fans?
Infante was a head coach for six years in the NFL, compiling a 36-60 record. He was the NFL Coach of the Year in 1989 with Green Bay, but his only postseason appearance came in 1996 when his Colts lost a wild card game to Pittsburgh, 42-14. There was bad timing at Infante's first head-coaching stop in Green Bay, too. He went 24-40 from 1988-91. After the Packers finished 4-12 in his final season, the team overhauled its front office, and the following year general manager Ron Wolf acquired Brett Favre from the Atlanta Falcons. The Packers reasserted themselves as one of the league's top teams. The organization hailed the Infante family for their presence in the community. Packers President Mark Murphy also credited the Infante-led team in 1989 with rekindling enthusiasm in the fan base following a 10-6 season. ''For a franchise that had been struggling for so long to find a winning way, the emergence of that team under Lindy as new coach and (Don) Majkowski as its quarterback gave us great promise for the future,'' said Murphy's predecessor, Bob Harlan. ''It brought back a great deal of excitement in the community we hadn't felt for a long time.''
Infante got the job in Green Bay after Michigan State coach George Perles initially accepted, then backed out. Infante also had stints as offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals (1982) and Cleveland Browns (1986-87). He was known as a shrewd play-caller while with the Browns, with Bernie Kosar at quarterback.