Football Town written in 1937

Now someday you may be motoring through the north-eastern section of Wisconsin on your way to the city of Green Bay.  It is a section of wild and unspoiled beauty and you’ll find it hard to keep your eyes from the green hillsides which are miraculously dotted with anemones, bloodroots and fawn lilies.  Brooks which ripple just off the road will be framed by marsh marigolds and early meadow violets and then you’ll come into Indian country, the land of the Oneida tribe transported from New York some hundred years ago.  And then suddenly you are lost.  You know that Green Bay is only 10 miles or so away but in which direction?  You stop, and there, sitting contentedly by the roadside, staring at you with wide open brown eyes, is the cutest little Indian kid you ever saw.  So, you ask him the way to town.  He points a chubby arm straight ahead and then smiles shyly and you just have to pause and ask him his name.  He says, “LaVerne Lewellen Dilweg Webster.”  You’re a bit startled at that but that’s only because you’ve never heard of Verne Lewellen or of Lavvie Dilweg or of the Green Bay Packers who belong to the Indians west of Green Bay just as much as they belong to the quarterbacks of the city.  It is of course something that could happen nowhere else in this country.

Levi Webster, a full-blooded Oneida, has always been a great Packer fan.  When his first-born arrived six years ago, it seemed perfectly natural that he named him after his two great heroes, Lewellen and Dilweg.  In Green Bay, they’ll tell you that Lewellen was the greatest punter ever to curl a toe under a pigskin and they’ll add that Dilweg was without doubt the only end who ever lived.  Hence little six-year old LaVerne Lewellen Dilweg Webster.

Over a period of years, the Green Bay Packers have been the best football team in the country and before we go any further let me add that we are proceeding on the assumption that a good professional team is as much superior to a good college team as a good professional fighter is superior to a good amateur.  Now without any more argument let us go back to the phenomenon that is Green Bay.  Green Bay, since 1919, when it entered organised professional football, has won four championships, the only team in the league to achieve that record.  During that time, Green Bay has been consistently the biggest drawing card in professional football and the team has always used dazzling, colourful and effective attack, usually being one jump ahead of the other teams.  Manpower in the professional league is pretty evenly divided.  Curly Lambeau has provided that extra something which has given Green Bay the edge it has enjoyed.  Green Bay is not an ordinary pro team run by a professional promoter in a rented park.  The Green Bay Packers are a municipal institution owned and operated by the municipality of Green Bay, as much a part of the city as is the police or the fire department, and each of the 40,000 citizens of Green Bay considers himself to be a part owner of the club.  That’s what makes the Packers different.

Green Bay is a typical American community which has great pride in itself.  It is proud of the fact that it is the biggest cheese packing community in the world; that it is 303 years old; that Eleazer Williams, missionary to the Oneidas and claimant to the title of the “Lost Dauphin”, found refuge there in 1642; that there is, and even during the depression there was, practically no poverty in the city; that during prohibition more than a hundred places which dispensed liquid refreshment kept wide open at all times; that the Green Bay Packers are the greatest football team ever assembled.  Of these things, the 40,000 citizens of Green Bay are proud.

Eighty years later in 2017 I can find no good reason to disagree with these sentiments.


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