It is no secret how devoted the city of Green Bay, Wis., is to their beloved Packers, so it came as no surprise the enthusiasm and excitement that was met with the honoring of Curly Lambeau as a “Hometown Hall of Famer™” by Allstate and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Green Bay East High School, where Lambeau’s athletic career first began, is now the proud recipient of a special plaque that will live at the school for years to come.
Principal Ed Dorff, the emcee for the ceremony, introduced several notable community members, including the mayor of Green Bay and numerous East High alumni. He reminded the students that the history at East High School is probably some of the richest in the country. “A lot of people are surprised that football wasn’t invented in Green Bay. As far as I’m concerned, professional football certainly was,” he told the crowd.
Allstate agent Tim Vanden Heuvel has been an agent in the Green Bay area for over 23 years. Full of East High “Red Devil” pride, he explained to the crowd how excited Allstate was to be part of such an incredible program, and really got the students fired up about this special dedication.
Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprises President and CEO George Veras shared several statistics on the amount of Hall of Famers that are from smaller towns similar to Green Bay. He commended the town on their ability to preserve such rich history and continue this incredible legacy that Lambeau started all of those years ago.
The highlight of the ceremony was the speech given by John Lambeau, Curly Lambeau’s grandson who accepted the plaque on behalf of his late grandfather. After aweing them with Packers facts and figures which really put the unbelievable talent of Lambeau into perspective, John left them with some great advice, explaining that, “each of you students has the chance to be a great innovator - right now is the time for you to start thinking about what your legacy will be.”
After unveiling the “Hometown Hall of Famers™” plaque, John thanked Allstate and the Pro Football Hall of Fame for this once in a lifetime experience. It was apparent how touched he and the rest of his family were to be part of this program. Lambeau may have been deceased for many years, but his legacy was certainly brought to life during that ceremony.
Upon graduation from Green Bay East High School, the Green Bay native went on to play at Notre Dame in 1918, making the varsity team his first year. Unfortunately, a severe case of tonsillitis sent Lambeua back to Green Bay his sophomore year. Lambeau began working at Indian Packing Company, which inspired him to organize the now legendary football team known as the “Packers.” Serving as the team’s head coach and also the captain, Lambeau became the first pass-minded coach in the NFL, and is credited with making the forward pass an integral part of the offense.
Certain rules at the time made it challenging to use the forward pass, which quickly became the Packers main offensive attack, but Lambeau worked around it. With his advanced coaching techniques, Lambeau led the Packers to championships in 1929, 1930, 1931. In 1935, Lambeau signed receiver Don Hutson, and immediately began setting records while winning three more titles. Lambeau retired from the field and replaced himself with quarterback Arnie Herber and later Cecil Isbell. The Packers remained one of the strongest teams in the NFL for the next three decades. In 1949, Lambeau left the Packers to coach the Chicago Cardinals and the Washington Redskins. Lambeau’s 229 career victories ranked second only to George Halas for many years.
Lambeau was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a charter member in 1963 and passed away in June of 1965 at the age of 67.
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