Earl Lambeau Green Bay Packers & Washington Redskins & Chicago Cardinals
"I had a lot of pleasure out of every single championship. It’s just like having a baby—it takes a lot out of you."
Earl "Curly” Lambeau founded the Green Bay Packers in 1919 and was the team's first playing star and its coach for 31 years. More than any other person, he is responsible for the existence today of the Packers' unique small-town franchise. Curly played fullback as a Notre Dame freshman in 1918 before an illness forced him to leave school.
Back in Green Bay, he was offered $250 a month to work for the Indian Packing Company, which, a year later, organized a football team called the "Packers." Lambeau became the team's coach and playing captain. Lambeau was the first pass-minded coach in the NFL and his teams were like their leader, impatient and explosive. An excellent passer in his own right, Curly flew in the face of common practice.
Despite rules that made it difficult to use the forward pass, Lambeau’s Packers were a team whose main offensive weapon was the pass – at any time, on any down, from anywhere on the field. With his vaunted passing attack, he led the Packers to championships in 1929, 1930, and 1931. After signing future Hall of Fame receiver Don Hutson in 1935, they won three more titles.
So advanced were Lambeau’s coaching theories and Hutson’s abilities that many of Hutson’s records stood for four decades or more. After he retired as a player, Curly replaced himself with future Hall of Fame quarterback, Arnie Herber and later Cecil lsbell, and the Packers remained a powerhouse for almost three decades.
A sometimes-hotheaded disciplinarian, Lambeau always got the most out of his players. Tackle Cal Hubbard, guard Mike Michalske, and halfback Johnny “Blood” McNally, were fine players who enjoyed Hall of Fame careers under Lambeau. Lambeau resigned from the Packers following the 1949 season and later coached the Chicago Cardinals and Washington Redskins. For many years his 229 career victories ranked second only to George Halas.