No sports organization in existence can boast the unique structure of the Green Bay Packers. The Packers are the only team in professional sports to be owned by its fans. In the modern era of high-priced free agency, professional franchises, players and coaches are apt to pick up and leave their longtime homes for greener pastures if the price is right. But such a fate can never befall the Packers.
Green Bay: A City and Its Team traces the roots of the Packers back to the turn of the nineteenth century when athletic clubs in towns throughout the upper Midwest began forming football teams as a healthy diversion for young men. Introduced by college graduates who had played the new game on the nation's campuses, football spread rapidly throughout communities of the Great Lakes region. Neighborhood, or "intracity," teams proliferated while the more tenuous "city teams" found the going a bit more difficult. Battling sometimes well-deserved negative publicity, the young sport faced widespread opposition, mostly from religious groups. For more than a quarter of a century, semi-professional football struggled for respect, eventually garnering sponsorship from blue collar concerns like starch making companies, iron mines and machine shops. Out of this cultural landscape began the story of Green Bay's Indian Packing Plant team in 1919. The most powerful city team ever organized in Green Bay, the "Packers" dominated regional teams from Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.
Joining the fledging American Professional Football Association in 1921, the Packers graduated from regional town team competition to the more organized and talented arena of league play. Navigating financial minefields, the Packers alone survived the early days of professional football when teams from dozens of other communities were falling by the wayside. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of local citizens, the Packers persevered through repeated challenges that sunk 65 other NFL franchises - poor ticket sales, inclement weather, the Great Depression, a personal injury lawsuit, a World War, threats from competing leagues, and efforts by owners and media to oust them from the NFL. None of these overcame the community spirit of Green Bay.
Through it all, the Packers not only survived, they flourished. In 92 years they have won 13 NFL championships (tops in the NFL) including four Super Bowls. They are the only team to have won three straight NFL titles, and they have accomplished this feat twice (1929-31 and 1965-67). As of the summer of 2011, the Packers' all time playoff record stands at 29-16, best in NFL. They have placed 26 players into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, their stadium is the oldest and most revered in the league, and the Super Bowl trophy bears the name of their greatest coach.
Green Bay: A City and Its Team tells the enduring story of America's most unique and beloved sports franchise. From humble beginnings as Green Bay's city team to the envy of a multi-billion dollar NFL, the Packers and Green Bay are an anachronism, a unique American story taking us all back to a simpler time of independence, hard work, self determination, competition, and the will to be the best. The Packers are a perfect marriage between sport and community, the living embodiment of the indomitable spirit of the people of Green Bay. This is their story.