This isn’t the first time the Green Bay Packers have taken an unbeaten record into a Thanksgiving Day matchup with the Detroit Lions.
On November 22, 1962, exactly one year to the day before President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, the Packers came into Tiger Stadium sporting a 10-0 record.
The dream of an undefeated season ended that day for the Pack as the Lions, then 8-2, sacked Green Bay quarterback Bart Starr 10 times and roared off with a 26-14 win. The victory avenged a last minute, 9-7 loss in Green Bay earlier in the season.
“To this day, I don’t know if I have ever been in a locker room quite like that one,” Dick LeBeau told the Detroit News. “It was a group of men who came together with a singleness of purpose that they were going to win a game that day.”
A Lions defensive back and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame who has coached in the NFL for 39 years, including in six Super Bowls.
On Turkey Day in 1962, Detroit’s Milt Plum connected with Gail Cogdill for a pair of touchdown passes, then defensive end Sam Williams rumbled six yards with a Starr fumble to give the Lions a huge lead in the second quarter. When Starr was tackled in the end zone by Roger Brown for a safety, the Lions led 23-0.
Plum added a 47-yard field goal in the third quarter before the Packers made the score respectable with a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Thanksgiving Day Massacre
Detroit’s domination of the game that came to be referred to as “The Thanksgiving Day Massacre” was more complete than the score indicated. The Lions outgained the Packers, 304 yards to 122. The usually unstoppable Green Bay running attack was held to just 73 yards on 27 attempts, and the passing attack netted 49 yards.
The game, played in 37-degree temperatures in the Motor City, featured 10 turnovers, three fumbles and two interceptions by each team.
“It’s a known fact that the Detroit defense is good,” summed up Lombardi. “They completely overpowered us in the first half…My club wasn’t flat. We were ready. They just overwhelmed us.”
It was the only NFL game that day, and it drew 30 million viewers, at the time the largest television audience ever for CBS.
The Packers went on to win their final three games — beating the Rams twice and the 49ers — to finish 13-1. Green Bay then won its second straight NFL championship under Vince Lombardi with a 16-7 win over the New York Giants on a cold, blustery December day at Yankee Stadium.
Detroit, which also lost to the Giants and the Bear, finished 11-3, second in the NFL’s Western Conference.
More than 27 million Americans live a fantasy life. They play fantasy football.
According to a recent feature in AdWeek by Anthony Crupi — headlined ‘Billion Dollar Draft’ — media companies are cashing in on that sports obsession.
This year, we’ll spend an estimated $800 million per year on fantasy sports media products and services, according to the market research firm Ipsos. And football gets 71 percent of that spend.
Way before the Internet, fantasy football started as a small cottage industry which tested the math skills of owners who kept their team stats.
With broadband access and mobile usage, fantasy football has grown……fast.
This year, for example, ESPN’s fantasy football use is up 19 percent year-to-year. ESPN’s fantasy site had more than 100 million page hits in the first month of the season, according to AdWeek.
Dutchess Dawgs in The Hunt
ESPN hosts my fantasy league, the Nightcap Football League (NFL), a group of current and former IBM PR guys who are living out their GM fantasies..
My team, the Dutchess Dawgs, has won three division titles in four years, and advanced to the championship game three times– only to lose each time.
This year the Dawgs are struggling just to stay in the playoff hunt. Losing first pick Jamaal Charles for the season in game two hurt…..as have recent injuries to Miles Austin, Ahmad Bradshaw, Julio Jones, AJ Green and Shonn Greene.
But the Dawgs have managed to hang around, fueled by recent waiver wire acquisitions like Marshawn Lynch, Brandon Pettigrew and Earl Bennett.
With just two weeks remaining in the season, the 6-5 Dawgs are locked in a three-way tie for the Nightcap Superman Division lead.
Forget his 409 wins at Penn State, Joe Paterno’s legacy will be his failure to do more.
Things aren’t very happy in Happy Valley these days, where Penn State University has been rocked by perhaps the ugliest scandal in collegiate sports history.
Coach Joe Paterno did what he was obligated to do. He even admitted should have done more. Now he has paid the ultimate price.
But the real victims here are the young boys who were abused on Paterno’s watch.
Anyone who cares about innocent children should read the 23-page Grand Jury report. It is an eye opener.
Page 6 in the report refers to March 1, 2002, when a Penn State graduate assistant, later identified as assistant coach Mike McQueary, witnessed the rape of a young boy by former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky in the showers of the Lasch Football Building on the University Park Campus.
The next morning, the graduate assistant telephoned Paterno and went to his house to report the issue. Paterno then notified his immediate superior at the time, Penn State athletic director Tim Curley.
According to the Grand Jury report, Sandusky’s keys to the locker room were taken away and the incident was reported to The Second Mile, Sandusky’s non-profit organization serving the youth of Pennsylvania.
The graduate assistant was never questioned by University Police, and nobody conducted a further investigation until more than eight years later, when McQueary testified to the Grand Jury last December.
Should Have Done More
Legally, Joe Paterno did what he was supposed to do. He reported the incident to his boss.
But morally, Joe Paterno failed that young boy in the showers and the other victims. As an authority figure, he should have followed up to ensure a proper investigation. He should have gone to the police.
Like others at Penn State, Paterno’s inactivity led to his dismissal.
The Grand Jury report cites seven other young boys who were victimized by Sandusky. No doubt, in time other horrors will surface.
This could have been prevented if Joe Paterno State had done the right thing when he had the opportunity.
“This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more,” Paterno said in a statement earlier this week.
Paterno could have done more, should have done more. Instead of turning away, he could have pursued the situation and made sure the authorities followed up.
But he didn’t, and sadly that will be his legacy.