Alongside Yankees pinstripes, the Packers’ green and gold uniforms are among the most iconic in professional sports — largely unchanged since Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi brought the design to Green Bay 56 years ago.
Except for that one time, when general manager Ron Wolf was getting his own Hall of Fame tenure started in Green Bay.
Between Lombardi’s 1960s Glory Years and Wolf’s Brett Favre-fueled resuscitation of the franchise in the 1990s were two-plus decades of almost unrelenting losing that nearly knocked the title off Titletown.
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Wolf, honored in Canton earlier this month, recently sat for a round of interviews, including one with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that offered up interesting background on a long-rumored story that he wanted to change the green-and-not-really-gold-but-yellow to Notre Dame-inspired green-and-metallic gold, sans all the stripes.
"I wanted to change the uniforms just to get the stigma (of defeat) away," Wolf told the newspaper.
The best part of the story is how the new designs – the team commissioned three different styles, according to the Journal Sentinel – made it on to the field … not in a game but on the back of the man who would eventually replace Favre with Aaron Rodgers, now-general manager Ted Thompson.
Packers fans know Thompson as a sort of quiet and humorless genius, but back then he was a young scout just eight years removed from a playing career. As someone the team could trust to not spill the beans about the proposed look, Thompson reportedly put on a fashion show for Wolf and other club officials. He emerged from the Lambeau Field tunnel on a fall day in 1992 wearing, according to the Journal Sentinel, a dark green jersey, metallic gold pants, a solid metallic gold helmet with a “G” logo and solid green socks. There were no stripes on the helmet, pants or socks.
Ted Thompson, now the Packers’ general manager, reportedly actually took to the field to model the team’s proposed new look.
"He (Thompson) was on the field down there all by himself," Wolf told the newspaper. "The guy ran up and down the field. I was thinking to myself, ‘Holy (expletive), I must have been smoking dope.
"All it took was that one trip up and down the field for me to say, ‘(Expletive), that’s terrible. No, no, no. There’s no way we can do this. We would have changed it, but after that I said, ‘This is foolish.’ "
The Packers finished 9-7 that season, only the team’s third year with nine or more wins since Lombardi left town after winning Super Bowl II. In the 23 years since Wolf’s arrival, the team has won fewer than nine games only five times. That record, and one Super Bowl title under Wolf and another under Thompson, did more to “get the stigma (of losing) away” than changing a uniform ever could have.