It was a blistery cold morning that greeted the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants, who were set to battle for the 1962 NFL Championship. Game time temperatures were said to have dipped as low as 13 degrees. Along with cold temperatures the afternoon included wind gusts up to 40 miles per hour at Yankee Stadium.
Although the Giants out gained the Packers, Jim Taylor proved to be too much for the Giants defense. He would go on to score the only offensive goal of the game while Jerry Kramer helped to put away the Giants by nailing three field goals. Ray Nitschke did his part on the defensive side to also help secure the win. He recovered two fumbles that set up a Packer touchdown and a field goal, in between delivering excruciating hits to the Giants offense.
(Sam Huff & Jim Taylor)
Between the Packers and the Giants there were a total of 17 Hall of Fame members (including an owner, a coach, and 15 players) who met on December 30th to fight for the title. Packer’s Hall of Fame halfback Paul Hornung was quoted as saying, “That was the hardest football game I ever played in.” While his teammate Ray Nitschke was presented with a Corvette from Sport Magazine as the game’s Most Valuable Player.
Here is a sample of the collection of Green Bay Hall of Fame members who played on this Championship team that we have at Mitchell & Ness:
On this date in 1936, Raymond Ernest Nitschke was born in Elmwood Park, Illinois. Regarded as one of the best linebackers to ever play the game, Nitschke actually played quarterback in high school. At the University of Illinois, he used his hard hitting style of play at both the fullback and linebacker positions. In 1958, Ray Nitschke was drafted by the Green Bay Packers.
Over his 15 year career, Nitschke was selected as a First-team All Pro three times, a Second-team All Pro four times and won 2 Super Bowl Championships, all in a Packer’s uniform. In 1978, Ray Nitschke was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Five years later, his #66 uniform was retired by the Green Bay Packers (the fourth of only five numbers retired by the team). In 1994, Ray Nitschke was a unanimous selection to the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team.
Ray Nitschke passed away in 1998 at the age of 61. Today would have been his 73rd birthday.
The leather football helmet was first worn in an 1893 Army-Navy game. A shoemaker from Annapolis created the first helmet for Admiral Joseph Mason Reeves, who had been advised by a Navy doctor that he would be risking death or “instant insanity” if he took another kick to the head.
Some of the first ‘helmet’ designs were held to a player’s head by three heavy leather straps fashioned by a harness maker, which in turn, gave the first football helmets the nomenclature “head-harness.”
The helmet has gone through numerous changes over the past 100+ years. Helmets were not mandatory until the 1930’s. Most of the games played between 1890-1915 were played without helmets. It was common to see some players with helmets and some without.
Around World War I, helmets were so flimsy they were often mistaken for aviator caps. As years went on, more and more padding was added.
The creation of the dog-ear leather helmet in 1915-1920 was an interesting evolution in helmets. It included more padding, as well as better protection around the ears. Amazingly enough, some players still played in it with the flaps up.
From the 1920’s thru 1940’s, helmets were primarily of leather construction. Nearly all the games in this era were played in unadorned, undecorated helmets. School logos, colors and mascots were very rarely used during this time period.
In 1948, the first logo, the Rams horns, was painted on a pro leather helmet. Soon after, practically all high school, college and pro team followed suit and put their logos and/or mascots on their helmets.
These days, professional sports are as big a part of Christmas as wrapping paper, ginger bread and dysfunctional families. In anticipation of today's big NBA showdown between Kobe and Lebron, we wanted to share with you just a couple of our favorite sports moments that occured on Christmas Day in years past.
3. The Knicks' Bernard King scores 60 points against the Nets
In 1984, the New York Knick small forward lit up Madison Square Garden making him the tenth player in NBA history to score 60 or more points in a single game.
2. Jordan vs Ewing
In 1986, the much anticipated battle between Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing ended with last-second heroics by number 33 to put his team ahead by 1 point just as time ran out.
1. The Longest Game
Christmas Day, 1971, the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins faced off in what would become the longest NFL game ever played. The AFC Divisional Playoff game finally ended about halfway through the second overtime, clocking in just over 82 minutes after Dolphins Kicker, Garo Yepremian drilled a 37-yard field goal. Involved in this marathon, were a handful of hall-of-famers from each team including Larry Csonka (RB), Bob Griese, (QB), and Don Shula (coach) from the Dolphins and Len Dawson (QB), Willie Lanier (MLB), and Emmitt Thomas (CB) from the Chiefs.
What is your favorite sports moment from Christmas Day?
Back in October, we introduced you to the collaboration we did with Concepts. If you remember, it included some M&N knit hats and tees to round out the Con-Ops collection done with Timberland. Well, the Boston retailer hooked up with Mitchell & Ness once again. This time, we brought you 4 different colors of 'Concepts of Cambridge' knit hats which are available for $22...but you have to visit friends over at 37 Brattle Street in Cambridge to get your hands on one... or two!