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A Look Back at ‘Packers in Action’ Prints

[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest entry from longtime reader/pal Jeff Ash, who’s going to tell us about a very cool bit of NFL memorabilia. Enjoy. ”” PL]

By Jeff Ash

Fifty years ago this fall, when my dad stopped for gas after church on Sundays, we’d get something special.

It was the autumn of 1966 — the heart of the Green Bay Packers’ “Titletown” dynasty and the year they would go on to win what’s now known as Super Bowl I. When you filled up at Bob Drollinger’s Mobil station at 12th and Broadway on the south side of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, they’d hand you a large manila envelope with “Packers in Action” on the front.

Inside was a beautiful 11″ by 14″ print of a Packers action scene, like this one:

I was nine years old, and I loved them. Fifty years later, I still have my original prints. The edges are tattered, the result of being taped to my bedroom wall for several years, but they remain as vivid as they were during my childhood.

Mobil tapped one of the nation’s top advertising artists to do the series: Bruce Bomberger, a highly regarded illustrator who was in his late 40s at the time. His prints dynamically and realistically capture a sun-splashed, rough-and-tumble NFL.

The print shown above, called “The Extra Point,” shows the Packers alone, with no opponent. The other seven show the Packers facing their rivals from the NFL’s Western Conference (yes, the conference alignments were a bit different in those days). The Rams appear twice, surrendering “The Pass” and “The Sweep.” The 49ers give up “The Touchdown.” “The Block” thwarts the Vikings. “The Catch” comes over a Bears defender. “The Punt” gets away against the Lions. The Colts are brought down on “The Tackle.” You can see all of those in the slideshow below, or by clicking here.

The prints were apparently a one-off deal for all parties. No other NFL teams appear to have been accorded the same promotion by Mobil, and Bomberger doesn’t appear to have done any other NFL prints. (Mobil is better known among sports memorabilia collectors for giving away glass tumblers with NFL team logos. We got those at the gas station, too.)

Bomberger’s prints are reminiscent of the wonderful series of NFL action posters by the great Dave Boss of NFL Properties. Boss did his paintings at about the same time, in 1965, and they were used for game program covers, playing cards, and posters from roughly 1966 to 1968.

Bomberger’s body of work is less well known among sports fans but no less great. In 1949, while working for the San Francisco art service Patterson and Hall, he created artwork for the Western Pacific Railroad’s new passenger line, the California Zephyr, which contributed to the classic “Western look” created by San Francisco commercial artists of that era. Later, during the mid-’60s, advertising legend Leo Burnett had Bomberger create artwork for a series of Marlboro cigarette ads that rebooted the Marlboro Man’s image by portraying him as a rugged cowboy.

Bomberger also did illustrations for the biggest magazines of the day and a diverse range of advertising clients (you can see more of his work here, here, and here). He died in 1980 at the age of 62, but his legacy lives on in the hearts — and on the walls — of many Packers fans.

•  •  •  •  •

New ESPN column: In the aftermath of Bears running back Ka’Deem Carey having his left-side helmet logo knocked clean off of his helmet on Sunday, I’ve gone through my archives and written an ESPN piece about similar instances of helmet decal malfunctions over the past decade. Check it out here.

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Important T-Shirt Club reminder: If you collected all six of this year’s Uni Watch T-Shirt Club designs, you qualify for the year-end prize — a patch based on the jock tag graphic that appeared on this year’s shirts. In order to claim your prize, you must send me proof that you purchased all six shirts by the end of this week. The proof can be photos of the shirts or screen shots of your “Thank you for your order” emails from Teespring and Represent. Send your proof to me here. Thanks.

• • • • •

LAST CALL for the year-end raffle: In case you missed it last week, the annual Uni Watch year-end reader-appreciation raffle is now underway. The deadline for entering is 7pm tonight, so move fast.

• • • • •

Click to enlarge

StripeRite update: Finally got my own set of StripeRite socks yesterday. That’s right, I had to wait, just like everyone else. Even when we had samples made a few months ago, I only saw photos of those, not the actual samples.

Now that I finally have the real thing in my possession, I couldn’t be happier. They came out really well. If you want your own, you can order them here.

Incidentally, we recently got word that StripeRites will be featured in an upcoming issue of GQ — not bad, right?

• • • • •

Click to enlarge

Annals of advertising: Was flipping through a 1962 issue of Life magazine yesterday when I came across this full-page ad for concrete. They don’t make ads like that anymore, eh?

A quick internet check reveals that the trade group responsible for the ad, the Portland Cement Association, is still in existence. Even better, their web address is cement.org, because of course it is.

• • • • •

The Ticker
By Paul

Baseball News: It’s not uncommon to see a player wearing a windbreaker under his jersey during spring training, but the windbreaker is usually in a team color. Not so with this old Sandy Koufax shot. … The trend toward raised/3D batting helmet logos is spreading (from @southlandsports). … Longtime NYC-area baseball writer Bob Klapisch, clearly in “Gotta find something to write about in late December” mode, says one key to speeding up the game is to cut TV commercial breaks to one minute and make up the revenue by “selling space on players’ helmets and jerseys.” Uh, no.

NFL News: Here’s a good look at the Giants’ helmet and jersey for tomorrow night’s game in Philadelphia. As usual for the Thursday-night series, the stars on the captaincy patches are centered, instead of flush-left. Also: white sideline jackets. … Interesting equipment-related quote from Jags CB Jalen Ramsey, regarding the Texans’ final drive of the game last Sunday: “All I know is, I started that drive with my mouthpiece on my helmet. I ended the drive, my mouthpiece was on their sideline. I’m not sure how that happens without being called hands to the face, but it did.” Maybe his mouthpiece should be, you know, in his mouth. … As of yesterday’s practice, the Rams still had their white helmet horns. I assume they’ll be swapped out for the gold horns later in the week (from Christopher Pisciotti).

College Football News: Memphis added a helmet decal last night — a blue ribbon plus the shape of Tennessee — to support the victims of the recent Gatlinburg fires (from Mark Aubrey). … It’s a little hard to see, but Louisiana Tech is going wiht a stars/stripes helmet logo for the Armed Forces Bowl (from James Poisso).

Hockey News: Here’s an interview with Penn State’s equipment manager. “Among other things, he helped design the team’s GFGS jersey,” says William Yurasko. … The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have had some cool Xmas uniforms over the years (from David Shucosky).

NBA News: The Lakers will unveil a bronze statue of Shaquille O’Neal on March 24 (from our own Mike Chamernik). … Black vs. gold for last night’s Bucks/Cavs game in Milwaukee. … Trail Blazers F Mo Harkless’s NOB is leaning to one side (from Chris Chaussee).

College Hoops News: Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams has the logos of all the schools he’s coached for posted in his garage (from Ricky Schumaker). … Portland and Portland State went green-vs.-purple last night (from @wipeout944).

Soccer News: No photo, but according to this story the third-divison Spanish team Guijuelo “had the picture of a huge ham leg on the front of their jerseys on Tuesday.” … Update: Thanks to commenter Nick Linney, we now have a photo of the ham-enhanced jersey.

Grab Bag: Here’s a look at Brazilian volleyball uniforms through the years (from Jeremy Brahm). … Beyoncé is being sued for using the Roc-a-Fella logo in one of her videos. … Our resident auto racing enthusiast, David Firestone, has written an analysis of the new NASCAR logo. … American Airlines’ new uniforms have been controversial, with staffers saying the new unis cause bad skin reactions, so some of the airline’s executives are wearing the uniforms to show that they’re not so bad. … Here’s how red and green became the colors of Color Rush colorblindness Christmas. … The black bat used by a player in the opening game of the 2016-17 Big Bash cricket competition has been banned by Cricket Australia (from Graham Clayton).

• • • • •

Happy Winter Solstice. After today, the days start getting longer. And not a moment too soon, right?

24 comments to A Look Back at ‘Packers in Action’ Prints

  • Nick | December 21, 2016 at 8:04 am |
    • Paul Lukas | December 21, 2016 at 8:08 am |

      Ah, thanks. Will add to text.

  • MJ | December 21, 2016 at 8:41 am |

    Shaquille O’NEAL. Check spelling.

    • Paul Lukas | December 21, 2016 at 8:44 am |

      Fixed.

  • Jecaec | December 21, 2016 at 8:45 am |

    Regarding the windbreaker under the Jersey (Sandy Koufax), this was common in the 60’s and early 70’s. There are many Topps baseball cards showing players with this look. I recall reading somewhere that they weren’t windbreakers but a special sweatsuit type of jacket that players would wear in spring training to help lose weight after a long winter. This was before the days of players devoting all summer staying in shape.

    • Paul Lukas | December 21, 2016 at 8:47 am |

      Yes, as I noted in the text, such jackets were not uncommon during spring training (which is when those Topps photos were taken). The uncommon thing, as I also noted, is that Koufax’s jacket was not in a team color.

      • Perry | December 21, 2016 at 10:12 am |

        I have an old Topps card of Joe Nuxhall wearing what looks like the same greenish windbreaker under a Cincinnati Reds jersey, although he’s cut the sleeves short.

        http://tinyurl.com/zahezm4

  • Coleman | December 21, 2016 at 9:11 am |

    Those Packers pieces are downright beautiful. Anyone know where I might be able to find a couple for myself? Serious question, though I know they may be quite difficult to find.TIA!

    • Jeff Ash | December 21, 2016 at 10:16 am |

      I’ve seen them on eBay from time to time. Also in some online auctions. I completed my set by buying some of the prints at a flea market in Wisconsin some 30 years ago.

  • Gene sanny | December 21, 2016 at 9:14 am |

    I like seeing the GIANTS on the helmets, but it’s sad how the decals have to be smaller than the old days because of all the vents and stuff on the newer helmets

  • Wade Heidt | December 21, 2016 at 9:19 am |

    Love the stripes on the Packers socks. I would be a fan of them bringing back the stripes on the socks for their regular uniforms.

  • Mike D | December 21, 2016 at 9:38 am |

    I agree with shortening the amount of time between innings, but leave the game and uniforms alone.

    • arrScott | December 21, 2016 at 10:34 am |

      The first two things I would do if I were commissioner of baseball, or emperor of the world:

      1) Enforce baseball’s existing rules about at-bats. That means, first, the batter must stand in the box, ready to swing. The umpire, not the batter, has discretion to call a timeout, and timeouts should not be granted unless the batter is experiencing a visible inability to stand in there and swing the bat. Like, he stepped out of his shoe on the previous swing, or he fouled the last pitch off his face and the trainer has to help him stop the nosebleed. Anything short of that, no timeout. Want to fiddle with your gloves? Go ahead, but be aware that the pitcher has every right to throw to you while you’re doing it. Step out of the box without permission, that’s an automatic strike. Second, if the pitcher fails to deliver another pitch within 12 seconds of receiving the ball, that’s an automatic ball, and the ump should call it. Baseball already has all the rules it needs to speed the game along; it just needs to empower umpires to enforce them and then hold umps accountable for doing so.

      2) The only rule I’d change would be treating pickoff attempts by the pitcher as mirror-universe foul balls. Throw to a base rather than to home plate, that’s a ball, but never ball four. On the one hand, pickoff attempts needlessly delay the game, and should be rarer. On the other hand, trying to control baserunners usually distracts pitchers and makes them throw less effectively to the batter. So reducing the incidence of long looks and pickoffs would speed the game twice over: It would reduce the number of game-delaying things that already happen, and it would marginally improve the quality of pitching with runners on base, so we’d see fewer wasted pitches. Yes, it would lead to more stealing and aggressive baserunning generally – but nobody has ever complained that baseball has too darn much action on the basepaths.

    • mike 2 | December 21, 2016 at 11:02 am |

      If you could come up with a way to speed the game up with nothing is happening while leaving the game alone during high-leverage situations, I’d be OK with that.

      Three pitching changes with nobody on base in the 8th inning of a 7-0 game? Stepping out to readjust after every pitch when you’re a .220 hitter with nobody on base in the 8th inning of a 7-0 game? MOVE IT ALONG. Nobody wants to see that.

      Games between bad teams should be over quickly. Blowouts should be over quickly.

      Tie game, late innings, take all the time you need. Good tight games don’t need a clock.

      • scott | December 21, 2016 at 9:12 pm |

        Are commercials between innings really the cause of lengthening baseball games? It seems the minor league games I attend last just as long, and most of those aren’t being broadcast on commercial TV. Enforcing existing rules of batters staying in the box and pitchers pitching within a certain amount of time would be more effective at speeding up games.

  • Mance | December 21, 2016 at 10:39 am |

    I think those Giants jerseys are the first I’ve seen where Nike incorporated the striped collar AND the flywire (or whatever that triangle thing is on the vapor jerseys….assuming it’s flywire). It looks a hell of a lot better than the toilet bowl things.

  • Brian | December 21, 2016 at 12:13 pm |

    I’m not a Giants fan, but I love everything about their color rush. I wish they would go back to the word mark helmet full time and make these white jerseys their road jerseys. In fact my significant other (who will never read this) really wanted a Beckham Jr. Jersey for Christmas and I picked her up a color rush replica.

    • Al A | December 21, 2016 at 10:19 pm |

      I will have to disagree with you. As a 40 years Giants’ fan I am happy with the iconic ny and can’t understand the smattering of ‘bring back the Giants’ on the helmet. No no no, it took us too long to return to this look.

  • mild bill | December 21, 2016 at 12:27 pm |

    My favorite part of Uni Watch has always been the nostalgic items. Thanks for the Packers in Action prints, Bruce Bomberger works and the concrete ad.

    I realize the ad was put forth by a cement association but I have never understood why these type of ads seemed to be aimed towards individual consumers, as if each of us could order/purchase the type of materials used for the construction of a public road.

  • Josh | December 21, 2016 at 6:00 pm |

    Love the P LOTS in the background of the Portland State-Portland pic.

  • Tim | December 21, 2016 at 7:30 pm |

    You mentioned GQ. Saw in an odd coincidence that Keith Olbermann has re-emerged as a commentator for GQ.

  • Mark | December 21, 2016 at 9:36 pm |

    I doubt the Giants will be allowed to wear those white satin jackets on the sideline as they are made by Starter ( G III Carl Banks). Nike holds exclusive sideline apparel rights.

  • Anthony Verna | December 21, 2016 at 11:48 pm |

    Big Blue will be. . . Big White?

  • David Byrne | December 22, 2016 at 9:00 pm |

    I had a set of six similar black-and-white Detroit Lions prints that were more like sketches. They were from Shell gas stations in 1981 (?). I seem to remember Gary Danielson, Tom Skladany (the punter), Bubba Baker, Leonard Thompson, Freddie Scott, and Billy Sims. If I find those things, I’ll post.