- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2006

It isn’t often the 1930s Green Bay Packers come up in conversation. There’s little nostalgia, after all, for that period in pro football history, that era of dropkicks and scoreless ties. But let’s spend a couple of minutes with Curly Lambeau and Co. this morning, if only because the Indianapolis Colts have wakened their ghosts.

The Colts, you may have heard, are 8-0 after facing down New England on Sunday night, the second straight season they’ve gotten off to such a roaring start. The last club to accomplish this was Lambeau’s Packers, who did it three consecutive years: 1929, ‘30 and ‘31. (Their streak ended in ‘32, when they went a mere 7-0-1 in their first eight games.)

Indy should be flattered to be in such illustrious company. Comparing teams from different decades is problematical, but it’s entirely possible the 1929-32 Packers are the greatest NFL team ever assembled — greater than the ‘40s Bears, greater than the ‘50s Browns, greater than the ‘70s Steelers, greater than them all.

Nobody’s trying to suggest that any of Curly’s players could have covered Marvin Harrison one on one. But the argument could certainly be made that, in their time, the Packers were the most dominant club in pro football history. Consider: In 1929, when they won their first league title, they trailed only once all season: 2-0 against the Chicago Cardinals in Week 3.

That safety by the Cards was quite a feat because it was one of just two scores Green Bay allowed in five home games. The other also was a safety. That’s right, the Packers didn’t give up a touchdown or even a field goal on their home turf the entire year (and yielded a piddling 22 points in 13 games, eight of them shutouts).

Green Bay won the championship again in ‘30 and a third time in ‘31. The only club that has won three in a row since is the Lombardi Packers (1965-67). It was a different game, sure, a lower-scoring, more defense-minded brand of ball. But make no mistake: The 1929-32 Packers were a team for the ages. They featured six Hall of Famers, including the coach, and that number should probably be higher. They had a certain amount of razzle-dazzle, too — for the ‘30s, anyway. Heck, in ‘31, back-of-all-trades Johnny Blood caught 11 touchdown passes in 14 games. Most teams didn’t catch that many.

Still think it’s silly to be mentioning the ‘30s Packers and today’s Colts in the same breath? OK, then why don’t we compare the two teams man for man, just for the fun of it:

• Peyton Manning, QB, Colts — Could own most of the NFL’s passing records by the time he’s through.

c Arnie Herber, tailback, Packers — Broke in with the Pack in 1930 at age 20. Spent the previous year at Regis College in Colorado, the party school later attended by comedian Bill Murray. Said Murray of the experience: “I didn’t know how to study, but I liked the lifestyle. You could dress any way you wanted. I was wearing pajamas and a sport coat to school and pajamas and loafers to formal events.”

Advantage: Packers.

• Marvin Harrison, WR, Colts — Ranks third all-time in TD receptions with 115.

• Johnny Blood, flanker, Packers — Years before deficits became a hot-button issue, the profligate Blood authored a book titled, “Spend Yourself Rich.” Once simplified a pass play for Herber by telling him to “throw it in the direction of Mother Pierre’s whorehouse” (that is, the northeast goal in Green Bay).

Advantage: Packers.

• Cato June, LB, Colts — Had five interceptions last season to tie for the league lead among linebackers.

• Swede Johnston, LB, Packers — One of the last NFLers to go without a helmet … and he had the cauliflower ears to prove it. Would buy leeches at the drugstore and use them to reduce the swelling.

Advantage: Packers.

• Dwight Freeney, DE, Colts — Double-digit sack totals in each of his first four years.

• Cal Hubbard, DL, Packers — The only member of both the baseball (as an umpire) and pro football halls of fame. As his last NFL game was winding down, the rough, tough Hubbard “stood and shouted across the line that if anybody had a grievance they had a minute left to get even because he was retiring,” Glenn Swain writes in “Packers vs. Bears.”

Advantage: Packers.

• Hunter Smith, P, Colts — Consistent performer who has averaged 43.4 yards for his career.

• Verne Lewellen, P, Packers — Booming punter who, while still an active player, served two terms as Green Bay’s district attorney.

Advantage: Packers.

• Tarik Glenn, OT, Colts — Two-time Pro Bowler.

• Jug (for Juggernaut) Earpe, OL, Packers — Related to Wyatt Earp.

Advantage: Packers.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Clearly, the Colts would have some matchup problems with the ‘30s Packers. In fact, they’d probably be hard-pressed to score a safety against them — especially if Johnston was permitted to play without a helmet. “I run better without it,” he always said.

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