GREEN BAY – Cliff Christl was not mistaken about the color of Johnny Blood’s uniform. He wasn’t well yet.
The uniform on a statue of Blood in the Packers Heritage Plaza in downtown Green Bay was originally painted blue, which Christl agreed mainly because he didn’t have time not to do it.
“I had about 24 hours to make a decision,” Christl said of the statue. “I thought, ‘I don’t know enough yet to say they weren’t (blue)’, although I had my doubts. So I said, let’s go and paint it. in blue. My mistake, because within a year or two I realized those uniforms weren’t blue, they were gold.”
The statue was repainted to reflect the golden color, but wasn’t quite right, so it was touched up recently to make it more accurate.
As a Packers team historian, Christl sometimes needs time to uncover the truth, but he never stops searching and learning.
There’s been a lot of misinformation about Packers uniforms over the years, Christl says, with most of it dating back to the pre-Lombardi years. It was Vince Lombardi who introduced the green and gold uniforms in 1959 that the Packers have mostly stuck with ever since.
Christl uncovered enough evidence from the years 1929 and 1930 to leave no doubt about the accuracy of a gold jersey with a blue circle on the chest.
A color photo published in the 1930s Milwaukee Journal, one of the first newspapers to print color photographs, leaves no doubt, as do descriptions written in sports reports of the time.
An article in the Green Bay Press-Gazette of July 24, 1929 read, “The Packers will have new uniforms this season with a blue color scheme and gold background instead of last year’s blue with gold background.” ”
Ok so no points for style or grammar and maybe you could see how someone might struggle to sort this out but throughout the season the team has been mentioned in stories of play in the Green Bay, New York and Chicago newspapers as the Packers in gold jerseys. .
The Packers wore blue uniforms of different designs at different times, until Lombardi arrived, but it’s unlikely they ever wore a blue jersey with a gold or yellow circle on the chest.
The Packers won three straight championships from 1929 to 1931, and Blood was their brightest star, though perhaps not as bright as his statue ended up being before the final touch-up.
“Luckily they repainted it to at least get it the right color, but it was painted mustard yellow, like today’s uniform, whereas in 1929 and 1930 when Johnny Blood wore this uniform, he was more of a gold color.” said Christl.
Oscar Leon and Jessica LoPresti sculpting resource in Highland Park, Illinois were in Green Bay to make the changes. The couple both worked for Rotblatt-Amrany’s Fine Art Studio of Highland Park when the statues were carved, and León carved the statue of George Whitney Calhoun in the plaza.
The repaint is designed to give Blood’s jersey and socks a more rustic or antique tone so they’re closer to the original uniforms and don’t stand out as much from the other, more subdued statues. León and LoPresti removed the protective coatings on the paint, added a brown wash to the yellow uniform, and reapplied the protective layers.
“I think we got quite a bit of backlash, just because it didn’t blend in with the rest of the place, with the other uniforms. I don’t know how many people realize the blue was incorrect,” said Christl.
The square, central element of the Packers Heritage Trail, includes statues of Blood, Bart Starr and young Mary Heather Hendrickson, George Calhoun, Paul Hornung, 11-year-old Clarke Hinkle and Donald Hamacher, and a member of the Lumberjack Band. The square was inaugurated in September 2013.
Christl knew what color the Lumberjack Band member’s jacket should be.
“Everyone wanted to paint this green or gray, thinking those were the colors that the lumberjack band wore, which they did in the 50s and 60s,” he said. “But this was taken from a photo from the late 1930s, and during that time the band wore red suit jackets, so I insisted that we paint this red to get that accuracy. Especially after I blew the Blood jersey originally.”
(By the way, the plaque with the statue says “Johnny (Blood) McNally,” which, if you really want to piss off Christl, call that Packers player by any name but Johnny Blood. But it’s a whole other story).
The Packers took over administration of the Heritage Trail from the founding committee, primarily because of insurance maintenance costs, and Christl said they supported the changes.
“The Packers have thought very carefully about the importance of getting the Blood jersey right and following through,” he said. “Mark was great. I can always trust him if I show him my research.”
Mark being the President and CEO of Packers, Mark Murphy.
There are other jerseys of which the team’s historian is uncertain. And some he knows have been carelessly promoted.
“There was a company in Canada that created a wall plaque with Packers jerseys… which Pro Football Hall of Fame bought into. I don’t know why as several of these jerseys are incorrect including the blue colored jersey in the 1920s. And that’s what was copied,” Christl said.
“For my life, I don’t know how anyone who knows how difficult it was to research the Press-Gazette, before it went live on Newspapers.com, wouldn’t question a company in Canada creating a uniform story for the Green Bay Packers.”
Getting the correct uniforms is important on several fronts. Packers fans, of course, are pretty perceptive about it, and the team makes a decent amount of money marketing throwback jerseys.
The Packers have been careful not to call their current throwback jersey a throwback jersey. Like those movies that say “based on real events”, the Classic 50s uniform is based on uniforms worn in the 1950s, but modernized in several ways. The 50s version could be worn with yellow, white or green pants. Yellow pants are out, as are striped socks. The modern version features dark green pants and no Packers “G” on the gold helmets. The uniforms will be worn one game per year for the next four years.
As for Christl, his uniform research and any other undiscovered Packers facts for his complete four-volume team history, “The Greatest History of Sport” continue to.