Great Football Teams: The 1965–1967 Green Bay Packers

By Howie Long, John Czarnecki

The Green Bay Packers thoroughly dominated the National Football League in the 1960s and put the tiny Wisconsin town on the national map. The Packers of 1965–1967 won three consecutive NFL championships and then defeated the American Football League’s representatives (Kansas City and Oakland) in the first two Super Bowls, following the 1966 and 1967 regular seasons. The NFL and AFL merged into one league in 1970, making Super Bowl V the first game that actually could be called the NFL championship.

What was impressive about these Packer teams was their transformation under head coach Vince Lombardi. Before Lombardi arrived in 1959, the Packers were a 1–10–1 football team. In only two seasons, Lombardi had these so-called losers competing for the NFL title, and when they won their first championship in 1961, 14 of the 22 starters had been with the club during that dismal 1958 season.

Lombardi was characterized as a taskmaster, but most of his players loved him. He was known for his inspirational speeches, and his fighting spirit infected his players so much that they achieved more than seemed realistic at the time. Of course, this team was also blessed with talent.

Quarterback Bart Starr flawlessly directed the offense and owned three NFL passing titles. The starting backfield included Hall of Famers Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung, who set an NFL scoring record of 176 points in 1960. The defense was led by a group of Hall of Famers: tackle Henry Jordan, middle linebacker Ray Nitschke, defensive end Willie Davis, and safeties Herb Adderley and Willie Wood. The offensive line was spearheaded by guard Jerry Kramer and tackle Forrest Gregg, a Hall of Famer who also coached his former team for four seasons in the mid-1980s.