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Original Issue


All Hot and Bothered

When the Packers suited up in their blue-and-gold 1937 uniforms on Sunday (above) for the Throwbacks Weekend game against Philadelphia, they should have been thankful that they didn't have to wear the outfits their Green Bay forebears wore for their first game that season.

On Sept. 1, 1937, the Packers, as defending NFL champions, played the annual charity game against the College All-Stars. The Pack was decked out in shiny new green-and-gold jerseys for the occasion. But according to Allen Zullo and Bruce Nash's book, The Football Hall of Shame, the uniforms turned out to be a disaster. They were cut of a synthetic, nonporous fabric that retained heat about as well as a sauna. Alas, it was a hot and muggy night at Soldier Field in Chicago, and the Pack soon wilted. Some players lost up to 15 pounds during the game, and many wobbled to the sideline in exhaustion. The champs fell 6-0.

"It was hotter than hell," says Howard Levitas, who 57 years ago was a Packer equipment manager. "The uniforms looked like they were made of satin. And they were so thin they didn't help hold the shoulder pads. [Quarterback] Arnie Herber's pad fell down on one hit, and he dislocated his shoulder."

Thin as it might be, the fabric didn't breathe. The uniforms had been picked out by Curly Lambeau, the Packer coach, who wanted to reward his players for their 10-1-1 season the year before. He also wanted to look sharp when he beat the collegians before a then record crowd of 84,560. Instead, Lambeau was his own saboteur. The wounded Packers didn't win their first game until a month later; their 0-2 start killed Green Bay's hopes for a title repeat.

So even though the Packers weren't aglitter in green and gold on Sunday, the team shouldn't sweat it. The navy jerseys are way cooler.