GREEN BAY—Whether it’s a strange twist of fate or a more-than-once-in-a-blue-moon coincidence, the architects of the three most successful periods in Packers history all essentially left the organization on the same date.
On Feb. 1, 1949, it was simultaneously announced in Green Bay and Chicago that Curly Lambeau had resigned as coach and general manager of the Packers to become head coach and vice president of the Chicago Cardinals. Lambeau mailed his letter of resignation to Packers President Emil Fischer the previous day and then left for Chicago with his third wife, Grace. He met with Ray Bennigsen, president of the Cardinals, the morning of the 1st and the announcement followed.
On Feb. 1, 1968, Vince Lombardi announced at a press conference held at what was then Oneida Golf and Riding Club that he was stepping down as coach of the Packers and turning over the reins to defensive assistant Phil Bengtson, although he would continue as general manager.
A year later to the day – actually it was Saturday night, Feb. 1 – the Washington Post broke the story that Lombardi would ask the Packers to release him from the remaining five years on his contract to become head coach, general manager and part owner of the Washington Redskins. As it turned out, Lombardi waited two days before asking for his release during a meeting with club officials and then had to wait another two days until the Packers board of directors granted it.
It was on Feb. 1, 2001, that Ron Wolf made the stunning announcement that he was retiring as general manager of the Packers at age 62. “You realize you’ve given an awful lot and you have no more to give,” Wolf said. He privately informed team president Bob Harlan six months earlier that he intended to retire. Officially, Wolf’s reign ended on June 1, 2001.
Under those three titans of the game, the Packers won 12 of their record 13 NFL championships, 396 games and compiled a .667 winning percentage. In all, they led the franchise’s football operations for 48 years, including Lombardi’s one season as general manager but not counting Lambeau’s semipro seasons of 1919 and ’20.