Cliff Christl started gathering oral histories with former Packers and others associated with the team in 2000 and will continue to gather them as Packers historian. Excerpts from those interviews will be periodically posted at www.packers.com

Chuck Lane essentially served as the Packers’ director of public relations from 1966 to 1980, including three years under Vince Lombardi. Lane resigned in March 1974 to go to work for Bart Starr. When Starr was hired as the Packers’ coach in December of that year, Lane returned to the organization in his previous capacity and stayed until Starr fired him on Jan. 3, 1980. Instrumental in the creation of the Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame Association in late 1969 and early 1970, Lane serves as a member of the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame Inc., board as a director emeritus.

On how soon Lombardi regretted stepping down as coach after Super Bowl II:

“I think he regretted it immediately. I think he realized that was what he had in his blood and that was what he was here for on this earth. That was his mission, his calling, his passion. (Minneapolis sportswriter) Sid Hartman, who may or may not be truthful about this, said Lombardi told him he had passed out in the locker room shortly before Super Bowl II. He was having some sort of physical problems that worried him to death.”

On Lombardi’s physical appearance during those years: “He was one of those guys with a big, bull chest. I think he was very proud of his physical condition. You know he would lift weights, do isometrics. I never saw him with a paunch.”

On Lombardi naming Bengtson as his replacement: “Out of loyalty, I think he knew he had to give Phil the position. But I think from Day 1, he knew the position was larger than Phil and that the whip was missing.”

On whether Lombardi might have named Bengtson as his replacement without informing the executive committee: “I wouldn’t be a bit surprised. I don’t think he took anything to them. I don’t know if he hired Phil because he knew he couldn’t do it or if he did it out of pure loyalty. I’ve always tried to explain it as pure loyalty.”

On what role Lombardi played in 1968 as general manager: “He kind of washed his hands of the deal. The only picture I have of Lombardi was when he was sitting on that blocking dummy on the practice field and looking out at the field. I’m standing next to him and you could just tell what was on his mind: That he couldn’t believe what he was hearing and what was happening. The discipline was gone.”

On Lombardi’s relationship with NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle: “Apparently, they had a great relationship. Rozelle was smart enough to know Lombardi was really a gem out here in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and I think he had all the respect in the world for him.”

On whether the many quotes now attributed to Lombardi originated with him: “I think all those things came from Red Blaik (former head coach at Army and Lombardi’s mentor). Lombardi didn’t say them. He had them written down on cards. They came from Red Blaik. Every day or every other day, he’d put up new sayings or axioms about living on the bulletin board. One night after work, I went in and found them and started writing them down. I have a list. I didn’t write down all of them, but I wrote down 80, 90 percent – what I thought were the better ones.”

On how much motivational speaking Lombardi did: “When he was general manager for that year in Green Bay, he did more speaking engagements. I think that’s where a lot of (quotes) came from. Quite frankly, after a famous person is dead no matter what anybody says there’s nobody to second-guess. But I heard him speak on a couple occasions and he was very articulate.”

On Lombardi’s decision to do the sales film, Second Effort: “He was doing a lot of speaking in those days and year as general manager and I said, ‘Coach, you should really do this. I’ve got contacts over in Minneapolis, and I really think it would be a money-maker for you.’ ‘Nah, nah, nah. That will never sell.’ The next thing I know I get a call from The Dartnell Corporation in Chicago saying we’re going to do this movie with Vince Lombardi and it’s called, Second Effort. The theme is going to be, ‘Never take no for an answer.’ So they made about a million bucks on the thing.”

On what went wrong under Bengtson: “There were a whole bunch of reasons. He obviously was an Xs and Os guy. His defensive players played hard for him. But he made some horrendous personnel decisions and he was overriding Pat (Peppler) on draft choices. He was just in way over his head.”

On changes around the locker room: “The one thing I remember was right after Bengtson was named a number of guys in the locker room, weight room and what not, were saying, ‘We’re going to win for good old Phil.’ I remember thinking, ‘That’s not what’s going to happen.’ Every time somebody says they’re going to win because they have a great players’ coach, it never seems to work out.”

On whether Lombardi ever took Peppler’s side in his disagreements with Bengtson: “When Lombardi was general manager, he’d tell Pat, ‘You’ve got to get Phil to do this, that and the other thing. You’re the only guy in this organization that knows anything about football.’ (Peppler) said, ‘Coach, I’m not his boss. He’s my boss. I can’t tell him what to do.’ I think Lombardi had a great deal of respect for Pat.”

On whether he knew Lombardi was leaving when the Packers played at Washington on Nov. 24, 1968: “I didn’t know it, but I knew something was being discussed. It didn’t surprise me he was leaving Green Bay. I could see how frustrated he was. I could see him getting back into coaching, but I had no idea it was going to be Washington.”

On whether Lombardi and Washington owner Edward Bennett Williams talked about the job that day: “No. They talked the night prior, I think.”

On his memories of that day in Washington: “I sat with (Lombardi) in the press box and we watched the game. It was one of the more memorable days I ever had. I’ve got the picture from Vern Biever where (Lombardi) was standing out there on the field with his hands clasped behind him. It was a profile shot with the sun highlighting his contours. He was so relaxed with me. He was talking to me like a contemporary or an equal, and I had never thought of myself being such. It was just absolutely wonderful. We discussed the game. Apparently, he felt it was time to relax and let his hair down a little bit.”

On the Packers’ courtship of then-Los Angeles Rams coach George Allen after Bengtson was fired: “(Rams special assignments coach Joe Sullivan) was trying like (heck) to get George the job here. Did you know Dave Gronik? He was a developer and he’d buy companies, sell companies, etc. He and Sullivan (a Milwaukee native who later became an administrator with Washington and the St. Louis Cardinals) were best of friends. That’s where Sullivan was trying to promote the George Allen thing. Dave was a wonderful guy, a close friend of (Packers photographer) Vern Biever.”

On team president Dominic Olejniczak’s interview with Allen in Los Angeles during the 1971 coaching search: “(Olejniczak) had a cover name and he forgot it. They couldn’t find him. They had a driver, a limo and all that sort of thing, and he didn’t answer to that name. Finally, they said, ‘Would Dominic Olejniczak please meet your driver?’ I heard that from Sullivan and Gronik.  I believe Allen was waiting for him at a hotel near the airport.”

On how soon people in the organization caught on to Dan Devine: “Bob Schnelker told me about a lot of the stuff that was going on there. Bob told me that (Devine) would tell everybody on the staff that he was grinding film every night. Bob would take a roll of film, wad a piece of paper and put it in there, and if that film had gone through a projector, it would have fallen out. (Schnelker) said, ‘He never looks at film. He doesn’t know an X from an O.’ I think everybody knew he was a phony.”

On his resignation before Devine’s final season: “For me to quit the Green Bay Packers tells you how bad it was. I loved the job. I loved the Green Bay Packers. I loved everything about it. But it got so intolerable that I quit because of (Devine).”

On whether he anticipated being back with the organization before the end of the year: “I never had any doubts whatsoever (about Starr getting the job). Here again, I was trying to stay in the background. When I quit was when the Packers hired Lee (Remmel). Anyway, before I left I went around to each executive committee member and told them, ‘This guy, Devine, doesn’t know a (darn) thing about football. He’s a divisive force. And, quite frankly, I can’t work for the man. I’m going to go work for Bart Starr and work to see if we can develop a groundswell and get him the job.’ Of course, they didn’t care for that other than Tony Canadeo and Dick Bourguignon.”

Whether Starr hired him to work behind the scenes to pave the way for him to get the coaching job: “I think initially it was to sell the college logo items, the Bart Starr Distributor things, but then also to be an agent for him to represent him for appearances, commercials, things of that sort. We had tons and tons of conversations about (the coaching job). But I think he wanted them to come to him on bent knee.”

On why Starr quit Devine’s staff as an assistant coach following the 1972 season: “He was just so put off by him. He was offensive coordinator in ’72 when we went to Washington and Devine refused to even accept any input from Bart. In fact, I think Bart went over and sat on the bench.”

On how actively he campaigned that year on behalf of Starr: “He wanted the coaching job and I was selling licensed merchandise, college coffee mugs and shirts and all that stuff. But I was also serving as an agent for (Starr). It was really a profitable deal. I was making easily double what I was making with the Packers.”

On what led to Starr firing him in 1980: “I think it was something the executive committee came up with. I think they thought I forced Bart upon them, that I forced their hand in hiring him. And, from that point on, I think I was a marked man, frankly. Bart contends the executive committee gave him an ultimatum: Get rid of (Dave) Hanner and Lane.”

On whether he and Starr ever talked about their split: “I did, about 10 years to the day he fired me. I hired him to speak to a group down in Arizona. I was with Employers Health Insurance. Afterward, I drove (Starr) to the airport and he was explaining the whole thing and how he was forced into it.”

On why Hanner was fired: “He and John Meyer apparently had a shootout over the 4-3 vs. 3-4. And Bart wanted to go to the 3-4. Hawgie, of course, was a 4-3 guy. They didn’t have the personnel in those days to run the 3-4. They didn’t have the nose tackle or the bulk to run it.”

On his lasting memories of Lombardi:  “He was more of a fatherly figure. I thought he was the most inspirational guy I ever met in my life. I grew up without a father and suddenly I had this male influence in my life who I had so much respect for. It was just a wonderful three-year relationship.”

Lane, 74, retired in 2014 after spending 29 years with a company that evolved into Humana. The excerpts above were taken from interviews conducted in 2009, 2011, 2015 and two this year.

Cliff Christl started gathering oral histories with former Packers and others associated with the team in 2000 and will continue to gather them as Packers historian. Excerpts from those interviews will be periodically posted at www.packers.com

 

Chuck Lane essentially served as the Packers’ director of public relations from 1966 to 1980, including three years under Vince Lombardi. Lane resigned in March 1974 to go to work for Bart Starr. When Starr was hired as the Packers’ coach in December of that year, Lane returned to the organization in his previous capacity and stayed until Starr fired him on Jan. 3, 1980. Instrumental in the creation of the Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame Association in late 1969 and early 1970, Lane serves as a member of the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame Inc., board as a director emeritus.

 

On how soon Lombardi regretted stepping down as coach after Super Bowl II:

“I think he regretted it immediately. I think he realized that was what he had in his blood and that was what he was here for on this earth. That was his mission, his calling, his passion. (Minneapolis sportswriter) Sid Hartman, who may or may not be truthful about this, said Lombardi told him he had passed out in the locker room shortly before Super Bowl II. He was having some sort of physical problems that worried him to death.”

 

On Lombardi’s physical appearance during those years: “He was one of those guys with a big, bull chest. I think he was very proud of his physical condition. You know he would lift weights, do isometrics. I never saw him with a paunch.”

 

On Lombardi naming Bengtson as his replacement: “Out of loyalty, I think he knew he had to give Phil the position. But I think from Day 1, he knew the position was larger than Phil and that the whip was missing.”

On whether Lombardi might have named Bengtson as his replacement without informing the executive committee: “I wouldn’t be a bit surprised. I don’t think he took anything to them. I don’t know if he hired Phil because he knew he couldn’t do it or if he did it out of pure loyalty. I’ve always tried to explain it as pure loyalty.”

 

On what role Lombardi played in 1968 as general manager: “He kind of washed his hands of the deal. The only picture I have of Lombardi was when he was sitting on that blocking dummy on the practice field and looking out at the field. I’m standing next to him and you could just tell what was on his mind: That he couldn’t believe what he was hearing and what was happening. The discipline was gone.”

 

On Lombardi’s relationship with NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle: “Apparently, they had a great relationship. Rozelle was smart enough to know Lombardi was really a gem out here in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and I think he had all the respect in the world for him.”

 

On whether the many quotes now attributed to Lombardi originated with him:

“I think all those things came from Red Blaik (former head coach at Army and Lombardi’s mentor). Lombardi didn’t say them. He had them written down on cards. They came from Red Blaik. Every day or every other day, he’d put up new sayings or axioms about living on the bulletin board. One night after work, I went in and found them and started writing them down. I have a list. I didn’t write down all of them, but I wrote down 80, 90 percent – what I thought were the better ones.”

 

On how much motivational speaking Lombardi did: “When he was general manager for that year in Green Bay, he did more speaking engagements. I think that’s where a lot of (quotes) came from. Quite frankly, after a famous person is dead no matter what anybody says there’s nobody to second-guess. But I heard him speak on a couple occasions and he was very articulate.”

 

On Lombardi’s decision to do the sales film, Second Effort: “He was doing a lot of speaking in those days and year as general manager and I said, ‘Coach, you should really do this. I’ve got contacts over in Minneapolis, and I really think it would be a money-maker for you.’ ‘Nah, nah, nah. That will never sell.’ The next thing I know I get a call from The Dartnell Corporation in Chicago saying we’re going to do this movie with Vince Lombardi and it’s called, Second Effort. The theme is going to be, ‘Never take no for an answer.’ So they made about a million bucks on the thing.”

 

On what went wrong under Bengtson: “There were a whole bunch of reasons. He obviously was an Xs and Os guy. His defensive players played hard for him. But he made some horrendous personnel decisions and he was overriding Pat (Peppler) on draft choices. He was just in way over his head.”

 

On changes around the locker room: “The one thing I remember was right after Bengtson was named a number of guys in the locker room, weight room and what not, were saying, ‘We’re going to win for good old Phil.’ I remember thinking, ‘That’s not what’s going to happen.’ Every time somebody says they’re going to win because they have a great players’ coach, it never seems to work out.”

 

On whether Lombardi ever took Peppler’s side in his disagreements with Bengtson: “When Lombardi was general manager, he’d tell Pat, ‘You’ve got to get Phil to do this, that and the other thing. You’re the only guy in this organization that knows anything about football.’ (Peppler) said, ‘Coach, I’m not his boss. He’s my boss. I can’t tell him what to do.’ I think Lombardi had a great deal of respect for Pat.”

 

On whether he knew Lombardi was leaving when the Packers played at Washington on Nov. 24, 1968: “I didn’t know it, but I knew something was being discussed. It didn’t surprise me he was leaving Green Bay. I could see how frustrated he was. I could see him getting back into coaching, but I had no idea it was going to be Washington.”

 

On whether Lombardi and Washington owner Edward Bennett Williams talked about the job that day: “No. They talked the night prior, I think.”

 

On his memories of that day in Washington: “I sat with (Lombardi) in the press box and we watched the game. It was one of the more memorable days I ever had. I’ve got the picture from Vern Biever where (Lombardi) was standing out there on the field with his hands clasped behind him. It was a profile shot with the sun highlighting his contours. He was so relaxed with me. He was talking to me like a contemporary or an equal, and I had never thought of myself being such. It was just absolutely wonderful. We discussed the game. Apparently, he felt it was time to relax and let his hair down a little bit.”

 

On the Packers’ courtship of then-Los Angeles Rams coach George Allen after Bengtson was fired: “(Rams special assignments coach Joe Sullivan) was trying like (heck) to get George the job here. Did you know Dave Gronik? He was a developer and he’d buy companies, sell companies, etc. He and Sullivan (a Milwaukee native who later became an administrator with Washington and the St. Louis Cardinals) were best of friends. That’s where Sullivan was trying to promote the George Allen thing. Dave was a wonderful guy, a close friend of (Packers photographer) Vern Biever.”

 

On team president Dominic Olejniczak’s interview with Allen in Los Angeles during the 1971 coaching search: “(Olejniczak) had a cover name and he forgot it. They couldn’t find him. They had a driver, a limo and all that sort of thing, and he didn’t answer to that name. Finally, they said, ‘Would Dominic Olejniczak please meet your driver?’ I heard that from Sullivan and Gronik.  I believe Allen was waiting for him at a hotel near the airport.”

 

On how soon people in the organization caught on to Dan Devine: “Bob Schnelker told me about a lot of the stuff that was going on there. Bob told me that (Devine) would tell everybody on the staff that he was grinding film every night. Bob would take a roll of film, wad a piece of paper and put it in there, and if that film had gone through a projector, it would have fallen out. (Schnelker) said, ‘He never looks at film. He doesn’t know an X from an O.’ I think everybody knew he was a phony.”

 

On his resignation before Devine’s final season: “For me to quit the Green Bay Packers tells you how bad it was. I loved the job. I loved the Green Bay Packers. I loved everything about it. But it got so intolerable that I quit because of (Devine).”

On whether he anticipated being back with the organization before the end of the year: “I never had any doubts whatsoever (about Starr getting the job). Here again, I was trying to stay in the background. When I quit was when the Packers hired Lee (Remmel). Anyway, before I left I went around to each executive committee member and told them, ‘This guy, Devine, doesn’t know a (darn) thing about football. He’s a divisive force. And, quite frankly, I can’t work for the man. I’m going to go work for Bart Starr and work to see if we can develop a groundswell and get him the job.’ Of course, they didn’t care for that other than Tony Canadeo and Dick Bourguignon.”

 

Whether Starr hired him to work behind the scenes to pave the way for him to get the coaching job: “I think initially it was to sell the college logo items, the Bart Starr Distributor things, but then also to be an agent for him to represent him for appearances, commercials, things of that sort. We had tons and tons of conversations about (the coaching job). But I think he wanted them to come to him on bent knee.”

 

On why Starr quit Devine’s staff as an assistant coach following the 1972 season: “He was just so put off by him. He was offensive coordinator in ’72 when we went to Washington and Devine refused to even accept any input from Bart. In fact, I think Bart went over and sat on the bench.”

 

On how actively he campaigned that year on behalf of Starr: “He wanted the coaching job and I was selling licensed merchandise, college coffee mugs and shirts and all that stuff. But I was also serving as an agent for (Starr). It was really a profitable deal. I was making easily double what I was making with the Packers.”

 

On what led to Starr firing him in 1980: “I think it was something the executive committee came up with. I think they thought I forced Bart upon them, that I forced their hand in hiring him. And, from that point on, I think I was a marked man, frankly. Bart contends the executive committee gave him an ultimatum: Get rid of (Dave) Hanner and Lane.”

 

On whether he and Starr ever talked about their split: “I did, about 10 years to the day he fired me. I hired him to speak to a group down in Arizona. I was with Employers Health Insurance. Afterward, I drove (Starr) to the airport and he was explaining the whole thing and how he was forced into it.”

 

On why Hanner was fired: “He and John Meyer apparently had a shootout over the 4-3 vs. 3-4. And Bart wanted to go to the 3-4. Hawgie, of course, was a 4-3 guy. They didn’t have the personnel in those days to run the 3-4. They didn’t have the nose tackle or the bulk to run it.”

 

On his lasting memories of Lombardi:  “He was more of a fatherly figure. I thought he was the most inspirational guy I ever met in my life. I grew up without a father and suddenly I had this male influence in my life who I had so much respect for. It was just a wonderful three-year relationship.”

 

Lane, 74, retired in 2014 after spending 29 years with a company that evolved into Humana. The excerpts above were taken from interviews conducted in 2009, 2011, 2015 and two this year.