Reporting Jason DeRusha
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Many Minnesota Vikings fans have a lot of nicknames for the football team in Green Bay, but the team’s real nickname is the Packers. So what’s the story? What is a “packer?”
It started in 1919, when Curly Lambeau formed a sandlot football team in his hometown of Green Bay. At the time, he was working at the local meatpacking plant, Indian Packing Company. He made $250 a month.
When Lambeau formed his team, he asked his employer for a donation, to get uniforms and use the company football field. Indian Packing said sure, and so Lambeau put the company’s name on the jersey.
Indian Packing was bought out by Acme Packing in 1921 and so that’s the name that went on the jerseys the first year Lambeau’s team played in the American Professional Football Association, the precursor to the National Football League.
The Acme Packers became the Packers.
Incidentally, the Packers opponent in the Super Bowl, Pittsburgh, wasn’t originally called the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In 1933, the team was founded as the Pittsburgh Pirates, named by Art Rooney after the Pittsburgh baseball team, the Pirates.
Before the 1940 season, the Rooney family changed the name to the Steelers, as a nod to Pittsburgh steel industry.
Not just in Pittsburgh, it used to be quite common to have football teams named after baseball squads. At one point there were football Yankees, Dodgers, Indians, Reds, Cardinals and Tigers.