PFRA Meets in Green Bay
by Randy Snow
Original to www.theworldoffootball.com, Monday, July 11, 2016
The Professional Football Researchers Association (PFRA) held its biennial meeting June 8-10 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Over 40 members were in attendance and everyone had a great time networking and renewing acquaintances with other PFRA members. Many thanks go to PFRA Assistant Executive Director George Bozeka for organizing another great meeting!
During the weekend, members also got their first look at the just released book titled, The 1966 Green Bay Packers: Profiles of Vince Lombardiís Super Bowl I Champions. It is a collaborative effort by 23 PRFA members/writers and edited by George Bozeka. This is the first in a planned series of books by the PFRA on great teams in pro football history and was released to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the first Super Bowl. The second book in the series will be on the 1958 Baltimore Colts and is planned to be released in 2018.
On Friday night, Mark Ford, the Executive Director of the PRFA, officially opened the meeting and welcomed everyone to Green Bay.
There were a number of great guest speakers featured during the weekend. The first speaker on Friday night was Chuck Lane, who was the Packers Publicity Director during the 1966 season. Lane was just 23 years old when he was hired by Vince Lombardi and had no previous public relations experience. The second speaker of the evening was Tom Pigeon, a Packers Super Collector. Mr. Pigeon brought along many items from his extensive and unique collection. He has been a season ticket holder of the Packers since 1956 and also works as a tour guide at Lambeau Field.
The third speaker Friday night was PFRA member Massimo Foglio from Torino, Italy. He wrote a book called Touchdown in Europe about the history of American Football played in Europe. The book was originally published in Italian, but with the assistance of Mark Ford, it has been translated into English. The final Friday night speaker was PFRA member Rick Schabowski, who spoke about the Milwaukee Badgers, an NFL franchise from 1922-1926 and a rival to the early Packers.
Saturday was filled with three more presentations by PFRA members; Cliff Christl, who is the official Packers Historian, Matt Foss and John Maxymuk. Foss spoke about Vernon Biever, a Packers photographer for 60 years who took many iconic photos of the team. Maxymuk spoke about how the 1966 Packers team was assembled by the coaching staff.
There were also a couple of very special guests on Saturday from the 1966 Packers team, quarterback Zeke Bratkowski and wide receiver Bob Long. These two gentlemen thoroughly entertained those in attendance with stories of their time with the Packers and Coach Lombardi.
PFRA Vice President Roy Sye also conducted the PFRA Business Meeting on Saturday and announced that membership currently stands a 390 members. Of those, 374 are in the U.S. throughout 36 states. The rest are in eight foreign countries; Italy, Mexico, Canada, Japan, Sweden, Brazil, Spain and the United Kingdom.
The Saturday session ended with tours of Lambeau Field and the Packers Hall of Fame.
On Sunday, about 25 members took part in an optional event, a trolley tour around the city along the Packers Heritage Trail. Many historic sites were visited including Vince Lombardiís home while he was coaching the Packers, the birthplace of Curly Lambeau and City Stadium, the home of the Packers from 1925-1956 prior to their move to Lambeau Field.
On a personal note, after the Saturday session, PFRA member Mike Barksdale and I made a 30-minute trip down to the city of Appleton and had dinner at Vince Lombardiís Steakhouse. It is part-owned by his children. The family graciously donated many photographs and other memorabilia that are prominently displayed throughout the restaurant, which is located on the ground floor of the Radisson Hotel. The food was excellent and we highly recommend having dinner there if you are ever in the area.
We were informed by a man who works in a hotel gift shop that the Radisson is the official hotel for all visiting teams and media members coming to Green Bay for games against the Packers.
A final decision on the location of the 2018 meeting will be announce this fall. The previous PFRA meeting was held in Cleveland in 2014. They continue to get better each year.
I have been a member of the PFRA since 2011 and have personally been to the past three meetings, including this year's meeting. I also contributed two chapters to the PFRA's 1966 Packers book. I wrote The History of Lambeau Field and the profile of wide receiver Boyd Dowler. I have also volunteered to assist in the writing of the next book about the 1958 Colts.
http://www.mcfarlandbooks.com/book-2.php?id=978-1-4766-6203-9 Ė PFRA book on the 1966 Green Bay Packers
www.CandMpresents.com/packers-heritage-trail-tours - Packers Heritage Trail Trolley Tour
www.vincelombardisteakhouse.com Ė In Appleton, Wisconsin
www.profootballresearchers.org - Professional Football Researchers Association official web site