Earl Louis "Curly" Lambeau (April 9, 1898 – June 1, 1965) was the co-founder of the Green Bay Packers, and served as a player, head coach, and vice president. In 1965 after his death, the Packers renamed City Stadium to Lambeau Field in his honor.
In 1919, Lambeau co-founded the Packers and is credited with keeping football alive in Green Bay. He served 31 years as the team's only head coach through 1949, where he also played as a halfback from '19 through 1929 in which he pioneered the forward pass in professional football. He coached the Packers to six world championships over the span of three separate decades (1929-31, 1936, 1939, and 1944), sharing the distinction for most NFL championships with rival George Halas of the Chicago Bears. His coaching record was 212-106-21 (.656) with the Packers, making him one of seven coaches to cumulate more than 200 coaching victories in the National Football League (NFL).
After a dispute with the executive committee, Lambeau resigned and finished his coaching career with the Chicago Cardinals (1950-51) and Washington Redskins (1952-53). He was named to the first class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.
East High School and Notre Dame
Lambeau was a standout multi-sport athlete at Green Bay East High School, and captain of its football team as a senior in 1917. Lambeau then played for legendary coach Knute Rockne at Notre Dame in 1918, making the Irish's varsity squad as a freshman halfback, but a severe case of tonsillitis forced him to return home before his sophomore year.
Green Bay Packers
Founding the Packers
Despite tonsillitis ending his short-lived college career, Lambeau met George Whitney Calhoun, the sports editor of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, who had covered Lambeau as a prep. Over beers, Lambeau and Calhoun agreed to form a football team. On August 11, 1919, the two with a group of young athletes gathered in the editorial room of the old Press-Gazette building on Cherry Street and organized the genesis of the Green Bay Packers.
At this time, Lambeau was working for $250/month as a shipping clerk at the Indian Packing Company, a meat-packaging company in Green Bay. Lambeau persuaded his boss, Frank Peck, to donate $500 of company money for team uniforms and equipment, on the condition that the team be named for its "Packers" sponsor.
Lambeau played for the Packers from 1919 to 1929. Lambeau was 21 years old when he became the player-captain-coach of the Green Bay Packers in 1919. The Packers initially played teams from Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula; however, the success of the team in 1919 and 1920 quickly led to its joining of what is now the National Football League (NFL) in 1921.
Although Lambeau played halfback, he was the player who took the snap from the center, as was common practice during that period. Lambeau threw the Packers' first official pass, first official touchdown pass, and kicked the Packers' first official field goal in Green Bay's first official league game on October 23, 1921.
Lambeau coached the Packers as an NFL team from 1921 to 1949. As head coach, he led the Packers to six NFL championships over the span of three decades (1929, 1930, 1931, 1936, 1939, and 1944). As Packers' head coach, Lambeau compiled a regular-season record of 209–104–21 (.656 winning percentage) with a playoff record of 3–2. These official records do not include the Packers' 19–2–1 record under Lambeau prior to joining the NFL.
In 1946, Lambeau purchased Rockwood Lodge, creating the first self-contained training facility in professional football. The purchase was controversial among the Packers' board of directors, and Lambeau's deteriorating relationship with the board was one of the factors that would lead to his departure in early 1950. In addition, Lambeau's record as a coach had dropped sharply after Hall of Fame receiver Don Hutson retired in 1945.
Chicago Cardinals and Washington Redskins
After Lambeau's career with the Packers came to an end, he went on to coach the Chicago Cardinals for the 1950 season and most of the 1951 season. His record with the Cardinals was 7–15 (.318 winning percentage). After leaving the Cardinals, Lambeau went on to coach the last two years of his career with the Washington Redskins for the 1952 and 1953 seasons. His record in Washington was a disappointing 10–13–1 (.417).
Lambeau completed his 33-year NFL coaching career with an official overall record of 229–134–22 (.595 winning percentage).