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Remmel's career one for the ages

Packers historian to hang up cleats

Posted: Dec. 12, 2007

Green Bay - Officially, Lee Remmel's association with the Green Bay Packers began in 1945 when he began covering football for the Green Bay Press-Gazette, but really it began much earlier in the living room of his family's home.


It was there that he, his father and his older brother sat around the radio and listened to Curly Lambeau lay the foundation for what stands as one of the most storied franchises in professional sports.

"I grew up in Shawano, about 35 miles west of Green Bay and we'd listen to all the games," Remmel said. "It was a Sunday afternoon ritual. We listened religiously. Our standard formula was to listen to the game and then go out and play touch football."

His love affair with the Packers led him to move from his job covering the team to serving as its public relations director and then team historian. Sixty-two years after covering his first game, Remmel, 83, plans to hang up his cleats Dec. 31.

A member of the Packers Hall of Fame and one of only 12 media contributors to attend each of the first 40 Super Bowls, Remmel's career has been nothing short of a dream come true.

He has witnessed just about every high, low and in-between with the Packers and through it all has been an advocate and ambassador for the organization. With just weeks to go in the 2007 season, Remmel and the Packers came to a mutual decision that it was time for him to retire.

"It's an emotional time," Remmel said. "I've invested a lot of time in the Packers. It's been remarkable. I said to somebody recently that this is the greatest sports franchise in the universe, and I think it's true.

"It's just time, and then some, to call it a career."

Through the years, Remmel has provided media and fans a connection to the rich history of the franchise, serving both to promote the present and honor the past. There isn't a person on the planet who can remember Packers games, events and milestones as precisely as Remmel.

Ask him about the first game he attended and it's like he's reading the next day's newspaper account out loud:

"It was Sept. 24, 1944. The Packers jumped out to a 28-0 lead against the Chicago Bears in the season opener. The Bears came back and tied it, 28-28. A running back whose name, interestingly enough was Lou Brock, ran 25 yards behind a solid block for a touchdown to take the lead.

"Then the Packers kicked off and linebacker Ted Fritsch, who was also a fullback, intercepted a pass and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown."

When he left the Press-Gazette in 1974, Remmel was the only state sportswriter who had covered every one of the Packers' coaching regimes, one of which happened to belong to the great Vince Lombardi. Remmel was one of a handful of local sports reporters who witnessed Lombardi's often acrimonious relationship with the media.

"Being around Vince was a nervous time," Remmel said. "He had that effect on you. I don't know if that was his intention, but he did."

Remmel jumped from the Press-Gazette to the Packers in 1974 and served as its public relations director until 2004. Over the past three years he has been the team historian, keeping an office in the PR department, assisting media with research and writing for the team's Web site.

In August 2003, the year renovations were completed on Lambeau Field, the Packers honored Remmel by naming the press box after him. Throughout the years, Remmel excelled at assisting the media with their daily duties while at the same time protecting the interests of the organization.

He was always courteous and always at the ready with a story to tell.

"That was easy for me," Remmel said. "I'm inclined to be that way. It's in my nature to be friendly. I think I was consistent."

Remmel's dealings with quarterback Brett Favre during his weekly news conferences was always an ongoing comedy show. Favre used to imitate Remmel's baritone voice and used to turn his playful habit of referring to players by their first, middle and last names around on Remmel.

Only in recent years has Remmel passed on his news conference duties, although he has frequently been a visitor when Favre speaks.

"He's a Packers icon," Favre said. "There will never be another like him. His knowledge of the team and its history has always been impressive. He is sharp as a tack when it came to those things - truly impressive. He's always had a great sense of humor, too. We loved to give each other a hard time. I cherish our friendship."

Remmel said he will continue to attend home games and actively follow his favorite team. He will be missed around the hallways of 1265 Lombardi Ave.

"Lee has been a great ambassador for the Green Bay Packers for many years," Packers chairman Bob Harlan said in a statement. "He is a class individual who has served this organization with the utmost professionalism and respect. Many people involved in this game and around the NFL have such great respect for him.

"His relationships with people are what have served him so well - with the media, with the fans, everyone. He is the consummate professional."

From the Dec. 13, 2007 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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