If you always thought the G on the side of the Packer’s football helmets stood for “Green Bay”, well, you’re right. But just a few years ago, when the Packers won their most recent Championship, some rumors floated around that suggested otherwise and caused some confusion.
It all started on Media Day during the week of Super Bowl XLV. Former NFL player Tiki Barber was interviewing Packers players and asking them if they knew the significance of the G logo on their helmet. Naturally, the Packers players stated that it stands for “Green Bay.” Imagine their surprise when Barber informed them that George Braisher created the G logo, and it actually stands for “Greatness.”
Now, two things are wrong with Barber’s statement. First, former equipment manager Braisher’s first name was Gerald, not George. Second, the G stands for Green Bay, of course. Many Packers players were initially embarrassed that they didn’t know the ‘true’ meaning of the logo and then they were embarrassed because they fell for Tiki’s trick. Later, Barber admitted that he never actually researched the logo’s history by stating, “Oh, no, I didn’t know that. I didn’t research that. I’m from New York, man.” Thanks, Tiki.
Unfortunately, in the day and age in which we live, fact-checking sometimes doesn’t happen and many media outlets jumped on the story and passed it off as truth without doing any sort of research of their own. The “Greatness” story was on Yahoo! Answers and Wikipedia, (of course) before anyone knew what hit them. Finally, a few media sources wised up and called Aaron Popkey, spokesman for the Packers, to set the record straight. Popkey consulted Tom Murphy, archivist at the Packers Hall of Fame, who stated, “The Packers have no knowledge of it being anything other than Green Bay. Maybe it was Tiki Barber having some fun with it.” So there you have it, right from the Packers organization. It was nice of them to give Barber the benefit of the doubt, too.
Now, to be fair, it’s possible Tiki Barber isn’t as dumb as I think he is. He could’ve considered a 2003 DVD called “The Legend of Lambeau Field” his source by taking a phrase out of context and interpreting it in his own way. On the DVD, in a chapter on the 1961 NFL Championship Game, the narrator states, “Lombardi added a G to the Packers’ helmet in 1961, and it stood for great. The team posted the league’s best record, and earned the right to host the championship game.” More than likely, the narrator was just saying the Packers were indeed great that year, since it is not believed to have any significance on the origin of the G.
So, what is the true origin story is behind the Packers G? Luckily, some key pieces to the puzzle were recently put together. Gerald “Dad” Braisher did play a part in coming up with the G logo, but he had some help from his assistant equipment manager, St. Norbert College art student, John Gordon.
Right before training camp in 1961, head coach Vince Lombardi was looking to make a change; his idea was to put a logo on the side of the Packers helmet for the first time in the organization’s history. Lombardi wanted a G in the shape of a football, so Braisher — being a doodler and not an artist – approached his art student assistant with the idea. With only Lombardi’s simple suggestion to go on, Gordon took the initiative to create the eye-catching G which has changed very little throughout the years. Gordon’s original logo was indeed shaped like a football, but it wasn’t until over a dozen years later that the logo would change to a more oval shape and introduce a gold outline. With just this slight modification from Braisher and Gordon’s original design, the current logo of the Green Bay Packers was born. Many people have given sole credit to Braisher for the creation of this iconic logo, but although the idea may have come from Lombardi and Braisher, the actual design and drawing was all Gordon. Gordon, now an adjunct assistant professor of art at St. Norbert College, admits that the entire process should be viewed as a collaboration.
So there you have it. We now know the exact background of the Packer G; an iconic logo that Cheeseheads love as home decor, fashion statements, vehicle adornment, and sometimes even tattoos. Recognized around the world, it’s a logo as timeless as the team itself.