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With the Packers, a stumble is not a bad fall
Tex Maule
December 16, 1963
The Green Bay Packers, facing for the first time in three years the possibility that they would not finish as world champions, were a grim lot in Los Angeles last week before their game with the Rams. This was as out of character for the Packers as it would be for Cassius Clay; although not given to braggadocio, the Packers have been a notably lighthearted team during the years of their eminence.
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December 16, 1963

With The Packers, A Stumble Is Not A Bad Fall

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For the teams and coaches in the league who feel that the 1963 Packers represent the beginning of a decline, a couple of experts on the Los Angeles team have discouraging news. "I have been playing against them for quite some time," said Roosevelt Grier, the big tackle who was traded to the Rams this year by the New York Giants for John LoVetere. "This team is no better or worse than any of the other Packer teams I played against. [Grier played against the Packers in the championship games of 1961 and 1962.] They are a great football team. They keep coming at you and coming at you until finally something gives. They are no different from what they have been."

Ram Head Coach Harland Svare agreed. "I think they are just as good as ever," he said. "They have the big thing you need to win. Poise. Nothing disturbs them. We had a real good first half Saturday, but it didn't bother them at all. They played their game. They have experience. They know what to do and when to do it and how to do it. Against them, inexperience is the thing that beat us."

All in all, the Packers are as tough at the end of the 1963 season as they were the year before. They could still beat the Bears for the Western title; in the unlikely event of a divisional playoff, Chicago would not manhandle Green Bay as it did the last time the two teams met. As Dave Hanner, the defensive tackle points out, Tom Moore, filling in for Paul Hornung, and Quarterback Bart Starr are both well again after missing part of the season because of injuries. They make a difference.

Coach Vince Lombardi has accomplished an extraordinary feat in developing the Packers. Green Bay is not a physically big team. Their lack of overpowering size makes it necessary for the Packer players to be at an emotional and physical peak each Sunday. One asset they do have, however, is their bench. It is deeper in talented performers than any other in pro football. This showed again last week when Ray Nitschke, the middle linebacker, watched from the sidelines with a broken arm. Young Dave Robinson played his first full game at corner linebacker, and Bill Forester moved over to fill Nitschke's position. Both were excellent.

The Packer dynasty may be in trouble, but it is not through.

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