Against the 49ers Anderson punted beautifully and ran pass patterns from the wide slot, but never handled the ball. He complained after the Bear game that he wanted to run for "someone," but it's doubtful that any other team could pick up Donny's contract. And, after all, it wasn't Phil Bengtson who shelled out for him.
The Packers are rich with talent, but so are many teams—not the least the 49ers—yet San Francisco has never "put it all together." Bengtson makes no pretense of being a Lombardi. He is relying on self-motivation, maturity and veterans teaching rookies. "We've always had that kind of boy—that kind of man," says Bengtson, typically correcting himself as he speaks.
There are any number of "natural leaders" on the team, yet the Pack actually is led by committee. On defense Willie Wood, Willie Davis and Ray Nitschke are the leaders. All of them are aware that they are nearing the end of the line, and they want to go out on top. "I wouldn't have been back this year if I wasn't certain in my own mind that the Packers have a quota of great moments left," says Davis. Adds Wood: "I'd thought about it last season, letting it go and getting out, but I couldn't do it on the blue note. Character is very important in this game, and quitting isn't good for the character. Take a look at Forrest Gregg. There's a natural leader, the sort of man that I'd like to be—the sort of man most of us would like to be. And he came back." Touchingly enough, when Wood's high praise was relayed to Gregg, the unretired tackle was openly moved. "I'm proud," he said. "That means a lot coming from him."
The Packer leadership is not a matter of exhortation. Packers don't shout, chant, sing or carry on. Max McGee, the retired end and unretiring playboy, summed up the mood when he said, "After you've turned 30 you don't want anyone patting you on the butt and telling you to go out there and kill."
Instead, the veterans lead by example. In the 49er game example No. 1 came from Grabowski on the Pack's second (and winning) touchdown. During the 53-yard drive T. Williams carried the ball on seven straight plays, reeling off gains of three to six yards. But with a third down on the San Francisco two-yard line, Starr flipped a little swing pass to "Grabbo." Hit hard from behind by Skip Vanderbundt, Grabowski turned, drove and by an effort of will saw to it that he fell into the end zone.
Example No. 2 was Offensive Tackle Henry Jordan, who last year could scarcely stand up straight because of a bad back. During the off season Jordan went to a doctor who diagnosed his problem as rheumatoid arthritis and straightened out two kinks in Henry's spine. Against the 49ers Jordan played his traditional tough game. Example No. 3 was Boyd Dowler, starting at tight end in place of Marv Fleming, who has a bruised pectoral muscle. Dowler, big and strong for a wide receiver, took a Starr pass along the sideline, broke two tackles and tightroped for 18 yards.
Examples 4 through 10 came from the charge of Defensive Ends Lionel Aldridge and Willie Davis, who only sacked Brodie twice but disrupted his timing, forcing him to overthrow his receivers. And the ultimate example, which recapitulates the Packers of yore as well as anticipates those of the future, came from Herb Adderley. He had been outstripped time and again in footraces by Gene Washington and Clifton McNeil, but when the big play came he made it. "We'd been conscious of their outside moves all week," said Adderley. "That's what we'd practiced against. McNeil came at me, gave a shake toward the flag, then went inside and ran a simple fly. He did that twice, once incomplete and once for their only touchdown. I was talking to myself. Nothing I could do." On the last 49er play of the game, McNeil was again the target and Adderley was laying back as Brodie lobbed the pass. In a Hash Adderley atoned for his sins. That's the Packer way.
However, the Pack can come all the way back only if each player can kick the team's historical tendency to court disaster. The newfound explosiveness of T. Williams and Hampton, coupled with the old passing game, should preclude disaster. But Starr, despite going 15 for 25 against the 49ers, was often woefully inaccurate. He seemed hesitant, unwilling to wing the ball, or else he was releasing too early. "We had the chance to squash them," lamented Aldridge, "but instead we kept them alive." Maybe the Packer errors were only signs of growing pains, or maybe the transition is incomplete. As Phil Bengtson put it: "We played to keep from losing, and that's a tough way to win."