A generous fan has turned over some nice vintage Packers memorabilia to the team’s Hall of Fame.
They saw action against the likes of Bronko Nagurski and Mel Hein and alongside Don Hutson and Clarke Hinkle. If those shoulder pads could talk, what stories they’d tell.
We’ll settle for the physical presence. A pair of shoulder pads that once belonged to one of pro football’s most iconic players has been uncovered and donated to the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, along with a sideline coat from the same 1930s era.
Johnny "Blood" McNally was a storied halfback who played for the Packers for seven seasons (1929-33, 1935-36) and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.
In addition to the shoulder pads, also donated were a sideline coat from the 1930s, an autographed football from the 1950s and a copy of the book, Run to Daylight, autographed by its authors, Vince Lombardi and W.C. Heinz.
McNally was one of pro football’s most colorful early personalities and it was thanks in large part to his rushing and receiving that the Packers won three straight NFL championships from 1929-31, plus a fourth in 1936.
The items were donated by a local family, which had received them from McNally and another player after his playing days had ended.
"It’s an excellent addition to our collection," said Hall of Fame Director and Archivist Tom Murphy of the shoulder pads. "We don’t have many items from the 1930s, and now to have a pair of game-used shoulder pads, from a Hall of Famer, is absolutely great. The sideline coat is another gem from that era, and the football and book are wonderful items as well."
The Coppens family befriended many Packers personalities through their work at two Green Bay supper clubs and that connection led to the items being given to them.
"I began thinking about the donation when I went through the Hall of Fame this past summer at the Shareholders Meeting," Coppens said. "I saw they had a copy of the book, Run to Daylight, but it didn’t have an autograph, nor was it in as good condition as the book I had. That got me to thinking that I should donate some of our items.
"I had some on display at home and others in a foot locker. I thought it would be more interesting for fans to be able to see them in the Hall of Fame."
The shoulder pads will be placed in McNally’s locker in the Pro Football Hall of Fame area of the Packers Hall of Fame. The other items eventually will be included in appropriate areas of other permanent displays.
Johnny Blood’s life and career are the basis for the character Dodge Connolly in the movie Leatherheads, which opened last spring. The lead character is played by George Clooney.