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Notre Dame Football: The Green Bay Packers Exist Because Curly Lambeau Left Irish Football

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Lambeau played one year for the legendary Knute Rockne.

Green Bay Packers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will announce in two hours that they will be playing the Wisconsin Badgers at Lambeau Field in 2020. Lambeau Field’s namesake is Curly Lambeau, who played one season for Knute Rockne’s Ramblers in 1918.

In 1999, Lee Remmel, executive director of public relations for the Green Bay Packers, told the Green Bay Press-Gazette how Lambeau’s decision not to return to Notre Dame led to the founding of the Green Bay Packers.

"He was a freshman at Notre Dame in 1918, and when he came home for the holidays he was suffering from an acute case of tonsillitis. His family physicians said, 'We need to operate, but you won't be able to do that until the infection subsides.' Apparently that took quite awhile with medication, and eventually he had the surgery, but by the time he was ready to go back to school, it was too late to start the second semester.

"So he got a job at the Indian Packing Co., and it was decided that he was not going back to school. He met a girl, Marguerite; they were courting. .. By the way, he told me when he got this job at Indian Packing Co. he was making $250 a month, and he told me, 'I thought that was all the money there was in the world,' so he was pleased as punch about that. (Because of) a combination of the job and the fact that he had a girlfriend, etc., and planned to get married ... he didn't want to go back to Notre Dame, but he still wanted to play football.

"Of course, now it's cliche that he ran into George Calhoun, who was the sports editor at the Press-Gazette. They had been friends previously. There was talking, 'I'd love to play football, but I don't want to go back to Notre Dame,' and Calhoun said something like, 'Why not start your own team? You can do that. A lot of people are doing that these days.' So they put a notice in the paper for Aug. 11, 1919, and about 25 guys showed up, and they were off and running. They started practicing three nights a week and were know as the Green Bay Indians for the first couple of weeks of their existence, then later became the Packers."