Titletown vs. City of Champions
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In the 1960s, the Green Bay Packers and Vince Lombardi claimed the NFL landscape. Lombardi was the face on a Time magazine cover story in 1962 proclaiming the NFL the sport of the '60s. The Packers won five NFL titles between 1961-67, including the first two Super Bowls.
It became "Titletown, USA" with "Title" referencing its unprecedented run of championships and "-town, USA" paying homage to its unique size among professional sports cities. Clark Kent was from Smallville, the Packers were from Smalltown.
Then came the 1970s, the Steelers and their four Super Bowl championships in six seasons. They were bookended by World Series titles from the Pirates in 1971 and '79 in a decade that also included a national football championship by Pitt. The City of Champions boomed.
But the moniker waned in the 1980s and '90s as the fortunes of the city and its franchises waned. The Penguins' two Stanley Cups in the early '90s were all that separated Pittsburgh from the frozen tundra.
The Packers -- Green Bay's only pro team -- were even drier, with just four winning seasons in a quarter century. But because they were the city's only team, because they were its identity to the world, they held fiercely to the Titletown legacy. What else was there?
The name appears on the city seal, is used by the Green Bay Chamber of Commerce for its Web address, and variations of the word appear in the name of more than two dozen local businesses.
No matter how strongly Pittsburgh identifies with its champions, there are always diversions. Eighteen consecutive losing seasons for the Pirates? No problem. Who are the Steelers going to take in the draft?
In Green Bay, there is the Packers. And there are their 12 championships. Think about that. Amazing, really. A city the size of Erie, no different than Erie, owns 12 NFL titles.
First Published February 3, 2011 1:10 am