Lewellen redeems himself

Upwards, Kandisnky
[October 6, 1929]

Verne Lewellen does not look like a foot-ball player. He does not fit the perception. Verne Lewellen looks more like a District Attorney... and he is, thrice elected by the good people of Brown County, Wisconsin. But Verne Lewellen is a professional foot-ball player, too, and a damned fine one.

He is lightening-quick on the field, deceptively so. Sharp-minded. A complex player.

I caught up with him at the local speak-easy following the Packers hard-fought victory over the Chicago Cardinals in week three of the 1929 season. Lewellen coughed up two uncharacteristic fumbles in the first half, then turned it all around and delivered an inspired second-half performance, scoring the game's only touch-down in the fourth quarter.

"I'm not going to tell you what Coach Lambeau said to me at half-time. That is confidential... I'm not going to tell you," insisted Lewellen. "But he understands how I think. It's what makes him a great leader of men. So he knew what to say."

He asked me if I was familiar with the expressionist painter Wassily Kandinsky, and I admitted I was not.

"Kandinsky is really something. He once wrote, 'I do not choose form consciously, it chooses itself within me.' And that is always how I've tried to live. Yes, it is how I play the game. Now I wasn't happy with those fumbles, and that was the reality of the game situation at half. But Coach wouldn't let me dwell on that. He understands me, that foot-ball is my art-form."

We ordered another round of Canadian whiskey. I asked him about his touch-down run.

"Kandinsky just completed a new painting," said Lewellen, holding it out in front of him from memory, his glass raised. "Upwards. It's really something, you should look it up... I imagine what I feel when the offense is moving the ball, is what he felt, when he painted that."

Game notes from the press-box:

Welcome to week three of the 1929 NFL season. Last week the Packers embarrassed the Chicago Bears. This week the Chicago Cardinals visit Green Bay.

This Cardinals roster has been almost completely overhauled by new management. I recognize just three players from last season. One guy has a hook for a hand.

Green Bay receives the opening kick and we are underway. Packers start their first drive with 18 straight runs.

Oh Apple-sauce!

With a first and goal from the 4, back Verne Lewellen fumbles away possession. Apple-sauce.

A poor start from Coach Lambeau's squad today. After the Cardinals pinned the Packers deep on a fine punt-kick, William Rooney made a strong tackle for a safety. 2-0 Cardinals.

Those are the first points given up by the Packers all season.

And you've gotta be kidding me! Packers were threatening points before the half and Verne Lewellen coughs up the ball again. Horse-feathers!

At the half, Cardinals 2, Packers 0. Packers need to eat more smelt and drink a cold beer.

Packers defense forces a quick three-and-out to start second half, then Red Dunn boots a 30-yard field goal for the lead. 3-2 Packers.

Lewellen was on the bench for that field goal drive, but he is trotting back out there now as the Packers start their drive at the 20.

Behind excellent gouge-blocking by Jug Earp and Boob Darling, Lewellen gains 12, 10, and 24 yards on consecutive carries between the hash-marks. He is running like a man possessed.

TOUCHDOWN PACKERS! Redeeming his horrific first-half turn-overs, Verne Lewellen leaps the pile and scores from four yards out.

Red Dunn botches the extra point. 9-2 Packers. Three minutes to play.

Verne Lewellen bats down that deep pass attempt and the Packers wrap up their third victory of the season here at City Stadium. Huzzah.

Packers book club quote of the week:

"The barn was gone now and one year they had cut the hemlock woods and there were only stumps, dried tree-tops, branches and the fire-weed where the woods had been. You could not go back. If you did not go forward what happened?"

-A Farewell to Arms