Through their history the Green Bay Packers have drafted football players from the Mississippi River town of Rock Island, Illinois. These players helped the team become the champions they are today. Herm Schneidman, Kenneth Duncan, and Ken Bowman are three such players who were born and or played high school football in Rock Island.
I would like to take a quick snap shot of one of those players to show how Green Bay has found success in Rock Island, Illinois. Ken Bowman was born in 1942 and graduated from Rock Island in 1960. Ken played at center for the Rocks and the school year book had him playing on the varsity team as a junior and predicted that he would be a big help on the line the next year. After playing for the Rocks, Ken went on to college football at the University of Wisconsin. Ken was able to start at center for the Badgers and starting at that position when the team made the trip to California to play in the 1963 Rose Bowl. In the 1964 NFL draft the Green Bay Packers selected Ken in the eighth round and during his rookie season he earned the right to be the starting center. Ken was the starting center for the Packers in many big games but I feel his best game was the famous Ice Bowl game verses the Dallas Cowboys. He was able to get a dream block on the final scoring play of the game, which allowed Bart Starr to score the winning touchdown.
Green Bay Packer history in Rock Island, Illinois is not just with the players that they have selected by includes games that they have played. These games of importance to Packer history date back to the beginning of professional football. The Packers played against the Rock Island Independents on Douglas Park field in Rock Island, Illinois. In 1919, the Independents were one of the strongest teams in professional football and have a place in NFL history as one of the first league teams to play a league game on September 26, 1920 against a non league team, St. Paul Ideals. Rock Island came away with the win, 48 to zero. This first game in Rock Island was viewed by 800 fans which is a small crowd when compared to attendance today. Curly Lambeau brought the Packers into Rock Island to play games in the league during the 1920s. While the Rock Island team was formed in 1907, they played in the league from 1920 through 1925 and had three wins verse the Packers. On the other hand the Packers would earn just one win and one tie against the Independents.
The last time the Green Bay Packers came to Rock Island was in 1949 to play a pre season game in Rock Island High School Stadium. On September 11 of that year the Packers suited up against the New York Bulldogs and won the game seven to three. The Packers gave the 5000 fans something to cheer about when they scored the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. I hope the Packers can continue to enjoy the success that they have had along the banks of the Mississippi River in Northwest Illinois.
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