The Dan Devine Years

Lyle Lahey Cartoons: The Dan Devine Years by Packertoons

Dan Devine was head coach and general manager of the Packers from 1971-1974, and intended to be head coach for much longer. He had wanted to end of his career in Green Bay, coaching for at least fifteen years.1His tenure as head coach, though, was dramatically shortened by overwhelming public animosity.

Lyle Lahey’s work as a political cartoonist documented public opinion as much as it informed it. His criticisms of Devine show how deeply the people of Green Bay disliked the Packer’s coach, and how their emotions changed over time and in response to current events.

Prior to becoming the Packer’s head coach Devine had a very successful career of coaching college football, and had winning records at two major universities.2Green Bay had high hopes for him. During his first game with the Packers a player on the opposing team inadvertently barreled into him, and he suffered a double fracture in his leg. Still, although the Packers lost that game, sympathy for him was high, and so was Devine’s resolve.3Lahey poked fun at the incident (Image 1) in a more playful manner than in his later cartoons.

Devine was not the first successor of Lombardi, but his work was still viewed in the shadow of Lombardi’s success. His 25-27-4 record4as Packer head coach disgusted fans, accustomed to the Packers being a winning team. In Image 3, Lahey shows Devine asking help from a fortune teller. To please his critics, he would need to win the Super Bowl, clean up the bay, and cure the common cold. Clearly Lahey and other fans were unsatisfied with his performance. The cartoonist also compares him unfavorably with Lombardi, showing him here with a copy of Run to Daylight, a book written by Lombardi in Image 2, detailing a week of his coaching the Packers.

Who was the Head Coach for the Packers between Vince Lombardi and Dan Devine?

Correct Answer: Phil Bengtson

  1. Povletich, William, Green Bay Packers: Trials, Triumphs, and Tradition, (Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2012), 173.
  2. Ibid, 173.
  3. Remmel, Lee, “Devines Jokes Over Breaks, Views Films.” Green Bay Press Gazette, (Green Bay), 9/20/1971, A1-A2.

  4. “Dan Devine.” Pro Football Reference. Last Modified 11/14/2018. Accessed 11/14/2018.