Mini-camp memories

Mini-camp - set to open again in about a week - has something for everyone. Rookies and free agents show what they can do. Coaches find out who worked out in the offseason … and who didn't. Veterans reunite and size up the newcomers. Fans finally get a break from their football famine. <P> Who is to thank – or blame – for these spring get-togethers? None other than Dan Devine. The late former GB coach instituted the mini-camp in 1971 and the team has met in the spring every year since.<P>

Devine coached the Packers from a decent start in 1971 to a dismal end 1974. His tenure included 25-28-4 mark and the horrendous John Hadl trade. While the Hadl trade may be his lasting legacy, he would probably much rather be remembered for creating the Packers' mini-camp.

Devine brought an impressive collegiate resume to Green Bay when he took the reins. Devine had coached collegiately for 16 years, including the Arizona State and Missouri posts before the Packers gave him his first professional post.

Shortly after his arrival in Green Bay, Devine introduced a college tradition: spring practice. In April 1971, Devine took this team on the road for the inaugural mini-camp at the University of Texas. There No. 1 draft choice John Brockington practiced with the Packers for the first time.

The tradition of taking to the road for warm weather practices ended in 1977, when the Packers build an indoor facility. They've stayed home for mini-camp ever since, with the exception of 1994. That year, the team took a "business trip" to Phoenix while construction was completed on the dazzling Don Hutson Center.

Here's a brief history of the Packers' mini-camp road map:

1971: University of Texas at Arlington.

1972-76: Saguaro High School, Phoenix.

1977-93: Indoor Practice Facility, Green Bay

1994: Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College

1995-Present: Don Hutson Center, Green Bay

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