Daley: Poker spiced up draft day

Poker and the Green Bay Packers don't necessarily go together, but all those poker games on TV these days reminded me of all the poker us early-day sportswriters played.

There was always a poker contest at every annual NFL meeting, which was combined with the draft, and the standout session was in the famed Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia in January of 1950.

He never played with us but then-NFL Commissoner Bert Bell would just love to kibitz every player around the table. We begged him to play, take an open seat, but he'd say, "I've got to keep my reputation."

Bell loved to have fun with us scribes, once calling everybody's attention as he left the meeting of owners: "I have an announcement, gentlemen. Marshall and Halas are about to come to blows. That is all." George Marshall owned the Washington Redskins and George Halas the Chicago Bears.

The early part of one meeting saw the Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Colts enter the NFL from the defunct AFC. There was talk of putting the Bears and Packers in separate conferences, but Curly Lambeau, Halas and Packer-friend, Bell, said ‘No way.'

Lambeau, who would quit the Packers a few years later, selected linebacker and center Clayton Tonnemaker of Minnesota as his first choice in the 1950 NFL Draft. Lambeau wanted the great pass receiver, Art Weiner of North Carolina, as his next choice.

The New York Yanks took Weiner right ahead of the Pack and Lambeau and his aides pounded their fists on the table in disgust.

Lambeau still came out looking good. His second choice was Tobin Rote, ace quarterback from Rice, who handled the Pack's offense for seven years. Weiner played one year and retired.

Art Daley

Editor's Note: Packer Hall of Famer Art Daley is a featured columnist for Packer Report and PackerReport.com. The former Green Bay Press-Gazette sportswriter and sports editor has covered the team since 1941.

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