Daley: Mid-game snack

Ezra Johnson gets bite to eat on the sideline

Hot dogs have been a staple at Lambeau Field for years and starting this year the price went up to $3.25. Twenty-five years ago, that same "dog" would have sold for $1.25. All this mustard stuff reminds me of the final preseason game of 1980 against the Denver Broncos at Lambeau.

The Packers were clobbered 38-0 that night and adding to the embarrassment there was this star Packer pass rusher, Ezra Johnson, sitting on the end of the bench eating a hot dog.

The incident was almost forgotten since the Pack lost four straight exhibition games but a few days later defensive line coach Fred vonAppen resigned because of a disagreement with head coach Bart Starr over the hot dog incident.

VonAppen insisted that Starr cut Johnson but Starr refused. Instead, Johnson was given a hefty fine and apologized to his teammates for his actions. VonAppen went on to coach with several other pro teams and later coached at the University of Hawaii.

Starr highly praised vonAppen and also noted, "Ezra has assured me that he intended no disrespect to the team and was not disinterested because of the lopsided score. He also has expressed personal regrets for the incident."

Johnson played 11 seasons with the Packers (1977-87) and made the Pro Bowl in his second season and then in his last five seasons. Ezra played at 255 pounds and often said, 'I eat less and gain weight. Figure that out."

Ezra was asked why he ate a hot dog during the game and he answered seriously, "I was hungry."

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.

If you have a question or comment for Art, e-mail PackerReport.com managing editor Todd Korth at packrepted@aol.com, and your question or comment will be forwarded to him.

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