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Gene Ronzani
Date of birth March 28, 1909
Place of birth Iron Mountain, Michigan
Date of death September 14, 1975
Place of death Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin
Position(s) Halfback, Quarterback
College Marquette
Career record 14-31-1
Playing stats DatabaseFootball
Coaching stats DatabaseFootball
Team(s) as a player
1933-1938, 1944-1945 Chicago Bears
Team(s) as a coach/administrator
1950-1953 Green Bay Packers

Gene Ronzani was the second head coach of the Green Bay Packers. He coached the Packers from 1950 until 1953. He resigned with two games remaining in the 1953 season and was replaced on an interim basis by the tandem of Hugh Devore and Ray Scooter McLean.

Before he departed, though, Ronzani hired Jack Vainisi as full-time talent scout. Vainisi would receive credit for discovering the six Packers Hall of Famers drafted from 1953-58:C Jim Ringo, T Forrest Gregg, QB Bart Starr, HB Paul Hornung, FB Jim Taylor and LB Ray Nitschke.

Ronzani's legacy with the Packers includes an emphasis on green as a primary team color, having discarded his predecessor Curly Lambeau's blue-and-gold uniforms:

Ronzani also is credited with "solidifying" green into the uniform color scheme, something he introduced in taking over the team in 1950. He did so, saying, "We are the 'Green' Bay Packers," emphasizing the color green.

—Lee Remmel, July 17, 2007; Letters To Lee Remmel

Ronzani rare athlete

Gene "Tuffy" Ronzani was a chief contributor to the Golden Age of Marquette University (Milwaukee) sports in the early 1930s as the first of two MU nine-letter athletes. He was born in Iron Mountain, a small mining town in Michigans upper peninsula and entered Marquette in the fall of 1929, following his two brothers Anthony and David Ronzani of a 1st generation Italian family. Gene went out for freshman football, track and basketball and made all three varsity teams his sophomore year. "I wasn't interested in individual records," he once mentioned. "What good does it do if you score all the points and the team loses? Why, I can't even remember my records." But his records were history. In football under Coach Frank Murray, the 1930 team marched to a nine game undefeated season under the sparkling leadership of Ronzani and John Sisk. tuffy played either quarterback or fullback on offense and safety or linebacker on defense. He and Sisk both were to become All-Americans.

Ronzani was second in scoring his sophomore year. During Ronzani's junior year the Hilltoppers (as Marquette teams were called then) compiled an 8-1 record. As a senior, he led the gridders to a 5-3-1 record, not fully indicative of the hard fought games and near misses.

While Ronzani was on the basketball squad the cagers did not suffer a losing season. Marquette garnered records of 11-7, 11-8 and 14-3 under Coach Bill Shandler. The Tribune said, "Ronzani particularly had a rollicking time of it, as he roamed all over the floor, scrambling anyone in his path and usually coming up with the ball in the wildest sort of melee."

In Track, Ronzani under Coach Con Jennings, was a consistent team man in shotput and javeline. He competed with Marquette's 1932 Central Collegiate champions, and also tried out for the US Olympic team in the Spring of 1932. After graduation Tuffy joined the Chicago Bears' National Football league championship drive. After Ronzani's playing days, he joined the Bear coaching staff and served in a coaching position under The Coach and Bear owner George "Papa Bear" Halas until 1950. In 1950 he was hired as head coach and General Manager of the Green Bay Packers. Tuffy introduced the first Black American player into the Packer lineup as Green Bay's coach, a move he was widely criticized for at the time. As head coach and General Manager, Ronzani's first game was against the Detroit Lions at aging City Stadium in Green Bay. The 22,096 fans were first introduced to new green and gold uniforms. Both jerseys and pants were kelly green with gold numbers on the tops, two gold stripes around the upper sleeves, and a one inch gold stripe down the side of each leg.

Gene Ronzani's football genius originated such formations as the double-wing, the shotgun offenses and the umbrella defense. It is now believed that many of his formations were his way of confusing his good friend and then arch-rival George Halas. Both coaches knew all too well each other's onfield football tactics.

In tribute to his fantastic career at Marquette, a Marquette Tribune story in 1932 honored him saying that "Ronzani easily finds a place for himself among Marquette's immortals."

References

  • An article believe to be from the Milwaukee Tribune written by Barb Schumaker.
  • Larry D. Names book; "The History Of The Green Bay Packers", Subtitled "The Shameful Years", Ptd. 1995.
Preceded by
Curly Lambeau
Green Bay Packers Head Coach
1950–1953
Succeeded by
Lisle Blackbourn
Preceded by
Curly Lambeau
Green Bay Packers General Manager
1950–1953
Succeeded by
Verne Lewellen
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