...not only the heart of a place called Gopher Prairie, but ten thousand towns.... not a dozen buildings...suggested that, in the fifty years of Gopher Prairie's existence, the citizens had realized that it was either desirable or possible to make this, their common home, amusing or attractive.
Green Bay alone did what the other 10,000 Gopher Prairies in the United States didn't. It built a team and an edifice to honor it, and with that, it deflected all the sneers that urban sophisticates had patronized small towns with for generations. Green Bay became Titletown U.S.A. It took the measure of all the Zeniths, of the Gothams and Windy Cities and Hubs, made charming what was provincial, romantic what was obscure, quaint what was merely small.
Unfortunately, Green Bay also glorified the adage that winning is everything (which is, ironically, the ultimate big-city smugness), and now, for that, defeat appears all the more devastating. The main question seems to be: Can the Green Bay Packers and Green Bay, Wis., ever again be on the same team?
A variety of things have transpired. Some are quite indisputable. The record shows, for example, that the franchise has decayed since the transcendent era of the sainted Vincent Lombardi; last season's Pack was 4-12, the worst in 28 years. Also, there is little argument that a lot of players don't want to spend their salad days in a one-horse town. This is especially true of black players, who bemoan the lack of a normal social life. They even have trouble getting a proper haircut in Green Bay. About one in every 300 people in Brown County is black—some 500 all told, about 0.28% of the 185,000 citizens. "If you're a black man in Green Bay," the expression goes, "you're either a Packer or you're passing through. If you're a black woman you're either a Packer wife or a dancer."
May 24, 1987
Some other things are more subjective. Black players—even those on rival teams, visiting for a day or two—profess to feel like freaks and are "uncomfortable" (the word often used) just walking down the street in Green Bay. The Packer franchise, a community-run operation more resembling the United Way or a library, may be an antiquated enterprise, at a huge disadvantage compared with other NFL franchises (save perhaps the one carried around in Robert Irsay's hat), and so—goes some of the thinking—the team is obliged to accept bad actors. "Thugs" and "hoodlums," Mike Ditka, the Bears' coach, characterized them. You must consider the source of that statement, of course, but in just three seasons, the Packers have gone from the third-least-penalized team in the NFL to the second-most.
And, finally, one other thing has surfaced in Green Bay's relationship with its team—although it may well, in fact, be only symptomatic of a new scandal in the sports world at large. This concerns what appears to be the growing number of athletes, collegiate and professional, who are being arrested for sexual assault. In Green Bay, Mossy Cade, 25, a cornerback, went on trial on Monday—the charge is second-degree sexual assault against a woman in his house in 1985. The woman is an aunt by marriage. James Lofton, 30, an All-Pro wide receiver, also went on trial the same day in Green Bay on the same charge—the jurors, however, are from Janesville, 120 miles to the south.
Moreover, Charles Martin, 27, an obscure defensive lineman who is best known for his flagrant attack upon Bears quarterback Jim McMahon last season, was involved this past fall in an altercation in a Green Bay bar with a woman who objected to his gross public advances.
Martin subsequently apologized and paid the woman $500 to settle the matter. This inglorious cavalcade of incidents has even led to local saloons posting the Packer Joke of the Week. Did you hear they fired Forrest Gregg and brought in Dr. Ruth as the new coach? No? Well, no less than the attorney general of the state of Wisconsin quipped publicly that the state should build its new penitentiary in Green Bay so that "the Packers could walk to work."
Some reactions speak more to the point. Morning Glory Farms has stopped running photographs of NFL players, including Lofton, on its milk cartons.
There have been sad editorials, there have been angry editorials. "Green Bay can tolerate losing but it will not tolerate losers whose amoral or immoral acts sully the name of the team and the community," the Press-Gazette said at the end of last season. The Milwaukee Sentinel ran a cartoon of Coach Lombardi's cemetery plot, with curses rising from his grave. Once, the gag went, Lombardi treated all his Packers equally—like dogs; now, the citizens sneer on talk shows and in letters to the editor that Packers are all dogs.
Can all this be rectified by a few wins? Will everything be hunky-dory again if only the Pack is good enough to bring back CBS's Summerall and Madden to high atop Lambeau Field? Or has some fragile bond of trust been lost between team and town, one that can never be retrieved?
"I have no concern whatsoever about the fairness of this community. Green Bay's anti anybody who makes them look bad," Stephen Glynn, the attorney for James Lofton, said early in April. "The only reason I want this case moved is because of the pride the town feels in the team—and right now because of the psychology of purging which exists. Somebody must be held responsible."
Certainly it has never been that the good people of Green Bay have been innocent of the excesses of big-time sport. In 1922, the Packers were chastised by the American Professional Football Association, the forerunner of the NFL, for sneaking in college players as ringers. And it is certainly not that the townspeople have ever been under any impression that professional football players are angels. Don Zuidmulder, Cade's attorney, a former D.A. whose own father played for the Pack 56 years ago, says, "There were problems with the Packers in my father's time, too, but people were not so likely to make much of it then."
Indeed, since the wave of Packer sex-abuse allegations, it has been recalled that, in the glory days of the '60s, one former Packer star kept an infamous apartment in Appleton, 35 miles distant, where he and some of his teammates were known to have boisterous drinking parties and marathon card games, where women danced naked and the bedrooms were constantly in use. And, at least until recent events, that sort of reminiscence was always recounted in terms of boys will be boys. Lombardi, a realist, had no illusions about his players and only advised them to do their trysting in places, such as Appleton, that were some distance from Green Bay. He would caution the Pack, "the girl you [go out with] in town is liable to be some stockholder's daughter."
The popular Packer image was of a roisterous band of love-'em-and-leave-'em rouès. Paul Hornung, the team's handsome star, had the singular persona of lover, and the most celebrated memory of the first Super Bowl is of Max McGee, one of the stars of that game, staying up till dawn the night before, drinking and wenching.
What has happened? Is Green Bay overreacting now—perhaps because the players involved are black? Or are the athletes being preyed on—innocent, nouveau riche victims of little-city slickers? Linebacker Mike Douglass, who played with the Packers for eight years, says that it was almost a cottage industry in Green Bay for some local girls—sometimes in concert with boyfriends—to set up players and then blackmail them. "You bump against a girl wrong and everything you've done in your whole life is thrown away," Douglass says. At last, weary of all the scrutiny and the problems involved, Douglass says, he stopped going out with Green Bay women.
Or, are athletes today simply so spoiled by society, so pampered and indulged, that they come to think of themselves as a class apart, able to act with impunity. Says a Lombardi-era Packer, who asked to remain anonymous, "Look, I'm too far away from it all; I really don't know about the two trials. But you tell me about the Charles Martin incident. He's in a bar. A good-looking girl goes by. He grabs her, pinches her, whatever. O.K., I'm not saying I approve, but Martin wouldn't be the first guy in a bar to do that. But she doesn't like it. Fair enough. She's not going to be the first girl in a bar to get teed off at that. So then what does Martin do? Does he apologize? Offer to buy her a drink? No, he throws a drink all over her—like she doesn't have a right to tell him to keep his hands off her. I just want to know: Where are these athletes coming from today? Do they think they're above the law? What is it with these guys nowadays?"
In another vein, Bob Long, a Packer receiver in the '60s who settled in Milwaukee and is now the president of a large real estate investment company, says, "The modern player wants the package—endorsements, contacts. He's concerned about the quality of life—and a small town like Green Bay just doesn't supply that for most young guys."
And, says Ken Bowman, a center on the glory teams, now a lawyer in Green Bay, "Even Hornung understood that because he played in Green Bay he couldn't make what Frank Gifford did. But that was tolerable to Paul as long as he ran around with those rings on his hand, and Gifford was watching him play on television in December."
Whatever, today the players are different, and it really isn't Green Bay's fault. Perhaps it's just the last place to learn that winning isn't everything anymore.
How small is Green Bay? Well, the next smallest U.S. cities with major league franchises are Hartford and Salt Lake City, and their metropolitan areas are nearly six times larger than Green Bay's. But then, consider this from another perspective: Green Bay is larger than Tuscaloosa, College Station, Provo and Clemson, all of which are little out-of-the-way places with huge stadiums and nationally known football teams. It's just that Green Bay has draft choices; the other little towns recruit. At least in those towns recruits start off happy because they get to choose where they go to play.
Don Zuidmulder's father, who made 25 bucks a game playing for the Pack, found a job as a park policeman there during the Depression. He eventually became fire chief. "There was a real nexus then, players and community," Zuidmulder says. "The players stayed here year-round because where else was anybody going to hire a football player for six months a year? For a cocktail party, you'd bring a Packer—you know, here's my Packer. But it was mutually beneficial." Zuidmulder paused and smiled. "You know, it was sort of like the way it is now in college athletics. The whole town was just one big booster club."
Actually, the answer to Green Bay's dilemma is simple. It should sell the franchise to Milwaukee for $60 million or whatever, and then take that money and pour it all into the athletic department at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. With that kind of financing, UWGB could bring in recruits from everywhere to play on Lambeau Field, plus build a 20,000-seat basketball arena. So, in one fell swoop, Green Bay could trade a lousy football franchise for a first-class basketball and football program.
But, probably, that is not going to happen. The hitch is that if ever the franchise should be sold, all monies must, by law, go to the local American Legion post (which would then become the first Legion post to be taken over by Carl Icahn or T. Boone Pickens). Besides all that, though, selling off the Packers would be, for Green Bay, akin to Esau peddling his birthright. Even the natives will volunteer that "without the Packers we're just Oshkosh with a few more people."
Green Bay is certainly a pretty place, though. Curiously, its worst face is to the lovely body of water that gives it its name—the bay that pierces down from Lake Michigan: La Baye Verte, the French settlers named it in the mid-1600s. But now, by the beautiful bay, there are paper mills and cargo ships and all the ugly effluences of maritime commerce.
It is an irony of the late 20th century that the larger cities, the huge metropolitan ports that were born of industry, have learned how to tuck their factories away, to cosmeticize downtown with rectangular offices and apartments, while a Green Bay remains more a throwback to the 19th century. Two monstrous smokestacks dominate the west side of town, belching the kind of antique gray-white emissions that the Pittsburgh or Cleveland chambers of commerce would not tolerate on their skylines anymore. The companion irony is that away from Green Bay's bay, on either side of the Fox River, which splits the town, the largest buildings are all churches. Steeples still count in Green Bay. Just like a century ago in the big places: God and smoke.
There are 90 churches in town, wonderfully clean streets, neat houses, tidy lawns, employed breadwinners. There are 11 paper mills; there are cheese and canning plants; there are still Polish songs on the radio, some strip joints, neighborhood bars, and a place where the young people who wear franchise clothes go named the Top Shelf. The hangout has plants holding those little white Christmas-tree-type lights, stools, darts, computer golf and the opposite sex. The streets in downtown Green Bay are, patriotically, named for early presidents—Quincy Street to differentiate it from Adams Street—and, of course, there are also Packer-land Drive and Lombardi Avenue, which the coach would call "my street." The stadium and the airport are both still "Field."
For someone like Randy Wright, the Packers' promising young quarterback, a young man whose family moved often while he was growing up, Green Bay is the hometown of fantasies. But only three other Packers choose to reside there year-round. By contrast, 44 Cowboys live in the Dallas area, 39 Browns in and around Cleveland and 38 Broncos have settled in the Denver environs. Players make so much money now that most don't need jobs in the off-season, so they often lift weights together, work out in mini-camps or just hang out with one another. Evidently, it makes a difference. To keep up with the competition, the Packers paid a bunch of veterans to come to Green Bay and work out in the spring.
What Wright and many people invariably cite about Green Bay—about all the Green Bays—is that it is a good place to raise children. People also say, reflexively, that big cities are a good place to get culture. Certainly, though, many professional athletes (especially football players whose careers average 3.6 years) are either bachelors or newly married and are at an age when they're not interested in the evident qualities and the traditional values of a hometown like Green Bay.
Titletown suffers not only because it is small and out of the way, but also because it is small and out of the way and far north. At a time when this country tilts to the Sun Belt, this is one more perceived negative. A few years ago, a first draft choice pointedly told the Packers that he was passing up Green Bay to go south and sign with Toronto of the Canadian League. "I really do get a little tired of people talking like we're Lower Siberia," Gregg says. "We've found if we can just get a player to come here and visit, we're fine. We've been very successful in signing free agents." Certainly, the vocational football facilities—weight room, indoor practice grounds, offices, etc.—are on a par with the best in the NFL.
Yet perhaps the most striking problem that the Packers face is the sense that they are specimens in a laboratory. Their behavior is constantly studied; there are no secrets. Even Gregg, who spent 14 years as a player in Green Bay—"I love the Green Bay Packers. I love this city. I wanted this job"—acknowledges: "It's an obvious fact we live in a fishbowl here. They know what you put in your grocery basket, but then, you're also not supposed to be mortal, so they also want to know what you're doing in a supermarket."
Gregg, a large and forbidding man who regularly lapses into quasi-military jargon (he refers to his players as "people" the way officers refer to their troops), makes no bones about being angry that the "attention" brought to bear on the various sex cases has distracted him and his lieutenants from the task of improving the team. Still, he sees some consolation in the fishbowl: "One thing about it: You sure know what you're here for." Whether in church, at K Mart or the Top Shelf, the people of Green Bay never let the Packers forget that they're football players.
Johnnie Gray is a black ex-Packer who was married to a local white woman. They are divorced now, but he remains in town, working as fitness director at a Y in order to be near his young daughter. Says Gray, "Most people draw the conclusion that it was the white-black thing that broke up our marriage. It wasn't. It was the Packer thing. She just got worn down at never being anything but a Packer's wife, and I can't blame her. I've lived in a lot of places in my life. The matter of adjusting to the people here—to being a black among whites—wasn't that much of a problem for me. The problem is that all the people here want to do is talk football with you."
"We're just so accessible," Wright says. This matter of being constantly recognized, constantly badgered, eventually wears the players down, and, says Tom Flynn, a former Packer free safety, it "takes a toll on the psyche."
It is a hoary NFL bromide that each team will draft the best possible athlete irregardless of position. Douglass, for one, thinks that Green Bay alone cannot afford that luxury. "When the Packers consider a player, they ought to look at his social upbringing," Douglass suggests, "because a lot of adjustments have to be made when a player comes to Green Bay, and not a lot of guys can manage." It's like many men can serve in the Navy, but only a few are temperamentally qualified for submarines.
By Dec. 1 it is not uncommon for Packer wives to have packed up, taken their children and departed for wherever home really is to prepare for Christmas, leaving their husbands to play out the long season, living in a hotel. Bob Long, the ex-Packer who resides in Milwaukee, has remained in the NFL Players Association, and is privy to player gripes. He says, sadly, that he often hears the expression "getting out of prison" in reference to some player who has been traded away from Green Bay. "As a former Packer and someone who loves this state, that hurts me deeply," he says.
The Packers have been playing selected "home" games in Milwaukee since 1934—which would make Milwaukee the fifth-oldest NFL city in point of service if it had its own franchise. Long believes that Green Bay must own up to the modern realities and share more of a coordinate role with the real big-league city two hours to the south, encouraging players to live in Milwaukee, to assume more of a pan-Wisconsin identity.
But nobody expects Green Bay to do that. The people are a proud and stubborn folk. When Wisconsin was seeking statehood in the 1840s, it made plain to Washington that it was tired of being patronized as a territory. "A fool can sometimes put on his coat better than a vise man can do it for him," an activist petitioned the government. Don't lecture Green Bay. Anyway, the 4,626½ shares of Green Bay Packers Inc. are tightly held by 1,800 people, almost all of them local. Besides, if sold, the stock cannot bring any individual profit, so the stockholders are more trustees than partners; only that American Legion post can benefit by a transaction. Bart Starr was evidently kept on for years after he had proved to be no great shakes is a coach because, Zuidmulder says, "it was hard to fire your neighbor." If Green Bay couldn't fire a man, it certainly isn't going to fire itself. Not surprisingly, the words commonly used to describe the Packer operation are the likes of insular, incestuous, paranoid. Lombardi, the utter outsider, agreed to come in only when he was granted near-dictatorial power, and he alone has brought success to the franchise since World War II. That's a hard truth.
"Don't do a hatchet job on us," says Bowman. "After all, 20 years of getting your teeth kicked in has preconditioned us to being defensive. Look, I'm not altogether sentimental about my town. In a place this size, there's a tendency to be cliquish and clannish. But people here will listen to you; they're not opinionated. It's cleaner here, and there's not so much crime, and, at least until recently, we could say we didn't have any drug problems. Certainly, it's still a better place to raise kids.
"But we don't have heroes anymore—not even in Green Bay. When I played we were idolized. There was a certain mystique, an aura. But now, there's such a rift." Bowman shakes his head. "And the athlete must take his share of the blame for that. It's sad. There's such a division now between the player and the blue-collar fan. In fact, there's a regular canyon now. More and more, it's them and us."
And, in Green Bay, that division is more obvious and the pain is greater because the love was stronger.
On the evening of Dec. 17, 1986, James Lofton left his wife, Beverly, and young son at home and went to a dinner for the team's receivers coach. Then he and several of his teammates went to the Top Shelf. There Lofton and two of his single teammates, Mike Moffitt and Walter Stanley, introduced themselves to three women, in from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan—"U-P'ers," they are known as locally. The women, all white, were visiting the big city of Green Bay (everything's relative) to do some Christmas shopping. By the time the Top Shelf closed up at one, the six people appeared to be a happy group, paired off.
Lofton and the woman he was with, a 30-year-old housewife, departed on the elevator ahead of the others. Then, according to the woman's testimony at a preliminary hearing, when they got off on the ground floor they proceeded a few steps over to a stairwell, entered through the door, went up a few steps and had oral sex. The jury must decide whether or not the woman performed fellatio willingly.
Cade's case is somewhat different in that the woman he is alleged to have assaulted not only was staying at his house in Green Bay, but also is his aunt by marriage and had known him since he was 2 and she was 21. Cade denies the charges and says he wasn't in the house the night of the alleged attack. Both he and Lofton face up to 10 years in jail and a $10,000 fine if convicted.
The two men have each been accused of similar actions, but never charged. Women in both Tennessee and California called Green Bay authorities and accused Cade of sexual assault. Lofton and a teammate, Eddie Lee Ivery, were allegedly involved in an incident that took place with a Milwaukee go-go dancer in her dressing room on Oct. 9, 1984. The woman, who claims the men sexually assaulted her, is suing Lofton and Ivery for civil damages after the district attorney dropped the case because he did not believe that he could possibly obtain a conviction. The D.A.'s office did not, however, toss the woman's accusations lightly into the gentle wind. Instead, it took pains to state: "We believe the conduct of the two men to be reprehensible, shameful and depraved.... Perhaps the two men are gridiron greats; they are not heroes."
People who know Lofton say that he changed after the Milwaukee episode came to light. Always something of a loner, he seemed to grow even more withdrawn, perhaps suspicious and resentful, as well. Steve Newman, the state executive director of Athletes in Action, a religious organization that works with athletes and businessmen, seeking to encourage them to use their celebrity to advance Christian evangelism, says, "Perhaps it was only then that James realized for the first time that he was just like anybody else. I don't know if before that he had had a lot of encouragement at being James Lofton, individual, instead of James Lofton, athlete. I do know that, in the back of his mind, he felt he'd let a lot of people down."
And, more ironically, until that alleged incident with the dancer in Milwaukee, Lofton had lived a life that appeared to be exemplary in every way. Lofton was handsome, charming, witty and intelligent. Lynn Dickey, the former Packer quarterback, said he had never met a rookie who caught on so quickly. Lofton had graduated from Stanford with a B+ average in industrial engineering and, were it not for his athletic ability, would have gone on to graduate school. From among all Packers ever, he was one of only nine chosen by the team to be profiled in the brochure that went out to prospective draft choices in 1986. More than that, the all-American boy was married to the ail-American girl. Beverly Lofton is beautiful and sensitive, a former model and singer. It was she who brought James to Christ, she who encouraged him to become part of the community, to leave California and settle in Wisconsin. The Loftons had houses in both Green Bay and Milwaukee and won awards in both cities for their work with local charities. James lent his name and time to Mental Health, March of Dimes, United Way, Special Olympics and Boys' Clubs. He was even named to the board of the Milwaukee Ballet. In 1983, the year before the alleged incident in the Milwaukee bar, he was one of five finalists for the NFL Man of the Year Award, the highest personal honor the league bestows. Lofton was greatly respected in Green Bay, the natural heir to Willie Davis, the black Hall of Fame defensive end from the Lombardi period who went on to become a multimillionaire businessman.
Cade had been in Green Bay for only a couple of months when he was arrested; there were no expectations for him. But Lofton: James Lofton. Beverly Lofton's husband; David Lofton's father; Willie Davis's heir. When word first came out about the Milwaukee episode, the good people of Green Bay were not only shocked—they were baffled. And they were offended. And they felt taken.
Judge Robert Parins, the elected chief executive of the Packers organization, gave a rare interview a week after the Top Shelf arrest and said that he was "embarrassed." Guy Zima, a city councilman and mayoral candidate, said, "The people of this community are hurt, very hurt. This is a slap in the face to them." And Charley Brock, who played for the Pack 40 years ago, said, "It's a disgrace to the team and the people here. The players have a responsibility to represent the Green Bay Packers and the state of Wisconsin."
It is instructive that while Coach Gregg never suspended either Cade or Martin, he suspended Lofton before the final game, and then on April 13 traded him to the Raiders. James Lofton was held to a higher standard than other players. James Lofton had let everybody down, and more than that, because he was different, because he was black, he made it even more difficult for the white community to understand these strange athletic mercenaries who come from someplace else, enter Packerland, and wear their green and gold.
Davis says, "I have had people in Green Bay and Milwaukee come up and ask me, "What's going on in Green Bay with those black players? What's wrong with those guys? You didn't have those problems when you were playing.' I answer, "What's going on in Green Bay with all the players?'
"I would hate to see the [Lofton-Cade cases] labeled as a black-white issue because that perception could grow into a very bad situation. If black players begin to believe that Green Bay is a place where they will be hassled then I think they are going to try and avoid it. Players might get the perception that those people in Green Bay basically ran James Lofton out of town. In the final analysis, not only James Lofton would be a loser but Green Bay would ultimately be a loser. That is the potential problem of this thing. The judge and the jury will handle the legal aspect; that's the easy part. How the community handles this is the most crucial thing."
No one has ever accused Green Bay of being any more prejudiced than the white section of any large city. In many places, blacks are viewed as threats. In Green Bay they are merely curiosities.
Among themselves blacks have long commented that in the South you can get close but not too big, while in the North you can get big but not too close.
In Green Bay, it's yet another step: the black as novelty.
"I was aware of this from the first day," says Johnnie Gray. "A few of us were driving along, and at a stop light the people in the next car signaled for us to put our window down. And then they said, "Which ones are you?' "
"A lot of fans," Davis says, referring to Green Bay, "will say something to black players without realizing it may have racial overtones."
Another former Packer great from the dynasty years, a black player who asked not to be identified, remembers his first days in Green Bay when he was shown substandard housing: "The impressions of blacks came from what [the whites] saw on TV. They seemed to think that all blacks lived in ghettos or were poor." Willie Wood, the former Packer defensive back, says much the same happened to him, that he had to live in a room at the Y during his rookie year because he could not find suitable housing.
In Don Zuidmulder's father's time, white Packers might have been amused at being pets at the cocktail party. Some blacks cannot abide that notion. Often, Gray says, feelings are exacerbated in public places when black players see whites looking at them, pointing, whispering—so some of the blacks will stride over and say sarcastically, "Something I can help you with?" Blacks on the Packers tell newcomers to remember that there are white fans who have never even seen blacks except at football games or on TV. There also is a joke about the rookie who arrived at a hotel and called back home, "This place is really weird. Even the maids are white." And, in a league that hardly champions minority promotion, the Packers' nine coaches last year were all white—although the team signed a black assistant, Willie Peete, in February, after all the bad publicity.
Apart from local attitudes, Lofton and Cade certainly do not profit in the public sentiment, because of what appears to be an increase in the number of black athletes recently arrested for sexual assault. The most comprehensive analysis of this new problem in sport was a series last year by Rich Hofmann in the Philadelphia Daily News. It tabulated 61 such incidents, involving 88 athletes at 46 different colleges, and 90% of the offenders were black. Which raises obvious questions:
•Are black athletes being fingered for the same sort of offenses that whites are getting away with?
•Are athletes, for their fame and/or notoriety, being singled out?
•Are athletes, macho by definition, unduly encouraged by the men-in-groups mentality of teams?
•Are athletes inclined now to be more antifemale?
•What is it with these guys nowadays?
As disquieting as the figures are, some are reluctant to take them at face value. Stephen Glynn, Lofton's attorney, who is generally acknowledged to be the top criminal defense lawyer in Wisconsin, says, "I blame the lawyers in a lot of these cases. It's easy for an attorney to sue. You have nothing to lose but time, and if you're a lawyer without any clients, you have the time."
Ken Bowman considers larger imperatives. "It's a terrible thing to say, but drugs have become such an accepted part of society that there's no longer any sense of community outrage," he says. "Instead, we applaud an athlete for seeking help. Perhaps, then, people are transferring submerged feelings to sexual cases. Sexual issues are different. The whole community feels harmed. I think that people here have long ago made up their minds on these cases [Lofton's and Cade's]. They bring their entire culture to bear on it."
Whatever the legal nuances of Lofton's case, the defendant will surely also be judged extralegally: morally. Never mind what finally came to pass at the end of that evening in that stairwell. Why, people wonder, would James Lofton leave Beverly at home, go to a prominent bar in Green Bay and flagrantly make a play for another woman? Surely he knew that in Green Bay accounts of that evening would be known everywhere over breakfast that morning. It was almost as if he wanted to be caught.
Lofton's plight is not helped by the fact that Wisconsin remains, generally, conservative in such matters. "This was an extramarital incident, and that's the issue I must contend with," Glynn says. Indeed, in Wisconsin until as recently as 1983 oral sex among unmarried persons was illegal. Even now state law declares that Wisconsin "does not condone or encourage any form of sexual conduct outside the institution of marriage."
"I try to explain that people can act in poor judgment without being guilty of a crime," Glynn says. "But there's this feeling I keep hearing: He's at it again. At what? He hasn't been convicted of anything. The case in Milwaukee didn't even come to trial."
The fact that Beverly Lofton has stood by her man will work to his advantage. So, probably, will the fact that he agreed to enter the Milwaukee Psychiatric Hospital in Wauwatosa for two weeks in late December. There may indeed be demons attacking the young man who says he found Christ in the Fox River Valley. Lofton, whose father was in the military, grew up in California, but his parents divorced when James was in third grade. His mother died last June and his older brother, Emanuel Michael Jr., a fine athlete with a mind as sharp as James's, could not deal with the world. Emanuel eventually fell out of society, sleeping in the streets, and one night last fall, at the age of 37, he was bludgeoned to death in a park in Los Angeles.
But, finally, it will not help Lofton—or Cade—that the Packers are losers. The Packers have even begun to have no-shows at their games now, just like in the cynical big cities. Coach Gregg frets impatiently, waiting for the trials to be over, so that the Packers can again look ahead.
It has been almost two decades since Lombardi left the sidelines in Green Bay, and the Packers have only qualified for the playoffs twice during that time. They remain the team with the most championships in NFL history—11 titles for Titletown. But since Curly Lambeau, the team's founder, stepped down as Packer coach in 1949, only Lombardi has been able to forge a winning record for a career. Maybe the demographic deck is just too stacked against Green Bay. The scandals and defeats that have brought a sense of gloom and doom to the grand old franchise may seem even worse simply because, deep inside, the good people of Green Bay fear that this may be the way it's going to be from now on.