Packers historian writes one last hurrah!

By Joel Waldinger | September 20, 2022


Being a newspaper reporter has been Cliff Christl’s lifelong passion. He spent nearly 40 years in the newspaper business and nearly all of those years writing about the Green Bay Packers. After decades working in print Cliff had one last story to tell and it came at the same time the Packers were nearing their 100th season. The reporter who made a career writing about the Packers is now employed by the team and wrote the book on the definitive Packers history. With a twinkle in his eye and a little laughter Cliff shared this, “One of my friends told me, when I took the job that if Cliff Christl was still alive, he wouldn’t tolerate this.”

All joking aside, Cliff got the assignment of a lifetime and a monumental task writing a story 100 years in the making. The title of the book is, “The Greatest Story in Sports.” “I don’t think there’s any question about that. Walking into Lambeau Field as the Packer’s Historian comes with a certain cachet. I have one of the most coveted jobs in the America. Now, I don’t know if that’s the case, I’ve enjoyed it.” What Cliff really enjoys is debunking myths surrounding the green and gold. “Maybe the most surprising things since I’ve worked for the Packers is the number of people who tell me that they have a grandfather or an uncle or somebody who played for the Packers who never did.”

Cliff is a walking encyclopedia of football facts, and his personal Packers archive is one for the ages. Seven file cabinets with about 25 drawers includes every story written about the Packers for their first hundred seasons. He has probably 300 to 500 interviews in oral histories done with Packers officials, coaches, scouts, and players. And to think he was originally a Bears Fan.

A lot has changed since his childhood growing up in Green Bay. In 2011, it took that former Bears fan to launch the Green Bay Packer’s Heritage Trail. Much like the historical sites in Boston there are plaques at certain historical sites around Green Bay. Twenty landmarks where significant Packers history took place.

Cliff may have saved his best work for last. He loves to research and he says without the deadlines of the book he might still be researching the Packers.

Joel Waldinger

Joel Waldinger

Joel Waldinger is a reporter for the “Wisconsin Life” project and considers a sunset over the “big island” on Manson Lake to be a perfect ending to a day of fishing and fun in the Northwoods. 

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