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From Green Bay to Greenbrae, Packers are No. 1

Redwood High's first football coaches recall the process of choosing the 'G' emblem for the school's helmets, a decision influenced by their admiration for Vince Lombardi.

They're celebrating today in Green Bay. And Greenbrae as well.

And Larkspur, Corte Madera, Kentfield ...

They're called the Giants, but High and its football community have been linked to the Green Bay Packers pretty much ever since the school opened in 1958.

The association with Sunday's Super Bowl XLV champs was created by football coaches Bob Troppmann and Al Endriss, who not only fielded Redwood's first team that year but also outfitted the squad as well.

"We were crazy young coaches," admitted Endriss, who worked with Troppmann when he wasn't serving as head coach of the Redwood baseball team.

"As the asssistant coach, my job was to paint the helmets every week. If we had scouted a team and like their helmets, we changed our helmets to look like theirs. Those helmets must have weighed 40 pounds with all the paint we put on them."

Endriss recalled painting numbers on Redwood's first helmets. But a few years later, he was able to put the paint away for good after he and Troppmann found the "perfect" look -- the Green Bay "G."

"We were all Vince Lombardi fans," recalled Troppmann, who remains a Corte Madera resident. "We didn't coach like him, although we'd liked to have. But we patterned our program after him."

Technically, the "G" was for Giants, Redwood's nickname. But anyone who has seen the helmets over the years knows exactly what it stands for.

"Lombardi was our kind of guy," noted Endriss, who remains active in Marin County Athletic League sports as the golf coach at Branson. "We were always looking for anything that would give us an edge or make us look great. That's why we eventually put the 'G' on there."

The team colors were red and grey. Green and gold wasn't an option. Drake, where Troppmann had been employed before moving to Redwood, had already claimed green as its primary color.

Troppmann, now 88, enjoyed Sunday's game at home with his wife of 66 years, Marilyn, one of his daughters and his nephew. There's no doubt who he was rooting for.

"I always like the Packers, and it was because of Lombardi," he said. "His work ethic and personality ... most of the coaches at that time got something from him. He was a symbol."

Troppmann knows more about the Packers and their history than even most Green Bay fans. Once a coach ...

"Lombardi used to write his playbooks by hand," Troppmann noted. "Someone made a book out of it and I got it for Christmas."

That was a great day. For Troppmann, Endriss and many other current and former Redwood football players and coaches, Sunday was even better.

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