COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus lost an incredible sports mind recently, with the passing of former Ledger-Enquirer Sports Editor Cecil Darby.
He retired in 1984 after 36 years with the newspaper. Several years ago, Phil Scoggins met Cecil at the Columbus Library to reminisce about a time when the NFL came to the Fountain City.
50 years ago Cecil Darby the Sports Editor of the Columbus Ledger, the afternoon newspaper back then. He covered the exhibition games when the Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins came to town in 1961 and 1962.
“In those days the Redskins were our team. They were the only team we got on television on Sunday afternoon. Got all their games. Washington was the southern most city in the NFL at that time. So we knew the Redskins real well. They
were kind of the local favorite,” says Darby.
The Packers and Redskins played at Memorial Stadium with proceeds going to the local boys clubs.
“This was three years after the Georgia-Auburn game had left Columbus. And I’m not suggesting in any way that they replaced the Georgia-Auburn game because nothing could do that. But it was a pretty big thing to see the Packers and Redskins play in Columbus, GA,” says Darby.
A promising young Quarterback named Bart Starr was just beginning to shine for Green Bay.
“Starr had been with the Packers for a few years but didn’t really get a chance to shine until Vince Lombardi took over as coach and he gave him his chance and you know what happened there on in,” says Darby.
Starr wasn’t in Columbus to play football.
“Made a visit to the Fort Benning hospital and talked to a lot of the people in the hospital there and that really made a big hit with them,” says Darby.
50 years later, Cecil recalls what struck him most about seeing the NFL play here.
“My biggest memory of the game is how big they were when they came out on the field. We were accustomed to watching high school teams play at Memorial Stadium and they were lucky to have maybe 2 or 3 200 pounders on the squad back in those days. When the Packers and Redskins came out it looked so huge. The stadium just seemed to shrink up,” says Darby.