They’ll all be gathered around the big screen upstairs on Saturday, just like we will down here, as two Packer family members take the field for the Big Ten Championship game, proof that Coach Lombardi’s legacy lives on
Wyatt Davis, grandson of Packer and NFL Hall of Famer and defensive team captain Willie Davis, and Peter Skoronski, grandson of Packer Hall of Famer and offensive team captain Bob Skoronski are both forging impressive football careers of their own.
Davis, an All-American offensive guard, plays for Ohio State and Skoronski, a true freshman starting left offensive tackle, plays for Northwestern. Both are fired up for the big game at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday at 11 a.m. CST.
In addition to their obvious athletic skill, Wyatt and Peter also share other characteristics with their grandfathers– reflexive respect, innate intelligence and a game day intensity.
“As far as being aggressive, that’s just something I’ve always been, even at a young age,” Davis said. “My grandpa would play very physical. I would look at the old videos of him playing and he was a very physical player. He was playing the game the way it should be played now, physically tough and hitting hard. I just try to emulate that.”
Willie Davis, who passed away eight months ago, played a key role in his grandson’s life and his football game.
“He was a huge influence,” Wyatt said. “He was always around, especially when I was younger, with both me and my brother. He was like a second dad. He really drove us. He gave us the fighting spirit to attack everything at full velocity. He used to tell us that if we were going to do something, we should do it 100%. I feel like that attitude had a lot to do with why he was so successful. I really enjoyed spending time with my grandpa.”
Peter Skoronski also enjoyed the influence of his grandfather. Bob, who passed away two years ago, was able to see Peter play high school ball, an experience that meant a lot to both men and their families.
“Bob got to see the whole game and he was thrilled,” said Peter’s grandmother Ruth Ann Skoronski.
Ruth Ann has been following Peter’s career closely and even managed to attend a game in person earlier this season. She noted that Peter plays the same position his grandfather did and said she watches every game.
“He’s exceptional, he really is,” she said. “All of my grandchildren are. They are all loving, very caring and very respectful.”
While it’s unusual and a lot of pressure for a true freshman to start in a key position like left tackle, Skoronski said he’s enjoying the season.
“It is a little surreal for things to happen so fast,” he said. “I don’t know if it hit me quite yet. It’s definitely exciting and I’m just happy to be here and happy to be competing for a Big Ten championship.”
He also pointed to his grandfather and the lasting impact he’s had on Peter’s life.
“He was really my whole inspiration for getting into football, he and my dad and really my whole family,” he said. “Playing in the NFL and being successful at it. It became a sport I wanted to play and I wanted to follow in his footsteps.”
In an iconic picture from Super Bowl I, the four captains, Bob Skoronski and Willie Davis for the Packers and John Gillium and Jerry Mays for the Chiefs, stand alone for the coin toss with referee Norm Schachter. The striking historical significance of that photo is not lost on the two Packer grandsons, who are also playing in historical seasons and through unprecedented challenges this year.
Just as Lombardi’s Packers formed a lifelong bond during their playing days, Wyatt Davis said he and teammates have done so as well.
“That’s just the way football is,” he said. “It brings you all together. Because of truly everything we had to go through as far as Ohio State. The season was canceled and then it wasn’t. All these rumors and then all the rumors about the rumors. All the constant obstacles that we’ve had to overcome. We’ve had a game canceled against us at Maryland and then we had a small Covid outbreak and had to cancel a game against Illinois. It just seems like everything that’s been thrown at us, we’ve taken it. Everything we do that gets put into a season really bonds us together. It really is like a big family.”
Those two captains standing on that field back in 1967 about to lead their team to its first Super Bowl title could not have imagined their lasting impact on the game and on the two young men who followed them onto the field 53 years later.
For their grandsons and students of the game, though, that moment endures.
“I think about that picture because we know on Super Bowl day there’s a million media people out there for the coin toss and that picture is just the four guys and the coin toss,” Peter said. “And I know my grandpa would be proud to see me playing in this game and I’m sure Mr. Davis would be as well.”