Friday, January 25, 2013

Green Bay Packers

Here we are, 4 seasons after the departure of Vince Lombardi. Of these 10 players below, five are veterans from the glory years, two began their careers the year of Super Bowl I (1966), and three others were rookies in 1970.

After years at the top, the Pack just went through 3 seasons coached by Lombardi's successor, Phil Bengston. During those seasons, they won 6, 8, and 6 games. 1971 was the first season with Dan Devine at the helm, but their win total dropped to 4. They rebounded in 1972 with a 10-4 record, and their first post-season since 1967. Unfortunately, they wouldn't see double-digit wins again until 1989.

Bart Starr played 16 seasons (1956-71), all for the Packers. He was their starting QB every season from 1957-70, until rookie Scott Hunter took over in Starr's last season (1971). Starr was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977, and coached the Packers from 1975-83, never winning more than 8 games in a season.

Veteran Zeke Bratkowski was a backup QB for the Bears from 1954-60, then started for the Rams in '61 and '62. During the 1963 season, he was traded to Green Bay, where he served as Starr's caddy through 1968. After 2 years as a Packers' coach, he suited up in 1971 for one final season.

Donny Anderson was the Packers' #1 pick in 1965, and finished 4th in the Heisman voting. He began playing in 1966, but with Green Bay stocked at running back with Paul Hornung, Jim Taylor, and Elijah Pitts, Anderson returned punts and kicks during his first 2 seasons. He was also the team's punter for all but his rookie season. With the departure of Hornung and Taylor to the Saints in 1967, Donny was one of the team's leading rushers from 1967-71. Anderson was traded to the Cardinals prior to the 1972 season, and played there for 3 seasons.

A 17th (last) round pick in 1970, Larry Krause returned kicks for the Pack from 1970-74.

Gale Gillingham joined the Packers in 1966, and was a starting guard from 1967-76 (except for missing most of 1972 and all of 1975). He replaced Fuzzy Thurston at left guard in 1967, then moved to the right side in 1969 following Jerry Kramer's retirement. Gale was a 5-time Pro-Bowler.

Lionel Aldridge was drafted by the Packers in 1963, and was their starting right defensive end for the next 9 seasons. He also played for the Chargers from 1972-73. Aldridge passed away in 1998 at age 56.

Mike McCoy was the Packers' #1 pick (2nd overall) in 1970, and became the starting right defensive tackle, replacing the retired Henry Jordan, who had manned that post for 11 seasons. The following season, Mike and Bob Brown switched sides, with McCoy holding down left D-tackle for the next 6 seasons. He finished his career with the Raiders, Giants, and Lions from 1977-80.

Ray Nitschke was another of Lombardi's grizzled veterans. He was drafted by Green Bay in 1958 from the University of Illinois, 7 years before Dick Butkus was drafted from the same school. Ray was the team's starting MLB from 1958-70, followed by 2 seasons as a reserve, before retiring after 1972. Surprisingly, he only made 1 Pro Bowl. Nitschke was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1978.

Ken Ellis joined the Packers in 1970, replacing legendary cornerback Herb Adderley, who had been traded to the Cowboys. Ellis was a starting corner for Green Bay from 1970-75, then played for 5 other teams between 1976 and 1979.

Willie Wood was signed as a free agent in 1960, and played 12 seasons, all with the Packers. He was Green Bay's starting free safety in all but his rookie season, and returned punts every season. Wood was an 8-time Pro-Bowler, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989.

Also check out the 1967 and 1968 Packers.