Running back Junior Coffey turns 77 today. Coffey was with the team for just one season but did earn a championship ring in Green Bay. He was born and raised in Texas, where he was a star schoolboy athlete who dreamt of playing for one of the state schools in the Southwest Conference. However, the SWC had yet to integrate its sports teams, so Junior left Texas for the University of Washington.
As a Husky, Coffey led the team in rushing in both 1962 and ’64. In 1963, his season was interrupted by a foot injury, but he did manage to return to play in the 1964 Rose Bowl, where Washington lost 17-7 to an Illinois team powered by Dick Butkus and Jim Grabowski.
While at Washington, Coffey developed an interest in horse racing and hoped to be drafted by Pittsburgh because Steeler owner Art Rooney had race horses, according to a 2002 San Francisco Chronicle article. Instead, Coffey was selected by Green Bay in the seventh round of the 1965 draft. He and Fellow rookie Bill Curry played in the College All-Star Game before reporting to Vince Lombardi.
Although Coffey and Curry would have some success in the league, the other three Green Bay rookies (Dennis Claridge, Bud Marshall and Allen Jacobs) did not. The 1965 Packers, nonetheless, won the NFL title, and then Claridge and Coffey were both taken by the Atlanta Falcons in the expansion draft.
Coffey who had carried the ball just three times for 12 yards as a rookie, got a chance to play with the Falcons and led them in rushing with 722 yards in both 1966 and ’67 before suffering a knee injury in ’68. Junior finished his NFL career with the Giants in 1971 and then became a horse trainer and fashioned a long successful career with the equine set.
Philadelphia custom card is colorized.