Packers by the Numbers Update: #27

27 has been worn by two Hall of Famers, in Clarke Hinkle, Cal Hubbard, and two Packer Hall of Famers, in Claude Perry and Hank Bruder. Rugged, undersized defensive back Johnny Symank wore the number longest in Green Bay (six seasons), and the longest gap with no Packer wearing 27 was from 1974-83.

Myrt Basing first wore 27 in 1927. In the Lambeau era, Basing was joined by five other backs (Bo Molenda 1928-30, Hinkle 1932, Bruder 1935-36, Don Miller 1941-42 and Jack Jacobs 1947-49), five tackles and one guard (Perry 1931, Hubbard 1933, Lou Midler 1940, Chet Adams 1943, Solon Barnett 1945 and guard Chuck Tollefson 1946) and one end (Keith Ranspot 1942). Miller appeared on the active roster for two years, but never actually appeared in a game

In the modern era, seven running backs, 11 defensive backs and two receivers have worn 27:

Runners: Larry Coutre 1950 and 1953, Veryl Switzer 1954-55, Cliff Taylor 1976, Herm Fontenot 1989-90, Calvin Jones 1996, Michael Blair 1998 and Eddie Lacy 2013-16.

Defensive Backs: Johnny Symank 1957-62, Al Randolph 1971, Hise Austin 1973, Gary Hayes 1984-86, Tony Elliott 1987r, Terrell Buckley 1992-94, Todd McBride 1999-2002, Michael Hawthorne 2003-04, Will Blackmon 2006-09, Anthony Smith 2010 and Josh Jones 2017.

Receivers: Red Mack 1966 and Claudis James 1967-68.

1927mbasing  1930bmolenda

1936hbruder  1941dmiller

1949ljjacobs  1954bvswitzer

1959tjsymank2  1966prmack

1971arandolph  1976tctaylor

1984tghayes  1994tbuckley

1999tmcbride  Rookies2013elacy

Custom cards of Basing, Molenda, Bruder, Miller, Jacobs, Switzer, Taylor and Hayes are all colorized.


Mr. Lee

March 20 is Mark Lee’s 60th birthday. Lee never made the Pro Bowl, even in 1986 when he was second in the league in interceptions with nine, but he was good enough to start at left cornerback for 10 years in Green Bay. He played a bump-and-run style and could be beaten at times, but generally was solid against both the run and the pass. Drafted in the second round out of Washington in 1980, his most notable moment as a rookie was when he was beaten for a 46-yard touchdown from Brian Sipe to Dave Logan in the closing seconds of a loss to Cleveland’s Kardiac Kids. Lee was in tears in the locker room afterwards, but learned to deal with the challenges of the job.

In 1981, the 5’11” 185 pounder earned a starting spot in the secondary and also served as the team’s punt returner. He gained more than half of his punt return yardage on one 94-yard return in a win over the Giants. It was the only regular season touchdown of his career. Lee did score on a 22-yard pick-six against the Cowboys in the 1982 playoffs, but in a losing effort. Overall, his 31 interceptions rank in the team’s top ten for that category, and he was the team’s defensive player of the year in 1986. He was a very good corner, but not an all-time one.

(Adapted from Green Bay Gold).

1983tmlee2  1985tmlee2

1989ttmlee  1990tmlee

Custom cards in Topps style.

The Departed Bootin’ Ben

Last month a short-term Packer, but long-term pro football kicker passed away at the age of 98. Ben Agajanian only appeared with Green Bay for three regular season games in 1961 when Paul Hornung was serving in the National Guard, but he also kicked off in the 1961 title game and went through Packers’ training camp in 1962 before being waived in September.

As a Packer, Ben kicked just one field goal and eight extra points, but as a pro he scored 756 points: 101 in the Pacific Coast Football League (PCFL), 130 in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC), 140 in the American Football League and 385 in the NFL. A Santa Ana native, Agajanian played defensive end and place kicked for the University of New Mexico in 1940. In the summer of 1941, he lost the toes off his right foot in a freight elevator accident, but returned to New Mexico in the fall with a squared off boot on his right foot and continued as the team’s kicker.

Ben went into the service in 1942 and was based in California, where he moonlighted as a kicker in the PCFL from 1942-44 with Santa Ana Flyers, Los Angeles Bulldogs, San Diego Bombers, Hollywood Bears and Hollywood Rangers. Given a tryout with the Eagles in 1945, Agajanian appeared in one game with Philadelphia before being sent to Pittsburg. For the Steelers that year, he scored his first 13 NFL points, but then opted to return to California with the PCFL’s Hollywood Bears in 1946.

His career as a kicking nomad was launched. He spent two years with the Los Angeles Dons of the AAFC and then a year with the New York Giants before retiring to start a sporting goods store in 1950. After Bob Waterfield retired, Agajanian was signed by the Rams for he 1953 season. He was replaced by rookie linebacker/kicker Les Richter in 1954, and he then tried out with the Redskins. Waived in September by Washington, Ben immediately signed with the Giants and found a home for the next four seasons in New York with offensive coach Vince Lombardi. The Giants acquired defensive end/kicker Pat Summerall in 1958 and Ben was waived again.

Agajanian was out of football for two years until signing with the Chargers of the new AFL in 1960. That would be his last full season as a kicker. In 1961, he spent six games with the Dallas Texans before finishing the year with the Packers. In 1962, he signed midseason with the Raiders. And in 1964, he signed midseason with the Chargers to finish his career as a 45-year old kicking vagabond.

Agajanian had a long post-playing career as a kicking tutor, adapting to change by teaching the soccer-style of kicking to his pupils. Ben had one other connection to Green Bay, too. His son Larry, a three-year letterman on the UCLA defensive line, was selected by the Packers in the eighth round of the 1968 draft. However, Larry injured his knee in training camp but was on the team’s taxi squad in 1969. Larry died in 2012.

1961fbagajanian2  1969tlagajanian2

Custom Cards in Fleer and Topps styles.

Mad Dog

Mike Douglass turns 63 on March 15. He was drafted in the fifth round out of San Diego State in 1978 and took over at right linebacker in 1979. Douglass’ main problem was size. Listed at 220 pounds, the six-footer put 10-pound weights in his pocket just to reach 215 on the scales in his career.

The “Mad Dog” made up for it with speed, quickness and attitude. Douglass led the team in solo tackles in 1980, 1981 and 1983, was the team’s defensive MVP in 1980 and 1981 and received All-Pro notice in 1981 and 1982. Linebacker John Anderson, who played on the right side in 1978 as a rookie before moving to the left in 1979, told the Milwaukee Sentinel, “Mike’s more suited to blitzing and the open field situation, while I’m better suited to playing over a tight end.”

That year, Mike told the Milwaukee Journal he was ready, “I’ve got good strength and speed, and I love to hit. And I’ve learned the game. Now when it comes time to act, I do it instinctively, instead of having to think about it.” His position coach John Meyer told the Sentinel, “He’s about as physical as you can be for a weakside linebacker. He makes things happen.”

His Mad Dog nickname was apt. Douglass streaked across the field like a heat-seeking missile and exploded on contact. That same attitude led to occasional problems in the locker room with coaches. In 1983, he walked out of team meeting and was suspended by Coach Starr. Later that year, he was suspended again for talking to the press about screaming at assistant coach Monte Kiffin. In 1985, he had another vocal altercation with an assistant coach following a loss.

Over his career, Douglass recorded 30.5 sacks (research by Webster and Turney) with a high of nine in 1984. After dropping to just 1.5 sacks in 1985, Douglass was cut by Forrest Gregg in 1986, and his lack of pass rush was cited as the reason. He finished his career in San Diego that year and then opened his own fitness center. Always a health food fan, Douglass never used steroids, and in retirement won the California Natural Body Builder championship five times. Although he was too small to have a long career, for five or six years, he was an impact player in Green Bay.

(Adapted from Green Bay Gold).

1979tmdouglass  1983tmdouglass

1984tmdouglass  1985tmdouglass

1984 custom card is colorized.

Packers by the Numbers Update: #26

It’s impossible for me to think of 26 and not see Herb Adderley in Green and Gold; he wore the number longer (nine years) and better than any other Packer. Herb is one of three Packer members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to wear 26 in Green Bay, with Arnie Herber and Johnny Blood. Claude Perry and Bob Forte, two members of the Packer Hall, also wore the number.

Perry, in fact, originated the number from 1927-30. He was joined by three other linemen (Clyde Van Sickle, 1933; Frank Butler, 1934 and Lyle Sturgeon, 1937), two ends (Tom Nash, 1929 and Bob Kelly, 1949), and the aforementioned backs (Herber, 1931; Blood 1935 and Forte, 1946) in the Lambeau era.

In the two-platoon era, 26 has been worn by two receivers, six backs and 10 defensive backs:

Receivers: Ray Pelfrey 1952 and Craig Jay 1987r.

Running backs: Lindy Pearson 1952, Gib Dawson 1953, Ward Walsh 1972, Eric Torkelson 1974-79, 1981, Darrell Thompson and Dujuan Harris 2012 and 2014.

Defensive Backs: Jim Capuzzi 1956, Ken Gorgal 1956, Herb Adderley 1961-69, Tim Lewis 1983-86, Chuck Cecil 1988-92, Mark Collins 1997, Erwin Swiney 2002-03, Jason Horton 2004-05, Charlie Peprah 2006-08 and 2010-11 and Herb Waters 2016.

1930cperry  1935jblood

1956tjcapuzzi  1961fhadderley2

1972twwalsh2  1976tetorkelson

1983ttlewis2  1991tccecil

1997mcollins  2010cpeprah

Custom cards of Perry, Blood, Capuzzi and Walsh are colorized.

Johnny Holland

Packer Hall of Fame member Johnny Holland turns 53 today. He was a tackling machine and the ultimate professional. A two-time All-American out of Texas A&M, he was nabbed in the second round of the 1987 NFL draft by Green Bay and became a starter as a rookie. Under Lindy Infante, the 6’2” 230-pound Holland was a three-down player whose responsibilities were to roam freely to stop the run and short passes in early downs and to drop into coverage when the defense shifted to the nickel.

Mike Holmgren’s defensive coach Ray Rhodes noticed right from the start that Holland, “can flow to the football so well,” and compared him to 49ers’ linebacker Bill Romanowski at the time. Holland’s position coach Bob Valesante told the Milwaukee Journal in 1993, “I see Johnny Holland making a lot of plays at the point of attack. He makes them in lateral pursuit. He makes them in pass coverage. He comes away every game making his share of tackles.” Indeed, Holland led the team in tackles in both 1992 and 1993. Rhodes praised Johnny further for his professional approach, “he prepares well.”

Unfortunately, a herniated disc in his neck ended Holland’s career in 1993. However, since he was always a leader on and off the field, he went into coaching in 1995 and has done so for eight different pro teams over the past 25 years.

1987tjholland  1992jholland2

Custom cards in Topps and Fleer styles.

Packers by the Numbers Update: #25

The two best Packers to wear 25 both did so in the last 25 years, running backs Dorsey Levens and Ryan Grant. Levens is a member of the Packer Hall of Fame and Grant is likely to be. Other Packer Hall of Fame members who wore 25 at some point in their careers include Whitey Woodin, Lon Evans and Ed Jankowski.

The number was first worn by veteran guard Rudy Rosatti in 1927, and he was joined by four other linemen: Hal Griffen in 1928, Whitey Woodin and Paul Minnick in 1929 and Lon Evans in 1934. Five backs also wore the number in the Lambeau era: Wuert Engelmann (1931-33), George Sauer (1935-36), Ed Jankowski (1937), Al Zupek (1946) and Pat West (1948).

In the two-platoon era, 25 has been worn by nine defensive backs and 11 runners. Defensive backs: Alex Wizbicki (1950), Harper Davis (1951), Billy Kinard (1957-58), Vinnie Clark (1991-92), Muhammad Oliver (1993), James Whitley (2003-04), Marviel Underwood (2005), James Nixon (2013) and Marwin Evans (2016-7). Running backs: Jack Losch (1956), Tim Brown (1959), Bill Butler (1959), Tom Moore (1960-65), Dave Hampton (1969-71), Les Goodman (1973-74), Harlan Huckleby (1980-85), Lee Wiegel (1987r), Patrick Collins (1988), Dorsey Levens (1994-2001) and Ryan Grant (2007-12).

Levens wore 25 for the longest period, eight years, but Grant, Moore and Huckleby all logged six years in the number. 25 was not worn from 1938-45, the longest gap, also eight years.

1927rrosatti  1935gsauer

1946azupek  1951bhdavis2

1959ttimbrown2  1963ttmoore2

1969tdhampton3  1984thhuckleby

1998dlevens  2010rgrant

All custom cards except, Moore, Hampton, Levens and grant are colorized.