The NFL Draft

In commemoration of this week’s NFL draft, here are some custom cards in the 1955 Topps All-American style. All are Packers who won All-America recognition while in college, but did not quite pan out that way in Green Bay.

1955acvercko1  1955tabrown

1955tbgarrett  1955tbparilli

1955tbbain2  1955tbhyland

1955tjcloud  1955tjgirard

1955tjtagge  1955thfaverty

All custom cards except Brown, Bain and Tagge are colorized.

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A Couple of Overachievers

April 22 marks the birthday of two Packers long on heart but not on talent: Larry Krause and Mark Murphy.

Krause was a local Wisconsin boy raised on a dairy farm who attended St. Norbert’s College where the Packers held training camp in the 1960s. Drafted in the 15th round of the 1970 draft, Krause was a running back who carried the ball just six times and caught just two passes in his four years on the roster. He did return 35 kickoffs, including one for a 100-yard touchdown, but his main contribution to the team was in kick coverage where he was a leading tackler. Unfortunately, he broke his jaw in 1972 and spent the division championship year on injured reserve, but returned to play on the 1973 and ’74 teams before his pro career ended.

Murphy had a much more extensive NFL career and cut a distinctive profile with his completely bald head years before Michael Jordan popularized the look, but Murphy’s hairless dome was due to a condition known as alopecia that he contracted when in third grade. Far from the most talented player on the field, he carved out a long, productive career through determination, preparation and hard work.

Murphy was an undrafted free agent out of tiny West Liberty State in 1980 but broke his wrist in the first preseason game, causing him to miss the entire year. Watching from the sidelines, Murphy paid attention and learned. Johnnie Gray recalled to the Journal-Sentinel, “Mark was like a sponge, always listening and learning and trying to improve. He was a great teammate, hardworking, unselfish and a tough competitor. I think I trained him to take my job.”

A reliable special teams’ performer, the 6’2” 200 pound Murphy finally became a permanent starter in 1983 at free safety. A year later, he moved to strong safety and remained the starter there through 1991 — although he missed the 1986 season due to a broken leg. He was slow, but a very hard hitter, much more effective in zone than man-to-man coverage. When Mike Holmgren took over as head coach in 1992, Murphy was demoted to third string prior to training camp, so he requested his release and eventually went into high school coaching. Holmgren’s defensive coach Ray Rhodes was looking for a strong safety with range, not just a force player stationed close to the line of scrimmage.

(Adapted from Green Bay Gold)

1970tlkrause  1974tlkrause

1988tmmurphy  1989tmmurphy

Custom cards in Topps style.

KJAX

Keith Jackson turns 53 today and had a great pro career – six pro Bowls and four All-Pro teams – but almost all of it was before he got to Green Bay. Jackson was an All-American at Oklahoma and was the top draft choice of the Eagles in 1988. Jackson was an immediate star for the Eagles, but also a steady thorn to the team’s management over contract negotiations and renegotiations. Through a legal quirk, Jackson was one of the first unrestricted free agents in the NFL in 1992 and signed with Miami where he had four solid seasons.

Ron Wolf traded a second round pick for Jackson in 1995, but Keith refused to report. He had claimed to be only interested in playing for one of his former coaches, Barry Switzer in Dallas or Buddy Ryan in Arizona and then claimed he would only sign for a long-term deal. With the blustery Ryan predicting that the Packers would be forced to trade Jackson to Arizona for peanuts, Wolf held strong and ultimately was rewarded. Well into the 1995 season, Jackson agreed to terms for 1995. He appeared in the last nine games of the season and caught just 13 passes for 142 yards and one touchdown in that time. In three playoff games that year, though, he bettered that by catching 12 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns.

Jackson signed a two-year deal in the offseason and had an All-Pro year in 1996 with 10 touchdown catches as part of a twin tight end tandem with Mark Chmura. After the team won the Super Bowl, though, the garrulous Jackson retired and went into broadcasting.

Despite having good size at 6/2” 250 pounds, Jackson never had much interest in blocking, but was a terrific receiving tight end with good speed and running skills. Ted Thompson, then director of player personnel, said upon the Packers’ acquisition of Jackson, “We feel good about how he will perform in Mike Holmgren’s offense. He’s an excellent receiving tight end who has the ability to get up the field. We definitely think he’ll be a threat in the passing game for us.” That he was, but for too brief a time in Green and Gold.

(Adapted from Green Bay Gold)

1995kjackson  1996kjackson

Custom cards in Topps and Fleer styles.

The Hornung Suspension

55 years ago today Green Bay residents were greeted with the distressing front page headline:

Hornung Banned Indefinitely in NFL Betting Investigation.

The Associate Press story by Jack Hand provided the news that Paul Hornung and Lions defensive tackle Alex Karras had been suspended by Commissioner Pete Rozelle for placing bets on NFL and college games.  Five other Lions–Joe Schmidt, Wayne Walker, Gary Lowe, John Gordy and Sam Williams–had been fined for placing a single bet on the previous year’s NFL title game. The story also noted that Colts owner Carroll Rosenbloom, Bears’ fullback Rick Caseras and 49ers’ tackle Bob St. Clair had been cleared of suspicion.

It wasn’t until the next day’s edition that Art Daley and the Press Gazette’s staff covered the story, gathering quotes from Vince Lombardi, his coaches, and current and former players. One story, two days later, got the reaction of the then Miss Wisconsin who expressed some understanding of the pressures of the life in the spotlight that must have driven Hornung to make such a bad decision.

Baltimore’s new head coach Don Shula, who had served as the Lions’ defensive coach in 1962, correctly predicted that the Lions would feel their loss more than the Packers. Green Bay lost out to the Bears by a game in the West, but still led the NFL in scoring in 1963. The Lions, though, dropped from 11-3 to 5-8-1 and their defense gave up early 100 points more.

Both players were reinstated in 1964. Hornung would earn two more championship rings in the next three years and have a few more good games, particularly in 1965 against the Colts and Browns, but he was never the same player again. Karras would make several more All Pro teams, but the Lions made the postseason just once, losing to the Cowboys 5-0 in Alex’s least game on December 26, 1970.

1963tphornung7  1964pphornung

1965pphornung  1966pphornung2

Custom cards in Topps and Philadelphia styles.

Post Cereal Cards Wrap Up

I previously posted custom 1962 Post Cereal cards to complete the team set for that season. I also prepared some additional cards in the set to cover some rookies who did not make the Packers, but were of interest. Four of them played elsewhere in the league, and Ernie Green was a Pro Bowl player. Plus, the coach and a team card.

1962p0vlombardi2  1962pteam

1962podonahue

1962ppdudley

1962pegreen

1962pbjoiner

1962pjsutro

Custom cards 38-42 are colorized.

Tagge

April 12 marks Jerry Tagge’s 68th birthday. Tagge was the third Packer passer to come from Green Bay West High School. The first, Charles Mathys, was more of a receiver in the 1920s, but did throw nine touchdown passes from 1922-26. The second was Hall of Famer Arnie Herber in the 1930s.

Tagge grew up in Green Bay and worked concessions at Lambeau Field in the Lombardi era. Highly recruited from West, Jerry went to Nebraska in 1968 and quarterbacked the Huskers to consecutive national championships in 1970 and 1971. Green Bay selected him with the eleventh overall pick in the 1972 draft, but Tagge flopped badly in his hometown. In three seasons, Jerry threw for three touchdowns and 17 interceptions before being cut by Bart Starr in 1975. He later played briefly in the World Football League and for three more years in Canada. Tagge had better success in Canada, throwing for 32 touchdowns and 38 interceptions before retiring in 1980.

Jerry later attributed his problems in Green Bay to alcohol. Cliff Christl has written that Tagge lacked arm strength, consistency and maturity. Ultimately, he was a major disappointment at the key position in football.

1972tjtaggecas  1972tjtaggeg2

1973tjtagge  1974tjtagge

Custom cards in the Topps styles.

Packers by the Numbers Update: #30

Clarke Hinkle wore seven numbers for the Packers, but 30 was the one he wore the longest. After he retired, the number was not worn for another 25 years. It’s likely that 30 was unofficially retired for Hinkle, the one-time leading rusher in NFL history, but that all changed with the acquisition of another mighty fullback out of the East in 1967, Chuck Mercein.

Hinkle wore 30 for seven years, the same Ahman Green, who went on to become the franchise’s rushing leader. The number was worn longest, however, by popular blocking back John Kuhn who donned 30 for nine seasons in Green Bay.

The number was first worn by tackle Tiny Cahoon from 1927-28. In the two-way era, he was joined by linemen Mike Michalske (1932), Larry Bettencourt (1933) and Nate Barragar (1934); ends Dick O’Donnell (1929-30) and Milt Gantenbein (1933); and backs Bo Molenda (1931-32) and Hinkle (1933, 1935, 1937-41).

In the modern era, 10 running backs and three defensive backs have worn 30.

RBs: Chuck Mercein (1967-69),Larry Krause (1970-71, 1973-74), Ricky Patton (1979), Paul Ott Caruth (1986-88), Chuck Webb (1991), William Henderson (1995-97), Ahman Green (2000-06), John Kuhn (2007-15), Knile Davis (2016) and Jamaal Williams (2017).

DBs: Bill Whitaker (1981-82), Jim Bob Morris (1987r) and Corey Harris (1993-94).

Hinkle and Michalske are Hall of Famers, while Gantenbein, Barragar, Henderson and Green are all members of the Packer Hall of Fame.

1927icahoon  1930dodonnell

1935chinkle  1967pcmercein3

1973tlkrause  1986tpocarruth

phof2014agreen  2010jkuhn

First three custom cards are colorized.