Lombardi’s Taxi Squad 1962-64

The repeat champions of 1962 carried two men on the taxi squad: undrafted free agent defensive back Howie Williams and Bob Jeter, a halfback/end who was drafted by Green Bay in the second round of the 1960 draft but opted to play in Canada for two years. When promising linebacker Nelson Toburen suffered a career-ending neck injury in his first-ever start on November 18th against the Colts, Lombardi tried to activate Jeter, but found that the CFL still owned his playing rights, so Williams was activated instead.

1962tbjeter3  1962thwilliams

Bob Jeter and Howie Williams made the transition from the 1962 taxi squad to the active roster in 1963, a year that featured several inactive players on the roster. Halfback Paul Hornung, of course, was under league suspension. Second round draft pick Tom Brown, a defensive back, decided to play major league baseball instead of reporting to Green Bay. Seventh round pick Gary Kroner, a kicker, was placed on the injured list first and then later to the taxi squad. 14th round pick linebacker Ed Holler spent the first 12 games on the taxi squad before being activated to replace injured middle linebacker Ray Nitschke for the team’s closing West Coast swing against the 49ers and Rams. The last two taxi squad men, fullback Frank Mestnik and defensive back Doug Hart, both were signed by Lombardi after having been cut by the Cardinals. Mestnik replaced tight end Jan Barrett on the active roster on October 4th, but Hart spent the whole season as a cab man.

1963tgkroner3  1963teholler4

Kroner would make the Denver Broncos in 1965 and scored 144 points in two-and-a-half years as the Broncos’ kicker, making roughly half his field goals. Holler was a punter and backup linebacker for Pittsburgh in 1964. Mestnik gained the last four yards rushing of his career in Green Bay in 1963. Hart played 112 games for the Packers from 1964-71, often as a starter.

1963tfmestnik4  1963tdhart

In 1964, the roster size was increased to 40 from 37, and Green Bay carried just one man on the taxi squad, linebacker Gene Breen who was drafted as a future in the 15th round of the 1963 draft. Breen was activated at the beginning of November to take ailing Jerry Kramer’s roster spot. Although he appeared in only six games with Green Bay, he played with Pittsburgh in 1965-66 and the Rams in 1967-68. Another future pick from 1963, third rounder Dennis Claridge was on the 1964 active roster all year, but is not listed on any official league roster because he never appeared in a game. Claridge was the third quarterback, but would not appear in a game till 1965.

1964pgbreen

(Williams, Kroner, Holler and Breen Custom cards colorized; Mestnik altered)

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