Eight future NFL quarterbacks played for Notre Dame between 1945 and 1949. One was George Ratterman, who left South Bend in 1947 to sign with Buffalo of the All American Conference where he proved to be a very able performer. When the AAFC merged with the NFL in 1950, Ratterman was assigned to the New York Yanks and led them to a 7-5 record. Unhappy with his contract negotiations a year later, he jumped to Canada, but returned to New York in midseason signing a deal that allowed him to become a free agent in 1952 when the Yanks franchise was dissolved.
Ratterman signed with the Browns and served as Otto Graham’s backup for four years. When Graham retired in 1956, Ratterman suffered a career-ending knee injury. He later wrote a very funny book about his football career called, Confessions of a Gypsy Quarterback, and went into broadcasting and then local politics.
So what does this have to do with the Packers?
In 1952, the same year Ratterman joined the Browns, linebacker Tito Carinci signed with the Packers as a free agent linebacker on March 20. Carinci was a “Little All-America” at Xavier where he led the team to a victory in the 1951 Salad Bowl over Arizona State. While living in Cincinnati during college, though, Tito was said to enjoy the thriving night life across the river in Newport, Kentucky.
The 6’ 200-pound Carinci was noted for his speed and received good notices throughout training camp. However, in the final cutdown to 33 players on September 22, 1952, Carinci was one of five men waived.
Carinci went into the Army and had a tryout with the Bears in 1955. Eventually, he ended up back in Newport, where he began to work with local mob figures and rose to general managership of the Tropicana Club in town, a hotbed of gambling and prostitution.
Tying the Threads:
Ratterman became involved in the campaign to cleanup “Sin City,” as Newport was known and where he and his in-laws lived. After George announced his candidacy for Sheriff of Campbell County on a reform ticket, he was invited for a drink at a Cincinnati bar by an associate of Carinci who joined them and slipped a “mickey” into Ratterman’s drink. George woke up in bed next morning at the hotel above the Trop in bed with Carinci’s stripper friend, April Flowers (Juanita Hodges).
After blood work proved Ratterman had been drugged, Carinci and his associate were arrested on conspiracy charges. Ratterman was elected Sheriff that year and successfully vanquished the mob in the city. Carinci actually ran for mayor of Newport in 1963, but lost. Carinci went on to be acquitted of the conspiracy charges twice, but later served time in prison for tax evasion and, in the 1970s, for selling heroin. After getting out of prison, he ran a bar in Hermosa Beach, California and was honored by the city council for his efforts against ocean pollution.
How would history be different if Tito had made the Packers in 1952?
1952 Bowman-style custom card is colorized.