Lombardi’s One Bad Trade?

Vince Lombardi’s trading record is astoundingly good. Vince made over 50 player deals in his 10 years as the team’s general manager, and I see only one where he did not at least get equitable value for what he was giving up. Certainly many of the deals were entirely negligible, such as getting a seventh round pick for third string fullback Allen Jacobs in 1966 or trading training camp halfback Paul Dudley for a fourth round pick in 1962. As to what he did with those draft picks, Vince’s record was spottier, He wasted some high picks on names like Dave Dunaway and Bob Hyland, but that does not detract from his ability as a trader.

Vince, of course, made his reputation quickly by obtaining three fourths of a fearsome defensive line from Paul Brown in three separate superb deals. In 1959, he sent fading receiver Bill Howton to Cleveland for Bill Quinlan who would play a fairly solidly at defensive end for four seasons along with valuable role player Lew Carpenter. (Quinlan, incidentally, would be replaced by the fourth rounder obtained in the Dudley deal noted above, — Lionel Aldridge.) That same offseason, Lombardi sent a fourth rounder to Brown for Henry Jordan who blossomed into a Hall of Famer in Green Bay. Finally, in 1960, Vince swiped future Hall of Fame defensive end Willie Davis from Cleveland for ineffectual backup tight end A.D. Williams.

Lombardi and Browns were friends, though, and that leads to the one time Vince got taken, sort of. In 1962, Brown needed a back to pair with Jim Brown in his backfield after exalted rookie Ernie Davis contracted leukemia. Green Bay had drafted Ernie Green out of Louisville in the 14th round and he played well in training camp, but Lombardi had no place for him. Green was not ready to beat out Tom Moore as second string halfback, and second-year speedster halfback Elijah Pitts was a demon on kicking teams. So Lombardi sent Green to Cleveland for a seventh round pick, and Ernie excelled as Jim Brown’s halfback and Leroy Kelly’s fullback for the next seven years, even going to two Pro Bowls. Of course, when you think about it, trading a 14th rounder in his first training camp for a seventh round selection is a pretty good move.

1958tbquinlan  1958tlcarpenter2

1958thjordan  1959twdavis

1962tegreen  1962tpdudley

Among the custom cards, Jordan, Davis, Green and Dudley are all colorized.

Update: Replaced Carpenter card after realizing the photo in the original was of Sam Baker not Lew Carpenter. Apologies for the mistake.

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