Last week, I wrote about some of the great trades Vince Lombardi made with Paul Brown, but Brown was quite familiar with banishing players to Siberia. In the nine years before Lombardi came to Green Bay, the Packers and Browns were frequent trading partners, making 15 deals in that time. Because two of those deals gave the Browns two decade-long stalwarts for their defense, Bob Gain and Walt Michaels, we tend to think of the deals as a complete disaster. A little analysis changed my view a bit.
Listed below are all 15 deals. Following each player’s name are up to four numbers: years played with new team, games played with new team, times elected to Pro Bowl with new team and times receiving All-Pro notice with new team. If the player never appeared with his new team, just one 0 is listed.
|Trade #||Year||Packers Gave||Browns Gave|
|1||1950||Gordy Soltau 0||Joe Spencer 2,24,0,0|
|2||1950||1950 4th (Bob Smith) 0||Tom O’Malley 1,1,0,0|
|3||1950||1951 8th (Art Spinney) 0||Bill Boedeker 1,9,0,0|
|4||1951||Dan Orlich 0||Walt Michaels 1,12,0,0|
|5||1951||Bob Gain 12,125,5,9||Dom Moselle 2,20,0,0|
|1952 4th (Zeke Costa) 0||Ace Loomis 3,33,0,0|
|Bill Schroll 1,12,0,0|
|Dan Orlich 0|
|6||1952||Walt Michaels 10,120,5,5||Dick Logan 2,19,0,0|
|Chubby Grigg 0|
|Zeke Costa 0|
|7||1952||Ace Loomis 0||Tony Adamle 0|
|Don Phelps 0|
|8||1954||1955 4th (Paul Reynolds) 0||Jerry Helluin 4,48,0,0|
|9||1954||Babe Parilli 1,5,0,0||Bobby Garrett 1,9,0,0|
|Bob Fleck 0||John Bauer 0|
|Jack Miller 0|
|Chet Gierula 0|
|10||1955||Art Hunter 4,44,1,0||Bill Lucky 1,12,0,0|
|Joe Skibinski 2,24,0,0|
|11||1956||1957 5th (Henry Jordan) 2,24,0,0||Don King 1,6,0,0|
|Gene Donaldson 0|
|12||1956||1957 6th (Joe Amstutz) 1,11,0,0||John Sandusky 1,12,0,0|
|13||1957||Bobby Garrett 0||Babe Parilli 2,24,0,0|
|Roger Zatkoff 0||John Petitbon 1,12,0,0|
|Sam Palumbo 1,9,0,0|
|Carlton Massey 2,14,0,0|
|Billy Kinard 2,24,0,0|
|John Macerelli 0|
|14||1958||Dick Deschaine 1,12,0,0||1959 8th (Bob Laraba) 0|
|15||1958||1959 4th (Gary Prahst) 0||Len Ford 1,11,0,0|
If we total the figures for the two bad trades involving Gain and Michaels, the Browns gained 22 service years, 245 games played, 10 Pro Bowls and 14 All-Pro listings versus eight years and 84 games for the Packers. When we total all 15 deals, though, Cleveland obtained 31 years of service, 341 games, 11 Pro Bowls and 14 All-Pros compared to Green Bay’s 32 years, 335 games and no honors.
So what does that mean? Green Bay indeed gave up the only two stars (Art Hunter was the only other player who went to a Pro Bowl). However, the Packers got a lot of serviceable players better than what they had for very little in return. The comparison for the other 13 trades is Cleveland: 9 years, 96 games and one Pro Bowl; Green Bay 24 years, 251 games and no honors.
Parenthetically, there are some weird deals here: Michaels goes back and forth; Parilli and Garrett get traded for each other twice, the rights to Costa and Orlich go back and forth with neither player playing in either place after the trades, the draft pick Cleveland uses to select Henry Jordan comes from Green Bay and then Jordan is obtained by Lombardi two years later. My favorite, though, is Ace Loomis, having been drafted by Cleveland and traded to Green Bay in 1951, getting traded back to Cleveland in 1952…but none of the three principals in the deal ever plays for the team that obtained him. Adamle quits football in August to become a doctor, Loomis is waived back to Green Bay in September , and Phelps is injured and is waived back to Cleveland in November to appear in one last game as a Brown.