I have often been struck by how many Packers missed time from their NFL careers due to military service during the 1950s. Although an armistice was declared to end the Korean War in July 1953, military conscription continued. In fact, it appears the Packers felt their worst losses after the War ended. After some preliminary research, it appears the Packers led the league in players lost to military service in 1955, 1956 and 1957 with ten, nine and six players respectively.
The rebuilding Packers did not have the depth to withstand such losses, and Coach Lisle Blackbourn was forced to make trades to replenish his roster. In 1954, he traded newly conscripted quarterback Babe Parilli to Cleveland for Bob Garrett, who then went into the military in 1955. In 1955, he traded the Packers’ top draft pick from the previous year, newly conscripted Art Hunter, for Joe Skibinski and Bill Lucky. The biggest trade that was at least partly a result of military losses was the Tobin Rote deal in 1957. With starting linemen Forrest Gregg, Bob Skoronski and Hank Bullough all in the military, Blackbourn traded Rote and safety Val Joe Walker to the Lions for tackles Norm Masters and Ollie Spencer, guard Jim Salsbury and halfback Don McIlhenny.
For the decade, no team lost more players to the military as Green Bay. For the purposes of this study, players drafted by the military before beginning their NFL careers are listed as a loss to the team that drafted them. So even though Bill Roffler never played in Green Bay, he is listed as a Packer loss because they drafted him.
The tables below list the military service of 1950s’ Packers as well as breakdown for the league. (I updated the last two tables on 10/27/15.)
Packer Draft Picks:
|Year||U.S. Draftees||NFL Players in Military|
And some 1950s’ Packers chose to fulfill their military obligation by signing up for a six-year tour in the Reserves as the following custom cards reflect: