Packers Top Rookie: 1962


Five rookies made the defending champion Packers’ roster in 1962, but none would make a lasting impact in Green Bay. The four who made the opening day roster were the team’s first four draft picks: 1) LSU fullback Earl Gros, 2) Missouri guard Ed Blaine, 3) Clemson end Gary Barnes and 4) Virginia defensive tackle Ron Gassert. Speedster Oscar Donahue, a sixth round pick from San Jose State, made the team picture but was cut five days before the season and was picked up by the Vikings instead.

The fifth Packer rookie was free agent Howie Williams, a safety from Howard University who spent most of the year on the taxi squad, but was activated when linebacker Nelson Toburen broke his neck against the Colts on November 18.

The best player in Green Bay’s lackluster draft that year was Louisville running back Ernie Green who was traded to Cleveland during training camp, and spent seven years with the Browns as the running mate of Hall of Famers Jim Brown and then Leroy Kelly.

Earl Gros was the only one of the five to last with the team for two full years, but he was a disappointment who fumbled six times on just 66 touches in 1963 and was traded to Philadelphia for 1964. Howie Williams also made the team in 1963, but was released in midseason after Lombardi obtained Zeke Bratkowski as a third quarterback from the Rams on October 29. Ron Gassert was traded to the Rams for an undisclosed draft pick in August 1963 and never played again. Gary Barnes was traded to Dallas for a fourth round pick in September 1963. He spent 1963 in Dallas and then 1964 with the Bears, playing for three Hall of Fame coaches in three years (Lombardi, Landry and Halas).

Then there is Ed Blaine. Lombardi was looking for kicking options in 1963 and drafted guard Dan Grimm who could kick as well as play guard, so Blaine was traded for a fourth round draft pick in September 1963 to Philly where he played very well for four years. He was selected to the Eagles 50-year All-Time team in 1982. Blaine then honored a promise to quit football, got his PhD and had a 40+ year career in biomedicine. As he told the Eagles’ website in 2015:

One of my professors, my mentor as an undergraduate, didn’t like athletics; but he recognized that this was something that not everyone got a chance at. He said, ‘Here’s what I’ll do. If you promise to quit after five years, I will give you a place in my laboratory that you can come back to every offseason and work on your master’s degree. And then at the end of those five semesters, you’ll get your degree and you have to agree to stop playing football and finish your Ph.D. At that time, I didn’t think I would make it in the NFL, so that was the easy thing. ‘Sure Doc [Clint Conaway], I agree.’ And so it turns out that I did make it. I played the five years and I honored my promise.

Ed Blaine was the Packers top rookie in 1962.

Here are a few more custom cards of 1962 rookies:




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