The Need for Speed

Watching the Packers’ offense struggle along this season without a reliable deep threat to open up the passing game reminded me of Vince Lombardi’s long and mostly fruitless chase after a speed burning wide receiver in the 1960s. Vince’s Packers liked to throw the ball downfield and were effective going to Boyd Dowler, Max McGee and Carroll Dale, but all three were more sneaky-fast than sprinter-fast.

Lombardi drafted speed burner after speed burner but none would ever unseat Max, Boyd and Carroll. He drafted Herb Adderley as a flanker and reluctantly shifted Herb to defense in 1961. That same year, 16th round pick Clarence Mason from Bowling Green was cut on August 28.

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In 1962, Clemson’s Gary Barnes came in round three and San Jose State’s Oscar Donahue in round six. Barnes played one year in Green Bay, but Donahue was cut on September 11, although he appears in the team photo.

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In 1963, Bob Jeter joined the team from Canada, and Vince spent two years trying to make a receiver out of Bob until moving him to defense.

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In 1964, to go with Jeter, Lombardi drafted Bob Long out of Wichita in round four. Long proved to be a capable reserve for four seasons, but never could crack the starting lineup.

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Vince grabbed All-American Larry Elkins in the first round in 1965, but lost him to the AFL. Lombardi also drafted flanker Jerry Roberts of Baldwin-Wallace in round seven, but Wallace did not make the grade.

1965plelkins

1966 brought Donny Anderson’s fleet teammate from Texas Tech, Jeff White, also a future pick from 1965, but Jeff could do no better than making the Packer taxi squad.

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In his final year as coach, Lombardi drafted Duke’s Dave Dunaway in round two and Jackson State’s Claudis James in round 14, but the two would combine for eight lifetime catches in Green Bay, of which Dunaway contributed 0.

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The ultimate result was that the receiving cupboard was bare once Dowler and Dale got old and the passing game collapsed.

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