Misjudged Packer Rookies Team: Defense

None of these players ever played for Green Bay, but the Packers held the rights to each of them coming out of college. Depending on the player, there are different levels of regret expressed here:

DE: Bruce Clark was one of the biggest embarrassments in club history. The fourth overall pick in the 1980 draft, Clark signed instead with Toronto of the CFL. After two years in Canada, he signed with New Orleans and had an eight-year NFL career with the Saints and Chiefs. Clark was not worthy of so high a pick anyway, making just one Pro Bowl, but his refusal to play in Green Bay was a major insult to a struggling franchise.

DE: Gary Cutsinger was drafted in the seventh round in 1962, but signed with the Oilers of the AFL instead. Gary had a seven-year career in Houston and was a decent player, but would have been a benchwarmer in Green Bay.

DT: Bob Gain was the fifth overall pick in 1951, but rebuffed the Packers to sign with Ottawa in Canada. Paul Brown then acquired Gain’s rights for journeymen Ace Loomis, Dom Moselle, Dan Orlich and Bill Schroll. Gain signed with Cleveland in 1952 and spent a dozen seasons with the Browns, going to five Pro Bowls and receiving All-Pro notice nine times. Gain’s loss was devastating to Green Bay.

DT: Fred Heron was a third round pick in 1966, but was traded in training camp to the Cardinals for a third rounder in 1968 (used for Billy Stevens). Heron had a solid seven-year tenure in St. Louis, but would have been a reserve in Green Bay.

LB: Bob Laraba failed to make the Packers in 1959, and joined the Chargers in 1960. He picked off five passes in 1961 and returned two for touchdowns. He died in a car crash that offseason. He would have sat on the bench in Green Bay.

LB: Gene Jeter was drafted in the 12th round by Green Bay in 1965, but signed with Denver instead. Jeter had a three-year career with the Broncos, and would not have made the Packer roster.

LB: Chuck Hurston was 6’6” and 240 pounds who played both defensive end and linebacker. A 15th round pick of the Packers in 1965, he signed instead with Buffalo, but spent most of his seven-year career with the Chiefs. The Packers abused him in Super Bowl I, but he was still on the Chiefs as a reserve when they won Super Bowl IV.

CB: Mike Bass was drafted in the 12th round in 1967, while his Michigan teammate John Rowser was drafted in round three. Although Rowser had a decent NFL career, mostly in Pittsburgh and Denver, Bass outdid him. Bass was cut by the Packers in the last week of the preseason and was picked up by the Lions. Two years later, Vince Lombardi brought Mike to Washington, where he would start for the next seven seasons, drawing All-Pro notice once and eventually being named to the Redskins 70th Anniversary team.

CB: Phil Nugent played quarterback for Tulane and was drafted in the third round by the Packers in 1961. Converted to defense, he was cut and signed with Denver of the AFL. Nugent picked off seven passes in his rookie year, but never appeared in another pro game.

S: Joe Scarpati signed with the Packers as a free agent in 1964, but was cut during the preseason. Eventually signing with Philadelphia, Joe played six years with the Eagles and one with the Saints and picked off 25 passes as a small, but quick free safety.

S: Garney Henley was a 15th round pick in 1960 and impressed Vince Lombardi with his speed. Although he could not beat out fellow rookie Willie Wood in Green Bay, Henley played for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats from 1960-75. Mostly he was at defensive back, where he picked off 60 passes. However, Garney played on offense, too, at the beginning of his career and shifted to wide receiver exclusively for his final four years. He was a nine-time All-CFL defensive back and was also an all-league wide receiver in 1972 when he was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player while leading Hamilton to its fourth Grey Cup title during his 16-year career. He was elected to the CHoF in 1979.

1951bbgain

1964pjscarpatti  1961tpnugent

Custom cards are colorized.

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