March 15 marks the birthday of two undersized, but quick All-Pro Packer linebackers separated by four decades: Charley Brock and Mike Douglass.
6’1” 210 pound Charley Brock was drafted out of Nebraska in the third round in 1939 and spent the next nine years as a fixture both at center on offense and linebacker on defense for Green Bay. While not quite Mel Hein or Bulldog Turner, the league’s two best center/linebackers, Brock was not far behind and five times received All-Pro notice. He is listed as having 20 interceptions for his career, but that total is incomplete in that interception statistics were not kept in his rookie season.
However, the Green Bay Press Gazette ran play-by-play accounts of all Packer games in the 1930s and 1940s. Researcher Ed Coen went back and tallied up the totals for the Professional Football Researchers’ Association in 1995 and published the results in PFRA’s publication, The Coffin Corner. Coen found that Brock picked off eight passes in 10 games as a rookie in 1939. Packer historian Eric Goska confirmed that total for me, so that brings Brock’s career interception total to 28, the most of any Packer linebacker. 28 exceeds the total of 25 attained by both Ray Nitschke and John Anderson in Green and Gold.
Oh, Brock nabbed two more errant passes in the 1939 championship game, giving him 10 altogether as a rookie and 30 as a Packer. Charley retired in 1948, spent one year as an assistant coach in 1949 and then became very involved with Packer Alumni Association. He died in 1987 in Green Bay.
6’ 210 pound Mike Douglass was even more of a size anomaly in his era. A fifth round pick out of San Diego State in 1978, he took over at right linebacker in 1979. The “Mad Dog” made up for his lack of bulk with speed, quickness and attitude. Douglass led the team in solo tackles in 1980, 1981 and 1983, was the team’s defensive MVP in 1980 and 1981 and received All-Pro notice in 1981 and 1982. Linebacker John Anderson, who played on the right side in 1978 as a rookie before moving to the left in 1979, told the Milwaukee Sentinel, “Mike’s more suited to blitzing and the open field situation, while I’m better suited to playing over a tight end.”
That year, Mike told the Milwaukee Journal he was ready, “I’ve got good strength and speed, and I love to hit. And I’ve learned the game. Now when it comes time to act, I do it instinctively, instead of having to think about it.” His position coach John Meyer told the Sentinel, “He’s about as physical as you can be for a weakside linebacker. He makes things happen.”
His Mad Dog nickname was apt. Douglass streaked across the field like a heat-seeking missile and exploded on contact. That same attitude led to occasional problems in the locker room with coaches. In 1983, he walked out of team meeting and was suspended by Coach Starr. Later that year, he was suspended again for talking to the press about screaming at assistant coach Monte Kiffin. In 1985, he had another vocal altercation with an assistant coach following a loss.
Over his career, Douglass recorded 30.5 sacks (Webster and Turney’s research) with a high of nine in 1984. After dropping to just 1.5 sacks in 1985, Douglass was cut by Coach Gregg, and his lack of pass rush was cited as the reason. He finished his career in San Diego in 1986 and then opened his own fitness center. Always a health food fan, Douglass never used steroids, and in retirement won the California Natural Body Builder championship five times. Although he was too small to have a long career, for five or six years, he was an impact player in Green Bay.
Both Brock and 1984 Douglass custom cards are colorized.