March 24 marks the birthdays of former short-tenured Packers Carlton Oats, John Rowser and Art Hunter, but also of Hall of Famer Mike Michalske and All-Pro Carroll Dale.
Mike Michalske (adapted from Packers by the Numbers)
Iron Mike Michalske was a true 60-minute man. He resisted ever coming out of any game, and with good reason. He was a four-time All Pro and was the first guard elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in its second year, 1964. On offense he was expert at pulling and leading interference downfield for Packer ball carriers. On defense he was known for blitzing the passer, but was also tough against the run. Benny Friedman, the Giants All-Pro quarterback from the 1920s, picked Michalske for his All-Time Team in the New York Times in 1949. He claimed Mike was “one of the fastest and most agile of linemen. He was smart, alert, aggressive and was…never mouse-trapped, never out of position. He was always in the right place at the right time and a deadly tackler.” Citing his intelligence, Friedman called Michalske a “quarterback playing guard”
Mike was an All-America at Penn State in 1925 and played fullback, guard, end, and tackle for the Nittany Lions. He signed with Red Grange’s New York Yankees of C.C. Pyle’s new American Football League in 1926. The Yankees were the class of that league, but the first AFL folded after only one year. The Yankees joined the NFL, but the team itself foundered two years later. In 1929 still owed $400 by the Yankees, Mike became a free agent and signed with the Packers. Along with Cal Hubbard and Johnny Blood, Mike was one of three key Packer acquisitions that year, and Green Bay would take the league title the next three years in a row.
While many things have changed about the game, the basics remain the same. Michalske recalled to the Milwaukee Journal in 1965:
We called it blitzing in those days, too. Our target was the man with the ball, especially the passer. It may not have been exactly ethical, but it was legal in those days to rough the passer, even after he got rid of the ball. We worked him over pretty good. Hubbard and I used to do some stunting in the line to find an opening for a blitz breakthrough. We figured the best time to stop them was before they got started.
Carroll Dale (adapted from Green Bay Gold)
When Max McGee began to lose a step, Lombardi made one of his best trades to refresh the starting lineup in 1965. He traded aging linebacker Dan Currie to the Rams, who needed someone to replace Jack Pardee who had retired to battle cancer. In return, he received the underutilized Carroll Dale whom the Rams had tried to play at tight end despite his packing just 200 pounds on his 6’2” frame. Drafted out of Virginia Tech in the eighth round in 1960, Dale was unhappy with the Rams. The small town boy wanted out of Los Angeles and was delighted to come to Green Bay where he could play for a winning team in a more congenial setting.
Like Dowler at flanker, Dale at split end had good but not great speed, yet Dale was a home run threat his entire time in Green Bay. He had good moves and continually got free deep. Cornerback Bob Jeter told Chuck Johnson for Greatest Packers of Them All, “Carroll is one of the few complete ends in the league. By that, I mean he can run all the patterns and run them well. There are some receivers who have a favorite move, and if you take it away from them, they’re done. After a week of working against Dale, I figure I’m ready for anything on Sunday.”
Dale once told reporters, “We throw mostly short passes, so the defenders have got to play the percentages. They’ve got to play me for the short pattern, so it’s sometimes a little easier to get them to bite when I fake a short move and then go for the long one.” Carroll was being a bit modest there. Quarterback Bart Starr was continually among the leaders in yards-per-attempt, so he liked to go long, and Dale was very good at it. Every year but one in Green Bay, Dale averaged better than 19 yards per reception, and for his Packer career, he averaged 19.7 yards and caught 35 touchdowns.
Michalske custom cards colorized.