(photo by Ron Fitch)
The patch pictured above is in the Neville Museum and signifies membership in a local club registered as a non-stock corporation on May 28, 1964 in Menasha, Wisconsin. The National 1,000 Yard Foundation held its first annual fundraising dinner on June 2, 1964 when it honored NFL players who had gained over 1,000 yards in a season; at that point, there were just 11 such players in league history: Tony Canadeo and Jim Taylor of the Packers, plus Beattie Feathers, Steve Van Buren, Joe Perry, Jim Brown, Rick Casares, John David Crow, J.D. Smith, Dick Bass and John Henry Johnson. American Football League runners who had surpassed 1,000 yards were not considered so Cookie Gilchrist, Clem Daniels, Abner Haynes, Paul Lowe and Charley Tolar were not invited. Nor was All-America Conference tailback Spec Sanders who gained over 1,400 yards on the ground in 1947.
In addition to honoring the runners, the foundation would give an award to the blocker of the year as well. Forrest Gregg won the award in 1965, Jerry Kramer in 1967 and Dick Himes was a finalist for 1972. Proceeds of the dinner would go towards youth group projects. The Packers’ third 1,000-yard man, John Brockington, was honored following his 1971 rookie season.
At some point the corporation was “involuntarily dissolved,” which usually indicates some sort of financial problems. The last notice I found of the group’s annual dinner was in June 1978 when there was some question whether 1977’s top rusher, Walter Payton, would be able to attend. Through that point, 51 pro football runners had surpassed 1,000 yards in a season 98 times. In the ensuing 39 years of 16-game seasons through 2015, 181 more runners have amassed an additional 509 1,000 yard seasons. Over that time, the Packer 1,000-yard club has swelled slightly from three to nine with the addition of Terdell Middleton, Edgar Bennett, Dorsey Levens, Ahman Green, Ryan Grant and Eddie Lacy. Of course, to reach 1,000 yards in a 16-game season, a runner only has to average 62.5 yards per game, as opposed to 71.4 in 14 games or 83.3 in 12.
Here are the 23 1,000 yard rushing seasons in Packer history ranked by yards per game. + indicates first team All-Pro and * indicates the Pro Bowl.
Canadeo custom card is colorized.