John Hadl’s Wisconsin Debut

On November 10, 1974 newly-acquired veteran quarterback John Hadl started his first game for the Packers against the Bears. Although Green Bay triumphed 20-3, Hadl went a pedestrian 9-20 for 119 yards and threw one interception, fitting right into the continuum of bad quarterbacking the franchise had witnessed in since the retirement of Bart Starr.

In 1972, the team won the Central Division crown on the strength of its excellence at defense, running the football and special teams. Second year quarterback Scott Hunter was barely competent, but followed the directions of new assistant coach Starr. When Starr left the coaching staff in 1973, Hunter was lost. The Packers rotated its quarterbacking from Hunter to Jim Del Gaizo (acquired from Miami for two second round picks) to Hunter to Del Gaizo to Hunter and then finally to second-year man Jerry Tagge for the last six games of the disappointing 5-7-2 season.

On July 20, 1974, Coach Dan Devine traded a fifth round pick to Dallas for well-travelled journeyman Jack Concannon. Nine days later, Hunter was sent to Buffalo. Then, in the week before the start of the season, Devine traded Del Gaizo to the Giants for a third round pick that he immediately sent to Kansas City for Dean Carlson. Carlson was on the roster as the third quarterback in 1974, but never appeared in a game for Green Bay and was released after the Hadl trade.

Jerry Tagge started the first six games, and the Packers somehow managed to win three of them despite Tagge averaging 4.9 yards per pass and throwing just one touchdown pass to 10 interceptions. Devine was desperate and offered two first and two second round picks to New Orleans for 25-year old Archie Manning, but the day before the trade was to be announced, Saints’ backup Bobby Scott injured his knee, and the deal was scrapped. After a 10-9 loss to the Bears on October 21, a beyond-desperate Devine added a third rounder to the pot to obtain the 34-year old Hadl from the Rams on October 22.

The odd thing is that Packers had just beaten the Rams nine days before on October 13, with Hadl struggling (6-16 for 59 yards and two interceptions, although Tagge was even worse, going 2-9 for 17 yards and an interception). Hadl did not play in the Packers October 27 game against the Lions, but relieved Jack Concannon in the fourth quarter of a loss to the Redskins on November 3, going 6-15 for 99 yards with an interception.

Hadl demonstrated a base level of competence and won his first three starts against the Bears, Vikings and Chargers, completing 33 of 61 passes for 475 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, and the playoffs became a possibility for the 6-5 Packers. However, Hadl managed to put just 23 more points on the board in the last three games of the season. Green Bay lost to the 4-7 Eagles, 4-8 49ers and 2-11 Falcons, while Hadl completed just 47 of 108 passes for 498 yards and threw five interceptions to a single TD pass. Thank you, Dan Devine, for spending five high draft picks for that.

1974tddevine  1974tjhadl2

1974tjconcannon  1974tjtagge

1974tdcarlson  1973tjdelgaizo

Carlson and Del Gaizo custom cards are colorized.

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