Packers Top Rookie: 1921


Now that I’ve completed the run of the Packer Top Rookie series from 1950-2016, let’s fill in the gap of the Lambeau era from 1921-49.

In 1921, Green Bay’s professional town team, the Packers, joined the one-year old American Professional Football Association, a year before the league changed its name to the National Football League. 25 men played for the Packers in league games in that initial season. Four had played in the APFA’s first season of 1920: Cub Buck with the Canton Bulldogs, Joe Carey with the Chicago Cardinals and Emmett Keefe and Grover Malone with the Chicago Tigers. I am considering the other 21 players as rookies, although 12 of them played with the Packers in 1919 and 1920.

The 12 “veteran” Packer rookies were: Nate Abrams, Fee Klaus, Wally Ladrow, Curly Lambeau, Herm Martell, Ray McLean, Sammy Powers, Warren Smith, Buff Wagner, Cowboy Wheeler, Milt Wilson and Martin Zoll. The other nine newcomers to the APFA were: Norm Barry, James Cook, Frank Coughlin and Dave Hayes from Notre Dame; Jab Murray from Marquette; Tubby Howard from Wisconsin and Indiana; and Billy DuMoe, Adolph Kliebhan and Art Schmaehl who did not attend college.

The two best players on the team were Lambeau and Buck. Lambeau scored 28 of the team’s 70 points on the season on two touchdowns, three field goals and seven extra points. He also threw the only touchdown pass of the season (to Billy DuMoe) and captained the squad; Curly Lambeau was the Packers’ top rookie in 1921.


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