The final installment of Paul Zimmerman’s references to prominent Packers in A Thinking Man’s Guide to Pro Football concerns undersized Hall of Fame center Jim Ringo. Zimmerman quotes Ringo on the importance of the adoption of the face mask to his career:
“Every man has a slight fear for his face,” Ringo says. “God made you that way. When I first came up to the pros, a face mask was the sign of cowardice, but when it became standard equipment, you could stick your head into a block. Thank God for the face bars. I don’t think I could have made it without them.”
Zimmerman points out that one thing that allowed Ringo to emerge was the shift from the 5-2 defense with a middle guard directly over the center to the 4-3 with a middle linebacker off the line instead. Playing against the alignment allowed Ringo to shine, particularly with Lombardi’s reliance on the power sweep:
A few years ago, when Lombardi’s power sweeps were in full flower, the exceptional center was measured by one type of block, the cutoff on the defensive tackle on the side of the sweep. It’s still an effective gauge. When the guard pulls out to lead the interference, there is a split second in which his opponent is left uncovered, and it is up to the center to cut across the defensive tackle’s body and nullify his charge. If the center is too slow in his execution, the guard can’t get out, because the tackle will penetrate and disrupt the whole play…
“It became so much a part of me that I didn’t even think about it anymore,” Ringo said. ”It was automatic and I took it for granted. Maybe a bigger man would have more trouble with it, but for a little guy like me, the toughest block was always the straight-ahead drive, when one of those 300-pound monsters was playing me head up. I don’t envy the centers now, if that odd-front defense becomes popular.”
Fortunately for Ringo, the odd front defense didn’t really take hold until after his retirement. He went on to a long career in coaching offensive:
“I think it’s a desire to create. I really do,” Ringo once said. “A smooth offense is a creation, a beautiful thing. Defense is destruction. I just don’t think I have it in me to play defense. I love to watch a good offense. It’s the prettiest part of the game, watching a sweep go or seeing a well-executed trap play pick up 40 yards.”
The 1953, 1955, 1958 and 1963 cards are colorized.