Packers Top Rookie: 1927

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Of the nine rookie Packers in 1927, four were truly ephemeral professionals: backs Mal Bross and Gil Skeate both appeared in two games for Green Bay that year, but never again played in the NFL; guard Frank Mayer played in 10 games as a rookie, but then never again, while end George Tuttle had a one-game NFL career.

Two other Packer rookies that season achieved more fame later as coaches, each including a stint as an assistant in Green Bay. Halfback Tom Hearden was a Green Bay native who played under Knute Rockne at Notre Dame, Curly Lambeau in Green Bay for four games in 1927 and one in 1928 and then one game under George Halas on the Bears in 1929. He became a very successful coach for Green Bay East High School and later St. Norbert’s College before joining Lisle Blackbourn’s Packer staff in 1954 for two years. Blocking back Red Smith had a two-sport career. The Wisconsonite played in five games for the Pack in 1927 after having played in his only major league baseball game earlier that May for the New York Giants. Over the next four years, he played briefly for the Packers and for three other NFL teams over the next four seasons, while also playing baseball in the minors. He served as assistant coach to Curly Lambeau in Green Bay and Steve Owen in New York from 1936-44, while also managing and coaching baseball in the minor league and then coaching for the Chicago Cubs from 1945-49.

That leaves us with three rookie linemen who would have a significant impact on the Packers. Center Boob Darling played in only one game in 1927, but would appear in 35 over the next four years, contributing to three Green Bay championship teams. Both guard Bruce Jones and tackle/guard Claude Perry signed with the Packers from the University of Alabama. Jones captained the 1925 National Championship Crimson Tide and moved right into the Packer starting lineup as a rookie, spending his first two seasons in Green Bay and then four more with Newark and Brooklyn as a solid performer. Perry starred for the Crimson Tide’s back-to-back National Championship teams of 1925 and 1926 and also became a starter as a rookie. He spent nine bulwark seasons in Green Bay, appearing in 89 of his 93 NFL games as a Packer and winning three NFL titles; Claude Perry was the Packers’ top rookie for 1927.

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