May 5th is the birthday of several former Packers: Stan Heath, Paul Christman, Ernie Danjean and Frank Zombo. Standing above them all, though, is Bob Skoronski who celebrates his 83rd birthday today.
Skoronski was drafted the same year as Forrest Gregg, but in the fifth round out of Indiana, where he was the Hoosiers’ MVP. Bob and 1956 top draft pick Jack Losch actually left training camp together to go home in August, and Coach Lisle Blackbourn alerted the police to be on the lookout for the homesick duo. Blackbourn thought highly of his rookie tackle, telling reporters that Bob was a “fast, quick big man with lots of ability.” Both rookies returned to camp days later.
Like Gregg, the 6’3” 250-pound Skoronski moved immediately into the lineup as a rookie, and, also like Gregg, then went into the military in 1957. Skoronski, though, was not discharged from the service until 1959, Lombardi’s first year. At that point, Green Bay had three talented tackles with Forrest Gregg and Norm Masters. Masters was primarily used to rotate in with Skoroski and to play regularly when one of the starters went down to injury. In 1962, though, Masters and Skoronski alternated at left tackle by series, and the fact that Skoronski was not a full time player diminished Bob’s reputation. Skoronski was usually the starter, though, because Lombardi felt that Bob was so sensitive that he wasn’t the same player without that first team status.
Skoronski was an excellent left tackle, especially in run blocking, with good balance and agility, and he also played some center. Teammate Henry Jordan told Chuck Johnson, “I’ve never been hit so hard as Bob Skoronski hit me in our drills one day.” In the Ice Bowl, which Bob memorably dubbed, “our mark of distinction,” he delivered the key seal block that allowed Chuck Mercein to race to the three-yard line on a trap play. The play of his that I best remember is a quick toss play to the right against the Lions in 1964 that Jim Taylor ran for an 84-yard touchdown. The Packer escorting Jim all the way down the field was Skoronski, coming from the opposite side and making the final block on the play 80 yards from the line of scrimmage. It was the longest running play of the Lombardi years and is the fourth longest in team history.
In addition to his competitiveness, Skoronski was dedicated, studious and respected. Appropriately, he was the offensive team captain from 1964-68. In recent years, Bart Starr advocated for his blind side tackle to be elected to the Hall of Fame. That’s a bit of an overreach, but Skoronski was a mobile and technically savvy tackle who was underrated throughout his career.
(Adapted from Green Bay Gold)
1956 custom card is colorized.