Kicking the Tires

March 26 marks the birth date of quarterback Bobby Thomason, who had a brief fling with the Packers in 1951. Thomason was the most successful of the four quarterbacks picked in the first round of the 1949 NFL draft, but the other three were all underachievers — John Rauch by the Lions, Frank Tripucka by the Eagles and Stan Heath by the Packers.

Thomason was drafted (seventh overall) by Los Angeles, but was outshone by another Ram rookie quarterback that year, fourth round pick Norm Van Brocklin. Considering they already had starter Bob Waterfield, the Rams dealt Thomason to the Packers in 1951 for conditional picks in the first and second rounds of the 1952 draft, but with the proviso that Green Bay could return Thomason to Los Angeles before December 31 and would owe LA nothing.

Thomason shared the quarterbacking with Tobin Rote in Green Bay and played well. The two combined to throw for 26 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. Thomason was much more efficient, completing a career high 56.6% of his passes to Rote 41% and throwing for 11 TDs and just nine picks compared to Rote’s 15-20 ratio. Packer Coach Gene Ronzani, however, decided that Thomason wasn’t worth that much and sent him back to LA at year’s end, completing the lend-lease without any obligation. Green Bay then drafted Babe Parilli with the fourth overall pick of the 1952 draft to share the job with Rote.

The Rams then traded Thomason and end Jack Zilly to Philadelphia for a number one pick and fullback Jack Myers. Thomason played for the Eagles for six inconsistent years before retiring. Three times he was named to the Pro Bowl but shared the starting job in Philadelphia with another streaky signal caller, Adrian Burk. Bobby recorded a high of 21 TD passes in 1953 and a high of 21 interceptions in 1956. He was named to the Pro Bowl in both seasons, despite tossing just four TDs in 1956. He retired after the 1957 season and fittingly was replaced as the starter by Norm Van Brocklin, who was obtained by the Eagles in the off-season.

1951bbthomason  1951btrote

Custom Rote is colorized.

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