The all-time leader in kick return average for the Packers is Dave Hampton, who played with Travis Williams for two years. Hampton turns 70 today.
Hampton played in the same Wyoming backfield as future NFL runners Jim Kiick and Vic Washington. When Kiick graduated in 1968, Dave led the Cowboys in rushing as a senior and was drafted in the ninth round of the 1969 draft by the Packers. In his rookie training camp, the speedy, shifty 6’ 210-pound Hampton was drawing comparisons to Gale Sayers by the local writers. Obviously, that was premature and hyperbolic, but Hampton was a skilled runner.
With the Packers, he could not break into the starting lineup, but took over as the team’s primary kick returner. In his three seasons in Green Bay, Hampton scored a kick return touchdown each year and led the league in kick returns and yardage in 1971. After his 1970 101-yard kick return touchdown, Dave collapsed in the end zone with a pelvic abscess and had to undergo major abdominal surgery, missing two months of the season.
Traded to Atlanta for lineman Malcolm Snider in 1972, he quickly moved into the Falcons’ starting lineup, but his quest for a 1,000-yard season became a nearly Sisyphean task. In 1972, he reached 1,000 in the season finale, but lost six yards on the next play and ended up five yards shy. In 1973, he was given the ball 16 times in the fourth quarter of the finale and still fell three yards short. He was limited by injuries in 1974, but at last in 1975, in a finale against the Packers, he gained 26 yards after the game’s two-minute warning to reach 1,002. The next year he was traded to the Eagles and then drifted out of the league.
(adapted from Green Bay Gold)
Custom cards in the Topps Style.