Most members of the Packers rookie class of 1940 would have their football careers interrupted, shortened or ended by World War II. Top draft pick Hal Van Every, a halfback from Minnesota, played two years for the Packers before entering the service. He was shot down over Germany in May 1944 and injured his back. Freed from prison camp a year later by George Patton’s forces, he never played again. Purdue halfback Lou Brock was selected in round three and played throughout the war as a married farmer. Nebraska end George Seaman, picked in round eight, played just one game as a Packer.
Among undrafted free agents, Nebraska tackle Fred Shirey played in three Packer games, and Alabama tackle Bobby Wood, who was actually drafted by the Rams in 1940, appeared in just two before going into the service. Three free agent ends included Marshall’s Bob Adkins (Green Bay 1940-41, 1945), Fordham’s Ray Riddick (Green Bay 1940-42, 1946) and Iowa’s Dick Evans (Green Bay 1940, 1943; Cardinals 1941-42). All served in the war. Free agent guard Howard “Smiley” Johnson from Georgia showed great potential in Green Bay in 1940 and 1941, but never came back from the Marines, dying on the Pacific island of Iwo Jima in 1945.
As rookies, the most impressive were Johnson, Riddick and Brock. Brock ran the ball for 60 yards, caught five passes for 97 yards and finished second on the team with five interceptions. Riddick was very active on defense, started seven games and caught 11 passes as well.; Ray Riddick was the Packers’ top rookie of 1940.
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