Turning 78 on June8 is Herb Adderley. Green Bay drafted Adderley out of Michigan State with the 12th overall pick in the 1961 draft. Before Packers’ personnel man Jack Vainisi died in December 1960, he recommended Adderley as the team’s top pick, and Lombardi followed through on that last draft wish. Vince saw Herb as a flanker, though, since the speedy Adderley had led the Spartans in rushing and receiving as a junior and in receiving as a senior.
The 6-foot 205-pound Adderley preferred the ruggedness of defense and got his chance in the annual Thanksgiving matchup with the Lions in 1961 when starter Hank Gremminger got hurt. Mostly on instinct, Herb played well that day and became a starter the following year, with Gremminger moving to safety. That began an eight-year string of All-Pro notice for Adderley, who was recognized as the top cornerback in the game in the 1960s. He played all-out on every play, pass or run. Rather than shy away from forcing on running plays, he seemed to relish it. His preferred tackling style was around the neck, and he was a fierce hard-hitter.
In pass defense, Herb was a gambler and sometimes was beaten. Gary Collins, in particular, seemed to give him trouble, but he went through the entire 1965 season without giving up a touchdown pass. He also scored three times on interception returns that year. A year after that, the entire Packer defense gave up just seven touchdowns through the air all season. The Packers played tight man-to-man defense almost exclusively, and they could rely on the speed, agility and quick reactions of Adderley to close off the left side of the defense.
Adderley liked to trash talk with receivers he matched up against and liked to bait quarterbacks by appearing to be beaten on a play. As Adderley told Chuck Johnson for Greatest Packers of Them All, “The big thing to remember is you’re going to get beat. The question is, when you get beat, can you recover? They’re going to fake you out and beat you, but you’ve got to retain the right attitude.” With that attitude, Herb turned around several Packer games with big plays. Among defenders who recorded at least 40 interceptions, Adderley is one of just five with an interception return average of over 20 yards. And he averaged over 25 yards per kickoff return throughout his career, too.
When Lombardi retired, tension developed between Adderley and Phil Bengtson, so Herb was traded to the Cowboys in 1970. Despite being credited by many as being the final piece for Dallas to finally win it all in 1971, Adderley was continually berated by Coach Tom Landry for guessing rather than following his assignment. Landry benched him in the second half of the 1972 season, and Dallas traded him to New England in July 1973. The Patriots tried Herb as a free safety and then traded him to the Rams for Bill Dulac (?!) three weeks later. Two weeks after that, Herb was cut and retired.
(Adapted from Green Bay Gold.)
Custom cards in the Topps AFL style.