Kicking Team Aces

September 5 is a birthday shared by two Packers who made names for themselves on the kicking teams: Don Chandler and Steve Odom. Chandler was drafted by the Giants as a halfback out of Florida State in 1956 and was one of the first punting specialists in the NFL.  The first was Pat Brady of the Steelers in 1954 followed by Dick Deschaine of the Packers in 1955.  Chandler and Sam Baker joined the league in 1956, the 49ers Tommy Davis came in 1959, and Bobby Joe Green arrived in 1960.  This trend toward kicking specialists became the norm in the 1960s.  Chandler was originally supposed to be the Giants place kicker as well, but due to an injury he was replaced by Ben Agajanian.  The next year the Giants acquired Pat Summerall, so Chandler did not assume both kicking jobs until his seventh year in the league, 1962.

Chandler was one of the best in the league at both duties.  And with his background as a running back, he was very effective at the fake punt which he tried about once a year when the opposition was lax.  In his 12-year career, Don rushed the ball 13 times for 146 yards and threw and completed three passes for 67 yards.  Since he rarely played in the backfield after the first year, most if not all of these attempts were fake punts.  In Green Bay, he ran once for 27 yards in 1965 and once for 33 yards in 1966 before Donny Anderson took over the punting in 1967.  In an October 1965 game against the 49ers in Lambeau, Chandler got off a 90-yard punt that traveled 75 yards in the air and over 110 yards out of the end zone with the roll. The Packers had a fourth down at their own ten, and Don booted the ball from his goal line.  It landed at the San Francisco 25 and bounded on through their end zone for a touchback.

Chandler had nine good seasons with the Giants, even leading the league in scoring in 1963, but when he had an off year in 1964, Coach Allie Sherman was happy to deal him to the Packers for a draft pick.  Don straightened out the Packers kicking mess, although he gained everlasting fame for a game-tying field goal in a 1965 playoff game that the Colts still claim was wide right. The goal posts were raised in response the next season. Chandler played 12 seasons in the NFL and appeared in nine championship games, winning four. He retired in 1968.

Steve Odom was drafted in the fifth round out of Utah in 1974. He is the team’s all-time leader in kick return yards; he also leads in kick returns so that his return average is 15th among Packers with at least 40 returns. The 5’8” 185 pound Odom returned two kickoffs for touchdowns – one in 1975 when he was named to the Pro Bowl and one in 1978 when he led the NFL in kick return average at 27.1. He also averaged 8.9 yards per punt return and ran one back for a touchdown in his rookie year. Although undersized, he was a speedy deep threat as a slot receiver, averaging 19.2 yards per 84 catches with 11 more touchdowns. The Packers released him on October 30, 1979 to allow linebacker John Anderson to return from IR. Picked up by the Giants, Odom finished his career in New York that season.

(Adapted from Packers by the Numbers and Green Bay Gold.)

1965pdchandler2  1974tsodom

Custom cards in 1965 Philadelphia and 1974 Topps styles.

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