Packers by the Numbers Update: #31

31 has been worn by several good players in Green Bay, but it will always be Jim Taylor’s number. Taylor, probably the greatest runner the team has ever had, wore the number the longest-nine years– and with the most distinction. He and guard Mike Michalske are the two Hall of Famers to don the number. 31 has also been worn by seven members of the Packer Hall of Fame: Taylor, Michalske, Verne Lewellen, Nate Barragar, Fred Cone, Bob Mann and Gerry Ellis.

31 was worn first by back Verne Lewellen (1929-30). He was joined in the Lambeau era by seven linemen: tackles Roy Jennison (1931) and Joe Kurth (1934); guards Clyde Van Sickle (1932) and Michalske (1933); centers Barragar (1931 and ’35) and Roger Harding (1949); and end Ace Prescott (1946). The longest gap was from 1936-45.

Since 1949, the number has been worn by one wide receiver, nine running backs and six defensive backs:

WR: Bob Mann (1950-51).

RBs: Bill Boedecker (1950), Fred Cone (1952-57), Jim Taylor (1958-66), Perry Williams (1969-73), Jim Culbreath (1977-79), Gerry Ellis (1980-86), Tony Hunter (1987r), Allen Rice (1991) and Buford McGee (1992).

DBs: George Teague (1993-95), Rod Smith (1998), Fred Vinson (1999), Chris Akins (2000-01), Al Harris (2003-09) and Davon House (2011-14, 2017).

1930vlewellen  1935nbarrager

1952bfcone  1962tjtaylor2

1978tjculbreath  1985tgellis

1994gteague  1998rsmith

Custom cards of Lewellen, Barragar, Cone and Culbreath are colorized.

Marco Rivera

Marco Rivera turns 46 today. No Green Bay guard was named to the Pro Bowl from 1971 until 2002, when Marco ended that 30-year drought. Rivera made the Pro Bowl three consecutive seasons before leaving as a free agent in 2005. After a long apprentice in the late 1990s, Rivera teamed with Mike Wahle to give the Packers the best set of guards the team had employed since the Lombardi era.

Drafted out of Penn State in the sixth round of the 1996 NFL draft, Rivera spent that championship season on the Packers’ practice squad and then served as a reserve lineman in 1997 before finally winning the starting left guard slot in 1998. A year later, he shifted to the right side and stayed there through 2004. At 6’4” 310 pounds, Marco had good size and excellent strength; he truly was a mauler.

Rivera was also exceptionally tough. He played through a torn MCL in both 1998 and 2002, as well as a broken hand and other knee problems in other seasons. For such dedication, he won the team’s Ed Block Courage Award in 2004. His position coach Larry Beightol told the Journal Sentinel, “Marco may be the toughest guy in the National Football League. He’s just an old throwback. He just likes to mix it up play after play.” In seven years as a starter, Rivera missed just one start; he showed up to play every week. Bill Parcells signed him as a free agent in Dallas in 2005, and Marco lasted two years as a starter before back problems ended his career in 2007. He was elected to the Packer Hall of Fame in 2011.

(Adapted from Green Bay Gold)

1997mrivera  1998mrivera

1999mrivera  2000mrivera

Custom cards in various styles.

The NFL Draft

In commemoration of this week’s NFL draft, here are some custom cards in the 1955 Topps All-American style. All are Packers who won All-America recognition while in college, but did not quite pan out that way in Green Bay.

1955acvercko1  1955tabrown

1955tbgarrett  1955tbparilli

1955tbbain2  1955tbhyland

1955tjcloud  1955tjgirard

1955tjtagge  1955thfaverty

All custom cards except Brown, Bain and Tagge are colorized.

A Couple of Overachievers

April 22 marks the birthday of two Packers long on heart but not on talent: Larry Krause and Mark Murphy.

Krause was a local Wisconsin boy raised on a dairy farm who attended St. Norbert’s College where the Packers held training camp in the 1960s. Drafted in the 15th round of the 1970 draft, Krause was a running back who carried the ball just six times and caught just two passes in his four years on the roster. He did return 35 kickoffs, including one for a 100-yard touchdown, but his main contribution to the team was in kick coverage where he was a leading tackler. Unfortunately, he broke his jaw in 1972 and spent the division championship year on injured reserve, but returned to play on the 1973 and ’74 teams before his pro career ended.

Murphy had a much more extensive NFL career and cut a distinctive profile with his completely bald head years before Michael Jordan popularized the look, but Murphy’s hairless dome was due to a condition known as alopecia that he contracted when in third grade. Far from the most talented player on the field, he carved out a long, productive career through determination, preparation and hard work.

Murphy was an undrafted free agent out of tiny West Liberty State in 1980 but broke his wrist in the first preseason game, causing him to miss the entire year. Watching from the sidelines, Murphy paid attention and learned. Johnnie Gray recalled to the Journal-Sentinel, “Mark was like a sponge, always listening and learning and trying to improve. He was a great teammate, hardworking, unselfish and a tough competitor. I think I trained him to take my job.”

A reliable special teams’ performer, the 6’2” 200 pound Murphy finally became a permanent starter in 1983 at free safety. A year later, he moved to strong safety and remained the starter there through 1991 — although he missed the 1986 season due to a broken leg. He was slow, but a very hard hitter, much more effective in zone than man-to-man coverage. When Mike Holmgren took over as head coach in 1992, Murphy was demoted to third string prior to training camp, so he requested his release and eventually went into high school coaching. Holmgren’s defensive coach Ray Rhodes was looking for a strong safety with range, not just a force player stationed close to the line of scrimmage.

(Adapted from Green Bay Gold)

1970tlkrause  1974tlkrause

1988tmmurphy  1989tmmurphy

Custom cards in Topps style.


Keith Jackson turns 53 today and had a great pro career – six pro Bowls and four All-Pro teams – but almost all of it was before he got to Green Bay. Jackson was an All-American at Oklahoma and was the top draft choice of the Eagles in 1988. Jackson was an immediate star for the Eagles, but also a steady thorn to the team’s management over contract negotiations and renegotiations. Through a legal quirk, Jackson was one of the first unrestricted free agents in the NFL in 1992 and signed with Miami where he had four solid seasons.

Ron Wolf traded a second round pick for Jackson in 1995, but Keith refused to report. He had claimed to be only interested in playing for one of his former coaches, Barry Switzer in Dallas or Buddy Ryan in Arizona and then claimed he would only sign for a long-term deal. With the blustery Ryan predicting that the Packers would be forced to trade Jackson to Arizona for peanuts, Wolf held strong and ultimately was rewarded. Well into the 1995 season, Jackson agreed to terms for 1995. He appeared in the last nine games of the season and caught just 13 passes for 142 yards and one touchdown in that time. In three playoff games that year, though, he bettered that by catching 12 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns.

Jackson signed a two-year deal in the offseason and had an All-Pro year in 1996 with 10 touchdown catches as part of a twin tight end tandem with Mark Chmura. After the team won the Super Bowl, though, the garrulous Jackson retired and went into broadcasting.

Despite having good size at 6/2” 250 pounds, Jackson never had much interest in blocking, but was a terrific receiving tight end with good speed and running skills. Ted Thompson, then director of player personnel, said upon the Packers’ acquisition of Jackson, “We feel good about how he will perform in Mike Holmgren’s offense. He’s an excellent receiving tight end who has the ability to get up the field. We definitely think he’ll be a threat in the passing game for us.” That he was, but for too brief a time in Green and Gold.

(Adapted from Green Bay Gold)

1995kjackson  1996kjackson

Custom cards in Topps and Fleer styles.

The Hornung Suspension

55 years ago today Green Bay residents were greeted with the distressing front page headline:

Hornung Banned Indefinitely in NFL Betting Investigation.

The Associate Press story by Jack Hand provided the news that Paul Hornung and Lions defensive tackle Alex Karras had been suspended by Commissioner Pete Rozelle for placing bets on NFL and college games.  Five other Lions–Joe Schmidt, Wayne Walker, Gary Lowe, John Gordy and Sam Williams–had been fined for placing a single bet on the previous year’s NFL title game. The story also noted that Colts owner Carroll Rosenbloom, Bears’ fullback Rick Caseras and 49ers’ tackle Bob St. Clair had been cleared of suspicion.

It wasn’t until the next day’s edition that Art Daley and the Press Gazette’s staff covered the story, gathering quotes from Vince Lombardi, his coaches, and current and former players. One story, two days later, got the reaction of the then Miss Wisconsin who expressed some understanding of the pressures of the life in the spotlight that must have driven Hornung to make such a bad decision.

Baltimore’s new head coach Don Shula, who had served as the Lions’ defensive coach in 1962, correctly predicted that the Lions would feel their loss more than the Packers. Green Bay lost out to the Bears by a game in the West, but still led the NFL in scoring in 1963. The Lions, though, dropped from 11-3 to 5-8-1 and their defense gave up early 100 points more.

Both players were reinstated in 1964. Hornung would earn two more championship rings in the next three years and have a few more good games, particularly in 1965 against the Colts and Browns, but he was never the same player again. Karras would make several more All Pro teams, but the Lions made the postseason just once, losing to the Cowboys 5-0 in Alex’s least game on December 26, 1970.

1963tphornung7  1964pphornung

1965pphornung  1966pphornung2

Custom cards in Topps and Philadelphia styles.

Post Cereal Cards Wrap Up

I previously posted custom 1962 Post Cereal cards to complete the team set for that season. I also prepared some additional cards in the set to cover some rookies who did not make the Packers, but were of interest. Four of them played elsewhere in the league, and Ernie Green was a Pro Bowl player. Plus, the coach and a team card.

1962p0vlombardi2  1962pteam






Custom cards 38-42 are colorized.


April 12 marks Jerry Tagge’s 68th birthday. Tagge was the third Packer passer to come from Green Bay West High School. The first, Charles Mathys, was more of a receiver in the 1920s, but did throw nine touchdown passes from 1922-26. The second was Hall of Famer Arnie Herber in the 1930s.

Tagge grew up in Green Bay and worked concessions at Lambeau Field in the Lombardi era. Highly recruited from West, Jerry went to Nebraska in 1968 and quarterbacked the Huskers to consecutive national championships in 1970 and 1971. Green Bay selected him with the eleventh overall pick in the 1972 draft, but Tagge flopped badly in his hometown. In three seasons, Jerry threw for three touchdowns and 17 interceptions before being cut by Bart Starr in 1975. He later played briefly in the World Football League and for three more years in Canada. Tagge had better success in Canada, throwing for 32 touchdowns and 38 interceptions before retiring in 1980.

Jerry later attributed his problems in Green Bay to alcohol. Cliff Christl has written that Tagge lacked arm strength, consistency and maturity. Ultimately, he was a major disappointment at the key position in football.

1972tjtaggecas  1972tjtaggeg2

1973tjtagge  1974tjtagge

Custom cards in the Topps styles.

Packers by the Numbers Update: #30

Clarke Hinkle wore seven numbers for the Packers, but 30 was the one he wore the longest. After he retired, the number was not worn for another 25 years. It’s likely that 30 was unofficially retired for Hinkle, the one-time leading rusher in NFL history, but that all changed with the acquisition of another mighty fullback out of the East in 1967, Chuck Mercein.

Hinkle wore 30 for seven years, the same Ahman Green, who went on to become the franchise’s rushing leader. The number was worn longest, however, by popular blocking back John Kuhn who donned 30 for nine seasons in Green Bay.

The number was first worn by tackle Tiny Cahoon from 1927-28. In the two-way era, he was joined by linemen Mike Michalske (1932), Larry Bettencourt (1933) and Nate Barragar (1934); ends Dick O’Donnell (1929-30) and Milt Gantenbein (1933); and backs Bo Molenda (1931-32) and Hinkle (1933, 1935, 1937-41).

In the modern era, 10 running backs and three defensive backs have worn 30.

RBs: Chuck Mercein (1967-69),Larry Krause (1970-71, 1973-74), Ricky Patton (1979), Paul Ott Caruth (1986-88), Chuck Webb (1991), William Henderson (1995-97), Ahman Green (2000-06), John Kuhn (2007-15), Knile Davis (2016) and Jamaal Williams (2017).

DBs: Bill Whitaker (1981-82), Jim Bob Morris (1987r) and Corey Harris (1993-94).

Hinkle and Michalske are Hall of Famers, while Gantenbein, Barragar, Henderson and Green are all members of the Packer Hall of Fame.

1927icahoon  1930dodonnell

1935chinkle  1967pcmercein3

1973tlkrause  1986tpocarruth

phof2014agreen  2010jkuhn

First three custom cards are colorized.

Bob Mann

April 8 marks the birthday of both defensive lineman Don Davey, a Wisconsin alum, and receiver Bob Mann.

Mann will always hold a place in Packer history as the team’s first black player – Curly Lambeau never coached a black player with the Packers, Cardinals or Redskins – but he also was an excellent receiver in his time. Packer historian Lee Remmel once described him as a “nifty and productive receiver,” which is a good description that accurately implies the 5’11” Mann was a small, quick and elusive pass catcher. He is listed at 172 pounds, but some accounts have him at 167, making him a wispy wideout even for the early 1950s. However, he ran into bigger problems because of his race than his size.

Mann played for the same Michigan Wolverine undefeated national championship team as massive Len Ford in 1947 and broke the color barrier on the Detroit Lions (along with halfback Mel Groomes) as an undrafted free agent in 1948. In his second NFL season, Bob caught 66 passes for a league-leading 1,014 yards, yet drew no All-Pro notice. Even odder, the Lions demanded he take a pay cut for the 1950 season, at least partly due to his running afoul of team owner Edwin Anderson over a boycott of Anderson’s beer company by the local black community. When Mann refused the cut, he was sent to the New York Yankees football team as compensation in the trade for Bobby Layne. Things got even weirder in New York where Mann was cut in the preseason, most likely due to racial considerations, and no other team picked him up. Mann publicly claimed he was being blackballed, and the Lions’ responded that they “want something more from an end than pass catching ability.” It is true that he was too slight to provide much blocking, but he had extraordinary pass catching skills for his time.

Mann led the Packers with 50 receptions in 1951, but then was overshadowed by rookie Billy Howton in 1952. With the acquisition of rookies Max McGee and Gary Knafelc in 1954, the 30-year old Mann was released after three games, with McGee replacing him as the starter. Mann died in 2006.

(Adapted from Green Bay Gold)

1955tbmann  1950bbmann2

1951bbmann  1952bbmann2

1953bbmann  1954bbmann2

1954bmmcgee3  1954bgknafelc3

All custom cards but Knafelc are colorized.