Scouting Report: Forrest Gregg

The scouting report on SMU tackle Forrest Gregg on view at the Packer Hall of Fame was filed by Packers’ Hall of Fame guard Mike Michalske during Gregg’s senior season and was very frugal in its description. Michalske, then the line coach for the University of Texas, wrote:

Best all around tackle in our conference

Aggressive

Strong

Rugged

Big Enough

I recommend

Michalske also noted that Gregg had average speed and his military status was unknown. Indeed, Gregg would miss the 1957 season due to a military obligation. Although not long on the adjectives, Michalske nailed it in his report, as the best all-around tackle in the Southwest Conference became the best all-around tackle in the NFL for a decade plus.

1951tfgregg  1937ymmichalske

1956tfgregg  1957tfgregg3

Custom cards are colorized.

Packers Top Rookie: 1934

Rookies1934jlaws

Following the Packers’ first losing season ever in 1933, the team brought in 10 rookies in 1934, and three in particular would have a lasting effect on the franchise’s continuing success. Some of the first-year-men passed through town quickly though.

Notre Dame guard Harry Wunsch who appeared in 2 games, Indiana guard Bobby Jones who played in 12 games, Stanford end Al Norgard who played in 10 games and Gustavus Adolphus back Earl Witte who was in five games all disappeared from the NFL after 1934. TCU halfback Cy Casper and St. Mary’s tackle Carl “Bud” Jorgensen played in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia respectively in 1935 to end their careers. Jorgensen should not be confused with the team trainer of the same name. Carl Anker Overgaard Jorgensen from California was a lineman; Carl Wallace Jorgensen handled the liniments.

Hefty Michigan State center Frank Butler had an on-and-off tenure in Green Bay, playing for the team from 1934-36 and then in 1938, but playing in just 26 games total in that period. Two other rookie linemen had a bigger impact on the team. Wisconsin tackle Champ Seibold appeared in just one game in 1934 but would stay with the team through 1940 as a sometime-starter and would play in 48 games…and, yes, Champ was his given name. Oregon State tackle Ade Schwammel had a bifurcated career as a Packer. A regular from 1934-36 who was named All-Pro in his second season, Ade left football in 1937. He returned to the Packers during the War to finish his career from 1943-44.

Iowa halfback Joe Laws would appear in 120 games in a dozen years in Green Bay. He was another one of Curly Lambeau’s versatile halfbacks who could do a little of everything and excelled on defense where he picked off at least 29 passes in his career. Laws appeared in all 13 games as a rookie and scored two touchdowns, while finishing third on the team in both rushing and receiving; Joe Laws was the Packers’ top rookie in 1934.

1934jlaws  1934aschwammel

Custom cards are colorized.

In the Words of Sport Magazine: Carl Mulleneaux

Carl Mulleneaux returned to the Packers from three years in the service in the middle of 1945. Hoping to restart his career at age 29, he reported to training camp in 1946, but his career abruptly ended on opening day in a 30-7 loss to the Bears after a blind side hit on a kickoff. The Milwaukee Journal noted, “It was not as rough as some Packer-Bear games, but it had a few rough spots – roughest when 240 pound John Schiechl knocked out Carl Mulleneaux. Mulleneaux was carried from the field.” The Green Bay Press-Gazette added that Bears lineman John Schiechl “caught him under the chin with both ‘mitts.’” Cliff Christl reported in Mudbaths and Bloodbaths that Mulleneaux suffered five dislocated vertebrae, a concussion, a broken nose, facial cuts and three broken teeth on that hit.

In Jack Sher’s article “Packers of Green Bay” in the December 1946 issue of Sport Magazine, Sher describes the hit:

Mid-way through the game, he [Don Hutson] saw Carl (Moose) Mulleneaux put on ice, watched as they carried him off the field, his face cut and bloody. Moose was out cold, and this was a guy who had decoyed at end in many a ball game so that Don Hutson could snare a pass and leg it for a TD…

Down on the sidelines that day, they dropped Mulleneaux right at my feet alongside the bench. He looked as though he had walked into a barrage of Joe Louis punches. He didn’t move. Trainer Bud Jorgensen worked over him frantically. It took a full ten minutes to bring him around and then he began to moan, move his arms, talk and swear and thrash his legs as though he were still in the game.

To me, as I watched Mulleneaux struggle for consciousness, he wasn’t just another ballplayer knocked stiff in a game. He was someone with whom I had lived and eaten and traveled, shared bull sessions and laughs and confidences. He was a guy I liked all the way. I remembered that just before the game, Tony Canadeo, the halfback, had said, ”I wonder if Moose will throw up. Ever since I’ve known him he’s always heaved up his cookies just before a Bear game. The excitement always gets him.”

Seeing Moose stretched out, turning and twisting, I thought about the first time I had ever seen him. It had been ten days before, on that gloomy train back to Green bay after the Packers had dropped a grueling [preseason] game to the Giants in New York. Lambeau was locked up in a compartment, Hard-faced and angry. His players were sprawled through two cars, dejected, tired. Moose saw me standing in the aisle, looking like a stranger at a funeral, and he asked me to sit down next to him.

“We’ll get over this,” he smiled slowly. “We’re always like this after we lose one. Curly is worse than any of us. We all hate to lose, but it hits him harder.”

According to Christl, Mulleneaux showed up five weeks later at the rematch, although in street clothes because he had been released after the injuries. He looked for Schiechl at Wrigley Field outside the Bears’ locker room, but the Bear mauler apologized, and Moose accepted it.

1946cmulleneaux  1946tcanadeo

Custom cards are colorized.

Scouting Report: Herb Adderley

In his senior year at Michigan State, Herb Adderley was scouted by the Packers when the Spartans played Indiana. The scouting report is posted at the Packer Hall of Fame:

Offensive Ability: This fellow’s got it. Good movement. Strong power. Good pass receiver. He’ll hit in there where it’s thick

Defensive Ability: He can play defense.

Favorable Pro Points: Big and strong. Can take their beating. Runs with “receivers abandon.” He’ll make the short yardage when you need it.

Evaluation as Pro Possibility and Discuss Desire: Good

I have to say that the “He can play defense” comment turned out to be an understatement. The primary thrust of the report was that Herb would not shy away from contact, and that would be borne out by both his willingness to play the run and by his skill for rough tackling. The scout was also rather terse in the final category on Adderley’s pro potential and desire.

1961thadderley2  1961thadderley3

1961fhadderleydraft  1961fhadderley2

Fleer draft pick custom card is colorized.

Packers Top Rookie: 1933

Rookies1933bmonnett

After four consecutive years of competing for the NFL title, the Packers fell off badly in 1933, recording their first losing season in team history. Curly Lambeau brought in 11 rookies, and some would develop into Packer stars, but others fell away quickly.

Three were gone from the league already in 1934. Oklahoma center Paul Young and center Larry Bettencourt from St. Mary’s each appeared in just two games as Packers. St. Edwards’ center Al Sarafiny played in seven, but none of the three were able replacements for the departed All-Pro Nate Barragar.

Four of the rookies were signed by Pittsburgh for 1934. These one-year Packers included Alabama end Ben Smith, Pitt tackle Jess Quatse, Notre Dame guard Norm Greeney and Georgia back Buster Mott.

The four rookies who returned to the team the following season included Notre Dame tackle Joe Kurth, whose career lasted just two seasons, Wisconsin guard/blocking back Charles “Buckets” Goldenberg, TCU guard Lon Evans and Michigan State halfback Bob Monnett. The latter three had a significant impact on the franchise.

Goldenberg appeared in 120 games over 13 seasons from 1933-45 with Green Bay, mostly as a guard. He played on three championship teams, was named to the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 1930s and remained visible in the state well after his playing career ended. He was the Fuzzy Thurston of his era. Lon Evans played for the Packers from 1933-37 and was named All-Pro in his final two seasons with the team. Both he and Goldenberg made solid contributions right from the start. However, Bob Monnett topped them as a rookie. That season, he tied Clarke Hinkle for the team lead in rushing yards with 413 and scored three touchdowns, while also completing 23 of his 46 passes for 325 yards and three touchdowns; Bob Monnett was the Packers’ top rookie for 1933.

1935bmonnett  1936bmonnett

1937ybmonnett  1938bmonnett

Monnett custom cards all colorized.

Book Review: Vagabond Halfback: The Saga of Johnny Blood McNally

I first remember hearing about Ralph Hickok’s unpublished manuscript on legendary raconteur and Hall of Fame Packer Johnny Blood – essentially the real most interesting person in the world – more than 15 years ago when I was researching Packers by the Numbers. But I was late to the game: the original manuscript dates to the mid-1970s when Hickok drafted it after travelling the U.S. with Blood, or John V. McNally as is his real name.

In the interim came Vagabond Halfback: The Life and Times of Johnny Blood McNally by Denis J. Gullickson (Trails Books, 2006). Gullickson acknowledged his debt to the Hickok manuscript and quoted heavily from it in his biography of McNally. Gullickson readily admits that his book must differ from Hickok’s in that he did not have the access to McNally or the teammates and other contemporaries that Hickok did 30 years before. Now with the publication of the Hickok manuscript, we can weigh the differences in approach of the two biographies.

The Hickok book is the ideal pairing of author and subject. As Ralph makes clear in his introduction, writing the Johnny Blood story is something he wanted to do since he was 13 and growing up in Green Bay. And a boyhood spent sneaking into secret Packer practices at the old City Stadium in the early 1950s seems a natural fit with wanting to get to know perhaps the most colorful Packer who ever lived.

Hickok’s father worked for the Green Bay Press Gazette and was the team’s official scorer for nearly 20 years. Ralph graduated from Green Bay East High School and went off to Harvard. From there he settled in New England as a newspaperman before moving into advertising, all the while establishing himself as a sports historian of some note. In the early 1970s, he reached out to Blood to follow up on his boyhood dream of writing his story, and Johnny showed up on his doorstep within days.

What followed over the next few years was Hickok and Blood travelling together to revisit the places of his life while the two of them talked. Reading this book makes you feel as if you are in the car with these two erudite gentlemen, relishing the conversation, hearing great stories and getting to know both of them as friends. It is a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Besides being a great football player, Blood was a charming womanizer who liked spirits a bit too much. As with Paul Hornung and Joe Namath who famously followed in his fun-loving footsteps, it could be said of Blood that women wanted to be with him and men wanted to be him. However, Hornung and Namath didn’t travel the country by motorcycle or ride the rails like a hobo or flit along eighth-story building ledges or swing from the flagpole over the ocean on a liner in the Pacific or recite poetry in the street. Blood lived life as an adventure without fear, and in this book, the reader gets to live it with him vicariously. In this book, even the familiar stories seem fresh.

It should be noted that Gullickson’s book is also worth reading. It is well-researched and enlists the viewpoints and recollections of friends and family members not covered by Hickok. It is a fine analysis of the man and the life he led. In Hickok’s book, though, the man breathes and laughs, sometimes ruefully. It is a delight.

1935jblood  1936jblood

Custom cards of Blood are colorized.

 

 

Founder’s Day

Earl Louis Lambeau was born on April 9, 1898 in Green Bay. Three subsequent Packers shared Curly’s birthday, and, oddly, all joined the team within a four-year period. Despite being role players, two made key plays in the drive to the Packers’ drive to a third consecutive title in 1967.

The first to join the team was tight end/linebacker Dick Capp. Capp opened the 1967 season on the active roster while starting defensive end Lionel Aldridge mended from a broken leg. When Aldridge was reactivated after week two, Capp was shifted to the team’s taxi squad for the remainder of the season. On Friday, January 12, just two days before Super Bowl II, Capp was reactivated by Green Bay to take the place of injured tight end Allen Brown, and enthused, “Imagine me, a Boston Patriot cut, playing for the Packers in the Super Bowl.” Green Bay was his favorite team growing up, and he played a key role in that game by recovering a muffed punt at the end of the first half that led to a Don Chandler field goal that put the Packers firmly in control of the game.

Second was fullback Chuck Mercein who was signed off the Redskins’ taxi squad by Lombardi on November 11 after Elijah Pitts was lost to injury for the season. Over the last six weeks of the season, he carried the ball just 14 times for 56 yards. In the first playoff game against the Rams, though, he scored a third quarter touchdown that put the Packers up 21-7, and in the Ice Bowl a week later, he caught a 22-yard swing pass and gained eight yards on a trap play to buoy the game-winning drive. He only got one carry in the Super Bowl, but by then had already attained hero status far outreaching his lifetime total of 105 yards rushing in three seasons in Green Bay.

Last was defensive end Alden Roche who came to Green Bay from Denver in a 1971 draft day trade for quarterback Don Horn. Roche had been drafted in the second round by the Broncos in 1970 and backed up fellow Southern University alumnus Rich “Tombstone” Jackson as a rookie. Dave Hanner said of the 6’4” 255-pound Roche at the time of the trade, “Roche is a tough, dedicated player. He keeps himself in shape year round working on weights. He’s an end, but he’s strong enough to play tackle.” Fairly good against the run, Roche was never a great pass rusher, accumulating 31 sacks in six years with a high of 8.5 in 1976 according to Webster and Turney. He was traded to the Colts following that season, but spent his final two years of 1977-78 with the expansion Seahawks.

As a sidenote, linebacker Aric Anderson, also born on April 9, appeared in the three replacement-player games of 1987 for Green Bay as well.

Finally, Lambeau shares his birthdate down to the year with Paul Robeson. Robeson, a Rutgers graduate, played in the NFL for two seasons in the 1920s, one of just 13 blacks to do so. He enjoyed much greater fame as a singer, actor and social activist who won the International Stalin Prize in 1952 from the Soviet Union. He died in seclusion in Philadelphia in 1976.

1925sclambeau  1967pdcapp4

1967pcmercein3  1971taroche

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Lambeau and Replacement linebackers custom cards are colorized.