LaVern Dilweg was the epitome of the scholar athlete. Born on November 1, 1903, he graduated from Marquette in his hometown of Milwaukee and then enrolled in the law school there while he took up professional football with the local Milwaukee Badgers in 1926. The team ran into financial difficulties that year, and Dilweg’s rights were nearly sold to George Halas for the Chicago Bears. Dilweg had no problem with the thought of finishing the season in Chicago, but insisted on being a free agent for the next season so he could return closer to home. Halas would not agree to that so Dilweg stayed put and signed with Green Bay the next season.
In Green Bay, he also began his legal career. He would practice football in the morning and law in the afternoon. He had received some All-League consideration in his rookie year in Milwaukee, but in Green Bay he was named All-League for his first five years, and then second team for two more years. Only in his final year of 1934 did he not receive any postseason notice.
Lavvie had long arms and large hands that he used on defense to ward off blockers. He was a solid wall against the run and was the unofficial career league leader in interceptions with 27 when he retired. On offense, even playing for Curly Lambeau who passed more than most, his highest reception total was 25 in the championship year of 1929. Unofficial counts list him with 126 catches for 2,043 yards, 16.2 yards per catch average, and 12 touchdowns. He also scored twice on interceptions and kicked two extra points for a total of 86 points. Overall, he was consistently excellent, and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 1920s. Dilweg deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as one of the two best ends of his era, with Guy Chamberlin.
Lavvie retired after the 1934 season. He would be replaced in the lineup by the spectacular offensive force of Don Hutson in 1935 who would make it seem as if no one had ever played end before. Since Dilweg worked in the law firm of Gerald Clifford, one of the Hungry Five who managed the team, he took part in one last great event in Packer history. In January 1935 he was the witness as the articles of incorporation for the reorganization of the non-profit Packers were signed by Clifford, Lee Joannes and Dr. Kelly.
Dilweg continued to practice law in Green Bay for several years, but kept busy in other ways as well. He officiated Big Ten football games until 1943. He ran unsuccessful campaigns for state attorney general and U.S. Senator, and then was elected to Congress in 1942. He lost his bid for re-election, but built up a lucrative law practice with his Washington D.C. ties. In 1961 President Kennedy appointed him for a three-year term to the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission and he was reappointed twice by President Johnson. He died on January 2, 1968 in St. Petersburg, Florida, just two days after Lombardi’s Packers won their third consecutive NFL title in the Ice Bowl replicating the achievement of the Packers of Dilweg’s era.
Posthumously, Lavvie Dilweg was a charter inductee into the Packer Hall of Fame in 1970. 55 years after Lavvie retired and 21 years after he died, another Dilweg wore the green and gold, his grandson Anthony. Anthony Dilweg was a third round pick in 1989 who made the team as a backup quarterback.
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