The Final Four connection

As sports fans await next month's NFL draft, it's another brand of college athlete which monopolizes water-cooler talk this time of year. The NCAA basketball Final Four is in place, and each team has at least some draft history with the Packers.<P>

Today's team: Marquette University. Next installment: Kansas.

Green Bay has drafted a total of 28 players from the schools represented in this year's Final Four: Texas, Syracuse, Kansas and Marquette.

Yes, Marquette. Didn't know they had a football team? They don't, but prior to 1961 the fine Jesuit institution 125 miles south of Green Bay fielded gridiron Warriors, or Golden Avalanche, as they were also called.

Green Bay drafted five players from MU from 1942 and the demise of the program prior to the 1961 season. They even spent their first pick on a Marquette man in 1946.

It isn't likely that the name will ring a bell, nor with the rest of the list of Marquette players drafted by the Packers:

1942, B Jimmy Richardson (12th round, 109th overall); 1944, T Ken Liss (25th, 258); 1946 B Johnny Strzkaski (1st, 6); 1951, E Art Felker (22nd round, 258); 1954, E Hosea Sims (27th, 315).

None, not even top-pick Strzkaski, ever played for Green Bay.

The Green Bay-Marquette connection doesn't end with that unimpressive bunch. Some bigger names came north from Milwaukee through the years.

Former Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Braatz is a 1951 graduate of Marquette, where he captained the football squad his senior year. Braatz is a Kenosha, Wis., native who grew up as a big Packer fan and played alongside Alan Ameche on Kenosha High School state champion teams. While Ameche went on to fame as a pro football star, Braatz enrolled at Marquette to become a dentist. But don't call him "doctor."

"Once I got into football, that was it," Braatz said.

Braatz put his football career on hold to serve in the Army, then signed on with Washington as a defensive end and ended his career under Tom Landry at Dallas.

Many early-era Packers hailed from Marquette including a host of players on the championship teams of the 30s. Lavvie Dilweg, an MU grad who played end for Green Bay from 1927-34, is grandfather of former Packer QB Anthony Dilweg (a Duke man -- sorry Blue Devils, maybe next year). Lavvie Dilweg's college teammate Red Dunn was also on those same Packer teams, which won three titles.

In fact, Green Bay owes much to Marquette during the team's formative years. Curly Lambeau might be a Notre Dame man, but more than a dozen Marquette gridiron stars were among the members of the first official NFL squads in 1921-22.

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