Longtime scout Cochran dies

For the second time in as many months, the Green Bay Packers lost one of their own. Longtime scout John "Red" Cochran died Sunday at age 82, the team announced Monday.

Cochran underwent hip replacement surgery on Wednesday and died Sunday of apparent heart failure while still at Bellin Hospital in Green Bay.

During his 52 years in professional football, Cochran was part of seven NFL championship teams.

Cochran spans back to the Lombardi era. He was hired by Vince Lombardi in 1959, spending the first 12 years as an assistant coach before moving into scouting 30 years ago. Though he retired as a full-time scout upon his 65th birthday in 1987, Cochran traveled across the region to scout players in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan and the Dakotas.

"He remained a scout until the day he died. He dearly loved what he did," team historian Lee Remmel said. "It was his life."

"He remained a scout until the day he died. He dearly loved what he did," team historian and Packer Report columnist Lee Remmel told The Associated Press. "It was his life."

Cochran was a running back at Wake Forest, his collegiate career interrupted by flying a B-24 bomber in the Pacific Theater during World War II.

Back in the States, Cochran played professionally for the Chicago Cardinals from 1947-50. In 1947, the Cardinals won the NFL championship but lost in the title game the following year, despite a pair of Cochran interceptions. Cochran played his last season in Chicago under former Packers coach Curly Lambeau. Cochran blamed Lambeau for ending his career because the coach wouldn't allow Cochran to have a knee injury treated.

His playing career over, Cochran returned to Wake Forest to coach the running backs from 1951-55. From there, he coached Detroit's backs from 1956-58 before being hired by Lombardi. In Green Bay, he helped running backs Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung to Hall of Fame careers.

Cochran's nickname had nothing to do with hair color. It was his fiery personality that attracted Lombardi, who was hired to turn around a 1-10-1 Packers franchise.

Cochran left the Packers after the 1966 season, spending a year in private business, before returning to the sideline as an assistant coach in St. Louis and San Diego. He returned to Green Bay to coach the running backs for Dan Devine from 1971-74 — he helped tutor the No. 3 rusher in team annals, John Brockington — then was named a scout during the first year of the Bart Starr era.

The Packers foundered on the field during the Starr years, but that could have been avoided had the team drafted Joe Montana in 1979.

"He lobbied strenuously for the Packers to draft Notre Dame quarterback Joe Montana," Remmel told The AP.

Cochran was born on Aug. 2, 1922, in Fairfield, Ala. Funeral arrangements are pending. He is survived by his wife Pat, son Russell, daughters Cindy and Tracy, and several grandchildren.

"He's been around since Lombardi. So, every time I saw him in here, I considered him a walking legend," right guard Marco Rivera told The Green Bay News-Chronicle. "We're going to miss him. He's part of this Packers tradition."

On July 27, just before the start of training camp, Packers vice president of football operations Mark Hatley died of a heart attack.

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