Ex-punt returner, RB dies

Billy Grimes, who played running back and returned kicks for the Green Bay Packers from 1950-52, died at his home on Saturday in Oklahoma City from a liver ailment. Grimes was 77.<p>

Nicknamed "The Camanche Kid," Grimes gave the Packers a spark in his first season when he returned punts for touchdowns in back-to-back games to lead the Packers to two of their three victories during their 3-9 season under Coach Gene Ronzani. His single-season team record for punt return average (19.1 yards) in 1950 still stands.

Grimes' combined 1,896 yards (600 on kickoff returns, 555 on punt runbacks, 480 rushing, and 261 receiving) was a Packer record for nearly 50 years until broken by Roell Preston in 1998 (Ahman Green is now the record-holder with his 2,250 yards in 2003).

"Billy was one of the most elusive running backs in Packers history without question," Team Historian Lee Remmel told packers.com. "It's a little unfortunate perhaps that he's not in the Packers Hall of Fame because he was a very talented back. But I think the fact that he played only three years as a Packer hurt him as far as being elected into the Hall of Fame."

Grimes was honored as a member of the All-Pro team by The Associated Press and the New York Daily News in 1950 and played in the Pro Bowl in 1950 and again in 1951. The Oklahoman was also named as the punt returner on the Green Bay Press-Gazette's Packers All-Century team, compiled in 1999.

The former Oklahoma State product (formerly Oklahoma A&M) was selected in the second round by the Chicago Bears during the 1949 NFL draft. Grimes, instead, chose to play for the Los Angeles Dons in the rival All-American Football League. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Grimes signed with the Packers in 1950 for a $7,500 salary when the All-American Football League folded.

Grimes' funeral is scheduled for Thursday in Yukon, Oklahoma.

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