Daley: The 'little boy' that could

What is there about Packer guards? Nobody seems to get excited about the gents who play that position, except maybe quarterback Brett Favre.

The Packers lost two starting guards, Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera, to free agency after the 2004 season and, without lamenting, they proceeded to peacefully strengthen the position for the protection of Favre.

All of this is a reminder that the Packers have only one guard in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That would be Mike Michalske, also known as Iron Mike. He is one of 20 Packers in Canton. Mike also played defense. Playing both ways was the norm for the day.

After two years with the New York Yankees and one with Red Grange's traveling team, Michalske joined the Packers in 1929 and was a big factor in Green Bay, winning three straight NFL titles. He finished his career in 1937.

Michalske, a star at Penn State, always got a chuckle about the first time he played against Bronko Nagurski, the Chicago Bears' famous fullback: "He was a strong man, a big man in those days, 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds. He was an All-Pro and the only man in history to make All-American at fullback and tackle," Michalske once recalled.

"Well, I was backing up the line and I went through to tackle him out of the play – me at 210 pounds – and I knocked him down. After the play he pushed me aside and said, ‘Little boys don't do things like that to me.'

"I got to know him after that and when we went into the Hall of Fame, he asked me if I remembered the time he called me a little boy. I told h im I never forgot. It's humor after 30 years, but it was an insult then."

Mike went into college coaching and lived most of his life in Green Bay. He died in 1983 at the age of 80.

Only one other guard since Michalske came close to entering the Hall of Fame. That would be Jerry Kramer of the Lombardi era.

Art Daley

Editor's Note: Packer Hall of Famer Art Daley is a featured columnist for Packer Report and PackerReport.com. The former Green Bay Press-Gazette sportswriter and sports editor has covered the team since 1941.

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