Blasts from the past

LeRoy Butler and Robert Brooks joined a number of Packer greats with their induction into the Packer Hall of Fame on Saturday night. PackerReport.com's Steve Lawrence looks back at the first eight former players to be honored by the team's hall of fame, and how they got there.

On Saturday night, two of the most exciting players in Green Bay Packers history — LeRoy Butler and Robert Brooks — took their rightful spots in the team's hall of fame.

The shrine's first class was inducted in 1970. It included four Pro Football Hall of Famers, not to mention a couple of lawyers and a Hall of Fame umpire.

The first eight Packer Hall of Famers were, along with a few interesting facts:

1. Bernard "Boob" Darling played center for the Packers from 1927 to 1931. The Beloit College player played on the Packers' NFL championship teams in 1929, 1930 and 1931.

2. LaVern "Lavvie" Dilweg played end for the Packers from 1927 to 1934. Not only was the Marquette product an accomplished football player, he was the team's best receiver before Don Hutson revolutionized the game. He practiced law while playing for the Packers. After he retired, he served one term Congress (as a Democrat from 1943 to 1945) and served under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.

3. Francis "Jug" Earp played center for the Packers from 1922 to 1932, and played on the 1929-31 championship teams. The Monmouth (Ill.) College product was rumored to be a cousin of legendary Wyatt Earp. He is credited with developing the modern-day one-handed center-to-quarterback snap.

4. Robert "Cal" Hubbard played tackle for the Packers from 1929 to 1933 and in 1935. The Pro Football Hall of Famer was named to the NFL's all-time team in 1969 and the all two-way team in 1994. He was a mountain of a man in that era — 6-foot-5, 250 pounds — and earned first-team all-league honors during the 1929, 1930 and 1931 championship seasons. After his playing days, he became a baseball umpire. He's the only person to be enshrined in the halls of fame of both sports.

5. Curly Lambeau coached the Packers from 1919 to 1949. Beyond founding the team and guiding the franchise to six NFL titles — his 1929 team went 12-0-1 and outscored its opponents 198-22 — Lambeau "flew in the face of common practice," in the words of his Pro Football Hall of Fame biography, by relying on the forward pass. He was a record-breaking passer as a halfback, and his innovative coaching turned Hutson into the most statistically dominant player in NFL history.

When he retired, his 229 coaching wins trailed only George Halas in NFL history.

Lambeau resigned from the Packers in January 1950, and coached the Chicago Cardinals from 1950-51 and Washington Redskins from 1952-53. He was the only player in team history to wear jersey No. 1, though the number has not been retired.

6. Verne Lewellen was a back for the Packers from 1924 to 1932. He led the Packers in rushing three times and played for the 1929-31 champions. He was a first-team all-NFL player his first five seasons, and led the NFL in scoring in 1929 and 1930. He later became a lawyer, a Brown County (Wis.) district attorney and executive for Standard Oil.

7. Johnny "Blood" McNally played halfback for the Packers from 1929 to 1933 and from 1935 to 1936. McNally had one of the most productive and colorful careers in Packers history. He led the NFL with 84 points in 1931, including 11 receiving touchdowns, and played on the Packers' 1929-31 and 1936 championship teams. Of his 67 career receptions, 37 went for touchdowns.

McNally went by the name 'Johnny Blood' so he could play professionally while still at St. John's (Minn) University. He reportedly parked his car in front of the Packers' train — with him inside of it — to get it to stop so he could climb aboard.

8. Mike Michalske played guard for the Packers from 1929 to 1935 and in 1937. He was an all-NFL player seven times — including a two-time first-team selection — and was the first guard to be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Long before the sack became an official NFL stat, Michalske made a name for himself by rushing the passer. On offense, he was responsible for blocking the opponents' best defensive lineman.

Michalske arned the nickname "Iron Mike" by regularly playing all 60 minutes while missing only four games in his first seven seasons. He later became head coach at Iowa State from 1942 to 1946. His 1945 team went 6-1-1. No Cyclones team has lost that few games since.

Steve Lawrence is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com


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