Hall of Fame center dies

Jim Ringo played for the Packers from 1953-63, helping Green Bay to two NFL titles

Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Ringo, who helped the Green Bay Packers win back-to-back NFL titles in 1961-62, passed away Monday morning at the age of 75 after a short illness.

Ringo, a center, played 11 seasons with the Green Bay Packers (1953-63) before wrapping up his career with the Philadelphia Eagles from 1964-67.

Ringo was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1981. He was an All-Pro eight times, seven with the Packers, over his career and played in 10 Pro Bowls, seven as a Packer. He also was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1960s.

"As Vince Lombardi once observed, Jim epitomized the toughness and determination needed to not only play the center position but to become one of the game's most dominant offensive linemen of his era," commented Steve Perry, the Pro Football Hall of Fame's President/Executive Director.

"On behalf of all of us at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I extend my heartfelt condolences to Jim's family," Perry said.

The Packers selected Ringo in the seventh round of the 1953 NFL draft out of Syracuse. Though he was considered vastly undersized at 211 pounds, he was not, however, unfit for the role, using his outstanding quickness and excellent technique as one of the game's best centers.

Ringo played for four different head coaches in his Packers tenure. in his first six seasons in Green Bay, playing under Gene Ronzani (1953), Lisle Blackbourn (1954-57) and Ray "Scooter" McLean (1958), the Packers went 20-50-2.

But Vince Lombardi's arrival in 1959 changed everything, and for Ringo's final four seasons the Packers went 50-15-1. Ringo certainly knew individual success before the Lombardi era, attending his first of seven straight Pro Bowls in 1957, but he flourished under the coaching legend, earning consensus All-Pro honors from 1959-63.

Ringo's speed and mobility made him an ideal blocker for Lombardi's famous power sweep, and all but one of running back Jim Taylor's five 1,000-yard seasons, including his then-record 1,474-yard effort in 1962, came with Ringo at center.

The details of Ringo's trade to Philadelphia in 1964 have been the subject of speculation. For years it was said that following the 1963 season, Ringo showed up in Lombardi's office, with an agent in tow, looking to negotiate a raise. Lombardi, according to this account, was so angered that he excused himself for five minutes only to return and announce that he had traded Ringo to the Eagles. Over the years it has been suggested that that story is more fiction than fact. In reality, Lombardi had probably been negotiating a trade for some time.

The Packers also traded fullback Earl Gros and received in return linebacker Lee Roy Caffey as a first-round draft pick that they used to select fullback Donny Anderson. Still, the legend persists. Ringo, who played 126 consecutive games for the Packers from 1954-63, finished out his career with the Philadelphia Eagles, attending 3 more Pro Bowls before retiring after the 1967 campaign.

Ringo went on to work on the coaching staffs of the Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, New England Patriots and New York Jets.

Ringo and his wife, Judy, lived in Chesapeake, Va. Judy said her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 1996. He recently was stricken with pneumonia.

Calling hours will be held at Rupell Funeral Home in Phillipsburg, N.J. Final funeral arrangements are pending, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


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