Born and bred to be Packers

Tauscher, Schroeder among many native Wisconsinites who played for Packers

When the Green Bay Packers recently signed WR Bill Schroeder so he could retire as a Packer, it got me thinking. How many players who were born in the state of Wisconsin actually got to play for their state professional team?

Schroeder was born in Sheboygan, home of Johnsonville Brats, and played college ball at UW-La Crosse. Now the Packers have drafted many players (over 50) from the state of Wisconsin since 1936, when the NFL draft was instituted.

But just because someone plays college football in Wisconsin, it doesn't mean that the player was born in Wisconsin. So the category I am looking for in this scenario is whether a player was actually born in the sate of Wisconsin. And they didn't have to play their college ball In Wisconsin, either. In fact, probably the two most famous born and bred Packers didn't play collegiately in Wisconsin.

The first of course, was founder, head coach (1921-1949) and player for awhile (1921-1929) Curly Lambeau, who was born in Green Bay. Lambeau also brought the Packers 6 NFL titles in his tenure. Lambeau played at Notre Dame under Knute Rockne, where he was in the same backfield as George "The Gipper" Gipp. Lambeau didn't stay in South Bend too long after suffering severe tonsillitis. Lambeau did bring the Notre Dame tradition with him to Green Bay as the Packer colors were blue and gold for many years.

The second was Johnny "Blood" McNally (1929-33, 1935-36) who was born in New Richmond, Wis., and played his college ball at St. John's in Minnesota. Like Lambeau, McNally was all-pro three times in his career in Green Bay. McNally also had the unique honor to play for the Milwaukee Badgers among his other NFL teams. The recent movie Leatherheads starring George Clooney, was based in part on the wild career of McNally, both on and off the field.

Other Packers from that older era also were born in Wisconsin. Players like Lavvie Dilweg, Cub Buck, Red Dunn, Bernard "Boob" Darling, Arnie Herber, Ted Fritsch, Ed Jankowski and Irv Comp. All played their college football in Wisconsin as well, except for Herber (Regis) and Comp (St. Benedict's). Some players like Buck and Jankowski went to Wisconsin. Dilweg and Dunn went to Marquette when they still had football. Darling went to Beloit, while Fritsch went to Steven Point Teachers school which is now UW-Stevens Point.

There are others that one might think would be on this list. Players like Charles "Buckets" Goldenberg, Milt Gantenbein, Ken Bowman and Jerry Tagge. However, none of those players were born in the Badger state. Goldenberg, Gantenbein and Bowman all played collegiately at Wisconsin. Tagge played high school football at Green Bay West and then led Nebraska to two national championships in 1970 and 1971.

Currently, the Packers literally have a born and bred Badger in Mark Tauscher. Tauscher was born in Marshfield, Wisconsin and played collegiately at Wisconsin. Tauscher has been a steady RT for the Packers since 2000. Tauscher may be joined this year by another former Badger in P Ken DeBauche. DeBauche is from Suamico, a suburb of Green Bay. DeBauche will have to beat out current P Jon Ryan if he wants to join the exclusive born and bred list.

Playing for a team in the NFL from your home state is not that rare. Especially if one is from Florida, Texas or California. But playing for the Packers if one was born and raised in Wisconsin, does seem to be rare, at least as of late. Right now, Tauscher is the lone player on the Packers with Wisconsin roots. That number may be doubled if DeBauche makes the team.

The good news is that the University of Wisconsin has had a very solid football program for the last 15 years or so. Not all players for the Badgers are from Wisconsin, but a lot are. Plus, the WIAC conference also has some decent prospects like Justin Beaver from UW-Whitewater, who had a recent tryout with the Packers.

Even with the success of Wisconsin in college football, the Packers have not selected many Badgers as of late. In fact, only 2 (Tauscher and Bill Ferrario) have been drafted since 1993, when the Badgers won their first of three Rose Bowl's. Schroeder was also drafted in 1994 out of UW-La Crosse.

This situation may change as time goes on and Ted Thompson and company look at local talent. The free agent signing of DeBauche is an example. Still, I am sure it's a honor and something that almost every kid in Wisconsin wishes for. Just ask Mark Tauscher.

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