When Eddie Lacy of the Green Bay Packers won the 2013 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award at the NFL Honors Award Show the night before Super Bowl XLVIII, it was the first time a player from the Packers had won the award since 1971. That's 42 long years.
In 1971, it was a rookie fullback out of Ohio State named John Brockington who was given the same honor. Coincidentally, Brockington's number was 42.
Brockington was similar to Lacy in a number of respects, especially the physical style in which he ran the ball. If one compares that stats between Lacy and Brockington, there are also some definite similarities—and also a few key differences.
In 1971, the Packers were being coached by Dan Devine, who was starting his first year with the team. The season got off to a rough start for Devine and the Packers, as the coach had his leg broken during a collision on the sideline in the first game of the season.
To add injury to insult, the Packers also lost that home opener to the New York Giants, 42-40, as Brockington only gained 34 yards on nine carries in his rookie debut.
The Packers started veteran Zeke Bratkowski at quarterback against the Giants, but that would be his only start of the season. Rookie Scott Hunter took over at quarterback for most of the season, and he just was not very effective in the passing game.
In fact, Hunter threw just seven touchdown passes compared to 17 picks for 1,210 yards. That adds up a to a less than mediocre 46.1 quarterback rating.
Late in the season, the legendary Bart Starr started three out of the last four games at quarterback, but it was obvious that Starr was just a shadow of his former self because of a lingering shoulder injury. Starr did not throw a touchdown pass and had three interceptions in those three games. His quarterback rating was even worse than Hunter's, as it was just 45.2.
Starr ended up retiring after the season.
So what did this all mean? It meant that if the Packers were going to win, it would be because of a strong running attack behind Brockington and veteran halfback Donny Anderson.
The Packers ended up finishing 4-8-2 in 1971, but both Brockington and Anderson put up good numbers toting the rock.
Anderson gained 757 yards (4.1 yards per carry average) and had five touchdowns.
Brockington meanwhile, rushed for 1,105 yards (5.1 yards per carry average) and four touchdowns.
Here is a closer breakdown of Brockington's numbers in 1971:
- Brockington started all 14 games that season.
- The former Buckeye averaged 78.9 rushing yards a game.
- No. 42's longest run was 52 yards and a touchdown.
- Brockington fumbled four times.
- The fullback also caught 14 passes for 98 yards and a touchdown.
Besides winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, Brockington was also named All-Pro (first-team) and was also given a Pro Bowl berth.
Now let's move ahead to the 2013 season and the rookie year of Eddie Lacy. Like Brockington, Lacy had come from a great college football program. Lacy went to Alabama and was on three national championship teams.
Brockington was also on a national championship team when Ohio State won the title in 1968.
Lacy had a rough start to his rookie season when he coughed up a fumble in his very first game against the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers. No. 27 gained just 41 yards.
Lacy was off to an ominous start his rookie year. But that all changed very quickly.
Against the Lions at Lambeau Field, Lacy rushed for 99 yards. That game started a six-game period in which Lacy rushed for 618 yards and three touchdowns.
But it was also during this time frame when quarterback Aaron Rodgers fractured his clavicle against the Chicago Bears in Week 9. Similar to the situation Brockington played through his rookie year, teams were daring the Packers to throw after the injury to No. 12.
Lacy was seeing eight men in the box almost all the time as backup quarterback's Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien and finally Matt Flynn took over for Rodgers.
Rodgers was injured on the very first drive in the game against the Bears. Still, Lacy rushed for 150 yards and a touchdown that game.
Flynn finally brought some stability to the quarterback position late in the season until Rodgers came back in Week 17. Lacy flourished during that time. In the final four games of the season, Lacy had 356 yards rushing and five touchdowns.
All that production was done with Lacy playing on a bad ankle which he sprained in week 13 versus the Falcons.
When it was all said and done, Lacy had rushed for 1,178 yards (4.1 yards per carry average) and 11 touchdowns. Both of those marks were better than the numbers put up by Brockington in 1971.
Here is a further breakdown of Lacy's numbers:
- Lacy started 15 of 16 games in 2013.
- The former Crimson Tide star averaged 78.5 rushing yards a game.
- No. 27's longest run was 60 yards.
- Lacy fumbled just once his rookie year.
- "Circle Button" also caught 35 passes for 257 yards.
Like Brockington, Lacy winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award wasn't the only honor he received.
Lacy was also name All-Pro (second-team) and also was named to the Pro Bowl.
Bottom line, the numbers put up by Brockington and Lacy were very similar in a number of respects. In some areas, there were a few noticeable differences, like in touchdowns, receptions and fumbles.
But both players played the same way. They played with a resounding physicality, and they kept churning and chugging for additional yardage. It sometimes took several tacklers to take them down.
And both players won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award, were named All-Pro and were also named to the Pro Bowl.
Packer Nation hopes that it won't be another 42 years before the next player on the Packers wins the coveted rookie award given to both Brockington and Lacy.