Green Bay Packers: Some Alabama Players Have Really Made Their Mark in Titletown
In their storied legacy in the NFL, which dates back to 1921 and includes 13 league championships, the Green Bay Packers have seen some players from the University of Alabama make quite an impact on the success of the team.
The Packers have drafted 23 players out of Alabama in the team's history, with the most recent being the selection of safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in Round 1 of the 2014 NFL draft.
They have also signed some players out of 'Bama as undrafted free agents, like they did recently with linebacker Adrian Hubbard.
The biggest free agent whom the Packers signed out of Alabama was wide receiver Don Hutson. The Packers signed him as a free agent in 1935, which was just a year before the NFL instituted the college draft.
He made a huge impression on the NFL and the Packers, as he became the best wide receiver in the league by a wide margin, plus the Packers won three NFL titles while he played.
Then there was another player from the Crimson Tide, quarterback Bart Starr. He was a 17th-round draft pick by the Packers in 1956. All he did was lead the team to five NFL championships in seven years, which included the first two Super Bowls.
He was incidentally the MVP in both Super Bowl I and Super Bowl II.
One can argue and debate that Hutson and Starr were the two greatest players in the history of the franchise, as a matter of fact.
Then there was the performance of running back Eddie Lacy, whom the Packers drafted in Round 2 last year after a stellar final season with Alabama. He won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award in 2013.
A number of players from Alabama have had their moments for the Packers over the years but certainly not to the degree of Hutson, Starr and Lacy. This list includes Claude Perry, Bill Lee, Rebel Steiner, Scott Hunter, Terry Jones, Rich Wingo, Randy Scott, George Teague and Charlie Peprah.
In this slideshow, I'm going to list the accomplishments of Hutson, Starr and Lacy as members of the Packers. Lacy obviously has a long way to go before his career is over in Green Bay.
Time will tell whether Clinton-Dix will ever approach the accomplishments of Hutson or Starr, or even Lacy for that matter, but he has the talent to become an elite player for the Packers.
Wide Receiver Don Hutson
The Packers signed Don Hutson as a free agent in 1935, after he had an excellent career at Alabama. His signing came a year before the NFL draft was instituted in 1936.
The signing was also very interesting and a bit strange. Both the Packers and the Brooklyn Dodgers (a NFL club at the time) signed Hutson to deals. NFL president Joe Carr awarded Hutson to the Packers because their deal with the former Crimson Tide star was postmarked 17 minutes earlier than the one with Brooklyn.
Hutson changed the position of wide receiver in the NFL during his era, which was from 1935 to 1945. Like Brett Favre, Hutson won the NFL MVP award multiple times in 1941 and 1942.
The Packers also claimed three NFL titles during his time in Green Bay, winning it all in 1936, 1939 and 1944.
Hutson held 18 NFL records at the time of his retirement, which tells you how dominant he was playing wide receiver. He led the NFL in receiving eight times.
In fact, he held the all-time record for touchdown receptions with 99, before it was finally broken by Steve Largent in 1989. Hutson had 105 touchdowns overall in his career.
Hutson was also a very good two-way player during his time with the Packers, which was common in the NFL back then. He had 30 career interceptions as a defensive back. In addition to that, he was also a kicker with seven career field goals and 172 extra points made. Hutson is second all-time in scoring for the Packers with 823 points.
He is obviously in the Packer Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Hutson was named All-Pro 11 times and was also named to the Pro Bowl four times.
He served as an assistant under head coach Curly Lambeau from 1944 to 1948, coaching the backs and ends.
The Packers honored Hutson by retiring his uniform number (No. 14) in 1951 and also by dedicating their state-of-the-art practice facility across from Lambeau Field in 1994 to Hutson's name.
Quarterback Bart Starr
Bart Starr didn't play much at quarterback in his junior and senior years at Alabama, but the Packers still drafted him in the 17th round of the 1956 NFL draft.
He didn't exactly light things up in Green Bay in his first few years, but when head coach Vince Lombardi came to town, Starr eventually became the starting quarterback after a spirited battle with Lamar McHan for a couple of seasons.
Starr became the perfect quarterback to run the Lombardi offense, which used the power sweep as its calling card first and foremost. But when defenses sold out for the run, he would exploit them on some big passing plays when they least expected it.
He would end up winning five NFL championships as a quarterback, more than any other quarterback in NFL history. Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana have each won four NFL championships, but Starr still is all alone with five titles.
In addition to that, he quarterbacked the Packers to wins in the first two Super Bowls, winning MVP in each game.
Starr was also the league MVP in 1966 and led the NFL in passing three times. He is probably best remembered for his quarterback sneak with 13 seconds remaining in the legendary Ice Bowl on December 31, 1967, when the Packers beat the Cowboys 21-17.
He was named All-Pro four times and was also made the Pro Bowl roster four times. No. 15 was 9-1 as a quarterback in the playoffs. He is the highest-rated quarterback in NFL postseason history with a mark of 104.8.
Starr also had his number retired (No. 15) by the Packers in 1973 and is in both the Packer Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Starr is tied with Brett Favre in length of service with the Packers, as he also played 16 seasons in Green Bay.
In 1972 Starr was the quarterback coach under head coach Dan Devine when the Packers won the NFC Central title behind quarterback Scott Hunter, who also hailed from Alabama. Starr was also head coach of the Packers from 1975 to 1983.
Running Back Eddie Lacy
Running back Eddie Lacy had a great final season at Alabama in 2012, rushing for 1,322 yards and 17 touchdowns and catching 22 passes for 189 yards and two more touchdowns.
He was dominant in the BCS National Championship Game, rushing for 140 yards and one touchdown and catching two passes for 17 yards and had another score, as the Crimson Tide hammered Notre Dame for their third national title in four years.
The Packers selected him with the 61st pick of the 2013 NFL draft in the second round.
When Lacy won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award in 2013, he became the first player on the Packers to win that award since running back John Brockington in 1971.
Lacy had a superb rookie season, rushing for 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns and catching 35 passes for 257 more yards.
In the one game he played in the 2013 postseason after the Packers won their third straight NFC North title, he rushed for 81 yards and also caught two passes against the vaunted San Francisco 49ers defense.
Going into the 2013 season, the Packers hadn't had a 1,000 yard-rusher since 2009 or anyone who had rushed for more than 100 yards in a game in 43 games.
Lacy obviously reached 1,000 yards rushing last season, plus gained more than 100 yards four times and narrowly missed getting there on a couple of other occasions.
The Packers also had a top-10 rushing offense in the NFL for the first time in a decade, as the Packers finished seventh in rushing.
What is really remarkable about what Lacy accomplished is the fact that quarterback Aaron Rodgers basically missed half the season due to a fractured clavicle. With Rodgers out of the lineup, teams often stacked eight men in the box on defense for Lacy to try and run through.
He should continue to flourish in 2014, especially if Rodgers is available for the entire season.
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