Today’s addition to The 300 is another legendary member of the Lombardi-era Packers.
Green Bay Packers (1958-1972)
WHY IS HE IMPORTANT
One team players are relatively uncommon in the NFL, but Ray Nitschke‘s time in the League was spent entirely in Green Bay. His time spanned – and extended beyond – the era of Vince Lombardi, during which time he won the first two Superbowls and played on five other championship sides.
Nitschke’s reputation was built on his tackling. He was reputed to be one of the hardest hitting players in the NFL – an image only enhanced by his receding hairline and tight-lipped grin. This does him a disservice, though. He had a keen footballing mind and picked up 25 interceptions during his career to go with the innumerable sacks that he accumulated (the NFL only began treating sacks as a recordable statistic in 1982 and, although some teams’ own records pre-date that, there seems to be no official record from Nitschke’s era).
After retiring in 1972 – and recording his only career pass reception in his final game – Nitschke remained an important and popular figure in the NFL. After being enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1978, he became host of the pre-induction dinner for new enshrinees. After his early death from a heart attack in 1998 the meal was renamed in his honour. There is also a bridge named after him in Green Bay. And his jersey, number 66, is one of only six to have been retired by Green Bay, and one of only two from the Lombardi era.