The Green Bay Packers are the NFL’s most successful franchise. The team been in the NFL for a century now and they have won more championships (13) than any other franchise in the history of the league.
The Packers have also featured so many great Hall of Fame players from Johnny “Blood” McNally, Don Hutson, Bart Starr, Herb Adderley, Willie Wood, Paul Hornung, James Lofton, Reggie White and Brett Favre.
But here is a look at 10 Packers franchise firsts that may surprise you:
- First 1,000 Yard Rusher: Tony Canadeo, 1949
The NFL didn’t have a 1,000-yard rusher until 1934 but the Packers didn’t have one until 1949 when Hall of Famer Tony Canadeo gained 1,052 yards in a 12-game season.
“The Gray Ghost of Gonzaga” did it in Curly Lambeau’s final season which saw the Packers struggle to a 2-10-0 record. Canadeo averaged 5.1-yards per rush and was one of only two 1,000-yard rushers in the NFL that year.
Canadeo had five games with 100 or more yards on the ground including a pair of 122-yard efforts that matched his season high.
Canadeo was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1974 and later served on the Packers Board of Directors.
- First 3,000-Yard Passer: Lynn Dickey, 1980
It’s hard to believe it but the Packers did not have a 3,000-yard passing season until Lynn Dickey did it in 1980.
Bart Starr is a legitimate Hall of Fame quarterback, but he never threw for more than 2,438 yards in a season, primarily because the NFL was a run-first league in the 1960s and the Packers were usually in the lead and kept the ball on the ground.
The Packers finished only 5-10-1 in 1980 but it was the beginning of the best years of Dickey’s career. He had 300-or-more yards in three games that season including a 418-yard effort in a 14-14 tie with the Bucs that saw the Green Bay offense rack up 569 yards of offense but settled for a tie when kicker Tom Birney missed three field goals.
Dickey went on to throw for 3,000 yards or more in a season twice more in his career.
- First Player to Top 100 Points in a Season: Don Hutson, 1942
Don Hutson remains one of the most dominant players to take the field in the NFL and in 1942, he had one of his best seasons ever. “The Alabama Antelope” scored 138 points in an 11-game season by scoring 17 touchdowns, kicking one field goal and 33 extra points.
Like most players in those days, Hutson played both offense and defense and intercepted seven passes for the Packers that year.
- First 1,000 Yard Receiver: Don Hutson, 1942
In 11 games, Hutson caught 74 passes for 1,211 yards and 17 touchdowns. He went over 100 yards receiving in six of the team’s games including a pair of 200-plus yard games, one against the Cleveland Rams (209 yards) and one against the Bears (207 yards).
Just to show how dominant Hutson was in 1942, his 1,211 yards receiving was more than four of the 10 teams in the league that year.
- First 200 Yard Rushing Game: Ahman Green, 2003
No Packers runner gained 200 yards in a game until Green did it in the season finale of the 2003 season. His 218-yard effort helped the Packers crush the Broncos 31-3. The big gain was a 98-yard touchdown dash that came early in the fourth quarter and put the Packers ahead 24-3. That was the longest run in Packers history. He also scored on a two-yard run earlier in the game.
Amazingly, Green accomplished his big day on only 20 carries and averaged a healthy 10.9-yards per carry.
- First 400 Yard Passing Game: Don Horn, 1969
Don Horn was drafted to be the Packers heir apparent to Bart Starr. While Horn never filled Starr’s Hall of Fame shoes, he is the first Packers quarterback to throw for 400-or-more yards in a game and he did it nearly a decade before the NFL changed the rules to favor the passing game.
In the final week of the 1969 season, Horn completed 22-of-31 passes for 410 yards and five touchdowns as the Packers crushed the St. Louis Cardinals 45-28.
Horn’s longest pass of the day was a 44-yard strike to Carroll Dale. He also threw a 43-yard scoring strike to Boyd Dowler.
This was the only game in Horn’s career where he threw for more than 243 yards but for one game, Don Horn was a truly dominant quarterback.
- First Season with 30 or More Touchdowns, Lynn Dickey 1983
Although the Packers have been known as a prolific passing team for most of their history, no Packers quarterback threw for more than 30 touchdown passes in a season until Lynn Dickey did it in 1983 when he threw for 32 touchdowns.
He had outstanding receiving corps led by Hall of Famer James Lofton, John Jefferson and Pro Bowl tight end Paul Coffman. Running backs Eddie Lee Ivery and Gerry Ellis were also both excellent receivers.
Dickey opened the season with a five-touchdown performance against the Houston Oilers and never looked back. Unfortunately, the Green Bay defense gave up points almost as quickly as their elite offense could score them and the Pack finished 8-8 that season despite the record-setting offensive output.
- First Season with 100 or More Catches: Sterling Sharpe 1992
Sterling Sharpe was well on his way to the Hall of Fame when an injury cut short his NFL career after the 1994 season.
In 1992, Sharpe caught 108 passes for 1,461 yards and 13 touchdowns. The 108 receptions were a new NFL single-season record. Sharpe and new Packers quarterback Brett Favre made a dynamic duo and helped the Packers to a 9-7 record in Mike Holmgren’s first year as head coach.
In eight games, Sharpe had seven or more catches including a season-high 11 catches in a 27-7 loss to the New York Giants in Week 10.
Sharpe would break his own league record one year later by catching 112 passes.
- First Season with 10 or More Interceptions: Irv Comp, 1943
Comp is the first and to this date only Packers player to intercept 10 passes in a season. In 1943, Comp played in only nine games and yet picked off 10 passes returning them for 149 yards and a touchdown.
Amazingly, Comp accomplished this feat despite having sight in only one of his eyes. He played both ways for the Packers and led the NFL in passing yards in 1944 while guiding the Packers to their last NFL title under Lambeau’s tenure as coach.
- First Player to Lead the NFL in Rushing: Jim Taylor, 1962
Only one Packers player has ever led the NFL in rushing and that was Hall of Famer Jim Taylor who ran for 1,474 yards and 19 touchdowns during the Packers 1962 championship season.
The 1962 season was a magical one for Taylor and the Packers. He was named the league’s MVP and was the only player who beat out Jim Brown for an NFL rushing title during Brown’s career.
The Packers finished the year 13-1 and defeated the Giants 16-7 to win their second consecutive NFL title under Vince Lombardi.
During the season, Taylor topped 100 yards in a game seven times including a season high 164 yards in the Packers 48-21 win over the Vikings in Minnesota.
Taylor was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1976.
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