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Jesse Whittenton touched by Lombardi

Nov. 6, 2013
 
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Former Packers cornerback Jesse Whittenton, who died earlier this week at 78, played in Green Bay from 1958 until his retirement in 1964. He was the starter on Vince Lombardi’s first two championship teams in 1961 and 1962. A story was posted on PackersNews.com yesterday, but here are a some additional interesting tidbits about Whittenton uncovered by Royce Boyles in the book he co-wrote with Dave Robinson entitled “The Lombardi Legacy: Thirty People Who Were Touched by Greatness:” *Whittenton came to the Packers as a free agent. He was drafted by the Rams but after two years was traded to the Chicago Bears. Rather than get placed on injured reserve in 1958, Whittenton became a free agent and signed with Green Bay. Boyles quotes Whittenton: “The coach at that time was Ray “Scooter” McLean and he was just ‘one of the guys.’ When we were on the road, we’d get poker games goin’ and he was just one of the guys. So we had no discipline whatsoever. When Vince came in, he laid down the law, we would do it his way, it was either his way or hit the highway, one way or the other. I think that’s the real key, he let us know who’s boss.” *In a chapter devoted to Whittenton, Boyles writes: Lombardi liked Whittenton a lot and offered unusually high praise in his book Run to Daylight, when he said his cornerback was, “as close to being a perfect defensive back as anyone in the league.” *According to Boyles, Whittenton sought and received permission from Lombardi to open a bar in downtown Green Bay, called the King’s X. The only stipulation was that Lombardi didn’t want Whittenton tending bar. The bar-restaurant featured a bartender named Jackie Forchett, who drew the attention of linebacker Ray Nitschke, and the two eventually got married. *Boyles writes that Whittenton was presented with a sweetheart deal to buy a golf course in Texas following the 1964 season. When he told Lombardi about it, the head coach encouraged him to retire from the NFL and not pass up the offer. Boyles writes that Whittenton later hired a young player by the name of Lee Trevino to work at his course and eventually sponsored him on the PGA tour.

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