Ex-Packers punter Bracken dies at 52

Jeff Ash
Gannett Wisconsin Media
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Green Bay Packers punter Don Bracken in 1986.

Don Bracken, who was the Green Bay Packers' punter from 1985 to 1990, died Wednesday in Billings, Mont. He was 52.

He had been diagnosed with MRSA, a serious staph infection, according to an online fundraiser set up before his death.

Bracken was second on the Packers' career list with 368 punts, second only to David Beverly's 495 punts from 1975 to 1980. He averaged 39.7 yards per punt. He is one of eight players in Packers history with 10 punts in a game, doing so in a 20-0 loss to the Los Angeles Raiders on Sept. 13, 1987, at Lambeau Field.

Former Packers kicker Chris Jacke reported Bracken's death on his company's Facebook page on Thursday morning, saying: "He was my friend and was very instrumental in my successes as an NFL kicker." They were teammates in Jacke's first two seasons, 1989 and 1990.

Green Bay Packers punter Don Bracken practices in the team's indoor practice facility in an undated photo.

Bracken, whom the Packers signed as an undrafted free agent in 1985, shared the punting duties with Joe Prokop in his first season in Green Bay. He then was the Packers' primary punter for the next five seasons. He missed the last three games of the 1986 season after slipping on an icy practice field and dislocating his left elbow.

"Once I counted up the punters they either drafted, signed or brought in for tryouts while I was there," Bracken told the Los Angeles Times in 1992. "There were 28."

He was cut late in training camp in 1991 — the Packers went with Paul McJulien instead — and sat out that season. He finished his eight-year NFL career with the Los Angeles Rams in 1992 and 1993.

Bracken was born in California and played high school football in Thermopolis, Wyo. He then played at the University of Michigan. He had a Rose Bowl-record punt of 73 yards in the Wolverines' 23-6 victory over Washington in the 1981 game.

Before joining the Packers, he tried out for the Michigan Panthers of the USFL and the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Oilers of the NFL.

Bracken is survived by his girlfriend, two daughters, his father, two sisters and his grandmother.

The funeral will be Nov. 7, with a service at First Baptist Church in Thermopolis in the morning, followed by graveside services at Monument Hill Cemetery and a reception at the Days Inn in the afternoon. Memorials may be made to the Don Bracken Memorial Football Scholarship Fund, c/o Central Bank and Trust, P.O. Box 1232, Thermopolis, WY 82443.

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Packers deaths in 2014

Don Bracken (punter, 1985-90), Oct. 29.

Leon McLaughlin (offensive line coach, 1975-76), Oct. 27.

Rebel Steiner (defensive back, 1950-51), Oct. 18.

Donnie Humphrey (defensive tackle, 1984-86), Sept. 2.

Perry Moss (quarterback, 1948), Aug. 7.

Ray DiPierro (guard, 1950-51), July 20.

Allen Jacobs (halfback, 1965), April 22.

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