Before Don Hutson came to the National Football League, passing took second place to running. Hutson’s world class sprinter speed and remarkable abilities changed NFL defenses forever.
The 6’1”, 185-pound Hutson elevated the art of passing in pro football using his quickness, faking ability and resourcefulness. He is credited with inventing many pass patterns.
Both the Brooklyn Dodgers, owned by John “Shipwreck” Kelly, and the Packers pursued and signed Hutson to contracts prior to the 1935 season.
When the Packers and Dodgers realized they had each signed the University Alabama star, they rushed their signed contracts on to NFL Commissioner Joe Carr’s office in Columbus, Ohio. Carr decided the Packer contract had an earlier postmark and Hutson became a Packer.
His $175 per game contract was so large, Packer officials decided to set up two separate bank accounts to diffuse suspicion among teammates and fans in Depression Era Green Bay.
Often double- and even triple-teamed, Hutson led the NFL in receiving for eight of his 11 seasons and in scoring for five seasons.
His 83-yard touchdown reception from halfback Arnie Herber stunned the pro football world in 1935 as the Packers beat the Bears 7-0.
In the 11-game 1942 season, he caught 74 passes for 17 touchdowns and scored 29 points in one quarter as the Packers trounced the Lions 57-21. Hutson scored 105 touchdowns in just 117 NFL games.
All NFL for nine seasons and the league’s M.V.P. in both 1941 and ‘42, Hutson caught passes in 95 straight games between 1937 and ‘45.
After retiring in 1945, he spent four seasons as a Packer assistant coach. In 1994, the Packer indoor practice facility was named in his honor. He was also named to the NFL’s 75th anniversary squad in ‘94.
Hutson was elected as a charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.
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