In 1949, Tony Canadeo, nicknamed the “Grey Ghost of Gonzaga” because of his prematurely gray hair, became the first Packer, and only the third NFL running back, to rush for more than 1,000 yards.
Canadeo, a 6’0”, 190-pound back, was an extremely versatile player in an age of one platoon, two-way players. An all-purpose passer, runner, receiver and defensive back, he led the Packers in rushing in 1943, ‘46 and ‘49.
Opponents claimed they never knew which way he would come from. A former teammate once summed up Canadeo’s career this way: “He wasn’t fast. He wasn’t big. He wasn’t elusive like a lot of runners. He wasn’t really powerful. But when Tony put that ball under his arm, he was a wild man.”
Consistency marked Canadeo’s Packer career. Despite missing the 1945 season and the latter portion of the 1944 season to military duty in World War II, he averaged 75 total yards per game over his 11 Packer seasons.
He gained 4,197 yards rushing as a Packer and averaged 4.1 yards per rush. After retiring in 1952, his number 3 was retired. Canadeo went on to serve as color commentator with Ray Scott on CBS telecasts of Packer games. He was also a lone-time member of the Packer Executive Committee.
Canadeo was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1974.
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