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70's Pack Remembered

70's Pack Remembered

 

What it was like to be a young Packer fan in the 70’s.

 

 

 

 

 

When I read about the recent death of Dave Purifoy, who played DT for the Packers back in the 70’s, it brought back some memories. I was a kid back then, growing up on the Wisconsin-Michigan border, and the Packers were our heroes. So many of the names and numbers are still burned into my mind after all these years: #90 Ezra Johnson…#77 Mike Douglas…#13 Chester Marcol…#29 Mike McCoy….  The list goes on and on. The only problem with the Packers back then is that they did not win a lot of games. The fans were still riding high from the Lombardi era, and we hadn’t yet realized that there would be many more lean years to come.

 

But to a kid, all that really mattered was that these guys wore the green and gold and played in the NFL. Greatness was 100 miles due south on US-141: Lambeau Field and the Packer Hall of Fame. My grandfather, who lived in Antigo, Wisconsin, had attended virtually every home game since the early 60’s. My grandma was just as big a fan in her own way. She couldn’t tell you much about what the offensive linemen were doing, but she loved the Packers and could yell and scream with the best of them. Bears linebacker Dick Butkus was her nemesis. I still remember the way she spat out the name “Butkus.” “I hate that Butkus!” she would say.

 

Back then, it was possible to worship a mediocre NFL team in a way that you seldom see anymore. Fans have shorter attention spans now and are less willing to be kind to a team that doesn’t at least make a playoff run every couple of years. There were no superstars on the Packers back then, and very few stars. I remember the running back John Brockington, #42, who had a few very good years before his career was lost to injuries. Then there was Terdell Middleton, who had one year where he rushed for more than 1,500 yards. What happened to him after that, I honestly don’t know. He seemed to just disappear. But I also remember some of the running backs who were ordinary talents by NFL standards--guys like Harlan Huckleby and Eric Torkelson. Maybe I remember them because their names reflected the humbleness of the Packers back then.

 

One of the more unusual memories from my childhood was when some members of the Packers played a basketball game at the Kingsford Armory, near my hometown. It was just for show, sort of like the Globetrotters except not nearly as good, obviously. It ended with Chester Marcol kicking a game-winning field goal from midcourt, between the posts that the backboard and hoop were suspended from. We got a bunch of player autographs afterwards.

 

Back then, that was a big part of the appeal of the Packers. They were so accessible. They were regular guys, but at the same time, they were like gods to us. It’s good that the team has tried to preserve some of that accessibility, especially in training camp. It can never completely go back to how it was, because football is such a big business now, but it’s worth trying to preserve it as much as possible. The Packers of the 70’s may not have been one of the better teams in the league, but they were OUR team, and in a way, that was enough.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (8) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Alex Tallitsch's picture

I totally love memoirs. Great story.

Pack93z's picture

Great read... some of the fondest and most enjoyable times in remembering Packer football stems from that era forward through the early 80's...

We seemed to have storied players and some I idolize to this day.. we might have been a sorry "team" collectively per the record, but there was just something about the "Pack".

Those basketball games used to be much more popular than today's... I seen two when I was a kid.. yes, there just was something special about the Pack.. still lives on today in its own way.

Greg C.'s picture

I'm glad you remember seeing those basketball games, Pack. I was almost starting to wonder if it was just a figment of my imagination.

EzraJohnson's picture

How about Johnnie Gray?
Chester Marcol? What a mess! He tried to commit suicide by drinking some poison and fucked up his throat. Wow... he hit the bricks hard!!

Greg C.'s picture

Yes, Johnnie Gray was a good one, and I'm glad that he's still around as an analyst on Fox 11. I was tempted to turn the whole article into a list of names, but I didn't want to bore the younger fans.

By the way, I was surfing around and found out that Terdell Middleton only rushed for 1,116 yards in 1978, not over 1,500 as I had thought.

Here is a list of names and numbers of 70's Packer players, off the top of my head. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong on any of these:

P David Beverly #11
K Chester Marcol #13
QB Scott Hunter #16
QB Jerry Tagge #17
QB David Whitehurst #17
CB Johnnie Gray #24
CB Mike McCoy #29
FB Barty Smith #33
RB John Brockington #42
C Larry McCarren #52?
OLB Fred Carr #53
MLB Jim Carter #55?
G Gale Gillingham #68
DT Dave Roller #74
DT Dave Purifoy #75
DT Mike McCoy #76
WR Steve Odom #84
DE Alden Roche #87
DE Ezra Johnson #90

Alex Tallitsch's picture

I loved Ezra.

IPBprez's picture

Going back, how many remember Bart Starr's first jersey number was #16?
Truth - He wore it for one season.

Off the top of my head - wasn't Lynn Dickey brought in, in the late 70's?

A great read, Greg. Nicely done.

marlon b. curry's picture

I grew up with Dave, he wenat to the same high school I did, he graduated with my oldest brother. Was very shocked when I heard about his death, knew his family well.

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