Former Packers MLB Jim Carter Had a Difficult Problem in Green Bay Through No Fault of His Own

Former Green Bay Packers middle linebacker Jim Carter passed away on Thanksgiving Day at the age of 75. Carter played eight seasons for the Packers and had a very difficult time in Green Bay due to a thankless situation that was not his own making.

Carter played fullback at the University of Minnesota and was drafted by the Packers in the third round of the 1970 NFL Draft. The Packers converted him to linebacker.

Carter became the Packers starting middle linebacker by his second season but that’s where he got into trouble. He took over the job from the legendary Ray Nitschke who was a future Hall of Famer and one of the most popular players on the team. Although it was no fault of his own, the fans turned on Carter because they loved Nitschke.

The fans often booed the young middle linebacker and yelled at him relentlessly when he missed a tackle and even during player introductions. No matter how well he played, Carter couldn’t win over a large portion of the fan base.

Carter did play well. He was a key part of the Packers defense during the 1972 season that saw the team go 10-4 and win their only division title after Vince Lombardi’s retirement and before Brett Favre’s arrival.

The strength of Carter’s game was defending the run. He was a hard hitter who covered a lot of ground in the middle of the field.

While the fans didn’t fully appreciate what Carter could do, his teammates always did. “Carter was an excellent linebacker," cornerback Willie Buchanon said. “We didn't ask him to cover. All he had to do was go between the tackles. And he did a good job of that. But the fans loved Nitschke. They did more booing of [Carter] than anybody. That was a shame.”

“He was the perfect middle linebacker for our ’72 team and defense … tough, smart, leader on the field, the locker room, and when we were having a cold one in De Pere during training camp or at Boot’s place on Broadway after practice,” former Packers quarterback Scott Hunter told the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

His best season came in 1973. He intercepted a career-high three passes that season including a 42-yard pick-six against Archie Manning of the New Orleans Saints in the Packers 30-10 win in Milwaukee. He was voted to the Pro Bowl for the first and only time in his career and was named the team’s defensive MVP.

In also served as the team’s defensive captain for three years before stepping down from that position.

“Jim was a great guy. Easy going. Loveable. An encourager, tough.” said former Packers defensive tackle Mike McCoy.”

Carter suffered a broken leg in the team’s intrasquad game early in training camp in 1975. He toughed it out and managed to play in 12 of the team’s 14 games during Bart Starr’s first season as head coach.

In 1976, Carter broke his arm in the preseason and was out for the entire season. His absence was clearly felt. The following season, he returned to the lineup and regained his starting job.

Carter’s final season with the team came in 1978. He lost his starting job to second round pick Mike Hunt and decided to retire after that. He bought a car dealership and became a successful businessman.

Carter also overcame a drinking problem after he retired. “I spent a lot of time in recovery,” Carter said in 2022. “I haven't had a drink in 40 years. And we had plenty when we drank in Green Bay, and we never needed any more.”

Because of his negative experience with the fan base, Carter stayed away from alumni events for many years. In 1996, he told author Jerry Pohling, “If I ever went to Green Bay for an alumni game, I fear I'd get booed. I never want to go through that again. It had a profound effect on me. It was degrading.”

He eventually did return to Lambeau Field, and the fans gave him a warm reception. He was even an honorary captain for the final game of the 2022 season.

Carter has not been inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame although he deserves that honor. He was a good, tough, middle linebacker who played well on many struggling teams. Rest in peace number 50.

 

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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11 points
 

Comments (22)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
13TimeChamps's picture

November 30, 2023 at 11:22 am

I've never understood fans booing players. They paid for their ticket so it's their right I guess. To each their own I suppose.

7 points
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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

November 30, 2023 at 12:03 pm

Nitschke was a hard act to follow, but this was brutal.

RIP

7 points
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Coldworld's picture

November 30, 2023 at 11:27 am

It’s sad that Carter felt disparaged during and after his career. I’d take him over nearly all of his successors. It’s a cautionary tale that should remind us that good after great is still good and should be appreciated because the alternatives can be a lot worse and, in Carters’s case, usually were. One wonders if he might have been even better if treated on merit by the fans. I’d be happy to see him inducted. It should have been done before he died, particularly in his case.

9 points
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GilMartin's picture

November 30, 2023 at 12:10 pm

Would have been nice if it happened before he died. Hope he is inducted soon because he does deserve it. Thanks for the comment, Coldworld.

5 points
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SwedeBayPacker's picture

November 30, 2023 at 11:50 am

“If I ever went to Green Bay for an alumni game, I fear I'd get booed. I never want to go through that again. It had a profound effect on me. It was degrading.”

Heart-breaking words.
Always remember that there's a person beneath the jersey when feelings are running hot.

RIP

16 points
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NickPerry's picture

November 30, 2023 at 12:03 pm

Thank you Gil for writing this story, I really enjoyed it. For some reason I'm blanking on Carter, but at 63 I blank on a lot of shit now!

It was sad he was booed and anyone sober has a special place in my heart because I know how HARD that is to not drink for just one day. Especially at first. I was happy to hear he did come back in 2022.

6 points
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GilMartin's picture

November 30, 2023 at 12:12 pm

Thanks, NickPerry, glad you enjoyed the story. Carter stayed sober after his playing days which was good to hear and I'm glad he finally got some recognition in a positive way from the fans during his last trip to Lambeau. Thanks for the comment.

2 points
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dblbogey's picture

November 30, 2023 at 12:31 pm

At 71, I blank on nearly everything, but I remember Jim being a very good player. Wasn't aware of the boos or the booze. RIP.

1 points
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mnbadger's picture

November 30, 2023 at 12:08 pm

I'm 61 now, so my only exposure to Nitschke was at the tail end, when he could hardly limp back to the huddle after a play.
I loved Jim Carter, he was one of the best athletes and definitely the toughest player on any defense he was part of in GB.
This cheesehead would put you in the Pack HofF first ballot.
I drive thru Wausau occasionally on US51 and pass the Jim Carter dealership. I never knew it was his.
On behalf of my predecessors, I apologize for the way you were treated. I was unaware of it as a young kid, watching on our BW tv set.
RIP #50!
GPG!

13 points
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GilMartin's picture

November 30, 2023 at 12:15 pm

Thanks for the comment, mnbadger. I also remember Carter well and he really deserved better. I hope he gets into the Packers HOF posthumously.

3 points
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ricky's picture

November 30, 2023 at 12:26 pm

Although Nitschke was a legend, and once the heart of the defense, it was time to move on from him. Unfortunately, the Packers kept him on the roster, and it caused more problems for Carter. I still remember the fans changing Nitschke's name when he was on the sideline. Rather than ignoring them, he grabbed a towel and started waving it over his head, encouraging the chants. But then again, Mike Hunt had his own problems, just by having a name that if said incorrectly, becomes a sexual allusion. Which made broadcasters very carefully pronounce both his names very distinctly, with a slight pause between them.

5 points
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dblbogey's picture

November 30, 2023 at 12:33 pm

Mike Hunt. Calling Mike Hunt.

2 points
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ricky's picture

November 30, 2023 at 04:55 pm

"Porky's". The telephone call to the waitress in the diner. And the lewd comments from the kids who were in on the joke. From the same director that brought us "A Christmas Story", Bob Clark.

0 points
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jaxpackfan's picture

November 30, 2023 at 01:05 pm

I attended the University of Minnesota in the late sixties and probably went to most of the games Jim Carter played in. He was a great player for the Gophers. He always ran tough and made extra yards. Really happy to see him recognized here and really hope he makes the Packer HOF.

8 points
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lou's picture

November 30, 2023 at 04:49 pm

Few remember he was a college fullback (had some huge games vs the Badgers) and was also a hockey player are Minnesota. It says a lot that he was moved to the defensive side on arrival to Green Bay and originally replaced a HOF LB (injured Dave Robinson) at outside LB then another HOF LB jersey retired #66 at middle linebacker with a healthy Robinson playing next to him.

5 points
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LeotisHarris's picture

November 30, 2023 at 04:56 pm

Sad news. Carter was a good all-around athlete as well, decent hockey player. I remember seeing his Jim Carter Ford dealerships in Eau Claire back in the 1980s.

You're right, Gil, Carter is deserving of the Packers Hall of Fame. It's too bad that honor wasn't awarded in his lifetime.

To my fellow geezers: shit. it looks like no one is getting out of here alive.

6 points
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J-BlockaTon Jr.'s picture

November 30, 2023 at 06:30 pm

I got to know Jim Carter in his post-football life. We served together on a board that took us on long drives out of town. I found him to be thoughtful, inquisitive, and caring. We never talked much football, but we talked about a lot of other stuff. Good guy.

8 points
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Tundraboy's picture

November 30, 2023 at 09:09 pm

Solid Packer for years, unfortunately it wasnt the better years. Definitely should be in the Packer Hall of Fame. I had to go look it up to remember what year it was ,but there was a year where it was him.,Carr, and Ted Hendricks. Not too shabby.

4 points
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Starrbrite's picture

December 01, 2023 at 12:01 am

I always felt Carter was underrated. I recall a game against the Cowboys in’72–and he absolutely hammered them.
He does belong in the Packer HOF.
Thanks for writing this story.
Go Packers!!!

3 points
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Irish_Cheesehead's picture

December 01, 2023 at 11:23 am

Man, I remember Jim Carter! Great player! I had no idea how much he was booed and how that affected him. So sad to hear! Reminds me of how Rodgers was treated at training camp when I was there in 2008. I dug out my old football card collection because I knew I had some Jim Carter cards. Changed my profile picture to his final card from 1978. Tell me you wouldn't want that tough SOB to man the middle of the field today!

1 points
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THESZOTMAN1's picture

December 01, 2023 at 04:01 pm

Thanks, Gil
I really like classic Packer stories, especially the untold ones.
How about a story on Gale Gillingham? The Rock says he was the greatest guard on some bad teams.
The Szotman

3 points
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Tundraboy's picture

December 01, 2023 at 06:34 pm

Yeah Gillingham was great.

2 points
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