Ranking the Best Fullbacks in Packers History

Here is a look at the top five fullbacks in Packers history. The rankings are based solely on what these players did while with the Packers. Running, blocking ability and receiving are all taken into consideration as are the players’ longevity with Green Bay.

Fullback is a forgotten position for many NFL teams. The position has evolved over the years. Back in the day, fullbacks carried the ball frequently and often led their teams in rushing. By the 1990s, they primarily became blockers and outlet receivers. Today, many teams have phased out the fullback entirely and inserted another tight end or an H-back into the lineup.

Here is a look at the top five fullbacks in Packers history. The rankings are based solely on what these players did while with the Packers. Running, blocking ability and receiving are all taken into consideration as are the players’ longevity with Green Bay.

5. Ted Fritsch (1942-1950)

Fritsch stood only 5’10” but at 210 pounds, he was a big man for a fullback in the 1940s. Fritsch led the NFL with nine rushing touchdowns in 1946 and he also earned Pro Bowl honors that season. He also kicked and punted for the Packers and intercepted six passes on defense in 1944. In 1946, Fritsch led the NFL with 100 points scored in an 11-game season.

Fritsch was an outstanding athlete and played minor league baseball in the summer of 1944.

His biggest moment with the Packers came in the 1944 NFL title game when the Packers beat the New York Giants 14-7 at the Polo Grounds. Fritsch ran for one touchdown and caught another to directly account for 12 of the Packers 14 points in that game.

Fritsch was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1973.

4. Clarke Hinkle (1932-1941)

Hinkle is one of the toughest players from the two-way era of pro football. When he retired, he was the NFL’s all-time leading rusher despite never having gained more than 552 yards rushing in any one campaign.

Hinkle was a four time All Pro and the three time Pro Bowl performer and a tough inside runner who also kicked, punted and played defense for the Packers.

The Packers won two NFL championships during Hinkle’s time in Green Bay, in 1936 and 1939.

Hinkle was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1964, the second year the hall selected players for admission. When the Packers Hall of Fame was opened, Hinkle was inducted as part of the class of 1972.

He died in 1988 at the age of 79. He will be remembered as a skilled and tough football player who gave his all throughout his career.

3. William Henderson (1995-2006)

Henderson was the classic fullback of his era. While he didn’t run the ball often, he was a great run blocker and pass receiver who provided Brett Favre with a reliable outlet receiver.

Henderson was the Packers starting fullback from their Super Bowl-winning season in 1996 through 2006 and earned Pro Bowl honors after the 2004 campaign.

His most productive season as a receiver came in 1997 when he caught 41 passes for 367 yards and a touchdown. He was known as a smart and steady performer for the Packers and became a fan favorite for his reliability and willingness to block for great running backs like Dorsey Levens, Edgar Bennett and Ahman Green.

Henderson was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 2011.

2. John Brockington (1971-1977)

The Packers selected Brockington in the first round of the 1971 NFL Draft out of Ohio State. Brockington became the first rusher in NFL history to gain 1,000 or more yards in each of his first three NFL seasons.

The powerful back was a major reason for the Packers NFC Central Division title winning team in 1972 that went 10-4 despite having a subpar passing attack. Brockington and MacArthur Lane gave the Packers a strong one-two tandem at running back. Both were determined runners, consistent blockers and good receivers.

Brockington led the Packers in rushing for five seasons and led them in receiving as well in 1974.

He was selected to three Pro Bowls and was the Packers second all-time leading rusher when he retired after the 1977 season.

The Brooklyn native was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1984.

1. Jim Taylor

Jim Taylor was one tough football player and the leading rushing of the great Packers team during the Lombardi Era.

The former LSU star had five straight seasons with more than 1,000 yards rushing for the Pack from 1960-1964.  He earned Pro Bowl honors for five straight seasons and was the league MVP in 1962.

Taylor was the only player to beat out the great Jim Brown for an NFL rushing title during Brown’s nine-year career. Taylor did it in 1962 when he gained a league-leading 1,474 yards and scored 19 rushing touchdowns in a 14-game season.

In the NFL Championship Game that year, Taylor was the heart of the Packers offense, carrying the ball 31 times for 85 yards against the tough New York Giants defense on a cold and blustery day that made it difficult to pass the football.

Taylor showed his toughness in that game. He had a big cut on his tongue that bled throughout the game after being tackled hard by Giants Hall of Fame linebacker Sam Huff. He also needed six stitches to close a gash in his elbow. Still, he kept carrying the ball.

“Taylor isn't human,” Huff said after the game. “No human being could have taken the punishment he got today.”

In the 1965 NFL title game, Taylor gained 96 yards on 27 carries as the Packers beat the Cleveland Browns 23-12. One year later, Taylor scored the first rushing touchdown in Super Bowl history on a 14-yard sweep in the second quarter that gave Green Bay a lead they never relinquished.

Taylor finished his career as the Packers all-time leading rusher with 8,207 yards. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1976, making him the first player from the Lombardi dynasty teams to be enshrined in Canton.

Taylor passed away in 2018 at the age of 83. 

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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Comments (31)

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JQ's picture

June 21, 2021 at 12:38 am

Excellent list and article Gill. I’m old enough to recall the four players in the classic Black and White. What a great shot! It was fun trying to imitate Jim Taylor’s bruising running style in the neighborhood pickup games.

One item on William Henderson: He was an absolute demon on special teams, both blocking and tackling! He’s one of my all-time Packer favorites.

As usual, thanks for another interesting post. I find your content always engaging and entertaining. -JQ-

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Since'61's picture

June 19, 2021 at 06:29 pm

Yes, that is McGee between Starr and Taylor. Thanks, Since ‘61

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GilMartin's picture

June 20, 2021 at 11:55 am

Thanks for the kind words, JQ, glad you enjoyed the article. Henderson was always a favorite of mine, too. Unheralded by most but ask his teammates about him and you'd see how much they appreciated all the little things he did.

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JQ's picture

June 21, 2021 at 12:40 am

Hendu did a lot of dirty work for the Packers.

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blondy45's picture

June 19, 2021 at 02:44 pm

I was born in April of 1954. My dad's name was also Jim Taylor. Jim Taylor was my first Packer idol. Jim Taylor like my dad was a hero in my book. I have been a fan since my early memories of the great Jim Taylor's, both of them!

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blondy45's picture

June 20, 2021 at 07:47 am

Happy Fathers Day to my Dad in heaven.

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Since'61's picture

June 19, 2021 at 02:59 pm

Taylor was tough and mean. He loved to run at/over defenders rather than run around them. He was a solid blocker and he rarely fumbled.

He was a great player and while the Packers have had several solid FBs over the years, mostly mentioned in the article, they have never had a FB as dominant as Jim Taylor since he left the Packers. Thanks, Since ‘61

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baldski's picture

June 19, 2021 at 05:02 pm

Boy, they did not like him in Baltimore. I was at a game there in the early sixties and Taylor was resoundly booed when introduced. When I asked those around me why? I got the same answer. "He's mean".

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Stroh's picture

June 19, 2021 at 03:06 pm

Brockington and Taylor weren't true FB IMO. Both were the primary RB of their eras. Lane actually played the classic FB role for Brockington. Lane was the blocker and receiver of the 2. Similarly Taylor was the primary runner. Hornung wasn't a FB either.

Personally I would classify both as RB, not FB. I understand that officially they were listed as FB. Taylor and Brockington would be more comparable to Ahman Green in the way they were the primary ballcarrier.

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13TimeChamps's picture

June 19, 2021 at 04:09 pm

During the mid 50's through the mid 60's, FBs were often the primary runner, as evidenced by the two best 'runners' of that era...Jim Brown and Jim Taylor, and Marion Motley before them, all 3 bruising runners. True 'half backs' (HB's), later referred to as just 'running backs' (RB's), took over primary duties around the mid-later 60's with the emergence of Gayle Sayers.

Jim Taylor was an NFL FB in the truest sense of the word. I don't ever remember anyone referring to Paul Hornung as a FB.

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CheesyTex's picture

June 19, 2021 at 06:24 pm

Pound for pound, you have to give it to Taylor.

Motley was a beast -- he was the size of defensive tackles of his era. Would have been fun to see a match up of the late 40's Browns and the mid-50's Packers.

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Johnblood27's picture

June 19, 2021 at 07:37 pm

The mid-50's Packers were pathetic.

Gene Ronzani?

Scooter McLean?

Might as well reference the late 70's early 80's Packer teams...

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13TimeChamps's picture

June 19, 2021 at 08:15 pm

What the hell does that have to do with the article? Jim Taylor wasn't the best FB in Packer's history?

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Johnblood27's picture

June 20, 2021 at 07:32 am

Reading comprehension - it matters.

My response is to the post above mine where the poster wished for a match of Motleys Browns vs mid-50's Packers. Pathetic squads then...

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CheesyTex's picture

June 19, 2021 at 10:15 pm

My bad -- I meant to refer to Lombardi's mid 60's Packers. Your comment about Motley just brought it to mind.

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Stroh's picture

June 20, 2021 at 04:07 pm

Like I said, I'm well aware of the listed position. That goes along w/ the era they played in. I don't care about that! I look BEYOND the given position. Try it for a change! Dont think this level, think NEXT level. Don't think at this moment, think 2 steps ahead!

It opens up a whole new world for YOU!

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13TimeChamps's picture

June 20, 2021 at 04:41 pm

Lol....no clue what you're rambling on about.

Strohs, huh? Had no idea they even made that crap anymore.

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Tundraboy's picture

June 20, 2021 at 09:34 pm

I was thinking the same. Always considered Taylor and Brockington great RBs

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wildbill's picture

June 19, 2021 at 04:02 pm

My image is Taylor so that says it all about how I loved watching him play.and his toughness. The younger crowd has no idea how brutal the game was in the 60s. The beating Taylor took in the 62 championship game is the absolute worse I have ever seen and no other game is even close. When I would see Taylor, when he was even in his 60s, he looked like he could still play. What a rock!
Thanks for such a great article and I agree completely on all of them!

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LeotisHarris's picture

June 19, 2021 at 06:33 pm

I agree 100% wildbill, yet I have to wonder how Taylor would have fared in the court of public opinion if he'd played in this social media era. Jerry Kramer delineates what kind of man Taylor was in the book, Distant Replay. Lombardi also indicated Taylor was more of a "me guy", concerned about his stats, and that Taylor didn't put the same effort into blocking as Hornung did.

So, would Taylor have been called a diva for leaving for the Saints? Lombardi had this to say:

"We're going to miss Paul Hornung. We're going to miss Paul a great deal. He was a leader and he added a lot of spice to professional football. We're all going to miss him.

"We will replace the other fellow."

Vince Lombardi on Jim Taylor, 1967

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Johnblood27's picture

June 19, 2021 at 07:38 pm

Lombardi sure had a way with words, eh?

If only MLF had a little Lombardi in him he wouldn't pander to "superstars".

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wildbill's picture

June 20, 2021 at 09:41 pm

My memory isn’t great but I thought Lombardi exposed both Hornung and Taylor as unprotected players to be picked by the new expansion Saints. As far as blocking he was our main ball carrier and may not have been as great a blocker as some others on our team but remember that we had quite a few HOF blockers on that team. Also I love Jerry Kramer but some of the things in his book seem a little off. I never saw a game where Taylor didn’t leave everything on the field and that’s all you can ask of a player

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mbpacker's picture

June 19, 2021 at 04:43 pm

I am a life long Packer fan and remember Taylor. I was bit young to appreciate how good he was.

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mnbadger's picture

June 19, 2021 at 10:26 pm

I agree with most everything that's been said. I only saw Brockington and Henderson play. Brockington was our #1 back, no matter what you want to call him. 4 yards and a pile of bodies. Henderson seemed to be a wonderful human being. One of the best teammates I've seen wear the green/gold. Captain. I watched the Mike Holmgren show and loved it when he came on. A true professional. Now he was a guy that carried the G! GPG!

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nostradanus's picture

June 19, 2021 at 11:09 pm

Jim Taylor man, one of the all time greats!
He personified Packer grit and toughness in the 60’s

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egbertsouse's picture

June 20, 2021 at 07:11 am

I saw Taylor play in a charity basketball game. Everyone was goofing off, even Nitschke was acting like Meadowlark Lemon. (If you’re under 50, ask your dad.) Not Taylor, he was totally serious and played like a demon. What a competitor. I got his autograph but my mom threw it out when she was cleaning my room.

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greengold's picture

June 20, 2021 at 08:28 am

Big shoutout to all of my friends here who are Dads! Happy Father’s Day, fellas!!!

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Since'61's picture

June 20, 2021 at 09:52 am

Same to you gg, have a great day. Thanks, Since '61

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PeteK's picture

June 20, 2021 at 11:58 am

While not in the top 5, Kuhn was a solid FB who could block and find the end zone on short and goal. Also, Barty Smith was a bruiser and surprisingly a good receiver( 37 in 77 & 78) at 6' 3" 240, but was often injured and on some poor teams.

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GilMartin's picture

June 20, 2021 at 12:00 pm

I always wondered what Barty Smith would have been had he not been injured in his rookie year. Liked watching him barrel through the defense. Agree with you on Kuhn, popular, solid but not in the top 5. Thanks for the comment, Pete K

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THESZOTMAN1's picture

June 20, 2021 at 08:10 pm

Growing up, my 2 sports idols were Detroit's Al Kaline and Jim Taylor. In my part of Michigan, we got neither the Tigers nor the Packers of TV. No cable--- (believe it or NOT!) So I listened to both on radio religiously for their entire careers. And I still pick up the Pack on TMJ. Old school --- just like Al and Jim. Thanks for the memories. RIP.
Szotman

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