Herb Adderley was drafted in the first round of the 1961 NFL draft by the Green Bay Packers. Adderley played his college ball at Michigan State where he played running back.
In three years as a Spartan, Adderley rushed for 813 yards and four touchdowns. Adderley also showed nice hands as a receiver, as he had 28 receptions for 519 yards and four more scores.
At the point in time the Packers drafted Adderley, the depth chart at running back was pretty deep.
The team already had the best running back combination in the NFL with fullback Jimmy Taylor and halfback Paul Hornung.
Hornung was coming off a fantastic 1960 season, where he had rushed for 671 yards and scored 13 touchdowns. No. 5 also caught 28 more passes for 257 yards and two more scores.
Hornung also led the league in scoring with 176 points, as he also added 41 extra points and 15 field goals. This was all done in just 12 games.
Backing up Hornung was Tom Moore, who was Vince Lombardi’s very first draft pick in 1960, when the Packers took the former Vanderbilt star in the first round.
In the same draft in which Adderley was picked, the Packers also took another running back in the 13th round. That back was Elijah Pitts, who the Packers drafted out of Philander Smith.
The coaching staff of the Packers saw that Adderley had excellent speed, plus had great hands, so he was moved over to the cornerback position.
That turned out to be a very wise decision.
In 1961, Adderley only saw spot playing time, as Jesse Whittenton and Hank Gremminger were the starters at cornerback. No. 26 did have one interception in his rookie year.
From 1962 through the rest of his career, Adderley became one of the very best cornerbacks in the NFL.
In his career, Adderley had 48 picks for 1,046 yards and seven touchdowns. 39 of those interceptions came when he was a member of the Packers. All of his touchdowns also came while he played in Green Bay.
Adderley was also a fine kickoff returner with the Packers, as he had two return touchdowns.
No.26 finished his career in Dallas with the Cowboys in 1970 and 1971.
Adderley was part of six teams which won NFL titles and three teams which won the Super Bowl.
In 1980, Adderley was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Kramer gave me his take on Adderley as a teammate.
“Oh boy, Herbie was a real talent,” Kramer said. “He was such a gifted athlete. His body was sculpted. Herbie had brains as well and he knew how to read the opposing quarterbacks.
“One of my biggest memories of Herbie was in the “Ice Bowl” when he was covering Bob Hayes. Hayes would come out of the huddle when he was not involved in the pattern with his hands tucked inside of his pants.
“When Hayes was in the pattern, he had his hands out, hanging down at his side. Herb picked that up immediately. He also had an interception in the first half of that game. Obviously turnovers are always important in that type of game.”
Kramer also talked about an interaction he had with Adderley in Milwaukee several years ago.
“I was with Fuzzy and a bunch of other guys in Milwaukee before the Lombardi golf tournament,” Kramer said. “I thought I saw Herb across the room. After about five minutes go by, I feel a tap on my shoulder.
“I turn around and it was indeed Herb. He had his arms open wide and I gave him a big hug. I mean, we are huggers, not shakers. Herb hugged me pretty hard and he said, ‘It’s still there, JK, isn’t it?’
“I replied to Herbie, that it ‘will always be there.’ I think that love and that respect goes both ways. I would be very comfortable signing a picture for Herbie with that inscription.”
In terms of where Adderley ranked among the very best cornerbacks in the NFL in his era, Kramer offered high praise.
“Herb was right along side “Night Train” Lane,” Kramer said. Those two were in a class by themselves. They were heads and tails above the other cornerbacks in the league, I felt.”
Kramer then mentioned another cornerback who made the transition from running back in college to cornerback for Green Bay.
“The Packers did the same thing with Bob Jeter. Remember when he rushed for over 190 yards on just nine carries for Iowa in the Rose Bowl?”
That also says a lot about the Packer coaching staff in those days. Lombardi ran the offense. Phil Bengtson ran the defense. For them to recognize that both Adderley and Jeter were a better fit on defense says quite a bit.
“They [the coaches] knew the guys were in the wrong spot. They knew where to put those guys so they would be able to excel. It was a significant factor to make that intelligent decision and make it early.”
That decision was a big reason why the Packers had so much success at the cornerback position in the 1960s.
Adderley was first-team All-Pro four times and went to five Pro Bowls. Jeter was first-team All-Pro once and went to two Pro Bowls.
Together the two had 67 interceptions and had nine interception returns for scores.
Not bad for a couple of guys who played running back in the Big Ten before they became pros.
Kramer added this about Adderley.
“Herbie has always been a classy guy,” Kramer said. “Herbie always looked like he stepped out of Gentlemen’s Quarterly. He is just a classy human being.”