The Green Bay Packers have had a number of great offensive lines in their history, but the offensive line the team put together in the early 1960s was their best ever. It may also be the best offensive line ever in the NFL as well.
Ringo played 15 years in the NFL and played 11 of those seasons with the Packers from 1953-1963.
While he was with the Pack, Ringo was named first-team All-Pro six times and was named to seven Pro Bowls.
Ringo was also part of two (1961 & 1962) NFL championship teams with the Packers.
When it was all said and done, the 6’1″, 232-pound Ringo was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1981.
Kramer talked to me recently about Ringo.
“Jim was not a big guy,” Kramer said. “But he had lightning quickness. He also had a great ability to make an onside-cut off block on the defensive tackle.
“One of the reasons that the power sweep was so successful was if the offensive right tackle didn’t have to go after the defensive tackle and instead was able to go after the middle linebacker, we had a much better chance of having a big play.
“It all depended on Ringo getting the onside-cut off block. And that was a difficult block. But he did it very effectively and it made the play that much stronger.
“That play gained 8.3 yards-per-carry for the first three years we ran it.”
The power sweep remained the signature play of the Vince Lombardi offense through 1967, but the play was never as effective as it was when Ringo was center and when Ron Kramer was at tight end.
Ringo was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles after the 1963 season, while Kramer was traded to the Detroit Lions after the 1964 season.
The NFL statistics reflect that. In 1959, which was the first year under Lombardi, the Packers finished third in the NFL in rushing (159 yards-per-game). In 1960, the Packers were ranked second (179 yards-per-game). In 1961, the Packers moved up to first (196 yards-per-game) in running the football and did the same in 1962 (176 yards-per-game).
In 1963 (the year Paul Hornung was suspended), the team finished second in rushing (161 yards-per-game). But in 1964, the Packers moved back to being the number one team in terms of toting the rock (163 yards-per-game).
But in 1965, the Packers fell to 10th in rushing (106 yards-per-game) and then got slightly better in 1966 (120 yards-per-game), as the team finished eighth in rushing.
In 1967, then without both Jim Taylor and Hornung, the Packers moved all the way up to second in the NFL in rushing (137 yards-per-game).
The bottom line is that the Packers were a much better unit on the offensive line with Ringo as their center.
Especially when it came to running the staple play for the Packers under Lombardi.
That would be the power sweep.