Anyone who has read my work over the years, know that I was on a crusade to get Jerry Kramer his rightful place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Now that goal has been accomplished (thanks to the efforts of many), the Green Bay Packers now have 25 individuals who have busts in Canton.
That number is second to only the Chicago Bears, who have 28 individuals who were honored to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Now da Bears have a rich history no doubt, but so do the Packers. In fact, Green Bay has won 13 NFL titles (including four Super Bowls) since they have been in the NFL (1921), while Chicago has won nine NFL championships (including one Super Bowl) since they have been in the NFL (1920).
I believe there are many more deserving individuals of the Packers who merit a bust in Canton and this article is the first of a multi-part series of stories which will chronicle those people.
I told Rick Gosselin (Pro Football Hall of Fame voter and a member of the Seniors Selection Committee) that I would be writing this material yesterday. Gosselin told me to make sure that Ron Kramer, Boyd Dowler and Gale Gillingham were among the players who I would list.
I told Rick that those three will indeed be included in my list of names who deserve consideration for a place in Canton.
But today’s piece is about defensive back Bobby Dillon.
Dillon was drafted in 1952 by the Packers and their phenomenal scout Jack Vainisi. No. 44 was part of a draft class which included quarterback Babe Parilli, wide receiver Billy Howton and defensive tackle Dave “Hawg” Hanner.
Unfortunately for Dillon and his comrades on the Packers, the decade of the 1950s turned out to be the worst decade that Green Bay ever had record-wise. The Packers were 39-79-2 in that decade, which equates to a .331 winning percentage.
Dillon played from 1952 through 1959 and the only year Dillon played with a Green Bay team with a winning record was his last year with the Packers, which also was Vince Lombardi’s first season in what later became “Titletown.”
Even with all the losing going on, Dillon was one of the best players in the NFL during the eight years he played pro football. The former Texas Longhorn intercepted 52 passes in his somewhat short NFL career, which is good enough for being tied for 26th all time.
A number of current members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame also had 52 picks. That list includes Jack Butler, Mel Renfro and Larry Wilson. Those three will most likely be joined soon by another member of the 52 picks club…Champ Bailey.
Dillon made those 52 interceptions in just 94 games, plus he accomplished that with just one eye (lost in a childhood accident).
Three times Dillon intercepted nine passes in a season. And that was when the NFL season was 12 games.
In his eight-year career, Dillon was named first-team All-Pro four times by AP and was also named to four Pro Bowl squads. Dillon was also named second-team All-Pro by AP in 1956.
But because he played for a losing team, which needed a stock sale in 1950 to stay afloat financially, Dillon was overlooked a number of times in terms of honors.
The same goes for being named to the 1950s All-Decade team at safety. That honor went to Jack Christiansen, Yale Lary and Emlen Tunnell who were obviously great players, but Dillon deserved a spot on that team.
Dillon had more interceptions than both Lary (50) and Christiansen (46), but both played on one of the more successful teams in the NFL of the 1950s, the Detroit Lions.
“He was a 9.7 sprinter coming out of the University of Texas and would be a corner in today’s game,” Wolf said. “But back then the best athletes were put inside. In order to qualify for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I believe you are talking about the best of the best. Bobby Dillon is one of those from his era. Witness the fact that (safeties) Jack Christiansen, Yale Lary and Emlen Tunnell are in the Hall. Dillon accomplished more than those particular players did in the same era. He was a rare football player, the best defensive back of his time.”
I also had the opportunity to talk with Kramer about Dillon, as they played together on the 1959 team in Green Bay under Lombardi.
“Bobby was exceptionally fast and cat-quick, ” Kramer said. “He had fantastic instincts as well. He could bait a quarterback into throwing his way because of the way he played off a receiver. But then just like that, Bobby would get to the football and either intercept it or bat it away.
Dillon is currently enshrined in the University of Texas Hall of Fame (1996) and the Packers Hall of Fame (1974).
Dillon deserves his rightful placement in one more, the Pro Football Hall of Fame.