On February 19, 1935, one year before the NFL draft was established, the Green Bay Packers signed Don Hutson out of the University of Alabama.
The signing did not come without controversy according to a story which has been told for generations. Hutson signed with both the Packers and the Brooklyn Dodgers (then a team in the NFL). League president Joe Carr had to settle the matter and he awarded Hutson to the Packers based on an earlier postmark mailed to his office, which contained Hutson’s contract.
No matter, Hutson was a perfect fit for the Packers. Head coach Curly Lambeau had established the forward pass as a big weapon that the Packers would utilize in a league that relied almost entirely on the running game.
Hutson truly changed the position of wide receiver in the NFL during his era and set records like Babe Ruth did when he was playing major league baseball.
Hutson held 18 NFL records at the time of his retirement, which tells you how dominant he was at his position. Hutson led the league in receiving eight times. In fact, the former Crimson Tide star held the all-time record for TD receptions with 99, before it was finally broken by Steve Largent in 1989. Hutson had 105 TDs overall in his career.
Hutson is third in career team scoring with 823 points.
Hutson was also a two-way player during his time in Green Bay, which was common in the NFL back then. Hutson was also a defensive back and had 30 career interceptions, including one for a touchdown.
Hutson was also a kicker with seven career field goals and 172 extra points made. No. 14 was also exceptional on other units on special teams, as he returned two blocked punts for touchdowns.
Like Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, Hutson was a multiple award-winner of the NFL’s MVP award, as he won it twice in 1941 and 1942.
I learned about Hutson from my dad at the kitchen table growing up in the 1960s, as he wanted me to learn about the team he grew up watching. While I was enamored with players like Bart Starr, Jim Taylor, Jerry Kramer and Ray Nitschke, my dad grew up loving the play of Hutson, Johnny “Blood” McNally, Cecil Isbell and Clarke Hinkle.
As dominating as the Vince Lombardi Packers were in the 1960s, winning five NFL titles in seven years (including the first two Super Bowls), the Lambeau Packers also won six NFL titles.
The Packers won three of those NFL titles during Hutson’s tenure, winning in 1936, 1939 and 1944.
Hutson is in the Packers Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Hutson was All-Pro 11 times and was named to the Pro Bowl four times. The Packers also honored Hutson by retiring his uniform number (No. 14) and by dedicating their state-of-the-art practice facility across from Lambeau Field in 1994 to Hutson’s name.