Anyone who knows the history of the NFL has heard the names of people like George Halas, Curly Lambeau, Harold “Red” Grange, Jim Thorpe and Ernie Nevers. All of them were part of the NFL All-Decade team of the 1920s.
Yes, Halas and Lambeau were very good football players besides being icons as a head coaches.
That group of players who were inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame were joined by Guy Chamberlin, Ed Healey, Wilbur “Pete” Henry, Cal Hubbard, Steve Owen, Walt Kiesling, Mike Michalske, George Trafton, Jimmy Conzelman, John “Paddy” Driscoll and Joe Guyon.
They were also named to the NFL All-Decade team of the 1920s.
Almost that entire team has a bust of themselves in Canton. All except for two players. One is LaVern “Lavvie” Dilweg (first-team selection) of the Green Bay Packers, and the other is Hunk Anderson (second-team selection) of the Chicago Bears (who played only four years in the NFL).
Dilweg was considered the best two-way end of his day. Yes, many players played both offense and defense back in the day in the NFL. That continued into the 1950s.
When Dilweg played, the ground game was basically the way the game was played in the NFL. Yes, there were many, many instances of “three yards and a cloud of dust” back in the early days of the NFL.
But that style of play served Dilweg well, as he was considered a ferocious blocker, as well as the best receiving end of his day.
His stats aren’t overwhelming by today’s standards, but they were considered the best in the years he played. Dilweg had 123 receptions for 2,069 yards (16.3 yards-per-catch average) and 12 touchdown receptions.
In fact, even though the ball wasn’t thrown often in the NFL back then in what they call the pre-modern era, Dilweg had better numbers than Halas, Chamberlin, Bill Hewitt, Red Badgro, Ray Flaherty and Wayne Millner.
Everyone of those players are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but Dilweg for some reason is not.
The only pre-modern player who Dilweg didn’t outperform at offensive end was a fellow who came to Green Bay the year after Dilweg retired. That would be Don Hutson, who joined the Packers in 1935. Hutson obliterated receiving records once he came into the NFL.
Dilweg started his NFL career with the Milwaukee Badgers in 1926 after graduating from Marquette University with a law degree, and then finished his career with the Packers from 1927 through 1934.
During that time, Dilweg played on three consecutive NFL title teams (1929, 1930 & 1931), plus was named All-Pro six times. There was no Pro Bowl back then.
Of all the players who played offensive end in the NFL, the six times that Dilweg was named All-Pro was the second-best mark in the NFL from 1920 through 1960. Only Hutson topped him with 10 All-Pro honors.
Besides being a stud on offense, Dilweg was just as good on defense. No. 22 had 27 career interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Besides making big plays via the pick, Dilweg was also a fierce tackler.
Grange, who was also known as “The Galloping Ghost” said of Dilweg, “I have always said Dilweg is the greatest end who ever brought me down.’’
After his career with the Packers and the NFL was over, Dilweg became a very successful attorney, as well as becoming a Congressman in the U.S House of Representatives for Wisconsin’s 8th district for two years.
Dilweg’s grandson Anthony played quarterback for the Packers for two seasons in 1989 and 1990.
Dilweg died in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1968 at the age of 64.
Dilweg became a member of the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1970 and now needs to join another prestigious Hall of Fame.
It would be fitting that Dilweg is named to 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame class, as it is expected that several seniors will be inducted that year, as the NFL celebrates it’s centennial season.
Dilweg was one of the big stars in the NFL almost 100 years ago and he deserves a bust among the best of the best in Canton along with the great players of his day.
I know you wouldn’t get an argument from Red Grange.