Green Bay Packers: Why Boyd Dowler Deserves to be Considered for the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Boyd Dowler in Super Bowl II

When Jerry Kramer of the Green Bay Packers was finally enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last month, that meant that there are now just two players who were on the NFL 50th anniversary team who do not have a bust in Canton.

Those players just happened to be teammates of Kramer’s on the Packers as well. Those players are wide receiver Boyd Dowler and tight end Ron Kramer.

I’ll be writing a future story about Kramer, the multi-talented athlete who played at Michigan, but this piece is about No. 86, Dowler.

Dowler was on the second team of the 50th anniversary team (named in 1969) and he was joined on that squad by the likes of Sammy Baugh, Bronco Nagurski, Harold “Red” Grange, Forrest Gregg, Raymond Berry, Mike Ditka, Danny Fortman, Mel Hein, Len Ford, Ernie Stautner, Joe Schmidt, Jack Butler, Jack Christiansen and Ernie Nevers.

All but Dowler are now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

When Dowler retired from the NFL after the 1970 season, he was 10th in all-time receptions in the NFL and 12th in receiving yardage.

Those landmark statistical achievements for Dowler have obviously changed over the years. Especially since the rule changes after the 1977 season which has made the NFL a pass-happy league.

Rule changes like allowing defenders to make contact with receivers only to a point of five yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Previously, contact was allowed anywhere on the field, unless the ball was thrown by the quarterback.

Nobody was more physical down the field with receivers than Dick “Night Train” Lane. Dowler matched up against him on several occasions while Lane was with the Detroit Lions.

The NFL also allowed offensive linemen to use extended arms and open hands after the ’77 season.

I’m sure Jerry Kramer would have appreciated having rules like that while he was blocking the likes of Merlin Olsen and Alex Karras in the 1960s.

Besides being named to the 50th anniversary team of the NFL, Dowler was named to the NFL 1960s All-Decade team.

Being named to a NFL All-Decade team usually gets a player strong consideration for getting a place in Canton.

In his 11-year career with the Packers, Dowler had 448 receptions for 6,918 yards and 40 touchdowns. In the postseason, Dowler also had 30 receptions for 440 yards and five scores.

Also, in his rookie year in 1959, Dowler was named Rookie of the Year by UPI (United Press International).

The former Colorado star was also named to two Pro Bowls in his career.

So with all the honors that Dowler received, especially being named to the NFL’s 50th anniversary team, as well as being named All-Decade in the 1960s, Rick Gosselin, a Pro Football Hall of Fame voter and a member of the Seniors selection Committee, wonders why Dowler has not been considered for a place in Canton.

Gosselin feels the same way about Ron Kramer.

This is what Gosselin said in a Talk of Fame Sports Network podcast from back in February after Jerry Kramer was named to the Class of 2018 for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“Can you enshrine too many players from one franchise in the Hall of Fame? That’s the question that came up last week when those of us on the Hall of Fame selection committee enshrined the 12th member of the 1960’s Packers. That’s guard Jerry Kramer.

“That’s more than half of the starting lineup, plus the head coach from one team. A team that won five championships in a span of seven years. And went to six title games in a span of eight seasons. No team of any era, has more players in Canton than those 1960’s Packers.

“They have indeed been rewarded for their success. Should the committee now draw the line there with the Lombardi Packers? Well, ponder this. In 1969, this same Hall of Fame selection committee was commissioned to pick the greatest players in the game’s first 50 years.

“There were 45 players selected to that team. And 43 are now enshrined in Canton. Only two are not. They both played for the ’60’s Packers, split end Boyd Dowler and tight end Ron Kramer. Dowler was selected to the 1960’s All-Decade team as well and Kramer would have been had the committee selected more than one tight end.

“Yet neither of those players has ever been discussed as a finalist for the Hall of Fame. If you were chosen as one of the best players in the game’s first half-century, don’t you deserve a spin through the room as a finalist to determine if you are indeed Hall of Fame worthy.

“It took [Jerry] Kramer 45 years to get in. It took teammate Dave Robinson 34 years and Henry Jordan 21. The Hall of Fame is a process. Maybe Dowler and Ron Kramer deserve to be Hall of Famers. Maybe they don’t. But they certainly deserve a few minutes in that room to start the process and have their cases heard, regardless how many teammates have been enshrined.”

I most definitely agree with Gosselin.

Jerry and Boyd

So does No. 64, Jerry Kramer.

“Boyd was so precise and so mature his rookie year,” Kramer said. “He started taking care of business right out of the gate. He rarely dropped a pass. He would catch it over the middle, catch it on the sidelines and catch it wherever the hell you threw it. He was consistent throughout his career.”

Plus, Dowler was very confident and also very smart from Kramer’s perspective.

“I think Boyd’s confidence was one of the big reasons why he was accepted so quickly and completely,” Kramer said. “There were no excuses from Boyd. If he screwed something up, he would be the guy to tell you. But he very seldom screwed things up and made very few mistakes.”

Dowler was one of only three rookies on the Packers to ever start for Vince Lombardi. The others were center Ken Bowman in 1964 and center Bob Hyland in 1967.

Dowler’s career in the NFL matches up very well with Lynn Swann of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who played on a team which won four Super Bowls in six years.

Dowler can relate to that, as he played on a Green Bay team which won five NFL titles in seven years, including the first two Super Bowls. Plus, Dowler was part of the only team in NFL history, at least in the playoff era, to win three straight NFL championships.

Dowler brought that comparison up to me during one of our conversations.

“Probably the most significant statistic that I can come up with in my career was the fact that I caught five touchdown passes in championship games,” Dowler said. “The guy who sticks out to me who is sort of similar as far as statistics are concerned is Lynn Swann. He probably got inducted because of his play in playoff or championship games.”

In terms of regular season numbers in his career, Dowler had 448 catches for 6,918 yards and 40 touchdowns, while Swann had 336 catches for 5,462 and 51 touchdowns.

In the postseason, Dowler had 30 receptions for 440 yards and five scores in 10 games. One of those games was Super Bowl I, when No. 86 missed almost the entire game due to a shoulder injury.

After that injury, Dowler was replaced by Max McGee, who went on to have the best game of his career, as he had seven receptions for 138 yards and two touchdowns, as quarterback Bart Starr looked for No. 85 early and often in the first Super Bowl.

Swann had 48 catches for 907 yards and nine touchdowns in 16 postseason games.

So if you compare the two, Dowler and Swann each caught three passes per game in the postseason. Plus, each caught a touchdown pass in every other playoff game they played in.

The only real difference between the two is that Swann is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, while Dowler is not.

The best postseason Dowler had was after the 1967 season.

“The highlight for me was the two touchdown catches in the “Ice Bowl” and I got another score in the Super Bowl, the second Super Bowl,” Dowler said.

“I always seemed to come up with something against Dallas. I always seemed to come up with big plays against the Cowboys. I can’t really explain why. We just kind of operated that way.

“We never went into a game thinking that I was going to get the ball a lot this week. We just never did that. We just went along and Bart ran plays on how the game developed. We didn’t game-plan those things or that I was going to catch two scores in the “Ice Bowl” game.”

The second touchdown pass that Dowler caught in the “Ice Bowl”, was one of the favorite calls for Starr throughout his years in Green Bay. It was third and short and on a play-action fake, Starr hit Dowler on 43-yard post pattern.

Boyd Dowler scores TD in Ice Bowl

Dowler talked about the way Starr liked to use play-action on third and short and also about that particular play.

“It almost always worked,” Dowler said, talking about the play-action calls by Starr. “On the long touchdown pass from Bart in the “Ice Bowl”, I kind of went, ‘oh oh’, because he was throwing into the wind. But I was pretty sure I could get to it and the wind held it up just a little.

“On that play, I was a little bit off the line like I was going to block and my eyes met Mel Renfro about the time we got even. He was still facing the line of scrimmage and I was pretty sure I could get by him, even though he was pretty fast, as he was a world-class sprinter. Renfro was an awful good football player and had a lot of speed, but it was the play-call that got me open.”

Bottom line, in the 1967 postseason, Dowler caught nine passes for 183 yards (20.3 yards-per-catch average) and three touchdowns.

When I mentioned to Gosselin that I would be writing a series of articles about former Green Bay players who deserve consideration in terms of having a bust in Canton, he made sure that I mentioned Dowler, Ron Kramer and Gale Gillingham.

None of those players have received their due in terms of being considered for a place among the best of the best in Canton.

That doesn’t bother Dowler though.

“I don’t really have a problem with that,” Dowler said. “I’m real happy with the fact that we won five world championships. I never thought throughout my career or since, that I’ve never been nominated. It really doesn’t surprise me. And it doesn’t upset me.

“That’s just the way it is and that’s the way our team was put together. I was happy that they kept putting out there in the huddle for 11 years.”

But something might soon change for players like Dowler. Gosselin has put out his  “amnesty proposal” which will allow several seniors to get inducted in the 100th anniversary of the NFL, as opposed to the one or two per year as it stands now. That proposal is strongly being considered by David Baker, the President/Executive Director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

When I talked to Gosselin in Canton when Kramer was being enshrined on August 4, he told me that he believes he can get 10 seniors in on the centennial anniversary of the NFL.

Perhaps one of those players might be Dowler.

“If a guy [Rick Gosselin] is going to take the ball and run with it for a bunch of old guys for the 100th year of the NFL, that’s fine by me,” Dowler said. “If he wants to put me in that mix, I’m all for it. I’m not going to discourage him from doing that. I think that’s a great idea.”

The Pro Football Hall of Fame: Both Boyd Dowler and Ron Kramer Deserve Consideration

hall of fame packer logo 2

In my most recent story, in which Jerry Kramer of the Green Bay Packers reflected about being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, one of the things we talked about was the NFL’s 50th anniversary team.

You see, Kramer was the last player on the first team of that half-century team of the NFL to be enshrined in Canton. The other players on the first team are Jim Thorpe, Johnny Unitas, Jim Brown, Gale Sayers, Elroy “Crazy legs” Hirsch, Cal Hubbard, Don Hutson, John Mackey, Chuck Bednarik, Gino Marchetti, Leo Nomellini, Ray Nitschke, Dick “Night Train” Lane, Emlen Tunnell and Lou Groza.

Talk about an impressive list of the best of the best in NFL history!

I mentioned to Kramer that only two other players on that 50th anniversary team were still not inducted and both were teammates of his. Kramer was shocked to hear that the players are Boyd Dowler (second team) and Ron Kramer (third team).

The other players on the second team besides Dowler, are Sammy Baugh, Bronco Nagurski, Harold “Red” Grange, Forrest Gregg, Raymond Berry, Mike Ditka, Danny Fortman, Mel Hein, Len Ford, Ernie Stautner, Joe Schmidt, Jack Butler, Jack Christiansen and Ernie Nevers.

Not a bad group to be associated with, huh?

The other players on the third team besides (Ron) Kramer, are Norm Van Brocklin, Joe Perry, Hugh McElhenney, Lenny Moore, Joe Stydahar, Dante Lavelli, Jim Parker, Alex Wojciechowicz, David “Deacon” Jones, Art Donovan, Clyde “Bulldog” Turner, Herb Adderley, Larry Wilson and Ken Strong.

Another stellar group.

After I told Jerry that Boyd and Ron were the only two out of 45 players from the 50th anniversary team of the NFL not in Canton, No. 64 talked about his two former teammates.

First, Jerry talked about the player who shared his last name.

“Ron was a 260-pound runaway truck,” Kramer said. “He was an outstanding athlete at Michigan. He high-jumped 6’4”. He threw the shot put around 60 feet. Ron was also very good in basketball, was the captain of the team and at one point was the all-time leading scorer in team history at Michigan.

“He was an All-American in football for two years running. Overall, Ron won nine letters in sports at Michigan, three each in football, basketball and track.

“Ron was also quite the character off the field. He and Paul Hornung were very close. Ron was a unique human being. He was a bit wacky at times. He loved to put a drink on his head because he had a flat spot up there, and he would dance with it up there.

Ron Kramer and Vince Lombardi in 1961 NFL title game.

“Ron also like to mess with you. He would kiss you in the ear or some silly-ass thing. Just to irritate you. He would do that just for aggravation and he would giggle and laugh.

“So when Ron died, Hornung goes to his funeral up in Detroit and Ron’s son Kurt picked up Paul at the airport. When Kurt sees Paul, he gives him a big kiss right on the lips. And Paul yells, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ And Kurt said, ‘Dad told me about three months ago that if he didn’t make it and if you came to his funeral, I was supposed to give you a big kiss on the lips and to tell you it was from dad.’

“Paul started crying like a baby after that.”

When Kramer played tight end for the Packers, they were predominately a running team and that is when the power sweep was most effective, as the tight end played a key role in the blocking scheme.

From 1960 to 1964, the Packers were ranked either first (three times) or second (twice) in rushing in the NFL.

In one of our many conversations, Jerry said of the power sweep, “Bobby, in the first three years we ran that play, we averaged I believe 8.3 yards a carry.”

Ron Kramer was one hell of a run-blocker, but was also very effective in the passing game. In his career with the Packers, which spanned seven years before he played out his option to play for his hometown Detroit Lions, No. 88 had 170 receptions for 2,594 yards and 15 touchdowns.

In the postseason, Kramer had six catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns. Both scores occurred in the 1961 NFL title game, when the Packers beat the New York Giants 37-0 at then City Stadium (now Lambeau Field). That was the first championship game ever played in Green Bay.

Ron Kramer was named All-Pro once and also was named to one Pro Bowl team. Plus, Kramer was also on the third team of the NFL’s 50th anniversary team.

Jerry then turned his attention to Dowler.

“Boyd was so precise and so mature his rookie year,” Kramer said. “He started taking care of business right out of the gate. He rarely dropped a pass. He would catch it over the middle, catch it on the sidelines and catch it wherever the hell you threw it. He was consistent throughout his career.”

I wrote a story about Dowler last year, as Kramer added some more commentary. One of the things Kramer mentioned was how Dowler was very self-assured.

“I think Boyd’s confidence was one of the big reasons why he was accepted so quickly and completely,” Kramer said. “There were no excuses from Boyd. If he screwed something up, he would be the guy to tell you. But he very seldom screwed things up and made very few mistakes.”

In his 11-year career with the Packers, Dowler had 448 receptions for 6,918 yards and 40 touchdowns. In the postseason, Dowler also had 30 receptions for 440 yards and five scores.

In his rookie year in 1959, Dowler was named Rookie of the Year by UPI (United Press International). The former Colorado star was also named to two Pro Bowls in his career.

Boyd Dowler scores TD in 1961 NFL title game

In addition to that, Dowler was named to the NFL 1960s All-Decade team, plus was named to the second-team on the NFL’s 50 Anniversary team.

I had an opportunity to talk with Dowler earlier this week to talk about his being on the NFL’s 50th anniversary team and also about his chances of getting into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The reason I brought up the Hall of Fame, was because Rick Gosselin also noted that only Dowler and (Ron) Kramer are the only players on the NFL’s 50th anniversary team not in Canton.

Here is what Gosselin said about Dowler and Kramer in a recent podcast on the Talk of Fame Sports Network:

“Can you enshrine too many players from one franchise in the Hall of Fame? That’s the question that came up last week when those of us on the Hall of Fame selection committee enshrined the 12th member of the 1960’s Packers. That’s guard Jerry Kramer.

“That’s more than half of the starting lineup, plus the head coach from one team. A team that won five championships in a span of seven years. And went to six title games in a span of eight seasons. No team of any era, has more players in Canton than those 1960’s Packers.

“They have indeed been rewarded for their success. Should the committee now draw the line there with the Lombardi Packers? Well, ponder this. In 1969, this same Hall of Fame selection committee was commissioned to pick the greatest players in the game’s first 50 years.

“There were 45 players selected to that team. And 43 are now enshrined in Canton. Only two are not. They both played for the ’60’s Packers, split end Boyd Dowler and tight end Ron Kramer. Dowler was selected to the 1960’s All-Decade team as well and Kramer would have been had the committee selected more than one tight end.

“Yet neither of those players has ever been discussed as a finalist for the Hall of Fame. If you were chosen as one of the best players in the game’s first half-century, don’t you deserve a spin through the room as a finalist to determine if you are indeed Hall of Fame worthy.

“It took [Jerry] Kramer 45 years to get in. It took teammate Dave Robinson 34 years and Henry Jordan 21. The Hall of Fame is a process. Maybe Dowler and Ron Kramer deserve to be Hall of Famers. Maybe they don’t. But they certainly deserve a few minutes in that room to start the process and have their cases heard, regardless how many teammates have been enshrined.”

I certainly concur with Gosselin’s take there.

As I wrote about earlier in the story, the Packers did not throw the ball as often as many NFL teams, because they had such a solid run game behind the likes of Hornung and Jim Taylor. On average, quarterback Bart Starr threw the ball less than 20 times per game.

Dowler talked about one factor which set him apart from a lot of receivers in his day.

“Probably the most significant statistic that I can come up with in my career was the fact that I caught five touchdown passes in championship games,” Dowler said. “The guy who sticks out to me who is sort of similar as far as statistics are concerned is Lynn Swann. He probably got inducted because of his play in playoff or championship games.”

Dowler brings up an excellent comparison.

In terms of regular season numbers in his career, Dowler had 448 catches for 6,918 yards and 40 touchdowns, while Swann had 336 catches for 5,462 and 51 touchdowns.

In the postseason, Dowler had 30 receptions for 440 yards and five scores in 10 games. One of those games was Super Bowl I, when No. 86 missed almost the entire game due to a shoulder injury.

After that injury, Dowler was replaced by Max McGee, who went on to have the best game of his career, as he had seven receptions for 138 yards and two touchdowns.

Swann had 48 catches for 907 yards and nine touchdowns in 16 postseason games.

Dowler continued the comparison between himself and Swann.

“Swann and John Stallworth on the other side, are both in the Hall of Fame,” Dowler said. “Stallworth put up better numbers than Swann. The only argument I can make for myself is that I always seemed to come up with big plays in our championship games.

“The rest of the story in terms of my production was pretty much being consistent. I led the team in catches seven times.

“The other thing that I’ve noticed, is that on our team in the Hall of Fame, there are now three offensive linemen…Jerry, Forrest Gregg and Jim Ringo, two running backs…Jimmy and Paul, and one quarterback…Bart of course.

“But there is no tight end and no wide receiver. I’ve never looked it up or figured it out, but how many quarterbacks are in the Hall of Fame without having one of their receivers in there as well?”

Very few, as a matter of fact. Here is the list of modern-day quarterbacks who are in Canton and who also have had at least one of his receivers/tight ends also in the Hall of Fame.

  • Troy Aikman
  • George Blanda
  • Terry Bradshaw
  • John Elway
  • Dan Fouts
  • Otto Graham
  • Bob Griese
  • Sonny Jurgenson
  • Jim Kelly
  • Joe Montana
  • Joe Namath
  • Ken Stabler
  • Roger Staubach
  • Johnny Unitas
  • Norm Van Brocklin
  • Bob Waterfield
  • Steve Young

Talking about the postseason games he played in, Dowler made a great point.

“We won a lot of championship games,” Dowler said. “In those championship games, there were a lot of big plays made by receivers and tight ends. We kind of flew under the radar.”

Bart looking downfield in the Ice Bowl

Dowler is correct in that assertion. In 10 postseason games as a quarterback, Starr threw 15 touchdown passes, compared to just three picks for 1,753 yards. That adds up to a passer rating of 104.8, which is the best in the history of the league.

No. 15 didn’t do all that by himself, as he got some help from his receivers like Dowler as well.

Talking about being a bit unnoticed, Dowler said he is fine with that, even with his Hall of Fame snub.

“I don’t really have a problem with that,” Dowler said. “I’m real happy with the fact that we won five world championships. I never thought throughout my career or since, that I’ve never been nominated. It really doesn’t surprise me. And it doesn’t upset me.

“That’s just the way it is and that’s the way our team was put together. I was happy that they kept putting out there in the huddle for 11 years.”

Talking again about his play in the postseason, Dowler reminisced about the 1967 postseason.

“The highlight for me was the two touchdown catches in the “Ice Bowl” and I got another score in the Super Bowl, the second Super Bowl,” Dowler said.

“I always seemed to come up with something against Dallas. I always seemed to come up with big plays against the Cowboys. I can’t really explain why.  We just kind of operated that way.

“We never went into a game thinking that I was going to get the ball a lot this week. We just never did that. We just went along and Bart ran plays on how the game developed. We didn’t game-plan those things or that I was going to catch two scores in the “Ice Bowl” game.”

The second touchdown pass that Dowler caught in the “Ice Bowl”, was one of the favorite calls for Starr throughout his years in Green Bay. It was third and short and on a play-action fake, Starr hit Dowler on 43-yard post pattern.

Dowler talked about the way Starr liked to use play-action on third and short and also about that particular play.

“It almost always worked,” Dowler said, talking about the play-action calls by Starr. “On the long touchdown pass from Bart in the “Ice Bowl”, I kind of went, ‘oh oh’, because he was throwing into the wind. But I was pretty sure I could get to it and the wind held it up just a little.

Boyd Dowler scores TD in Ice Bowl

“On that play, I was a little bit off the line like I was going to block and my eyes met Mel Renfro about the time we got even. He was still facing the line of scrimmage and I was pretty sure I could get by him, even though he was pretty fast, as he was a world-class sprinter. Renfro was an awful good football player and had a lot of speed, but it was the play-call that got me open.”

Getting back to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I mentioned to Dowler the comments of Gosselin, talking about that fact that he and (Ron) Kramer are not be enshrined in  Canton, even with being on the NFL’s 50th anniversary team.

That, plus the fact that Gosselin has submitted what he calls his “amnesty proposal” which will allow several seniors to get inducted in the 100th anniversary of the NFL, as opposed to the one or two per year as it stands now. That proposal is being considered by David Baker, the President/Executive Director of the Hall of Fame.

“If a guy [Rick Gosselin] is going to take the ball and run with it for a bunch of old guys for the 100th year of the NFL, that’s fine by me,” Dowler said. “If he wants to put me in that mix, I’m all for it. I’m not going to discourage him from doing that. I think that’s a great idea.”

Jerry Kramer Talks About Boyd Dowler

jerry-and-boyd

Once again, the Green Bay Packers will be hosting the New York Giants at Lambeau Field in the postseason. Sunday’s late-afternoon game will be the fourth time the G-Men have played in the historic stadium on Lombardi Avenue in win or go-home scenario.

The Packers have lost the last two times (2007 and 2011 postseason) quarterback Eli Manning and his Giants have come to Lambeau, but it was a different story when the Packers hosted the Giants for the 1961 NFL title game at the stadium which was then called City Stadium.

That game was the first time the city of Green Bay had ever hosted a championship game. In that contest, the Packers dominated the Giants and won going away 37-0. It would be the first of five NFL titles that the Packers would win under head coach Vince Lombardi.

Halfback/kicker Paul Hornung was the big star in the game, as he scored 19 points just by himself in this championship setting. Another player who played a key role in the game was wide receiver Boyd Dowler.

boyd-dowler-scores-td-in-1961-nfl-title-game

Dowler caught three passes for 37 yards and a touchdown in the game. The Packers were fortunate to have Hornung and Dowler play in that championship game, as well as middle linebacker Ray Nitschke, as all three were activated as military reservists by the Department of Defense because of the escalation of the Cold War in 1961.

I wrote about that scenario in a story which talks about how the friendship between Lombardi and President John F. Kennedy helped to make sure that all three of those players were eligible to play in the NFL championship game.

The Packers won that title game and Titletown was born.

But it was just the first of five titles for the Packers under Lombardi, which included the first two Super Bowls. Dowler played a big role in a number of those games.

Besides the touchdown pass he caught in the 1961 NFL title game, Dowler also had four more pass-reception scores in the postseason, which includes two in the legendary “Ice Bowl” game versus the Dallas Cowboys on New Year’s Eve in 1967.

Two weeks after that classic game, Dowler also caught a 62-yard touchdown pass from Bart Starr in Super Bowl II, when the Packers defeated the Oakland Raiders 33-14.

It was a different story for Dowler however in Super Bowl I. Just two weeks before that game in the 1966 NFL title game in Dallas, No. 86 had caught 16-yard touchdown pass from Starr in the third quarter, when he was upended by safety Mike Gaechter of the Cowboys a number of yards into the end zone.

boyd-dowler-gets-upended-in-1966-nfl-title-game

It’s been assumed that the cheap-shot by Gaechter injured the shoulder of Dowler as he crashed to the surface of the end zone. Actually, that is not the case. After talking to Dowler, I have learned that he had a calcium deposit on his right shoulder and was playing through that injury the entire 1966 season. Dowler first injured the shoulder in the 1965 season.

The flip that Dowler took after Gaechter low-cut him did not injure his shoulder. But No. 86 did further injure his shoulder blocking Johnny Robinson of the Chiefs early in Super Bowl I, which caused Dowler to miss the rest of the game and later have the shoulder operated on that offseason.

That opened the door for the entrance of Max McGee as his replacement, as No. 85 had a banner game with seven receptions for 138 yards and two touchdowns.

Dowler was an imposing receiver at 6’5″ and 224 pounds. When No. 86 available to play, he was a clutch performer, both in the regular season and the postseason.

In his 11-year career with the Packers, Dowler had 448 receptions for 6,918 yards and 40 touchdowns. In the postseason, Dowler also had 30 receptions for 440 yards and five scores.

In his rookie year in 1959, Dowler was named Rookie of the Year by UPI (United Press International). The former Colorado star was also named to two Pro Bowls in his career.

In addition to that, Dowler was named to the NFL 1960s All-Decade team, plus was named to the second team on the NFL’s 50 Anniversary team.

In 1978, Dowler was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame.

I had a chance to talk about Dowler with Jerry Kramer recently and he told me why he fit in so well and so quickly with the Packers.

“Boyd was a mature kid,” Kramer said. “He understood the game and what we were doing and he was just a bit ahead of most rookies. I think his father coaching him played a part in that.”

Dowler played under his dad at Cheyenne High School in Wyoming.

After high school, Dowler went to play college ball at  Colorado, where he did everything for the Buffaloes except sell programs in the stands.

Kramer talked about that scenario.

“Boyd was a very talented athlete,” Kramer said. “He led Colorado in passing, running, receiving and punting. But when you think about that, how the hell could you lead the team in both passing and receiving? You can’t throw to yourself! But Boyd told me that he played in a single-wing offense at Colorado and sometimes he threw the ball and sometimes he caught the ball.”

Dowler was strictly a receiver in Green Bay, as he never threw a pass and had just two rushes for 28 yards in his career as a Packer. But Dowler did share punting duties with McGee from 1960 through 1962, when his punting average was 43 yards a punt.

Dowler also punted once in 1969, which was his final season in Green Bay. After becoming an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Rams in 1970, Dowler became a player-coach for the Washington Redskins in 1971, when he had 26 catches for 352 yards.

Dowler stayed on as a coach for the Redskins through 1972 and then later became an assistant coach for the Philadelphia Eagles (1973-1975), Cincinnati Bengals (1976-1979) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1980-1984).

Kramer also talked about another important attribute that Dowler had.

“I think Boyd’s confidence was one of the big reasons why he was accepted so quickly and completely,” Kramer said. “There were no excuses from Boyd. If he screwed something up, he would be the guy to tell you. But he very seldom screwed things up and made very few mistakes.”

boyd-dowler-scores-td-in-ice-bowl

That confidence led to a memorable scene in Cheyenne one night that Kramer heard about from Dowler.

“There is this wonderful story about Boyd racing a quarter horse down the street in Cheyenne,” Kramer said. “Boyd was at this bar and this guy was talking about how his quarter horse could start so quick. Boyd told the guy that he could beat the horse in a short race like 50 feet.

“The guy didn’t believe Boyd, so they ended betting several hundred dollars to have a race between Boyd and the horse. So Boyd went home and got his running shoes and sure enough beat the horse in that short race in Cheyenne!”

When it came to playing big in big games, Kramer certainly could relate to that. All one has to do is look at the performances by Kramer in the 1962, 1965 and 1967 NFL title games.

No. 64 had a huge role in all of those championship victories by the Packers.

But as I mentioned earlier, Dowler quietly did the same thing in championship games as Kramer explained.

“Boyd was always there and always capable in big games,” Kramer said. “He was almost invisible. Like the two touchdowns that he had in the “Ice Bowl” game. He just did that very quietly and very professionally.

“He just scored his touchdown and handed the ball to the official. Sans a dance, he just went to the sidelines. He was just Boyd doing his job. He was always in his position and where he supposed to be.  He was also available too. He also rarely dropped a pass. If the ball was near him, he almost always caught it.”

As I related in a recent story about Fuzzy Thurston, Kramer related to me that he, Thurston and Dowler used to go out together quite often after practice. They called themselves, the Three Muskepissers.

Kramer talked about how that scenario used to go down.

“Fuzzy and Boyd would start the festivities early,” Kramer said. “I would go golfing or something and then catch up with them later. I wouldn’t start with them. I couldn’t keep up with them. So I would wait to around 6:00 and then I would track them down  and hang out with them for the rest of the evening.”

Kramer then had some final thoughts about his friend Dowler.

“Boyd not only had a great grasp of the game, but his execution was also phenomenal,” Kramer said. “I don’t believe Boyd made a mistake a year. He was always aware of the situation and he was about as steady as they come when he played with us.”

Lots of Interesting Connections Between the Packers and Raiders

Vince and Jerry II

When the 9-4 Green Bay Packers play the 6-7 Oakland Raiders on Sunday afternoon at O.co Coliseum, it will be the 13th meeting between the two teams.

The two teams have played 11 times in the regular season, where the Packers lead the series 6-5, and once in the Super Bowl, where the Packers won Super Bowl II.

The Packers have also won the last six games in a row. In fact, the last time the Raiders beat the Packers was almost 30 years ago, when the then Los Angeles Raiders beat the Packers 20-0 in the season opener in 1987 at Lambeau Field.

One thing is for sure, the two teams certainly have some interesting connections.

Super Bowl II was the last game Vince Lombardi ever coached for the Packers.  The Packers were up only 16-7 at halftime, when Jerry Kramer described the scene in his classic book Instant Replay.

“A few of us veterans got together— Forrest [Gregg] and ‘Ski’ [Bob Skoronski] and Henry [Jordan] and me and a few others—and we decided we’d play the last thirty minutes for the old man.  We didn’t want to let him down in his last game.”

The Packers did play the second half for the old man as Green Bay rolled to a 33-14 victory.

One of the best players on the Raiders in Super Bowl II was a defensive end by the name of Ben Davidson.  Davidson had become was of the AFL’s most feared defensive players and was an AFL All-Star from 1966-1968.  In fact, Davidson sacked Bart Starr in that particular Super Bowl.

Davidson started out his professional football career with the Packers in 1961, the first Lombardi team to win a NFL title.  Davidson was just a reserve lineman then, but he did play in every game of that season for the Packers.  The was Davidson’s one and only year in Green Bay, but at least he was able to experience a NFL championship.

The second time the Packers and the Raiders met was in September of 1972.  That was the year that the Dan Devine-coached Packers won the NFC Central crown for only the second time, and it wouldn’t be until 1995 that the Pack won the division again.

In that 1972 game, Raiders safety Jack Tatum scooped up a ball fumbled by Packer running back MacArthur Lane and raced 104 yards for a record touchdown.

It is still the all-time record in terms of fumble recovery yardage, although it was equaled by cornerback Aeneas Williams in a game against the Redskins in 2000, when he was with the Cardinals.  The Packers ended up losing that day to the Raiders, 20-14.

The next big game in terms of Packers-Raiders history was December 26, 1993 at Lambeau Field.  The Packers won that game 28-0, when the temperature was 0 degrees.  It was the third coldest game ever in Green Bay, only surpassed by the “Ice Bowl” in 1967 and the NFC Championship Game between the Packers and Giants in 2008.

But the play that makes the game memorable was the first ever Lambeau leap.

Safety LeRoy Butler forced a fumble that defensive end Reggie White recovered at the Raiders 35 yard line.  After returning the fumble 10 yards, White lateraled to Butler, who returned it the remaining 25 yards for a touchdown.  After the score, Butler jumped into the crowd in the south bleachers for the first leap, which is now a tradition.

 The opening game of 1999 at Lambeau Field was the next great moment of Packers-Raiders history. The 1999 season was Mike McCarthy’s first coaching job in Green Bay, as he was quarterbacks coach under head coach Ray Rhodes.  Playing with a thumb injury, Brett Favre brought the Packers back with a last minute drive and Green Bay won 28-24 when Favre hit tight end Jeff Thomason with a short touchdown pass.  Favre ended up having a very emotional press conference after the game.

Brett vs. Raiders in 2003

But no time was more emotional for Favre than December 22, 2003. That was the day after Favre’s father Irv had passed away after suffering a heart attack.

Favre decided to play that night in Oakland for his father, and also for the dad who coached him in high school.  What Favre did that night was simply incredible and heart warming.  Favre threw for 399 yards and four touchdown passes in a 41-7 Green Bay victory.

Then there is the Ron Wolf connection.

The Packers were swimming in mediocrity before then President Bob Harlan made a bold move and hired Wolf to lead the football operations of the Packers on November 27, 1991.  Wolf’s background in the NFL proved to Harlan that he could acquire the talent needed to make the Packers a upper-echelon team in the NFL.

Wolf started out in the NFL under Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders in 1963 at age 25, first as a scout and then as a key member of the front office of the Raiders.  Wolf helped bring Oakland a number of talented players in the draft, including the aforementioned Tatum, along with Gene Upshaw, Art Shell and Ken Stabler.

All of those players had key roles for the Raiders as Oakland won Super Bowl XI in 1976.

Wolf left Oakland in 1975 and moved on to Florida to head football operations of the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Wolf brought in some very talented athletes, drafting players like Lee Roy Selman, Doug Williams and Ricky Bell.  That group led the Bucs to the NFC title game in 1979.

However, Wolf was not around to see what developed that year, as he resigned from the Bucs in 1978 and returned to work with his mentor Davis.  Wolf stayed on with the Raiders until 1990.  Once again, Wolf was able to bring in talents such as Marcus Allen, Howie Long and Matt Millen, and the Raiders won two more Super Bowl titles in that time frame.

Wolf then spent a year with the New York Jets front office, before taking the reins in Green Bay.  Wolf’s first move was to fire then head coach Lindy Infante and to hire Mike Holmgren as his new head coach.

Wolf also brought on a guy to help out in the scouting department for the Packers.  The guy’s name was Ted Thompson.  One of Thompson’s first jobs was to review tape of a player the Packers were thinking about acquiring via a trade.  Thompson looked at the tape of the player and gave his endorsement to Wolf about trading for him.  The player’s name was Brett Favre.

Wolf obviously made the trade, and the rest they say is history.

Wolf used the draft to build the Packers during his time in Green Bay, but Wolf also used trades and free agency to get excellent talent as well.  The Favre trade was huge, but Wolf was also able to get excellent talent in the trade market by acquiring players like tight end Keith Jackson, safety Eugene Robinson and running back Ahman Green over the years.

Wolf also acquired perhaps the best free agent in NFL history when he signed White, the Minister of Defense in 1993.  Wolf used free agency quite often, and he also signed players such as safety Mike Prior, defensive end Sean Jones, wide receiver Don Beebe, defensive tackle Santana Dotson, wide receiver/kick returner Desmond Howard and wide receiver Andre Rison.

Ron Wolf

Wolf oversaw 10 drafts with the Packers, and although he hit on some pretty good talent in early rounds—linebacker Wayne Simmons, guard Aaron Taylor, cornerback Craig Newsome, safety Darren Sharper, defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday, tight end Bubba Franks and offensive tackle Chad Clifton—it was Wolf’s expertise in the mid-to-late round picks that brought a boatload of talent to the team.

Wide receiver Robert Brooks, running back Edgar Bennett, tight end Mark Chmura, offensive tackle Earl Dotson, running back Dorsey Levens, fullback William Henderson, linebacker Brian Williams, wide receiver Antonio Freeman, guard Adam Timmerman, cornerback Tyrone Williams, linebacker Keith McKenzie, cornerback Mike McKenzie, wide receiver Donald Driver, defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and offensive tackle Mark Tauscher are prime examples of that efficiency.

All of this led to one of the greatest periods in the history of the Packers.

From 1992-2000, the Packers had a 92-52 record (a .639 winning percentage), won three NFC Central titles, seven straight winning seasons, six straight playoff appearances, participated in three consecutive NFC Championship games (winning two of them) and were also in two consecutive Super Bowls—with the Packers winning Super Bowl XXXI.

All of that great work led to Wolf being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015.

Although there have been a couple of bumps in the road, the Packers have continued that excellence since Wolf left.

Wolf was a mentor to Thompson.  When Thompson was hired by Wolf, his first job was assistant Director of Pro Personnel in 1992.  Thompson later became Director of Pro Personnel from 1993-1996 and then as Director of Player Personnel from 1997-1999, before heading to Seattle with Holmgren to become Vice President of Football Operations.

Thompson returned to Green Bay in 2005 to become Executive Vice President, General Manager and Director of Football Operations.  Although Wolf was obviously his mentor, Thompson has used a different style in getting the Packers to the promised land of lifting the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Coincidentally, the current GM of the Raiders (since 2012), Reggie McKenzie, worked under both Wolf and Thompson in Green Bay from 1994-2011.

After one year as GM, Thompson—like Wolf—also brought in a brand new head coach in Mike McCarthy, after the Mike Sherman-led Packers went 4-12 in 2005.

Unlike Wolf, Thompson uses the draft almost exclusively to build the Packers’ roster.  Rarely does Thompson dip his toes into free agency.

Thompson gets a lot of flack for his reluctance, but in 2006, he hit the jackpot when he signed Charles Woodson—who had been with the Raiders.  In the history of free agency, the Green Bay Packers have hit gold twice, once in 1993 when White was signed, and also with Woodson.

Charles Woodson vs. Raiders in 2011

In his first stint in Oakland, Woodson had OK stats, but nothing that would make you say, “wow.”  In his first eight years with the Raiders, Woodson had 17 interceptions, with two of those picks being returned for touchdowns.

Woodson also had five and a half sacks.  The former Michigan Wolverine Heisman Trophy winner also forced 14 fumbles and recovered five of them.  Woodson also went to four Pro Bowls and played in one Super Bowl, where the Raiders lost to the Buccaneers 48-21 in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Then in 2006, Woodson came to Green Bay.

In his seven-year career with the Packers, Woodson put together a brilliant resume.  Woodson picked off 38 passes, including nine for touchdowns.  Woodson also forced 15 fumbles, recovering six more.  Woodson had 11.5 sacks to boot.

Add to that: Woodson was named the 2009 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.  Woodson was also named to four more Pro Bowls and finally won a Super Bowl ring.  Looking at those stats, I would definitely say, “wow.”

Woodson returned to Oakland in 2013 after being released by the Packers and has remained with the Raiders ever since. And he is still playing at a high level, as he has had 10 interceptions in that time, plus has forced  four more fumbles, recovered seven more (one for a touchdown) and has had three more sacks.

On Sunday he will be facing the quarterback he practiced against for seven years in Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers is very familiar with the region of California where the game on Sunday will be played.

This will be the second time that Rodgers will have returned to the Bay area in 2015. The Packers also played the 49ers in Santa Clara in Week 3 of this current season.

Rodgers was born and raised in the Chico, which is about 170 miles northeast of the Bay area. No. 12 played his college football at nearby Cal (Berkely) as well.

Rodgers has only started one game against the Raiders, which was during the 2011 season, when Woodson was still a member of the Packers.

Aaron vs. Raiders in 2011

The Packers won that game 46-16 at Lambeau Field. That victory gave the Packers a 13-0 start to the 2011 season. Rodgers threw for 281 yards in the game, and also tossed two touchdown passes versus one pick.

Rodgers had a 96.7 passer rating in that game.

Incidentally, Woodson had a pick in that game as well versus the Raiders.

One of the wide receivers that Rodgers threw to that day was James Jones.  Jones had two catches for 29 yards in that contest.

But from 2007-2013, Jones put up some excellent numbers in Green Bay, when he had 310 receptions for 4,305 yards and 37 touchdowns.

In 2014, Jones left the Packers via free agency and signed with the Raiders. Jones had played his college ball at nearby San Jose State. Last season, Jones put up solid numbers with Oakland, as he had 73 catches for 666 yards and six touchdowns.

Even with those numbers, the Raiders still released the veteran wide receiver earlier this year. Jones was then signed by the New York Giants this summer, but was cut at the end of training camp.

Because of the season-ending knee injury Jordy Nelson had suffered during the preseason, Jones re-signed with the Packers just prior to the season opener. So far in 2015, Jones has 35 receptions for 660 yards and seven touchdowns.

Jones also has a sparkling 18.9 yards-per-catch average, which leads the NFL.

You know Jones wants to show the Raiders on Sunday that he still has it. The same thing would certainly apply to Woodson, as he looks across the line of scrimmage at the Packers.

Bottom line, we shall see how both Rodgers and Woodson perform on Sunday afternoon in Oakland, but one thing is for sure, both will have busts in Canton at some point in the future because of their fantastic careers in the NFL.

Jerry Kramer Talks About Willie Davis

Jerry Kramer had three roommates in his 11 years in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers.

In the first nine years (1958-1966) that No. 64 played under head coach Vince Lombardi, fullback Jimmy Taylor was his roomy.

In 1967, kicker Don Chandler was his roommate.

In 1968, which turned out to be the last season for Kramer in the NFL, his roommate was Willie Davis.

That season was also the year that Lombardi assumed the role of general manager only, as the head coaching duties had been turned over to very capable defensive assistant, Phil Bengtson.

In 1968, the Packers were attempting to win the NFL championship for a fourth consecutive time, which didn’t happen for a myriad of reasons.

In the late 1960s, having a white player and a black player room together was a very rare experience in the NFL. The most widely known example of this was when Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo were roommates for the Chicago Bears.

But under Lombardi, whether as a head coach or as general manager, or as both, race was never an issue on his team.

Kramer wrote about this issue in Instant Replay, as Lombardi treated everyone on the team as equal. Here is an excerpt from that classic book:

‘Vince doesn’t care what color a man is as long as he can play football, as long as he can help us win, and all the players feel the same way. That is what being a Green Bay Packer is all about—winning—and we don’t let anything get in the way of it.’

Davis was the captain of the defense and he certainly showed why with his actions on the field. Davis was a five-time first-team All-Pro, plus was named to five Pro Bowls.

Davis played much larger than his size, which was 6’3″, 243-pounds during his career. Sacks were not considered a statistic while Davis played. That being said, John Turney, who is a member of the Professional Football Researchers Association, reported that Davis had over 100 sacks in his 10-year career with the Packers.

Everyone remembers that Reggie White had three sacks in Super Bowl XXXI, but only a few know that Davis had two sacks in Super Bowl I and three more in Super Bowl II.

Davis also recovered 21 fumbles over his Packers career and that still remains a team record.

This fantastic production on the field led to Davis being named to the NFL 1960s All-Decade Team, the Packers Hall of Fame in 1975 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1981.

No. 87 was part of five NFL championship teams in Green Bay, which included the first two Super Bowls.

Kramer recently talked about his former roommate with me.

“Dr. Feelgood,” Kramer said chuckling. “Willie and I sort of drifted together. I don’t know who made the decision for us to room together. We had been downtown looking a possible restaurant franchise with a western theme, and we were both nearing the retirement age.

“Willie was bright, fun and educated extremely well with his MBA from the University of Chicago. I respected Willie’s opinion and his thought process. That sort of brought us together. We ended up having all types of discussions as roommates.”

Kramer talked about a recent get together with Davis.

“I went to his 80th birthday party in Las Vegas,” Kramer said. “We had 400 to 500 of his closest friends there. That included a number of Packers, the Chairman of Dow Chemical, the Chairman of Johnson Controls, the Chairman of MGM Grand and several other business people of that ilk. Willie sat on 17 boards at one time while he was in the business community.”

Speaking of that distinction, Davis is part of the Directors Emeritus of the Packers as well.

Kramer continued his reflection about the former Grambling star.

“Willie is intelligent and funny,” Kramer said. “Willie is principled. You can count on Willie. Willie is the same person today that he was when he and I roomed together. And even though Willie has had significant financial success over the years, he is the same guy. He is a thoughtful, caring, polite and decent human being.”

Kramer than talked about the presence of Davis in the locker room.

“Willie had the respect of the players,” Kramer said. “Not just the players of color, but all the players.

“When there was a problem when black players were having trouble getting decent housing accommodations at one time, Willie would talk to coach Lombardi about it, and then coach would chew some ass and straighten it out.”

It’s pretty obvious that Kramer and Davis are still pretty close, 47 years after they were roommates.

“I have a Kramer suite at the Davis home in Marina del Ray,” Kramer said. “It’s the big bedroom upstairs looking out at the ocean.”

It sounds awesome.

It would also be awesome if Kramer had a bust alongside of Davis at Canton in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

That is an honor that has long been overdue for No. 64.