Wide Receiver / Safety
|Born: January 31 1913
Pine Bluff, Arkansas
|Died: June 24 1997 (aged 84)
Rancho Mirage, California
|Stats at NFL.com|
|Career Highlights and Awards|
|Pro Football Hall of Fame|
|College Football Hall of Fame|
Donald Montgomery Hutson (January 31, 1913 – June 24, 1997) was the first star wide receiver in National Football League history. He joined the Green Bay Packers out of the University of Alabama in 1935 and retired in 1945 after 11 seasons.
Hutson was a dominant factor in the evolution of offense in pro football. He is credited with creating many of the modern pass routes used in the NFL today. Nicknamed the “Alabama Antelope” he was the dominant receiver of his day and is widely considered to be one of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history as he held 18 records when he retired.
In his 11 seasons with the Packers, he was an All-Pro nine times and he set records that weren't broken until several decades later. He led the NFL in receptions eight times, in yards six times, and in touchdown receptions nine times. Twice, in the 1941 and 1942 seasons, he was named the league’s MVP.
Hutson, who was also a kicker, held three major scoring records: Most consecutive games scoring at least one point, 41, most points in a season, 138, and most points in a career, 825. He scored 31 points in one game, the second highest total in NFL history.
Hutson was inducted into the first class of the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951 and the First Professional Football Hall of Fame group in 1963. He was also named to the all-time college football team in 1969, the all-time pro team in 1996.
As a freshman at the University of Alabama, Hutson was 6 feet tall and weighed only 160 pounds. Many thought he was too skinny to be a good football player, but he became one of the greatest pass receivers in history.
He could run the 100-yard dash in 9.8 seconds. He had a long effortless stride, could turn up his speed effortlessly and suddenly and was also a master of fakes.
He didn't start for Alabama until the end of his junior year, but he was an All-American in his senior season, 1934, when the team went 10-0 and won the national title. In Alabama's 29-13 Rose Bowl victory over Stanford University, Hutson caught six passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Hutson's teammate and fellow end in the Bowl game was coaching legend Bear Bryant.
When he graduated from Alabama, Hutson was not highly regarded by most NFL teams due to his thin stature, but Curly Lambeau of the Packers saw Hutson as the perfect receiver for his pioneering passing attack, which at the time was headed by quarterback Arnie Herber and end Johnny "Blood" McNally.
Before the college draft was initiated, players could sign with any professional team so Hutson signed a contract with both Green Bay and the Brooklyn Dodgers. When both contracts came to the NFL office on the same day Joe Carr, the NFL president, declared that Hutson would go to Green Bay because that contract had an earlier postmark. Hutson later said it was the best thing that happened to him, because the Packers featured a passing attack and the Dodgers didn't.
Fans of the Packers received a preview of things to come in his second NFL game and first start in 1935. Hutson caught an 83-yard touchdown pass from Herber against the Chicago Bears for the only touchdown of the game. It was the first of his 99 receiving touchdowns, an NFL record that would stand for 44 years after his retirement.
Hutson became the key component to the Packers lethal offensive attack, as the Packers won the NFL title in Hutson's second year, 1936, beating the Boston Redskins 21-6. The Packers would go on to win two more titles during Hutson's career, in 1939 and 1944. In one quarter of a 1944 game, he caught four TD passes and kicked five PATs for 29 points. In his last pro season his salary, highest in the league, was $15,000.
Twice, in 1941 and 1942 seasons, he was named the league’s MVP. In 1941 Hutson became the first receiver to catch more than 50 passes in a season, and the next year he became the first with over 1,000 receiving yards in a season. In all, Hutson caught 488 passes for 7,991 yards. He also rushed for three touchdowns and returned three interceptions for touchdowns for a career total of 105.
In 1942 when he won his second league MVP he had 74 receptions for 1,211 yards and 17 touchdowns. The number two receiver in the league had 27 receptions for 571 yards and eight touchdowns. He also intercepted seven passes, kicked 33 extra points and a field goal, and totaled 138 points. Hutson caught more passes that year than the entire Detroit Lions team; he had more reception yardage than two of the ten NFL teams and more touchdown receptions than six of them.
He led the NFL in receptions eight times in his 11 seasons, including five consecutive times (1941-1945); led the NFL in receiving yards seven times, including four straight times from 1941-44; and led the NFL in scoring five times (1941-45). Hutson still holds the highest career average TDs per game (0.85) for a wide receiver.
For many of his 11 seasons, Hutson was also the Packers' kicker. He added 172 extra points and seven field goals to his touchdown receptions for a total of 823 points, another league record.
As did almost all players in his day, Hutson played both offense and defense. On defense, Hutson played safety and intercepted 30 passes over the final six years of his career. Hutson's highest season total was in 1943, when he intercepted eight passes in only ten games.
Hutson shocked the fans of Green Bay in 1945 when he announced his retirement. He would stay with the Packers as an assistant coach in 1946, but then left the organization for good. Hutson held 18 major NFL records at the time of his retirement. Several of these records stood for decades.
After retirement he was active in Green Bay's civic affairs and became wealthy as the owner of an auto dealership and bowling lanes in Racine, Wisconsin.
In 1951, Hutson's uniform number 14 became the first to be officially retired by the Packers.
At of the end of the 2007 NFL season, Hutson still held records for: Most seasons leading league in pass receptions (eight), Most consecutive seasons leading league in pass receptions (five), Most seasons leading league in pass receiving yards gained (seven), Most consecutive seasons leading league in pass receiving yards gained (four), Most seasons leading league in pass receiving touchdowns (nine), Most consecutive seasons leading league in pass receiving touchdowns (five), Most seasons leading league in scoring (five), and Most consecutive seasons leading league in scoring (five).
Hutson has been honored in a variety of ways. Don Hutson Street in Green Bay is named for him, his number, 14, was the first number retired by the Packers, he is a member of the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, and in 1994 the Packers named their new state-of-the-art indoor practice facility across the street from Lambeau Field the "Don Hutson Center."
Hutson was a charter member of both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In 1999, he was ranked sixth on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players, the highest-ranking Packer and the highest-ranking pre-World War II player.
In 2005 the Flagstad family of Green Bay donated to the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame an authentic Packers #14 jersey worn by Hutson. The jersey was found in a trunk of old uniforms from 1946 at the Rockwood Lodge, the Packers’ summer training camp from 1946 to 1949, owned by Melvin and Helen Flagstad. The jersey, a rare NFL artifact valued at more than $17,000, was donated by Daniel Flagstad in memory of his parents.
Don Hutson also tossed the ceremonial coin at Super Bowl XXII.
All links retrieved October 13, 2017.
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