Top Ten Green Bay Packers of All-Time (My List)

Without further ado, here are my top ten greatest Green Bay Packer Players of all-time.

As this series concludes, we have been able to detail the rich history of the Green Bay Packers franchise and highlight the contributions of many immortal players, coaches, and general managers.  We have debated, reminisced, and even shared our fondest memories and stories of many members of the franchise who we connected with and interacted with on a personal level.  

These personal connections are ultimately what make us love the players that dawn the green and gold and connect us forever with the Green Bay Packers franchise. On a personal note, I just wanted to say that it has been a joy to listen to the stories and connections that you have made with the great people of the Green Bay Packers franchise.

The list was pretty good for a blind vote by 75+ different fans, but some very incredible Packers were left off the list.  Those players will surely be spoken for when I give you my top-ten Packers (Players) of all-time!

To recap, here is a look at your Top Ten Packers Players of All-Time:

  1. Bart Starr (155 Fan Points)
  2. Don Hutson (82 Fan Points)
  3. Earl "Curly" Lambeau (78 Fan Points)
  4. Brett Favre (68 Fan Points)
  5. Reggie White (22 Fan Points)
  6. Ray Nitschke (19 Fan Points)
  7. Aaron Rodgers (10 Fan Points)
  8. Paul Hornung (9 Fan Points)
  9. Forrest Gregg (8 Fan Points)
  10. Arnie Herber/ Tony Canadeo (7 Fan Points)

Other Packers Receiving Votes: Jim Taylor (4 Fan Points), Willie Davis (2 Fan Points), Willie Wood (1 Fan Point), Herb Adderly (1 Fan Point)

Without further ado, here is my list of the Top Ten Packers Players of All-Time:

  1. Don Hutson- (My reasoning and thought process) The man was a two way star who had multiple all-pro selections at wide receiver and on defense, leading the NFL in interceptions.  Here is the case for Hutson being the Greatest Packer of All-Time: His peak four seasons: 1941-44 (2 Career MVP Awards, 3x NFL Champion, 4 first team all-pro selections, lead the NFL in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns in each of those four seasons), Average Receptions: 59.25, Average Yards Per Game: 85.35, Average Yards Per Touch:14.275, Average Yards Per Season: 897.75, Average Touchdowns Per Season: 11.75, (in 10 and 11 game seasons).  Averaged 5 INT's per season in six years as an All-Pro defender (6x All-Pro LE).  I feel like Hutson was one of the best and most revolutionary offensive players in NFL history who also put up Hall of Fame worthy numbers on defense which is almost looked at as an afterthought in the record books.  I am fully aware of what a beautiful soul and amazing champion Bart Starr was but Hutson's achievements on the football field were too much to leave him out of the top spot.  
  2. Bart Starr- He truly was Mr. Green Bay Packer, a champion, and everyone's best friend.  He never left Green Bay and Green Bay always stood beside him.  The relationship between Bart Starr and the Packers fan base has to be one of sports most beautiful love stories.  
  3. Aaron Rodgers- Rodgers is the most talented and physically gifted quarterback in NFL history.  He has done things on the football field that we mortals, can only dream of, or do in Madden.  He has made some of the most incredible throws and created some of the most magical moments in the franchise's history.  So let's cut to the chase, of why I chose Aaron over Brett.  My reasoning is pretty simple actually; Brett was careless with the ball at times and Aaron has the best touchdown to interception ratio in NFL history.  When comparing two incredibly talented legends you have to split hairs to determine who ranks higher than the other.  For me, the determining factor was Aaron's TD to Interception percentage ratio of 6.0% TD to 1.4% INT vs. Brett's 5.0% TD to 3.3% INT ratio.
  4. Brett Favre- "The gun slinger" made me love the game of football and become a Green Bay Packer fan for life.  I think his larger than life personality, love of the game, and incredible talent made him immortal and his reckless nature made him human; which in turn made him the perfect heroic figure.  He sure was my hero.  
  5. Ray Nitschke- I think any list of Packers defensive players has to start with the anchor and toughest son of a bitch there ever was.  When I look at pictures of Nitschke, I can tell this man enjoyed inflicting pain and delivering bone crushing hits to his opponents.  His statistics and impact on the Lombardi defenses clearly reflect these sentiments.  
  6. Reggie White- The minister of defense would beat the hell out of opposing quarterbacks and then tell them "God bless". During his tenure in Green Bay, he set the tone for the rest of the defensive unit and allowed the secondary to thrive.  Here is a look at his peak four Packer Seasons: 1993,95,97-98 (Had 3.0 sacks in the 1996-97 Playoffs) Average Sacks: 13, Average Forced Fumbles: 2.25. 
  7. Forrest Gregg- All of his personal accolades were encapsulated by the iconic image of him covered in mud after a 13-0 win against the San Francisco 49ers.  Gregg certainly had Vince Lombardi's endorsement as he referred to him as ..."the finest player I ever coached".  Lombardi's endorsement alone is reason enough for Gregg to land in the top seven.  Gregg along with Jerry Kramer and Fuzzy Thurston formed one of the greatest positional group trios of all-time. 
  8. Jim Taylor- Taylor was an amazing running back and quite frankly is one of the most underrated players during his era.  He won an MVP award...as a running back, and the prime of his career, if prorated to a 16 game season would measure up with the greats of today's game.  Let's take a look at Taylor's peak four seasons: 1960-62,64, Average Yards Per Attempt: 5.15, Average Yards Per Game: 95.1, Average Yards Per Season: 1,262.75 Average Touchdowns Per Season: 14.25 (2020 perspective: Derrick Henry was considered by many to be the NFL's best back rushing for 1,540 yards and 16 TD's in 15 games; Taylor's MVP season saw him rush for 1,474 yards and 19 Touchdowns in 14 games)
  9. Willie Wood/Charles Woodson- I understand that having spots nine and ten result in a tie probably seems like a cop out and an excuse for turning the top ten list into a top 12 list, but I can assure you this is not the case.  When you closely examine the careers of Willie Wood and Charles Woodson it will become evident why it was appropriate to join this duo of defensive specialists together.  When I examined both of their careers it became apparent how symmetric their career arc was.  On the field, they had a unique way of impacting the game both as defensive and return specialists.  Let's take a look at how similar Wood and Woodson's peak four seasons were.  Willie Wood: Peak four seasons: 1962-63,1967,1970 (shows the consistency of his career) Average INT: 6.75, Average Fumble Recoveries 1.75, Average Turnovers Forced: 8.5, Led the NFL in Punt Return Touchdowns in 1961 (2) and Average Yards Per Punt Return in 1964 (13.3).  Here is a look at Charles Woodson's four year peak: 2008-2011, Super Bowl Champion, 2009 Defensive Player of the Year, 2x All-Pro (3x for career), Average INT Per season: 6.25, Average Passes Defensed: 16.25, Average Forced Fumbles: 2.75, Average Turnovers Forced: 9, Average Defensive Touchdowns: 1.75, Great Punt Returner, In 2001 averaged 11.8 yards p/r, In 2006 averaged 8.9 yards p/r, and In 2007 averaged 8.1 yards per return.  As you can now see, Willie Wood and Charles Woodson games mirrored each other.  You can even make the case that Woodson was a modern day Willie Wood which deservingly pays homage to both players which is why they both hold the ninth spot on my list.   
  10. Tony Canadeo/Paul Hornung-  I think it is appropriate that the last spot on my list goes to a tandem that had yet another symmetrical career arc; Paul Hornung and Tony Canadeo.  Hornung and Canadeo careers mirrored in the way that Willie Wood and Charles Woodson's careers did.  Hornung and Canadeo both were star running backs for the Packers during different eras who played a similar kind of game.  Both rushers spent time throwing the ball out of different formations and played and made an impact on both sides of the ball.  (Hornung made an impact in all three phases).  These players were truly icons of their eras.  Canadeo is remembered as one of the first running backs to surpass the 1,000 yard mark while Hornung is remembered for his 1960 and 1961 seasons.  Here is a look at both players peak four seasons.  Tony Canadeo, 1x All-Pro, 1x NFL Champion, Played on offense, defense, and special teams, one of the NFL's first thousand yard rushers (depending on who you believe) Peak four seasons: 1943,47-49, Average Yards: 648.5 yards (1,052 rushing yards in 1949), Average Yards Per Carry: 4.9, Average Touchdowns: 3.25, Threw for 9 passing touchdowns during his all-pro season in 1943, punted, and returned kicks as well.  Paul Hornung, 2x All-Pro, 1x MVP, (Super Bowl Champion), 4x NFL Champion, Peak four seasons: 1959-61,64, Average Yards Per Attempt: 4.35, Average Yards Per Season: 591 yards, Average Touchdowns: 8.25.  In the same breath, I believe the case can be made that Paul Hornung was a modern day (at the time) Tony Canadeo which would pay homage to the way both players played the game.      

My. Honorable Mention:

  1. 1. Earl "Curly" Lambeau- (Why he missed the cut) In the research I have done over the years, I have not been able to find a light in which Lambeau was truly respected.  He was more feared than he was respected and in some accounts he kind of came off as a slimy hedgefund manager.  Yes, he is the founder of this great organization, but the majority of his players did not truly respect him because he was quick to throw them under the bus and swindle them in contract negotiations.  In a rather distasteful way, Lambeau fired co-founder George Calhoun who helped him start the franchise.  The end of his tenure created plenty of drama highlighted by a Kendall Roy like (Succession reference) failed boardroom coup by Calhoun and a possible move of the franchise to California.  In the end, Lambeau resigned and became the coach of the Chicago Cardinals which received mixed reception from the Packer faithful. http://archive.jsonline.com/sports/packers/209873171.html (Great article talking about Lambeau's perception)  
  2. Jim Ringo-  Ringo anchored and was the kingpin of the dominant Packer offensive lines that saw Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung each win an MVP award in the backfield all in a 3 year span. Ringo's peak four seasons: 6x All-Pro, 2x NFL Champion, Packers All-Pro Center (1957, 1959-63).
  3. Willie Davis HOF, 5x All-Pro, (2x Super Bowl Champion), 5x NFL Champion, Impacted every play on defense for a seven year span that translated into 5 probowls and 5 first team all-pro selections, Peak Four Seasons: 1964-67 (4 First Team All-Pro selections) (Stats and data were not tracked during Davis's time to provide just how much he impacted the Packers defense).
  4. Herb Adderly- HOF, 4x All-Pro, 5x NFL Champion (With Packers), (2x Super Bowl Champion), Peak four seasons: 1962-63, 1965-66, Average INTs per season: 5.5, Average INT returned for touchdown: 1.25, Average Forced Fumbles 1.25, Averaged Fumbles Recovered: 2.25, Average Yards Per Kick Return: 25.7, Best two seasons 1962, 1965; 1962 Season: 7 INT, 1 Touchdown, 2 Forced Fumbles, 4 Fumble Recoveries; 1965 Season: 6 INT, 3 Touchdowns, 1 Forced Fumble, 3 Fumble Recoveries.

Thank you all for participating in the voting process.  I hope you enjoyed reminiscing in Packer history as much as I did.   

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David Michalski is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter @kilbas27dave 

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Comments (32)

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SterlingSharpe's picture

April 19, 2020 at 07:21 am

Approved.

When highlighting the great Don Hutsons 4-year incredible peak, it made me wonder what Sterling Sharpe 4-year peak looks like

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DavidMichalski's picture

April 19, 2020 at 09:16 am

Sterling’s peak four was incredible in my opinion. His career being cut short and the timing of it all (before the Super Bowl runs) was the only thing keeping him off. The numbers were absolutely staggering how good he was. That’s also why I addressed his career in the honoring the honorable mention column. I made the case that if Sterling and Nick Collins didn’t get injured, the Packers would have won 2-3 more Super Bowls. Sharpe was one of my favorite careers I examined, I could probably make the case that he was the second best receiver in Packer history behind only Don Hutson.

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CoachDino's picture

April 19, 2020 at 06:32 pm

IMO you are dead on. I would include Leroy Butler as another guy whose career was cut a bit short by that freak injury. Not that Tim Lewis belongs in the same class but there's another packer safety with ALL Pro skills cut short by freak injury.

Where is Brett Favre w/o Sterling Sharpe when he first came to the Packers?

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Stroh's picture

April 20, 2020 at 12:13 am

The seperating factor, at least the biggest IMO between Sharpe and Hutson is to compare their stats to that of the contemporaries. Hutson doubled and tripled his contemporaries in receiving. Sharpe was oustanding and among the very best at his position but not vastly superior to them, in the way Hutson was. Hutson literally revolutionized the passing game and may have invented the route tree. Even Jerry Rice, considered the best WR in history, may not even compared to Hutson's dominance.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 20, 2020 at 04:07 am

I have to agree completely. As far as TDs go, he was not unlike Babe Ruth hitting home runs: Hutson doubled his competition routinely, though he did outdo whole teams.

One thing that I don't understand is that Hutson is on the All Decade 1930s team but on the 1940s. All he did during 1940 to 1945 is win First Team All-Pro every year (six times to go with two more in the 1930s).

In his 11 seasons, Hutson led the league 9 times in TDs, 8 times in recs and yards/game, 7 times in yards. Dominant.

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DavidMichalski's picture

April 19, 2020 at 09:26 am

Sterlings peak four seasons: 3x all-pro 89, 92-94, 101 receptions, 1,319.25 yards, 13.75 yards per reception and 13.5 touchdowns per season. I dedicated part of my honoring the honorable mention column to Sharpe’s career. I made the case that if he and Nick Collins didn’t get hurt the Packers would have won another 2-3 Super Bowls. For me, the only thing that left Sharpe off of the list was the timing of when his career was cut short (before the two super bowl runs). So I fully recognize he should have made it to the list. Sharpe’s career was one of my favorites researching and watching film.

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Hematite's picture

April 19, 2020 at 08:00 am

I like the way you boiled things down for your list.
Thanks for putting Jim Taylor on your list also Willie Wood on your list while still keeping Hornung and Canadeo as well.
Masterful job!

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Irish_Cheesehead's picture

April 19, 2020 at 08:48 am

Not a bad list, but I’d put White and Nitschke above Favre. As far as Aaron above Brett, I guess for me I have to see how Rodgers plays at the end of his career. Favre was pretty darn consistent his entire career.

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DavidMichalski's picture

April 19, 2020 at 09:03 am

For me, I love both, but the picks had me give Rodgers the slight edge.

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Point-Packer's picture

April 20, 2020 at 10:47 am

"Favre was pretty darn consistent his entire career."

Consistent? Consistently throwing interceptions maybe. Brett Favre and revisionist history go together like peanut butter and jelly.

1999: 22 TDs and 23 INTs - 74.7 QB rating
2000: 20 TDs and 16 INTs - 78.0 QB rating
2005: 20 Tds and 29 INTs - 70.9 QB rating
2006: 18 Tds and 18 INTs - 72.7 QB rating
2008: 22 Tds and 22 INTs - 81.0 QB rating with the NY Jets
2010: 11 Tds and 19 INTS - 69.9 QB raring with the MN Vikings

The Rodgers vs Favre debate is ridiculous. Aaron Rodgers is one of the best QBs in the history of the NFL. Favre isn't even the first or second best in the history of the Green Bay Packers.

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Mike Rossmeier's picture

April 19, 2020 at 08:48 am

Glad you recognized Jim Taylor, I've always felt that because he was a prickly personality, he did not get full recognition.
Love Willie Wood, but it's hard to imagine a more talented DB who played multiple seasons than Herb Adderley.

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Since'61's picture

April 19, 2020 at 09:05 am

David overall you have done a very good job. My only issue with your top 10 is leaving Herb Adderly off the list. Having watched Adderly play I still believed that he was the best CB the Packers have ever had. He was a shut down corner decades before the term even existed.

Besides his stats, which you covered well, he was a fierce tackler and that is what is missed for not having seen him play. He played the run as well as he covered pass. He also played without being penalized although the rules were different in his day.

At least Adderly made your honorable list and that’s fine. I would switch him out for Willie Wood. Don’t get me wrong, Willie was one of my favorite players and I wore his number when I played HS football, but Adderly was a notch better at a position that is more difficult to play. Stay safe everyone.
Thanks, Since ‘61

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DavidMichalski's picture

April 19, 2020 at 09:10 am

So the peak four seasons with the INT+forced fumbles (combined turnovers) coupled with the return aspect is what had me go with Wood over Adderly.

From what you’re saying it sounds like Adderly may not have gotten the chance to make as many plays once established because they didn’t go after him as much. Me being 30 definitely put me at a disadvantage because I had trouble with the Wood, Adderly, and Woodson trio.

Thanks for the perspective!

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CheesyTex's picture

April 19, 2020 at 11:48 am

It is ironic to me that both Adderley and Wood were offense in college and converted to D at the pro level -- I watched them both at college level as MSU and SC played alma mater. Like Since '61 I'm a big Adderley fan, and IMO he could have been All-Pro as a halfback, too. Wood was an OK QB. Curious that they both achieved all-time stature on defense.

Even Woodson played some WR and returned kicks at Michigan tho he was primarily defense there.

Me being 82, I had the advantage (and absolute pleasure) of seeing them all and it is tough to pick among the three. But for me it would be: 1. Adderley, 1a. Woodson, and 1b. Wood.

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Since'61's picture

April 19, 2020 at 04:02 pm

CheesyTex - I agree with your analysis. Adderly, 1; Woodson 2 or 1a and Wood, 3 or 1b. Stay safe. Thanks, Since ‘61

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13TimeChamps's picture

April 19, 2020 at 09:29 am

So, the all time rushing leader, career AND single season (A. Green)...and the all time receiving leader, yards AND receptions (D. Driver), don't even get an honorable mention? Lol
This is why these "top ten" lists are so silly.

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DavidMichalski's picture

April 19, 2020 at 10:29 am

Do you think Donald Driver was better than Don Hutson or Sterling Sharpe? That’s for you to answer. And secondly you have to examine whether you think Green was better than Taylor, Hornung, and Canadeo again for you to answer. For me Green was a tier below and although Driver had 8 thousand yard seasons in a row, he didn’t find the end zone enough imo and wasn’t dynamic enough like a Sharpe or Hutson or even Jordy. Definitely a top 5-6 receiver. Also keep in mind the Packers rich history at QB and on defense so that took up like 6 spots off the bat. All it says is this franchise is arguably one of the greatest in NFL history.

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Stroh's picture

April 20, 2020 at 12:04 am

Leaving Driver off makes complete sense, he was a very good WR but never dominant.

Green IMO is every bit as good as Taylor. He never led the NFL in rushing in a single year.
His best year being the year Jamaal Lewis ran for 2000 yds, but Ahmans best season (1883 yds) is the best single season rushing total to not lead the NFL in a season. Ahman did lead the NFL in rushing yards for a 5 year stretch, from '00 thru "05 no RB ran for more yards. Ahman is also one of 2 RB to have 2 90+ yd TD runs (Bo Jackson is the other). Ahman wasn't just a great Runner either, he was terrific catching the ball out of the backfield and an outstanding blocker.

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4thand1's picture

April 19, 2020 at 10:32 am

You just mentioned them.

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Since'61's picture

April 19, 2020 at 04:09 pm

Green is only the rushing leader because he played in 16 game seasons. Taylor started when the league played 12 game seasons and the 14 game seasons. If Taylor played in 16 game seasons for his entire career he would have more yards rushing than Green.

I have nothing against Green, he was a great RB but we should be fair in comparing the length of the seasons. Also Taylor played on 4 Championship Teams and was a league MVP and a HOFer. Green did not achieve any of those hallmarks. Stay safe. Thanks, Since ‘61

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DavidMichalski's picture

April 19, 2020 at 07:04 pm

Spot on and my analysis exactly.

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Archie's picture

April 19, 2020 at 09:48 am

Best list of this type I could imagine. Despite a couple of periods = Dark Ages, the Packers have had a golden history for sure. Let's hope we find another great one in upcoming draft.

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

April 19, 2020 at 11:29 am

I really liked my list which had Bart Starr 1st, but I believe your list is better and forced me to give you a thumbs up. I had Hudson 2nd and only saw him play on film, but believe he is the most dominate wide receiver in history. I saw him play golf as an old geezer when I was a kid and his athletic prowess was evident even in his golf swing as an old person. Willie Wood was an athletic freak and was the only Packer player at the time who could jump high enough to touch both elbows on the goal post crowbars. I did have Herb Adderly on my list, but perhaps Willie Wood was the better choice.

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mnbadger's picture

April 19, 2020 at 11:32 am

Leaving Willie Davis off the list but including favre with his annual retirement banter and "in your face" move to the 'queens is hard for me to understand.
You almost can't limit it to just ten, with all of the history, success and great players.
Here's a couple that haven't been mentioned that could be added to a top 25 list:
1. Dave Robinson
2. Carroll Dale
3. Doug Hart
4. Paul Coffman
Etc.

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DavidMichalski's picture

April 19, 2020 at 03:34 pm

Dave Robinson and Willie Davis definitely received a lot of consideration from me. Willie made honorable mention and Dave was next four out. I like Dave personally, he was a super nice guy and was really accessible when my friend and I flew into Green Bay with him. I had Nitschke, Willie Wood, Herb Adderly, and Willie Davis ahead of him. It just shows how incredible the Packers defense was back during the Lombardi days. As far as Favre, I totally get it as his jersey is still buried in my closet. In all fairness he still has to be there though, he was amazing and his leaving for Minny broke all of our hearts, which cements his influence on all of us.

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ricky's picture

April 19, 2020 at 11:54 am

Since the franchise has been around for over 100 years, whittling down the best to only ten is, IMO, an exercise in futility. Rather, why not have the best five/ten at each position? That would seem a lot more fair than literally one guy for each ten years of the team's existence.

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marpag1's picture

April 19, 2020 at 12:24 pm

Shit, it took weeks to get done with this mess, let's not encourage more. LOL

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malta1099's picture

April 19, 2020 at 01:57 pm

I had Jim Taylor on my list and was very disappointed the fans dismissed him. Glad you rectified that. Don Hutson just MIGHT BE the greatest NFL player of all time, but he was not the greatest Packer. That honor goes beyond just on-field performance - it is a complete and enduring contribution to the legacy of the Green Bay Packers. And that is, without doubt, Bryan Bartlett Starr. It is also why we must, despite how distasteful it may seem, include Curly Lambeau on the list. Finally, top 10 lists are fun and sort of meaningless - but a good diversion. Let's not turn them into top 12 lists. If that was your intent, you should have said so from the outset; I had a couple more votes I would have liked to include.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

April 19, 2020 at 05:40 pm

There are so many great Packers. The Top Ten List should have twenty five guys. ;D

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Tundraboy's picture

April 20, 2020 at 11:56 am

Well done. Hutson tops my list, but your summary of Bart is beautifull and thebsummary descriptions in general, superb. Particularly two my favorites, Taylor and Davis

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Samson's picture

April 20, 2020 at 03:16 pm

Coming next week.....

The top-ten list of Dave's neighbor.

Please... just do one thing... end this now.... It's futile & meaningless.

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DavidMichalski's picture

April 22, 2020 at 10:11 pm

Go fuck yourself for the last time

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