The 1940s and Amazing Don Hutson

"Hutson Does It Again!"

"Don Paces Packers to World Title!"

"Amazing Hutson Can''t Be Stopped!"


Headlines of this nature were commonplace during the 11-year reign of Don Hutson with the Green Bay Packers from 1935 through 1945. They tell, in a few short sentences, why "the Alabama Antelope" is still considered by many as the greatest pass receiver who ever lived.

Without question, Hutson is the "yardstick" player of the pass-receiving profession. He caught a touchdown "bomb" on his very first play as a rookie and wound up with 99 touchdown receptions, a record that stood for more than four decades. When he retired after the 1945 season, Hutson had caught 488 passes. The second-place receiver at the time had just 190 receptions. The other marks Hutson set once filled pages and he still has several notations in the NFL record book.

By any interpretation, his marks, when compared with his contemporaries, clearly demonstrate just how much "a man ahead of his time" Hutson really was. Along with Sammy Baugh, the great passer who joined the Washington Redskins in 1937, two years after Hutson became a Packer, Don was a dominant factor in the offensive evolution of pro football. When Hutson and Baugh first entered the NFL, pro football was a run-oriented game with the forward pass being used only in desperation or as a surprise play. By the time the two retired, the forward pass had become a major part of every NFL’s team offense.

When Hutson joined the Packers as a rookie, there were many who doubted that the skinny athlete could stand the pounding he was certain to receive in pro football. It wasn’t long, however, before his mere presence on the field had changed the defensive concepts of the entire NFL. Such measures as double coverage and triple-teaming were unheard of before Hutson came on the scene.

When he retired, Hutson had rewritten the NFL record book and held nearly every major receiving record.