RAY NITSCHKE

RAY NITSCHKE

Class of 1978
Middle Linebacker >>> 6-3, 235
(Illinois)
1958-1972 Green Bay Packers

Raymond Ernest Nitschke. . .No. 3 draft pick, 1958. . .First Green Bay defender from 1960s to be enshrined. . . Exceptional team leader, tough, strong, fast. . .Savage defender on rushes, cat-like quick against passes. . . Named NFL's all-time top linebacker, 1969. . .All-NFL three years. . . Intercepted pass for TD in 1964 Pro Bowl. . .Had 25 career interceptions. . . MVP in 1962 NFL title game. . .Born December 29, 1936, in Elmwood Park, Illinois. . . Died March 8, 1998, at age of 61.

Ray Nitschke, according to Hall of Fame quarterback and teammate Bart Starr, was a “classic example of Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde.” Off the field he was a thoughtful caring person. On the field, he was a ferocious middle linebacker who at times seemed to truly enjoy hitting people.

A fierce competitor, Ray was the heart of the great Packers defense of the 1960s. He was the first defensive player from the Packers’ dynasty years to be elected to the Hall of Fame.

In the mid 1960s, a national sports magazine asked a group of former NFL linebacking stars to rate the middle linebackers of the day. The panel first determined the skills it would seek in the ideal man — strength, quickness, speed, toughness and leadership. Ray Nitschke, the choice as the all-around top man, ranked very high or absolutely tops in every category. "The core of the Packers”… "an inspiration on the field" . . . "gives 100 percent all the time”. . ."has an overwhelming desire to make the play" . . . "without a peer as a leader" . . . panel members remarked as they explained their consensus opinion.

Ray was born in Elmwood Park, IIIinois, and grew up in a tough Chicago neighborhood. He was an all-state quarterback in high school and could have signed a professional baseball contract with the St. Louis Browns.

He opted for a football scholarship at Illinois, where he was shifted to a combined fullback on offense, linebacker on defense. The Packers drafted Ray No. 3 in 1958. Although he started eight games as a rookie, it wasn’t until his third season that Nitschke got the job of middle linebacker for good. Ray was the complete player.

Ray earned either first- or second-team All-NFL honors seven times in eight years from 1962 to 1969. In addition to being a hard-hitting tackler, he was excellent in pass coverage as his 25 lifetime interceptions attest.

Year
Team
G
Int
Yds.
Avg.
TD
FumRec
Yds
1958 Green Bay
12
1
2
2.0
0
2
0
1959 Green Bay
12
0
0
0.0
0
2
10
1960 Green Bay
12
3
90
30.0
1
1
0
1961 Green Bay
12
2
41
20.5
0
1
0
1962 Green Bay
14
4
56
14.0
0
4
0
1963 Green Bay
12
2
8
4.0
0
1
0
1964 Green Bay
14
2
36
18.0
0
2
0
1965 Green Bay
12
1
21
21.0
0
3
18
1966 Green Bay
14
2
44
22.0
0
0
0
1967 Green Bay
14
3
35
11.7
1
1
0
1968 Green Bay
14
2
20
10.0
0
3
6
1969 Green Bay
14
2
32
16.0
0
0
0
1970 Green Bay
14
0
0
0.0
0
2
0
1971 Green Bay
9
1
0
0.0
0
1
0
1972 Green Bay
11
0
0
0.0
0
0
0
Career Total
190
25
385
15.4
2
23
34
Additional Career Statistics: Receiving: 1-34; Kickoff Returns: 6-53

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