Don Hutson’s first touchdown came on an 83-yard pass from Arnie Herber in just his second game as a Green Bay Packer. He wound up with 99 career touchdown receptions, a record that stood for more than four decades. When Hutson retired in 1945 after 11 superb seasons, he held 18 NFL records, including 488 career receptions.
That was 200 more than his closest competitor. Hutson invented modern pass receiving. He created Z-outs, buttonhooks, hook-and-gos, and a whole catalog of moves and fakes. Although he had been an All-America at Alabama in 1934, there were plenty who doubted the skinny speedster could stand the pace of pro football. But it wasn't long before his mere presence on the field had changed the defensive concept of the game.
Don could outmaneuver and outrace virtually every defender in the league. He led the NFL in receiving in eight of his 11 seasons and in scoring five straight years. Twice, in 1941 and 1942, he was named the league’s MVP.
Like everyone in the days before free substitution, Hutson was a 60-minute player who spent most of his career as a very fine safety on defense. In his final six seasons, he swiped 30 opposing quarterbacks’ passes. Often after scoring a touchdown, he would kick the extra point. In one quarter of a 1945 game, he caught four touchdown passes and kicked five PATs for an amazing 29 points.
Had it not been for a unique decision by NFL President Joe Carr, Hutson might never have become a landmark pass-catcher. After college, Don signed contracts with both the pass-minded Packers and the NFL’s Brooklyn Dodgers, a team that rarely passed. Carr ruled the contract with the earliest postmark would be honored. The Packers' contract was postmarked 8:30 a.m., 17 minutes earlier than the Dodgers' pact. Thus Hutson became a Packer.