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"All I know is it was a means of survival for myself. When I went on the field, I went out with the intention of excelling."
James Stephen Ringo. . .No. 7 draft choice, 1953. . .All-Pro status preceded Packers dynasty years. . .All-NFL seven times . . .Played in 10 Pro Bowls, three NFL championship games. . .Small for offensive lineman, but quick, determined, intelligent, superb team leader. . . Excellent down-field blocker, pass protector. . .Ignored numerous injuries to start in then-record 182 straight games, 1954-1967. . .Born November 21, 1931, in Orange, New Jersey. . .Died November 19, 2007, at age of 75.
Jim Ringo had to be a little shaken back in 1953. His college team, Syracuse University, had been slaughtered 61-5 by Alabama in the Orange Bowl. Then, as a 20-year-old Green Bay Packer draftee, Ringo couldn't believe his eyes when he went to Packer training camp in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
Between being lonesome and all "the bigger players competing for the center job,” Ringo quit camp believing he didn't have a chance to make the team. In addition, Jim didn't like the militaristic camp rules. Ringo wasn't welcome at home and, as he put it, "They didn't want a quitter. They said you should at least try."
Despite his 211 pounds as a pro freshman, Ringo found his way back to Grand Rapids and the team ... and, of course, the rest is history. Ringo played 11 years with the Packers and four more with the Philadelphia Eagles.
He made All-League seven times and played in 10 Pro Bowls. Never weighing more than 235 pounds, he utilized his speed and football intelligence to dominate his opponents. When coach Vince Lombardi took over the Packers in 1959, Jim was the only already-established All-Pro on the roster. Lombardi built his offense around Ringo.
Lombardi was thankful for Jim's speed; "A bigger man might not be able to make the cut-off blocks on our sweeps the way Jim does. The reason Ringo’s the best in the league is because he's quick and he's smart. He runs the offensive line, calls the blocks and he knows what every lineman does on every play." It's estimated that Ringo handled the ball (only the quarterback can match him) more than 12,000 times in his career, including around 1,000 snapbacks for punts or placekicks. And to think he almost quit football.
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