Packers countdown continues: Bob Skoronski and Forrest Gregg

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Bob Skoronski with Vince Lombardi at the conclusion of Super Bowl I. Getty Images

Bob Skoronski with Vince Lombardi at the conclusion of Super Bowl I.
Getty Images

Bob Skoronski

Bob Skoronski is one of those unheralded players who made a huge difference for the Green Bay Packers.

Here is what Maxymuk says about Skoronski:

The Packers of the 1960s featured one of the greatest offensive lines of all time. The team’s four highest all-time rushing totals were achieved from 1961 through 1964, and Green Bay led the league in rushing in three of those years, despite going head-to-head with Jim Brown’s Cleveland Browns. It was a disciplined group noted for their speed, strength, technique, and hustle. A famous film clip of a quick-toss play run to perfection agains the Lions in 1964 shows Jimmy Taylor taking the ball 84 yards for a touchdown. The Packer player accompanying him all the way down the field is opposite-side tackle Bob Skoronski, making the final block on the play 80 yards from the line of scrimmage.

It was the longest running play of the Lombardi years, the second longest in team history, and was immortalized on the 1965 Philadelphia Gum football card number 84, “Packers Play of the Year.”

Four of the starters on the Packers’ line were continually celebrated for their excellence … left tackle Bob Skoronski was never named to an All Pro team and made the Pro Bowl only once, in his tenth and penultimate season in the NFL. Years later he would wonder, ‘Was my guy the only guy who got to the quarterback? Did we always run to the right side? The captaincy of the Packers wasn’t an elected position. Why did Lombardi select me?’

One reason for Skoronski’s lack of recognition was that beginning in 1962, he alternated at left tackle with Norm Masters after Skoronski had missed time with a knee injury in 1961. Lombardi considered them to be of near equal ability, so he would start Skoronski and substitute with Masters. When Masters retired after the 1964 season, Skoronski took over the whole job. The offense itself was changing by then. Paul Hornung was not the same player and Jim Taylor was aging. They would not be replaced at the same level, and so the offense came to rely more on Bart Starr’s arm and the pass-blocking skills of the line.

Bob Skoronski was a team player and did not let the lack of accolades bother him. As an ambitious child of immigrants, he was part of a family of achievers. His four brothers and sisters all went beyond Bob’s bachelor’s degree in marketing. Bob was the quintessential family man whose four adult children have carried on that tradition of accomplishment. He retired after the 1968 season and built several successful businesses over the next 30 years. He may be best remembered by the public though for his apt summation of the Ice Bowl: ‘It was our mark of distinction.’

Ironically, even in that game, Bob delivered a key block that was overshadowed. On a sucker play at the Cowboy 11, he thoroughly sealed off defensive end George Andrie while defensive tackle Bob Lilly followed pulling-guard Gale Gillingham, allowing Chuck Mercein to rumble through a huge hole down to the three. If Mercein could have kept his feet, he might have scored and perhaps brought Skoronski some of the recognition that would fall to Jerry Kramer for his double-team block on Jethro Pugh four plays later.

That team will never be forgotten, but neither will Bob Skoronski. He is a member of the Indiana University Hall of Fame, the Polish American Sports Hall of Fame, and, of course, the Packers Hall of Fame.

Here are his career statistics as posted on Pro Football Reference …

 

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