Aug 23, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA; A Green Bay Packers helmet sits on the field during warmups prior to the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field. Seattle won 17-10. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

62 days to Packers football: Russ Letlow – first-ever draft choice


With 62 days left until the start of the NFL season, our countdown to the big day continues. Thursday, Sept. 4, is the day when the Green Bay Packers travel to Seattle to take on the Super Bowl Champion Seahawks.  Over the  course of the next 62 days we focus on the number that represents the days remaining … today its number 62.

Yesterday, we took a look at none other than Fuzzy Thurston, who at #63 was one of the offensive linemen who solidified the Packers offensive unit in the 1960s. Together with his pulling guard teammate, Jerry Kramer, the Packers revolutionized the game and won championship after championship.

Today we look at #62.

In our countdown, we’ve already focused on Dick Afflis and Lionel Aldridge, both who spent one season in the #62 jersey before switching to the numbers they wore the rest of their careers.

And when you take a look at the others on the list, very few stand out. Matt Brock was in Green Bay from 1989 through 1993, Evan Dietrich-Smith from 2009 through last season, and Bill Lueck from 1968 through 1974.

Most notably, Marco Rivera wore the number during the Packers run through the late 1990s through the early 2000s.

All of these players were serviceable in their time with the Packers, but none of them stood out as stars.

So, today we take a trip back – way back. Back to a time that very few, if any of us, remember.

John Maxymuk, the author of “Packers by the Numbers: Jersey Numbers and the Players Who Wore them,” tells us about Russ Letlow, the Green Bay Packers first-ever first round draft pick. Curly Lambeau, the Packers coach at that time, made the selection.

Letlow wore #62.

Drafted out of the University of San Francisco, Letlow played a total of eight seasons with Green Bay, but during his time with the Packers, was also drafted into the military during WWII to serve three years.

Maxymuk tell us about Letlow:

If all the Packers’ number-one draft picks had turned out as well as their very first one in 1936, Russ Letlow, they would have even more championship banners than the league-leading 13 that they have won.

Until 1936, all college players were free agents who could sign on with the highest bidder. Curly Lambeau was a born salesman and did very well in this environment with the biggest catch coming in the last year before the draft when he outmaneuvered Shipwreck Kelly, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers football team, to sign Don Hutson in 1935. The college draft ostensibly was created to help put the weaker teams on more equal footing with the stronger ones, not to mention staving off any bidding wars for star plaers.

The first draft was a far cry from today’s affair. Russ Letlow, the Packers’ first pick, had actually already signed with the Chicago Cardinals as a free agent before the draft.

A few months after the Packers drafted him, the Cardinals notified Letlow that he was released. He became a Packer and an All Pro.

At six feet and 214 pounds, Letlow was a tackle at the University of San Francisco, but moved to guard in the pros.

He was first-team All Pro twice and was named to the second team in two other seasons.

in 1939, he was also selected to play in the league All-Star game – a precursor to the Pro Bowl where the NFL champs met a team of league all-stars.

In 1943, Russ went into the Navy and made the All-Service football teams in 1943 and 1944.

Upon his release he returned to the Packers for his eighth and final season in 1946.

Even if he handn’t been such a fine player, Russ Letlow would always be rememberd for his place in Packers history, and he was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1972.

 

The following are Russ Letlow’s career statistics with the Green Bay Packers:

 


 

Here is the complete roster of players who have worn #62 for the Green Bay Packers since 1950:

 

From To AV
Dick Afflis 1952 1952 0
Lionel Aldridge 1963 1963 8
Norm Amundsen 1957 1957 0
Buddy Aydelette 1980 1980 1
Matt Brock 1989 1993 27
Buddy Brown 1953 1956 0
Junius Coston 2006 2007 5
Andy Cvercko 1960 1960 3
Evan Dietrich-Smith 2009 2013 18
Dennis Havig 1977 1977 2
Kani Kauahi 1988 1988 1
Jim Laughlin 1983 1983 1
Bill Lueck 1968 1974 28
Pat Matson 1975 1975 2
Guy McIntyre 1994 1994 4
Joe McLaughlin 1979 1979 2
Ruben Mendoza 1986 1986 0
Mark Merrill 1982 1982 1
Jim Meyer 1987 1987 0
Marco Rivera 1997 2004 56

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