16 days to Packers football: Arnie Herber

With 16 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 16 days we focus on the number that represents the days remaining … and for today we take a look number 16.

Most recently, we took a look at numbers 18 and 17 – Tobin Rote and Cecil Isbell – two players who could run, as well as throw the ball with equal skill.

Today we move on to numbers 16, where we once again turn to John Maxymuk, the author of “Packers by the Numbers: Jersey Numbers and the Players Who Wore them,” to provide insight and background and take us back to the years when Arnie Herber played for the Packers …

Maxymuk, titles his chapter about Herber as the “1936 Champs” – I like the sound of that.

Let’s let Maxymuk expound on Herber:

It would be hard to find a Hall of Fame football player with a more fairy tale beginning than Arnie Herber. In his teens, he sold programs at Packers games. A basketball and football star at Green Bay West High School, he went to the University of Wisconsin and then transferred to tiny Regis College in Denver, Colo., after his freshman year. With the onslaught of the Depression in 1929, he had to drop out of Regis after only one year. Returning to his home town, Herber found work as a handyman around the Packers locker room. With nothing to lose, Curly Lambeau gave the former local hero a tryout and added him to the championship roster in 1930. Veteran Packers treated him with disdain initially and called him “dummy.”

In his first league game, he threw a touchdown pass. As h slowly began to get playing time and prove himself on the file they started to call him “kid.”

When star fullback Bo Molenda continued to razz Herber, Lambeau sold Bo to the Giants. Within a few years Herber would be considered the best passer in footal and known as “Flash.”

Herber was not the first great passer in the NFL – that honor would probably fall to Bernie Friedman who played with the Giants and other teams in the 1920s and early 1030s. However, Arnie was the best of his time and in particular the best deep passer in the game despite not being a quarterback, but instead a single wing tailback. He was no great shakes s a runner, but was an able punter and defensive back.

Herber didn’t begin wearing a helmet until 1938 and was probably the last bareheaded Packer. He took a beating, but kept on throwing. His passing numbers do not look very impressive when viewed today, but it should be recalled that the rules of the game, the style of play, and the shape of the ball all were different in those days. He never completed more than 45 percent of his passes and threw a grand total of 81 touchdown passes, but he  led the NFL in passing three times and threw a grand total of 81 touchdown pass, but he led the NFL in passing three time in the 1930s when it was base on passing yardage. In those years, 1932, 1934, and 1936, he also pace the league in touchdown pages.

Herber volunteered for the military during World War II but ws rejected for his varicose veins. After being out of football for three hers, h would resurface with the New York Giants in 1944 and 45. Graying, slower of foot and a bit heavy, he would play against the Packers in the 1944 title game. His passing kept the Giants on th move, but four interceptions clinched the game for Green Bay. Arnie would later claim that his biggest thrill in Football ws when h came off the bench for the Giants in his final yer at the age of 35 and threw four second half touchdown passes to defeat the Eagles. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1966 just three years before his death at the early age of 59. He was elected to the Packers Hall of Fame posthumously in 1972.

 

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