Born in Poland in 1949, Marcol’s journey to Green Bay was one that should be recounted for years to come. His career with Green Bay through much of the 1970s were unusual, to say the least. While his kicking acumen during his early days in the league was fortunate for the team, his final days were not.
We’ll let Maxymuk explain:
Kicking is a refuge for odd ducks in football who usually stick to themselves on the sidelines. The pressure can be enormous since kickers have no way to make up for a bad kick. They can’t go back out there and catch a touchdown pass or make a defensive stop. Everything rides on the few plays they are on the field to kick the ball. Thirteen is a perfect jersey number for the often ostracized, dressed-out placekicker.
Chester Marcol was as unusual a character as one would expect to find on the gridiron. When he was 16, he emigrated from Poland with his family to Michigan. A star soccer player in Poland, he had never played American football before picking up the game in high school. He played end for Imlay City, but his extremely powerful leg brought him notice from the football coach at Hillsdale College, a small school in Michigan. Marcol had great success at Hillsdale, even setting a field goal distance record by booting a 62-yarder.
Chester was drafted in the second round by the Packers in 1972 and was an immediate sensation for the playoff-bound Pack by leading the league in points with 128 and making both the All Pro and Pro Bowl teams. The Packers thought they had solved their long-standing kicking problem for the foreseeable future. Of course they also thought that they were back as a championship contender. Neithr proved true.
Chester Marcol continud to be successful for two more seasons, again making All Pro and Pro Bowl teams in 1974 with a league-leading 94 points. Unlike many kickers, Chester was popular and fit in well with his teammates. He was perhaps too well liked as he began to drink heavily. He was injured and sat out most of 1975 and then started using cocaine. He returned as the Packers kicker in 1976, but the last five years of his career was a study downward spiral. In 1979, due to knee problems, he shared the placekicking with Tom Birney. In 1980 he beat out Birney for the kicking job, but because of his erratic performance and behavior was release after five games and Birney was brought back.
Houston brought Marcol in for one game that year, but then his football career was over. His personal life continued to deteriorate as well – drinking, drugs, divorce and depression all led to an eventual suicide attempt by drinking battery acid in 1986. From that low point, he took a long and slow road to recovery with the help of friends and family.
Chester remains high on the all-time list of Packer scorers with 521 points. In his nine years in Green Bay he hit on 61.7 percent of his field goal attempts, a good figure for his time. He hit some long ones and was known for booming kickoffs. His most famous moment came in his last, sad season. Against the Bears, Marcol attempted a 24-yard field goal in overtime and Alan Page blocked the kick. The ball rebounded back into Chester’s hands and the slight, bespectacled kicker scooted around the end with it for the winning score.
To paraphrase Alex Karras‘s derisive comment about foreign soccer-style kickers, he had “kicked a touchdown.”
In 1987, Chester Marcol was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame, presented by the team’s trainer Dom Gentile.
Since then he has returned recently for Packer alumni functions. Remarried with a new family and living in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, he seems to have made peace with his life.
All Packers players to have worn number 13 over the past 50 years: