Johnny Gray (#24 on the right) was part of the 1982 team honored in 2012 at Lambeau Field. Raymond T. Rivard photograph
#9 – Johnnie Gray
You may not have heard of Johnnie Gray; in fact it might be somewhat surprising if you have. That shouldn’t reflect bad on him (he did make this list after all), but more on the era in Packers’ history of which he happened to be a part.
Gray played for Green Bay during the doldrums of the 1970s and 1980s, when it was tough to find a positive season in Green Bay.
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That is readily apparent when looking specifically at Gray; throughout his entire career (1975-83) the team went a combined 63-91-5, with only two winning seasons (one of which was in the strike-shortened, nine-game 1982 season) and one playoff appearance (1982; won wildcard game versus Arizona, lost divisional round versus Dallas).
Bad doesn’t begin to touch on how abysmal this team was on the whole.
Despite the team’s struggles, however, Gray managed to put up a decidedly impressive career anyway. Across his nine seasons (124 games), he accumulated 22 INTs, one of which he returned for a score.
Perhaps more impressive are the other two areas he has firmly entrenched himself in the team records.
By the end of his career, Gray had managed to rack up up more than 1,000 tackles for the team (1,001 to be exact); that sits at fourth-most all-time in Packers history.
In accumulating those numbers, he also happened to lead the team in tackles on two occasions. Whether you’re winning or losing (unfortunately in his case, apparently more so the latter) that shows you’re putting in major effort for your team on a consistent basis.
The most impressive factoid in regards to Gray (at least for me) is his propensity for recovering fumbles. In his nine years, he managed to grab 22 fumble recoveries (second-most in team history).
Within that, he had four different seasons where he recovered four fumbles; that’s a pretty surprising (lucky?) level of consistency, considering how random fumble recoveries tend to be.
Something even more random: according to Pro Football Reference, despite all this time around fumbles, Gray apparently never forced a single one himself.
Talk about being in the right place at the right time.
Now if only that same ideal could have been applied to the team during his career …