Tony Canadeo: What a player and promoter
John Maxymuk, the author of “Packers by the Numbers: Jersey Numbers and the Players Who Wore them,” tells us about Canadeo and his career with the franchise:
"Tony Canadeo, #3, is a select member of a distinguished group of players who have had their numbers retired. Tony Canadeo was born in Chicago in 1919, the same year the Packers began, and was still afloat with the team at the beginning of the new millennium. He put in more years of service in a variety of capacities than any other Packer. For over 60 years he was a player, broadcaster, member of the Board of Directors, member of the Executive Committee (including serving three years as treasurer nd seven as vice president in the 1980s), and finally board member emeritus. As befitting such a mature eminence of the gridiron, his hair went gray at the age of 16 and Tony became known as the “Gray Ghost of Gonzaga” when he attended that Washington University in the late 1930s. The Packers picked him in the seventh round of the 1941 draft, and he became an immediate contributor to the team on both offense and defense. He would play both ways for most of his career. On defense he was a hard-tackling, tough defensive back. On offense he was the very definition of an all-purpose back, accumulating over 8,000 all-purpose yards in the course of his career. As a runner, he gained 4,197 yards and scored 26 touchdowns; as a receiver he caught 69 passes for 579 yards and five touchdowns; as a punt returner he averaged 11.2 yards on 46 returns for 513 yards; as a kickoff returner he averaged 23.1 yards on 75 returns for 1,736 yards; as a passer he threw for 1,642 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also punted the ball 45 times for a 37.1 yard average and intercepted nine passes. When Cecil Isbell retired after 1942, Tony took on the role of primary passer for the Packers offense in 1943 and led the team to a 7-2-1 record. He mads the All League team that year for the first time. He was a loyal foot soldier both for Green Bay and for his country. He went into the military in 1944 and didn’t return to the NFL until 1946. When he returned from the war, the good times were gone in Green Bay. Don Hutson had just retired, and Lambeau’s passing game would never recover. In the post war years, Curly would increasingly emphasize the run and Tony became the team’s feature back. In 1949, Canadeo became the third man to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season although he finished second in the NFL that year to Steve Van Buren of the Eagles. Of course, Van Buren’s Eagles were the champs while Tony’s Packers finished 2-10 at the bottom of the league. Gaining 1,052 yards for the last place 1949 Packers was a significant accomplishment, and he made All League for the second time. When Lambeau was pushed out in 1950, Canadeo was 31 years old. Under new coach Gene Ronzani he would only be a part-time player for the last three years of his career. Tony’s final home game in Green Bay was declared Tony Canadeo Day. Before the game, Tony received gifts and had his number retired, the second Packer to receive that honor. Don Hutson had his retired in 1951 … In 1955, Canadeo joined the team’s Board of Directors … two years later Tony joined play-by-play man Ray Scott to announce televised broadcasts of Packers games during the Lombardi era. As a fellow Jesuit alumnus, he became fast, good friends with Coach Lombardi. He was elected to the Executive Committee in 1958 and remained a member of that guiding body through 1993. In 1972, he pushed to hire Joe Paterno as coach, but was outvoted and the job went to Dan Devine. In 1972 he became ill and nearly died, but was saved by a kidney transplant from his oldest son Bob. He was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1973. The next year he reached a personal pinnacle by being elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton. For six decades on and off the field Tony Canadeo embodied the competitive spirit and honest dignity of the Packers."