Dick Wildung: Green Bay Packers #70 drafted by Uncle Sam

Photo Credit: Fanatics
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The Green Bay Packers begin their training camp this week without one of the best offensive linemen in recent team history – T.J. Lang.

We all know he left town and signed a free agent contract with NFC North Division rival Detroit Lions this past spring, leaving Green Bay with a hole at right guard.

Not only was Lang one of the best in recent history, but he was the second guard in as many years to leave the Packers, though former Packer Josh Sitton was unceremoniously cut from the roster on Draft day a couple of seasons ago.

More from Lombardi Ave

But today, when we take a look at #70 and the players who have worn the number, we take a jaunt back in history – way back to the 1950s by considering a player whose name you have probably never heard.

Dick Wildung.

Ok, I know you haven’t heard of this guy who played for the Packers during their worst decade in the past 90, but we’re going to educate you today with the help of John Maxymuk, the author of “Packers by the Numbers: Jersey Numbers and the Players who wore them.”

In the meantime, here is the complete list of numbers we’ve covered as part of our countdown here on Lombardi Ave … Check ’em out.

Our countdown, from the beginning:

Now let’s move on to Dick Wildung …

Photo Credit: Fanatics
Photo Credit: Fanatics /

Dick Wildung: One of the many heroes of his day

Dick Wildung, like so many other young men whose passion was with playing professional football in the 140s and and early 1950, found himself on the draft boards for more than just the NFL … in those war days, Uncle Sam also put dibs on these young men and most of the time won out in securing their services.

Wilding was one of those who became eligible for both of those drafts in 1943.

Serving the country always came first for these young men who ended up fighting in a war instead of fighting in the trenches on the gridiron.

Let’s let John Maxymuk tell us more about this hero:

"Dick Wildung … was a two-time All-American tackle at the University of Minnesota. The Golden Gophers were undefeated National Champions in 1940 and 1941 and lost only one game in 1942 – to their former coach Bernie Bierman’s Iowa Pre-Flight School team. Dick finished seventh in the Heisman voting in 1942, the highest of any lineman that year, and then went into the Navy for the duration of World War II. After the war, Wildung joined the Packers in 1946. In his seven-year career, Dick played mostly offensive and defensive tackle, but he also spent some time at guard. Two times he made All Pro, one was named a second team All Pro, and played in one Pro Bowl. Wildung had the bad luck to enlist with the Packers just as the team began to crumble under Lambeau. The Packers lost a lot of talent to the war effort and then had to compete with teams from a new league who were on steadier financial footing than Green Bay. Besides these difficulties, Lambeau had not stayed current: the Packers and Steelers were the only teams not running the T formation after the war. The best teams that Wildung played for were the first two. The Packers finished 6-5 in 1946 and 6-5-1 in 1947. Through it all, however, Wildung was one bright light, and he would be elected to the Packers Hall of Fame in 1973. Dick Wildung was one of several players drafted by the Packers during World War II who would fulfill their armed services commitments before continuing their football careers."

It was a different time, for players, fans, and coaches alike. For the Packers, they suffered as much as any other team in that era, but it appears that despite players like Wildung, the team would sink to its lowest depths in its long history, only to dig out from under that burden once Vince Lombardi arrived in 1959.

Next: Top 30 moments in Green Bay Packers history

Packers players to have worn #70 over the past 50 years