Chester Marcol, the Packers Hall of Fame kicker, who is best remembered for returning his own blocked kick for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears, celebrates his 68th birthday today.
Chester Marcol was somewhat of a legend when he spent the bulk of his career in Green Bay, but not necessarily all because of his kicking exploits on the field.
He was an interesting sort, the kind of guy who could win games in Green Bay and then get into barroom brawls on the side.
There was a story (not completely sure it was all true) when Marcol traveled to a Wisconsin town with the Packers basketball team and joined the locals and his teammates at a local tavern after the game.
Well, they all went to the game, had fun, ended up in the bar where a fight broke out with Marcol near ground zero.
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I was never told how things turned out, but that kind of story relays the type of character he was, especially when he got some drinks in him.
That aside, we celebrate Marcol today because it’s his birthday. At 68, he’s had a long, long life of spectacular successes and downright deeply depressive declines.
The great thing about Chester Marcol is that he has been able to climb out of those depressions to get his life in order. In fact, he even wrote a book a few years ago, “Alive and Kicking” with Gary D’Amato.
It’s a great read and one that is sure to bring back a different time in professional football.
John Maxymuk, author of “Packers by the Numbers: Jersey Numbers and the Players Who Wore Them,” as well as the author of Packers Past Perfect, a blog where he talks about all things Green Bay Packers, explained why Marcol was such an interesting character:
"Chester Marcol … was drafted in the second round of the 1972 draft. He was the first soccer-style kicker in team history and made an immediate impression by leading the league in scoring and being named All-Pro as a rookie. He again led the league in points and was named All-Pro in 1974, but after that his career went into a slow decline. 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 steady downward spiral.He shared the placekicking with Tom Birney in 1979 due to knee problems. In 1980 he beat out Birney for the kicking job and improbably scored the winning touchdown on opening day against the Bears by returning a recovered blocked kick for a touchdown in overtime. However, he was released after five games because of his erratic performance and behavior, and Birney was brought back. Despite having a big leg, Marcol’s 61.5 percent percent overall field goal percentage is a little lower than the league average for the period. He only made 45 percent of kicks longer than 40 yards, and just three of 16 attempts of at least 50 yards.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, depression all led to an eventual suicide attempt by drinking battery acid in 1986."
Marcol recovered from that suicide attempt to become a better person in the long run.
He’s long remembered for his horn-rimmed glasses shining in Lambeau Field on that day he made the miracle run for glory on that blocked field goal, but it was his ability to come back from near death to make future appearances as a former player at Lambeau Field, that many of us remember.
Happy birthday, Chester. Be well and thanks for the memories.