How much do you know about the Green Bay Packers quarterback in the NFL Hall of Fame who is named neither Bart Starr nor Brett Favre?
It’s likely you never saw him play, at least not live, because his career with the Green Bay Packers ended almost 80 years ago.
Arnold “Arnie” Charles Herber played for the Packers for 11 seasons, from 1930 to 1940 (inclusive).
Herber also donned a New York Giants uniform in 1944 and 1945, but we won’t fault him for that; we’ll just ignore it except for that brief mention.
A hometown hero, Herber was born (1910) and died (1969) in Green Bay.
While with the Packers, Herber:
- Won four NFL titles (1930, 1931, 1936, 1939)
- Was an All-Pro and a Pro Bowler
- Was a three-time passing yards and touchdowns leader (1932, 1934, and 1936)
What it signifies I know not, but note that there was only one season where Herber was at the top of those two passing statistics AND the Packers won the championship (1936, which was also the only year he was at the apex of the passer rating index (a calculation that was only devised and applied later)).
Herber was also named to the virtual all-1930s team, and was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1966.
I guess quarterback play was much different in those bygone years, for his career statistics would not seem at all impressive in the modern era. By way of example:
Herber threw 25 more interceptions than touchdowns (106 INTs, 81 TDs)
His completion percentage was barely above 40 percent (40.9)
His passer rating was a seemingly “measly” 50.1
Note, though, that the NFL did not begin compiling statistics until 1932, so Herber’s statistics in the 1930 and 1931 seasons (in both of which the Packers won the championship) are not included in those figures. And, being that the Packers played especially well those years, doubtless his individual stats were good, too, and would make his career stats look better if they were included in the totals/averages.
Herber’s story is unusual and, if I may say so, interesting. Now I will prove it: He went from being an employee of the Packers as the clubhouse handyman, to a member of the team when, at age 20, coach Curly Lambeau (also a Green Bay native) gave Herber a tryout and was obviously impressed by what the youngster was able to do.
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Another unusual/interesting thing about Herber has to do with his passing technique: He placed all five of his fingers (or all four of his fingers AND his thumb, if you prefer) on the laces of the football when he threw it. I’m pretty sure that is something that would not fly (no pun intended) in Mike McCarthy’s quarterback school.
A factor, no doubt, in Herber’s selection for inclusion in the ranks of those in the Hall of Fame is that he, along with coach Lambeau and wide receiver Don Hutson (both also Hall of Famers), helped revolutionize football, making the forward pass a bigger part of the game, and especially long downfield passes.
In fact, Don Hutson’s first pro reception was an 83-yard TD pass from Herber on the first play from scrimmage on an eventual 7-0 victory over the Chicago Bears.
And: more important than gaudy personal statistics are numbers of championships won, as that is the ultimate goal of every team and its fan base. If you “set the world on fire” during the regular season but don’t make it through, much less to, the playoffs, what good are those shiny and sparkly statistics, really?
As mentioned near the outset, Herber helped lead the Packers to four championships in his 11 seasons with the team.
That’s what really counts. As Vince Lombardi opined, “There is only one place in my game and that is first place.”
That’s what Arnie Herber was – a winner.