Green Bay Packers in the Hall of Fame: Don Hutson

Green Bay Packers (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas over a century ago, a few months before the start of “The Great War” (renamed World War 1 a couple of decades later when yet another “war to end all wars” broke out), split end (wide receiver) Donald Montgomery Hutson would eventually become one of the most well-known and beloved members of the Green Bay Packers, playing his entire career there, teaming up with coach Curly Lambeau to win three championships, in 1936, 1939 (when World War 2 began in Europe), and 1944.

Playing for the Packers for 11 seasons (1935-1945 inclusive), Hutson was also a Packers assistant coach from 1944-1948. In other words, he did double duty as a player-coach in the 1944 and 1945 seasons.


Besides being a three-time NFL champion, Hutson enjoyed multiple selections as an All-Pro and All-Star, led the league in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown receptions more often than not during his career, was a two-time league MVP (1941 and 1942), and even led the league in interceptions in 1940 (Hutson played safety on the defensive side of the ball).

Besides that, Hutson was chosen as a virtual member of the all-decade team for the 1930s as well as the NFL’s 75th anniversary all-time team (in 1994).

Rounding out the accolades Hutson received were his induction into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame (1972) and the NFL Hall of Fame (1963).

Hutson was a charter member of both the college and professional Hall of Fame.

Finally, one of the jersey numbers Hutson wore for the Packers (14) was retired by the team (he also wore #7). In fact, Hutson was the first of only six (so far) Packers to have his number retired (Tony Canadeo, Bart Starr, Ray Nitschke, Reggie White, and Brett Favre being the other five).

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As for his achievements as regards career stats, his receptions fell a dozen short of 500, his yards were nine shy of 8,000, and he missed 100 receiving touchdowns by a single scoring play. Hutson did finish with an even 30 interceptions.

It’s worth noting that Hutson scored a total of 105 all-purpose touchdowns, adding to his 99 receiving touchdowns three on the ground, two on blocked punts recovered and returned all the way, and one on a pick-six.

Not only was Hutson a phenomenal athlete, he was also an innovator, being, it is considered, the inventor of the modern position of receiver, introducing new pass routes to the game.

Accidental pro

As odd as it may seem today, college football was much more highly regarded in the south at the time than the NFL, so when Hutson graduated from Alabama (with whom he had won a National Championship), he did not initially plan on playing football professionally.

Coach Curly Lambeau helped Hutson to change his mind about that, though. In fact, Hutson became so convinced that he should indeed play in the NFL that he not only signed a contract with the Packers, but also one with the Brooklyn Dodgers (an NFL franchise of the day, not just a baseball team which would eventually abandon its fan base for Los Angeles).

Because Hutson had “touched the pen” of the Packers contract first, the NFL enforced that as the valid contract. Hutson’s account of how it “went down” differed, though – he claimed he chose the Packers over the Dodgers because the Packers offered more money – an at-the-time unprecedented $300 per game.

That doesn’t explain why Hutson would subsequently sign an offer from the Dodgers for less money, though…


Whatever the story behind Hutson’s arrival in Green Bay, he exploded onto the scene with a bang, scoring the sole touchdown in a 7-0 victory over the Bears on his first reception (from fellow Hall-of-Famer Arnie Herber), an 83-yard catch on the first play from scrimmage in the second game of the 1935 season.

Besides catching the ball (usually on offense, but also on defense in the form of interceptions), Hutson kicked extra points, occasionally ran the ball, and even threw one pass, which went for a 38-yard touchdown.

In a seeming foreshadowing of Brett Favre, Hutson announced and subsequently retracted his retirement three years running, in 1943, 1944, and 1945.

Also Favre-like, Hutson seldom missed a game. In fact, in Hutson’s case, he never missed a game due to injury in his entire career.

More than 70 years after he retired, Hutson still holds many NFL records, perhaps the most interesting of which are most touchdowns catches in a quarter (four) and most points scored in a quarter (29, in the same game, in which he kicked five extra points in addition to the four touchdowns).

Next: Top 30 moments in Green Bay Packers history

Don Hutson is considered by many, if not most, football experts/historians/pundits to be the greatest Green Bay Packer of all time.

Hutson died at the age of 84 in Rancho Mirage, California.