Green Bay Packers: 50 greatest players in franchise history

Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn/Allsport
Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn/Allsport /
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7. player. 49. . LB. (1958-72). Ray Nitschke

Greatest players in Green Bay Packers history: 7. Ray Nitschke

When it comes to defensive excellence in the Packers organization, the first name you think of is Ray Nitschke, and for good reason. Nitschke was one of the most feared linebackers in NFL history. He played his entire 15-year NFL career with the team that drafted him in the third round out of Illinois in the 1958 NFL Draft.

While Nitschke only made one trip to the Pro Bowl in his hall of fame career, the guy was an absolute monster in the middle of many championship defenses in Green Bay. Nitschke made his way on to seven All-Pro teams in his career, two first team and five second team designations. He played on five championship teams in Green Bay, including the first two Super Bowl teams in Packers history.

Nitschke was one of the toughest players on his generation and one of the most ferocious tacklers of all-time. He was all football, all the time when he was on the gridiron. The Packers don’t win five NFL championships without the leader of the defense in Nitschke. He set the tone for what it means to play smash mouth football on the Frozen Tundra.

After retiring from football after the 1972 season, Nitschke would go on to rack up the accolades post-career. He was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team in the 1960s, as well as the NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team. Nitschke not only was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame, but has his No. 66 jersey is retired by the organization. In 1978, Nitschke was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His Canton classmates include Lance Alworth, Tuffy Leemans and Larry Wilson.