1951 Green Bay Packers
PACKERS PREPARE FOR '52 NFL PLAYER DRAFT
DEC 18 (Green Bay) - The business of building the Packers for the 1952 NFL season proceeded at full steam today. The first step will be taken at the NFL's annual draft meeting to be held in New York Jan. 17, when Coach Gene Ronzani will select approximately 30 players. For the last two months, Packer Scout Hack Vainisi has been busy compiling reports from scouts and "bird dogs" throughout the country on top-notch college players...DUE BACK WEDNESDAY: Vainisi has a list of "thousands" of players, with weights, heights and pertinent information on each. Each has been contacted and 80 percent of them have indicated a desire to play professional football with the Packers. The remaining 20 percent indicated that they do not plan to play pro ball. Ronzani, due back in Green Bay from Los Angeles with a number of the '51 Packers Wednesday night, will make final decision on a number of draft possibilities during the next three weeks. During the season Gene indicated the need for big and fast linemen as well as defensive halfbacks. The Packers have a chance to draft second - if they're lucky. The New York Yanks, finishing last in league competition, will draw first. The Packers and Chicago Cardinals each finished in a tie with 3-9 records. A flip of a coin will decided which club draws second. The "loser" will draw third. All of the major bowl games will be scouted. Ray McLean, backfield coach, and line coach Tarz Taylor stayed on the west coast to cover the Rose bowl and the East-West contest. End Coach Dick Plasman will likely handle the Orange bowl game in Florida, his home state. Packer players will view-scout bowl games with quarterback Tobin Rote probably watching the Cotton bowl...The Packers left Los Angeles at noon Monday and are scheduled to arrive in Chicago at 2 o'clock on Wednesday afternoon. They'll arrive in Green Bay on the 8:20 North Western Wednesday night. A number of the players left for their respective homes from Los Angeles. End Dick Moje had the shortest distance; he lives in LA...Locally, the Packers will close out their 1950 season on the screen at Washington Junior High school Thursday night when the Men's Quarterback Club will hold its final meeting. Pictures of both games on the coast will be shown and Coach Ronzani will review the season and answer questions.
WAS TRIPPI MURDER IN ONE-BACKER? ASK THE BEARS!
DEC 18 (Green Bay) - Maybe Packer head coach Gene Ronzani should get an assist in the Cardinals' victory over the Bears in Chicago Sunday. The Cardinals, co-coached by Cecil Isbell and Phil Handler, used a "suggestion" made by Ronzani last Nov. 23 and turned it into an upset triumph. It was particularly sweet since it knocked the Bears out of a title chance tie with the LA Rams. Coming back from Detroit a couple of weeks ago, Ronzani remarked that "Trippi would be murder" in the one-back formation "because he's such a terrific runner, and he can pass, too." We printed his remarks in the Nov. 24 Press-Gazette (note inset). While the Cards don't subscribe to the Press-Gazette, it's for certain they (Isbell and Handler, at least) got the 1-B bug when the Packers unveiled the formation against the Bears in Chicago Nov. 18. The formation produced two TDs for the Bays against the Bears and set up two others that missed. In the end, the Packer defense just couldn't hold. But the Cards' victory, with Trippi running for two TDs and passing for another off the one-backer in a 24-14 victory proved that the formation is sound. We've often wondered how a "stronger" team than the Packers would progress with the 1-B. While the Cards finished with a 3-9 record - same as the Packers - the Chicago club is "deeper" and has a tougher overall line than the Packers. Thus, Trippi probably got much better
protection than Bay 1-B Tobin Rote. Trippi and Rote are different types of runners. Trippi is a scattery, elusive back with enough weight for power. Rote is the heavier, fullback type with a good change of pace but not as dangerous as Trippi. Wonder if the Rams might not come out with the one-backer against the Browns in the playoff next Sunday!...Neither Norm Van Brocklin nor Bob Waterfield can touch Rote or Trippi as a runner but can can you imagine the five Ram pass catching speed merchants - Tom Fears, Elroy Hirsch, Bob Boyd, V.T. Smith and Glenn Davis - going down for throws at the same time, which is possible in the one-backer. The Cardinals also used Ronzani's "twin" formation Sunday, with Ralph Pasquariello in the fullback spot. It was gratifying to hear the two Chicago "color" radio men give the Packers credit when the Cardinals came out with the two spreads. Bob Elson, sidelighted for Joe Boland, said in a rather surprised tone "they're using the same spread the Packers worked against the Bears here. Irv Kupcinet, coloring for Bert Wilson, called i "the Green Bay spread"...You quarterback club members probably remember the first meeting this fall (after the Bear game here) when Ronzani predicted that "many college and pro clubs will be going to spreads this year." Yank Coach Jimmy Phelan didn't wait long after Johnny Rauch failed at the "T", bringing forth the short punt spread. Washington operates off a spread occasionally, sort of a double wing, with Sammy Baugh passing. The Detroit Lions dabbled with a spread from time to time, though their "T" was highly successful what with Bobby Layne, Doak Walker and Pat Harder...Midway during the season, we asked Ronzani why he installed the two different spreads. His answer was simple: "We don't have the best material so we've got to try and outrun our opponents, and outscore 'em." The Packers finished with an average of 21 points per game on offense. But the defense just didn't hold, allowing an average of 31.2. The loss of Clayton Tonnemaker and Bob Forte (to the Army) particularly hurt the Packers on defense. Their brutal tackling would have reduced by many the number of first downs opponents made by rushing, thus bringing on punts instead of passes. The Bays, incidentally, permitted 120 first downs by rushing in the first 11 games this season against 91 (with Tonnemaker and Forte) in 12 games last year.
PACKERS COMPLETE 231 PASSES FOR LOOP LEAD
DEC 19 (Green Bay) - The Packers won the pass completion championship of the NFL for 1951 and established a new all-time league record for passes attempted. These were the most “interesting” of the final team statistics received from loop headquarters in Philadelphia today. Final individual figures, generally received on Tuesdays, apparently were delayed by the Christmas mailing rush. The Packers finished 1951 as one of the top aerial clubs in the league, bettering the air-minded LA Rams in some flight departments and ranking second to the National conference champs in others. Green Bay completed a total of 231 passes – the second highest in the history of the league (bettered by the 1950 Rams who completed 253). The Bay total averaged out to a fraction under 20 completions per effort. The Rams completed 189 throws – 42 less than the Pack. Banking almost solely on the forward pass, the Packers pitched a total of 478 times to break the Rams’ league record of 453 in 1950 by 25. As an example of how football has changed, here are the lows in passing: Fewest passes completed in one
season, 34 by the Chicago Cardinals in 1934; fewest passes attempted in one season, 120 by Detroit in 1934. The Packers turned their passes into 2,846 yards – 450 less than the Rams’ league-leading figure of 3,296. The Bays made 115 first downs by passing – 15 less than the Rams. Green Bay scored 26 touchdowns by passing – two less than the Rams. The Ram figures were tops in the loop. Despite the high number of passes thrown, the Packers closed with a 48.3 percentage of completions – fourth high in the league. The Cleveland Browns had the top completion percentage, 55.7; San Francisco had 54.8; and the Rams 50.7. On the rushing side, the Packers bottomed the league with 1,196 yards in 12 games – less than 100 per start. However, the Packers finished out with an average of 3.8 yards per rush. Four other clubs had “less” rushing averages – New York Yanks, 3.7; New York Giants (and this is a surprise), 3.5; Pittsburgh (ditto), 3.4; and Philadelphia (with the Van Burens), 3.1. The Rams, with their “elephant” backfield, paced the league in rushing with an average of 5.2 yards per try…The Packers arrive in Green Bay tonight on the 8:20 North Western. About 20 of the 33 players will be on the train, the others having left at different points along the route back from Los Angeles. Coach Gene Ronzani and Assistants Dick Plasman and Chuck Drulis likely will be on the train. Aides Ray McLean and Tarz Taylor remained on the coast to scout the bowl games…Missing from the all-United Press pro grid team was Dick Wildung, veteran Packer captain who turned in one of his best years at defensive tackle. Wildung, however, had the satisfaction of being named to play in the all-pro game in Los Angeles in January. Also selected for the game was halfback Billy Grimes. No Packers were named on the UP clubs.
CITY COUNCIL COMMENDS PACKER BAND FOR 13 YEARS OF SERVICE
DEC 19 (Green Bay) – The Packer Lumberjack band, whose marches and bouncy popular tunes annually have added dash and color to Packer home games here and in Milwaukee, was commended by action of the city council Tuesday night. The city fathers unanimously approved a resolution, introduced by Councilman Jerome Quinn, citing the Lumberjacks and Director Wilner Burke. The resolution lauded the band, which makes its next appearance in a special show at the Bay theater Thursday night, for the excellence of its entertainment during the past 13 seasons during which it has played at more than 100 events outside of the city. Burke, a member of the council, expressed thanks for the praise and complimented members of the band, which recently “stole the show” at Wisconsin Hall of Fame dedication ceremonies in Milwaukee, for their “work, loyalty, and their faithful attendance at both the weekly rehearsals and the games.” If experience is significant, and the band is rated as the finest of its type in the nation, the Lumberjacks have a veritable corner on the market. Their cast boasts a combined total of over 500 yards in music – 509 to be exact. And it no longer is a mere community project. Its membership embraces the entire northeastern Wisconsin area, including representatives from points as distant and opposite as Antigo and Appleton. Too, the band truly represents a cross-section of business and industry for most of them, except for a few who are high school and college students, are engaged in varied pursuits in private life – as carpenters, printers, salesmen, realtors, truckers, teachers, etc. Probably the Luberjack’s most outstanding quality is their versatility. Their library includes a selection of all types of music, making it a simple matter for them to switch from “swing to sheet” and from a march to “boogie woogie.”
MANN SNARES 50 TO PLACE 4TH IN LEAGUE
DEC 20 (Green Bay) - The Packers were represented among the individual leaders in five of the eight statistical department of play during the 1951 NFL season. Green Bay didn’t have a player listed among the first 10 in punt returns – probably because of a large number of fair catches called in two wind-blow battles, Detroit here and Pittsburgh in Milwaukee. The other no-Packer selections were pass interceptions, a group led by Otto Schnellbacher of the New York Giants with 11 swipes, and scoring. Top counter for the season was the Los Angeles Rams’ Elroy Hirsch with 102 points on 17 touchdowns. Bob Mann, the quick-footed end playing his first full season as a Packer, and Dom Moselle, the one-time Cleveland Browner, bagged the Bays’ top positions, Mann finishing fourth in pass catching and Moselle taking fourth in kickoff returns. Earl (Jug) Girard closed out in sixth place in punting with an average of 40.4 on 52 kicks, his longest traveling 66 yards. Tobin Rote, the strong Texan, finished a handsome eighth in ground gaining with 523 yards in 76 attempts for the league’s top average – 6.9 per try. Rote gained 95 percent of his yardage running off the one-back formation…BEST COMPLETION PERCENTAGE: Rote and quarterback Bobby Thomason finished 15th and 16th, respectively, in passing but the ranking are hardly indicative of their production. The standings are based on average gain per pass attempts, a system which does not take into consideration touchdown passes, percentage of completions, number of completions, attempts, etc. Rote and Thomason likely would have finished among the first five passers in the league in the old system of grading passers in all departments. Thomason turned in the best pass completion percentage in the league – 56.6. Rote hurled 15 TD passes – third high in the league behind Bobby Layne and Otto Graham. Thomason completed 125 passes – third high in the loop behind Layne and Graham. Rote attempted 256 passes – third high in the league behind Layne and Graham. Yet, the passing title went to Bob Waterfield of the Rams. Thomason had only nine passes intercepted – rock low (or tops) among the six pitchers in the league who threw over 200 passes. Rote had 20 intercepted. The Packers pretty well dominated the pass catching department, with three receivers among the first 11. Ray Pelfrey and Carleton Elliott were the only rookies (Elliott did not play a league game here in ’50 though he started with the club) in the league to break into the pass catching leaders. Pelfrey finished seventh with 37 catches while Elliott caught 35. Mann finished with a flurry against the Rams Sunday to hit 50 catches, nailing 11 for 123 yards – one a 52-yarder. Bob gained 696 yards on his receptions for eight touchdowns despite the fact that he missed the one game he wanted to play most of all – the Lions in Detroit Thanksgiving day – because of injuries. Pelfrey and Elliott each caught four TD throws. Ray moved 442 yards on his catches and Elliott 317. Moselle beat out Billy Grimes, last year’s Packer leader, in KO returns with 547 yards in 20 runbacks for an average of 27.4. Grimes finished ninth with 582 yards on 23 runs for 25.3. Lynn Chandnois of Pittsburgh was tops with 12 returns for 390 yards and an average of 32.5…The Packers, about 20 of them headed by Coach Gene Ronzani, arrived in Green Bay on the North Western last night from Los Angeles where they closed out the 1951 season Sunday. Needless to say, the weather offered quite a change. The athletes, most of them well suntanned, were greeted by a raging snowstorm. Backfield Coach Ray McLean remained on the coast to scout the bowl games, while coach Tarz Taylor is spending his vacation here. Line assistant Chuck Drulis got off at Chicago. End Coach Dick Plasman was to leave with his family today for their home in Florida. Fullback Fred Cone left early this morning by car for his home in Alabama. Quarterback Bobby Thomason will remain in Green Bay. He starts this week as an assistant in the city engineer’s office. The passer specialized in engineering while at VMI.
PACKERS WILL NOT GIVE UP TWO TOP DRAFT CHOICES FOR THOMASON
DEC 21 (Green Bay) - The Packers will not play Santa Claus to the Los Angeles Rams. That’s how Coach Gene Ronzani answered at the final 1951 meeting of the Men’s Quarterback club at Washington Junior High school auditorium last night. Ronzani, back from a two-game trip to the west coast, announced that the Packers will not give “our number one and two draft choices for Thomason and I don’t think Bob, himself, would want us to give two draft choices for him.” Thomason, who started work today as an assistant in the city engineer’s office, came to the Packers last summer in a deal with the Rams. If Thomason stayed in the Packer organization after Dec. 31, 1951, the Packers would owe the Rams their No. 1 and No. 2 draft choices or a present player and draft choice or some other suitable player switch. Ronzani said he planned to talk with Joe Stydahar, Ram coach, after last Sunday’s Packer-LA battle but “Joe suddenly found himself in the championship and didn’t want to take up the matter then.” The transaction will be discussed after Sunday’s Ram-Cleveland Brown battle…CARDS HAD FIRST CRACK: While Thomason’s future as a Packers is still in doubt, pending a possible arrangement with the Rams, Packer fans are assured by Ronzani that “you won’t have to worry about those top two draft choices.” Ronzani said Stydahar told him that the Chicago Cardinals had the first crack at Thomason last summer and the Philadelphia Eagles were later given a shot. It was assured that Stydahar was hesitant at first about letting Thomason go to a club in the same conference as the Rams. Touching on the 1952 draft meeting in New York Jan .17, Ronzani said that “we’ll have to throw caution to the wind and take our chances on losing some of our boys to the military service.” He reminded the quarterbacks how the Browns last fall drafted boys who already were in the service and recalled his selection of Bob Gain, the
nation’s top tackle, after such leading backs as Kyle Rote, Leon Heath and Y.A. Tittle were picked just in front of the Packers. He figured that the Gain pick turned out well “because I’m sure that Moselle, Schroll, Michaels and Loomis were valuable addition.” (Rights to Gain, then in Canada, went to the Browns for these boys)…”GOOD HONEST EFFORT”: Ronzani mentioned Matson, McIlheney, Isbell and Parilli are possible Packer draft choices. The Packers will draw second or third, pending the outcome of a coin flip with the Cardinals. The two clubs finished with the same percentage ahead of the New York Yanks, who draft first. Reviewing the 1951 season briefly, Ronzani said that “I’ll take full responsibility for anything that happened during the season.” He told the quarterbacks and the WJPG radio audience that “we’re all making a good honest effort and some day you’ll reap the rewards with the rest of us.” The coach said that “there isn’t a team in the league that we can’t get a lead on but it has been most difficult to hold it.” He said that final league figures showed the Packers “really high” in offense but “our defense is something else again.”…BILLY WANTS TO RETURN: A QB wanted to know about Billy Grimes, who sparked in 1950 but dropped off (by comparison) last fall. Ronzani said he feels Billy wants to return here in 1952 and “show fans that he can still play as he did in 1950.” Gene said Grimes was one of the finest halfbacks in the league. Ronzani said he was disappointed that Tony Canadeo, the Packers’ veteran halfback, was not selected to play in the pro bowl game. Said Gene: “If Joe (Stydahar, who will coach the National conference team) does not pick Tony as an alternate back, he’ll be on my black list.” Ronzani commended Canadeo for his tremendous fighting spirit and intimated that Tony might be playing again next year. Canadeo announced his retirement on the west
Green Bay, was out of football before. He was all-Southeastern as a sophomore in ’42 and then took time out to serve as a second lieutenant in the air corps. Returning to Kentucky, Jay was named all-conference in 1947. Before reporting to the Packers in ’48, Rhodemyre was chosen the most valuable player chosen the most valuable player in the Chicago All-Star game in Chicago. Rhodemyre played here in 1948-49 mostly as a linebacker but last fall carried just about all of the load at offensive center…Let’s break precedent and make a football prediction – on the Ram-Brown playoff Sunday. We’ll go against the crowd (which is picking the Browns) and name the Rams to win the gravy. Final score: Rams 27, Browns 25…The Packers’ big losses to Uncle Sam all played some football this fall and three of them are still playing – Clayton Tonnemaker, Bob Forte and Dick Flowers. Lieutenant Tonnemaker, now at the Brook Army Medical center in San Antonio, will play with the strong Brookers in the Cigar bowl against the Camp Lejeune, N.C., Marines New Years’ day. Quarterbacking Camp
coast Sunday. Ted Fritsch, the former Packer fullback who generally narrates the game films, was called on for an address and the big man responded with an interesting speech on Green Bay spirit – not to mention a number of humorous instances in his long pro career…MARTELL THANKS QB’S: “For a pro player, the Green Bay spirit doesn’t come overnight, but once you’ve got it you’ll never lose it,” Teddy said. Fritsch credited Joe Laws, “who held the ball”, with “eighty-five percent of the success I’ve enjoyed” on field goals and extra point kicking and kickoffs. Ted recalled his first game in Brooklyn in 1942. “I had never played before than 2,000 people (at Stevens Point) and there were 30,000 at the game. My shoulder pads were clattering, I was so jittery. But Laws came over and reminded me that ‘it’s just like practice.’ The kickoff sailed out of the end zone.” Herman Martell, chief quarterback, thanked quarterbacks for “your splendid attendance throughout the season.” He also paid tribute to everyone who assisted with this year’s program and made special mention of Charley Brock, president of the Packer Alumni association, and former Packer Al Petcka, who handled the “door” on meeting nights. Fritsch narrated the Packer-Ram game pictures. The film of the San Francisco-Packer game, which was sent from Los Angeles, was delayed en route.
RHODEMYRE ONLY PACKER TO MAKE 'ALL' TEAM THUS FAR; NAMED BY SN
DEC 22 (Green Bay) - Jay Rhodemyre is the only Packer thus far to make an “all” team. The 210-pound center has been named to the second offensive team in the 17th annual selections, made by the New York News. Only NFL pivot ranking higher than Rhodemyre was Frank Gatski, the anchor man in the Cleveland Browns’ championship line, who was named to the first offensive team. The News team, selected by writers and sportscasters from pro football points, are the second announced thus far. The United Press came out with its selections earlier this week. Rhodemyre’s selection was particularly close because the burly former University of Kentucky All-American was out of the game in 1950. Jay played here in 1948 and 1949 but worked in the engineering department of Peerless corporation in Kentucky in 1950. Rhodemyre, now a resident of
Lejeune is Dick Flowers, the former Northwestern quarterback signed by the Packers before getting the service call. After the game Tonnemaker reports to Camp Stoneman, Calif., for shipment to Japan. Forte is scheduled to play in some sort of bowl game in Japan over the holidays. Incidentally, Bob got Milwaukee the other day – the birth of a son to Mrs. Forte. The newcomers packs seven pounds, four ounces and has been named Robert Dominic, Jr. Larry Coutre, the Packer halfback, has finished grid action at Camp Breckenridge and is in the line, along with Tonnemaker, for the all-service team. Len Szafaryn, the hard-hitting ex-Packer guard, also has finished 1951 action – at Fort Eustis, Va., Szafaryn is a bit teed off about Fort Eustis not getting into the Cigar bowl instead of Tonnemaker’s team. It seems Fort Eustis’ request was forwards without approval of the proper brass. Need we explain?
PICK LEVITAS, BUSHMAN AS PACKER DIRECTORS
DEC 22 (Green Bay) - Two new directors were elected to the board of the Packer corporation Friday night to fill the unexpired terms of the late Henry Washburn of Sturgeon Bay and Frank Jonet. The new directors are Irvin Bushman of Sturgeon Bay and Louis Levitas of this city. At the same time, the directors voted to recommend to the stockholders at the annual meeting Jan. 21 that the size of the board be increased from 30 to 36 to allow the appointment of some additional directors from the Milwaukee area. It is hoped that the Milwaukee directors will form the nucleus of a booster committee in that city. Directors reviewed the season’s operations, and heard from Coach Gene Ronzani the summary that “all in all things look a lot brighter than last year, and that with a few breaks in the draft at the league meeting and the addition of some good players in key spots we will continue to improve next season.” While the financial results of the season are still incomplete, it appears at this time that there may be a small profit or a small loss for the year, said President Emil R. Fischer. A final financial statement will be made available at the annual stockholders’ meeting. President Fischer also said that the executive committee was considering a number of plans for reorganization of the administrative and business affairs of the corporation, but that no action had been taken.
NEXT 20 DAYS IMPORTANT FOR PACKERS, RONZANI
DEC 24 (Green Bay) - The next 20 days are important ones for head coach Gene Ronzani and the Green Bay Packers. During that time, Ronzani will watch three bowl games, attend a college coaches’ convention and then participate in the NFL’s annual draft. The object of Ronzani’s travels will be pure and simple – players for the 1952 Packers. Ronzani, who was to leave today or tomorrow, will watch the Blue-Gray bowl battle in Montgomery, Ala., Saturday night – a contest featuring invited players, mostly seniors, from the nation’s top clubs not competing in bowl games. From Montgomery, Ronzani will go to New Orleans to watch Maryland and Tennesse tangle in the Sugar bowl New Year’s day. Then it’s back to Alabama for a look at the talent in the annul Senior bowl battle in Mobile Jan. 5. Ronzani moves into Cincinnati for the annual NCAA convention Jan. 8, 9, 10 and 11 for reports on draft prospects from their coaches. Joining Gene in Cincy will be Jack Vainisi, Packer scout who will pick up information on athletes and add it to lists already compiled…SHADOW MAJOR BOWLS: After a couple of days in Green Bay, Ronzani and Vainisi will attend the annual draft and meeting of the NFL in New York starting Jan. 17. He’ll probably be joined there by several Packer officials and some of the assistant coaches. Four of the other major bowl events will be shadowed by Packer scouts. End coach Dick Plasman will look in on the Orange bowl in Miami; backfield coach Ray McLean will watch the talented-loaded East-West game in San Francisco; line coach Tarz Taylor will view the Rose bowl battle while on his vacation; and players Tobin Rote and Joe Spencer will see the Cotton bowl battle. Ronzani is probably set on his first two or three selections in the draft, but his main problem is nailing promising athletes among the later choices. Thus, he will enter the meeting armed with almost-personal information on at least 400 athletes. Vainisi has prepared a list of approximately 1,000 boys from colleges all over the country. In the draft meeting, Ronzani will have at least six or seven alternates for each round – especially the later ones – in case the Packer selections are grabbed off…SILENT ON TOP CHOICE: Ronzani, of course, is maintaining silence as to the identity of his top choices for security reasons. However, he has indicated that he is most interested in linemen, linebackers and defensive backs, though Gene likely won’t snub the chance to get a “big name” offensive back. The Packers’ big foe down in Chicago also may be in the market for linemen and defensive backs, judging by Coach George Halas’ remarks after the loss to the Browns – “what this club needs is some good linemen and defensive backs.” Most of the clubs are well set at quarterback with the possible exception of the Eagles, Cardinals and Steelers. The Packers, of course, will be in the market, too, if Bob Thomason is sent back to the Rams. The Steelers, who may come out with the T formation for the first time in their history next fall under new coach Joe Bach, do not have a T quarterback on their roster, although Chuck Ortmann could easily be converted.
DO RAMS OWE PACK 'SOMETHING' FOR EXPERIENCE GIVEN BOB THOMASON?
DEC 28 (Green Bay) - Do the Los Angeles Rams “owe” the Packers something for the advanced training given Bobby Thomason? Are the Rams morally obligated in some way, shape or manner to the Bays for experience – under fire – provided 23-year old Thomason by the Bays? Thomason came to Green Bay last summer in an unusual transaction. If the Packers kept him after Dec. 31, 1951, they would give the Rams their No. 1 and No. 2 draft choices. If the Packers returned him, the deal would be off. A couple of days ago, Packer head coach Gene Ronzani informed Ram mentor Joe Stydahar that he is sending Thomason back to the Rams. Thus Thomason regains Ramhood officially on Jan. 1, 1952. Bobby never got much of a chance in major league football until he came here. The Rams’ first draft choice, Thomason joined the LA club in 1949 and gathered splinters while Bob Waterfield and Norm Van Brocklin worked on the field. In 1950, the Rams farmed Bobby out to Richmond, a minor league club. The Packers in return from Thomason’s services paid Bobby’s salary, which they were glad to do since they were in need of a quarterback to work with Tobin Rote. The Rams were relieved of the expense of a third quarterback. Besides gaining invaluable experience, Thomason received the benefit of the coaching of Ronzani, who developed Sid Luckman, Johnny Lujack, Steve Romanik and Bobby Layne, among others, during his long term as backfield and quarterback coach of the Chicago Bears. Thomason showed up with the best pass completion percentage in the league in his first 12-game effort. A sharp-shooter and deceptionist artist, Thomason displayed exceptional ability to move a club. What could the Rams “owe” the Packers or how could they repay the Bays for turning out a more experienced Thomason? Possibly by giving Green Bay first consideration, or chance, if Los Angeles decides to
make a reasonable trade for Thomason! Technically, Green Bay had first chance – the top two draft choices – but obviously the “price” was too high. As Thomason put it himself, “no player is worth those two choices.” The Packers could trade a veteran and say an eighth or ninth draft choice to the Rams for Thomason, but what’s to prevent the Rams from using the Bay bid as a talking point with another club – unless, of course, the LA team wants to “repay” the Packers by giving them the inside track to such a deal. Thomason’s future with Los Angeles may hinge on whether or not Ram Capt. Bob Waterfield plays in 1952. From time to time during the last season, the rumor creeped out that Waterfield was retiring after 1951. But Waterfield, who will turn 32 next July 26, showed in the championship game that he has lost none of his stuff due to old age. Norm Van Brocklin, 25, is expected to return. Thus, if Waterfield and Van Brocklin return, it’s possible that the Rams would be in the market for a deal involving Thomason. Stydahar can go to a number of other clubs who are in need of quarterbacks. The Chicago Cardinals, who had first crack at Thomason last summer, could use Thomason, what with Jim Hardy expecting to retire – again. So could the Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh, which expects to present the “T” next fall under Joe Bach, also might listen to Stydahar. The Detroit Lions might want an able helper for Bobby Layne. And how about Washington? Sammy Baugh can’t go on forever. And, ironically, Stydahar has Thomason’s record with the Packers as a trading point. Thomason, an assistant in the city engineer’s office, is wondering about his 1952 playing home just as much as you Packer fans. At the moment, the native of Alabama is calling Green Bay his home – “at least until next July when football practice starts,” Bobby explained. The soft-spoken southerner, who played college football in Virginia (VMI) and pro football in California before coming here, wears a topcoat as a shield against our town’s worst December cold spell. And, what’s more, Thomason doesn’t intend to buy an overcoat. “I’d just have to sell it again, anyway,” he explains. Of course, Bobby will admit that he might pick up an overcoat if he knew for sure where he’ll be playing football next year.