John Kuhn retired, technically as a Green Bay Packer, from the NFL on March 6, 2019.
Today we are diving into his career and the reasons we know he is a sure fire Packers Hall of Fame inductee. We believe Kuhn should be inducted as soon as the team allows, which is generally five years after the player retires from the NFL.
That means we’re looking at the Packers Hall of Fame class of 2024 for Kuhn. Yes, one last “Kuuuuuhn” at Lambeau Field will be enjoyed by all on that day. And it’ll be well deserved.
The fans in Green Bay just appreciated the no nonsense way he played the game. He was scandal free as a player and was regarded as a great guy to have in the locker room. Beyond that, he was tough and every fan of this sport respects that.
John Kuhn’s overall playing style could have best been described as relentless. He was reliable and sturdy. He adhered to the ancient commandment ascribed to all ball carriers — keep your legs churning until the whistle is blown. Moving the pile was as commonplace as it could be for a man that barely touched the ball. Lowering his shoulders was his religion, crossing the goal line was his passion, and Lambeau Leaping was so evidently his favorite action in the world.
His ability to find the endzone, and be sure-handed, on redzone up-the-center screen passes was uncanny. But the “surprise” first down handoff up the middle near the goal line, and muscling his way to painted grass to the chorus of “Kuuuhn” was the repetitive action that gained him fame. However anytime he left his feet with the ball in his hands — good things tended to happen. He was surprisingly agile for his stature and position.
All of this said, we acknowledge that his top skill-set was blocking and reading the blitzes of opposing defenses. He protected his quarterback with intensity as well as with his preparedness. Kuhn was rarely surprised on the football field.
He wasn’t bigger than everyone, he was just more prepared and seemingly wanted it more.
But his broad playing style isn’t the only reason we believe he’ll be in the 2024 Packers Hall of Fame class; we’ve listed some specific reasons below that should seal his case as one of the best Packers in recent memory. Yes, we rank him among the best.
From a record breaking Division II running back to a Packers Hall of Fame fullback, now that’s a good story. And to be clear, we aren’t advocating for Kuhn to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Don’t get it twisted — we aren’t that delusional.
So why should John Kuhn be a sure-fire Packers Hall of Fame inductee as quickly as 2024? We have 11 reasons, actually.
Every other player in Packers history that has played at least five years with the team and has been named First Team All-Pro once and to at least three Pro Bowls is in the Packers Hall of Fame. That may sound like a lot of qualifiers, but really it’s not. It’s a simple baseline of tenure and personal accolades.
Roger Zatkoff (1X All-Pro, 3X Pro Bowl), who is not in the Hall, was on the team for zero winning seasons and played in zero playoff games for the Packers. Plus, he played just four seasons in Green Bay in the early 1950s. Thus, his exclusion from the team’s Hall of Fame is understandable. Had he played five, six, seven years maybe his argument would be a little stronger.
Three other men have been named First Team All-Pro, but are not in the Packers Hall of Fame:
Ted Hendricks (1X All-Pro, 1X Pro Bowl)
Ernie Smith (1X All-Pro, 1X Pro Bowl)
Tim Harris (1X All-Pro, 1X Pro Bowl)
These were all cases of just one really good season, as you can see. One good season does not make a career. The only other one to mention is Darren Sharper, who had a decorated career, but he’s not in the Packers Hall of Fame for moral and despicably criminal reasons.
To contrast John Kuhn with these other men that were named First Team All-Pro but didn’t make it into the hall look no further than this:
Kuhn was in Green Bay for eight winning seasons in nine years with the lone losing season coming in Rodgers’ first season as a starting quarterback. Green Bay won five division titles, eight playoff games, and one World Championship with Kuhn on the roster.
Should all of that success be attributed to him? Of course not, but it does make a difference in his legacy versus someone like Zatkoff that never had season to celebrate with his team while in Green Bay and played less than half as long in the city. Kuhn was also named Second Team All-Pro in 2011, it’s worth mentioning.
He checked all of the boxes for a Packers great. Personal accolades, team success, and longevity without a drop off in productivity unlike those other men (and most other players).
2. His Playoff and Big Game Success:
Seriously, this is one of the most amazing stats in Packers history.
John Kuhn averaged 0.46 touchdowns per playoff game in his career with the Packers.
That’s higher than many all-time great offensive Packers throughout history.
Ahman Green: 0.42 TDs per playoff game
Jordy Nelson: 0.38 TDs per playoff game
Jim Taylor: 0.28 TDs per playoff game
Donald Driver: 0.2 TDs per playoff game
If you’re wondering, albeit a small sample size, Sterling Sharpe is atop this list with 2 TDs per playoff game. If the filter of minimum of 10 playoff games, Antonio Freeman is leading the way with 0.71 touchdowns per game.
in Kuhn’s case, his stats were not inflated by a small sample size of playoff appearances. He played in 15 postseason games for the Packers, a really high number in team history. For reference, Bart Starr played in 10 playoff games and Antonio Freeman played in 14 for the Packers. He played more than both of them.
Kuhn’s seven career postseason touchdowns, and two en route to the 2010 Super Bowl Championship, are worthy of celebration for a player at any position — especially a blocking fullback.
This is one of the most shocking stats in Packers history, truly. It isn’t propped up by any phony metrics. Touchdowns per game played, that’s as simple as it gets. But we have an even more surprising stat up next:
Kuhn recorded a postseason touchdown in five consecutive seasons from 2009-2013. Not many players in NFL history have done that, really. In Packers history, he joins just Dorsey Levens as the only players to accomplish the feat. However Kuhn had one more touchdown in his five year span.
No other players in Packers history, running backs, fullbacks, wide receivers, or tight ends have ever done what Kuhn and Levens have. Remember, it takes a pretty good damn team to even get the opportunity.
In a most desirable trait among athletes, it seemed the bigger the game the more Kuhn stepped up. Or perhaps the bigger the game the more his coaches and quarterback trusted him. Either way, it’s a great credit to him and his legacy.
This is further proven by December being his most statistically productive month of his career (nine touchdowns). His most statistically productive quarter? You guessed it, the fourth quarter (10 touchdowns). It’s beyond clear he didn’t shy away from the big moments.
3. His Memorable Moments:
He’s a Packers folk hero, and one with a handful of incredibly vivid memories attached to his time in Green Bay. Below are a few of our favorites.
The block he threw on an otherwise unblocked, future Hall of Famer, Julius Peppers on the “4th and 8” 48 yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb, on the road in Chicago, to win the division in Week 17, 2013 is the stuff of legend. That singular moment encapsulates his career in Green Bay: always in the right place in the right time, giving every ounce of effort.
The crowd at Lambeau, and especially at opposing stadiums, chanting, “Kuuuuuuuhn” every time he touched the ball — that brings back memories. He had such a special connection to the fans; very few men are adored like that in professional sports.
The time in 2010 when he was counted on to be the team’s starting running back because everyone else was hurt and he was actually productive — now that’s a great memory.
That year when he carried the ball at least seven times the Packers went 5-0. For the season he averaged a respectable 3.3 yards per attempt, while rushing the ball the most times in his career by far. Going into those games it seemed almost funny that he was our starting running back, but man, he gave the Packers a chance to win every game.
In fact, in 2010 and 2011 (coincidentally the two best seasons of the Packers’ Rodgers era) he posted back-to-back six touchdown seasons.
And if you’re a fan of interesting stats, get this: In both the 2010 season and the 2011 season Kuhn ran for exactly four touchdowns, caught 15 passes on 18 targets for two touchdowns, and had one fumble.
However as far as specific moments go, his three touchdown game against the Giants in Week 16 of the 2010 season certainly stands out. Very men have ever posted three touchdown games in the NFL and John Kuhn is one of them.
4. He Carried on the Packers’ Fullback Legacy:
Following players like Clarke Hinkle, Ted Fritsch, Jim Taylor, John Brockington, Gerry Ellis, and William Henderson, Kuhn will likely be the last of that long line of fullbacks to be adored, revered, and remembered in Green Bay. The position is dying in the modern NFL, but he showed it can still be successful in the right situation.
Henderson pioneered the “modern” fullback position in Green Bay, seldomly used as a weapon but counted on in vital situations. Henderson didn’t carry the ball as much as the fullbacks that came before him of course, but he was paramount to the Packers’ success. John Kuhn took that legacy and added to it.
Kuhn definitely was a nod to football’s hard-nosed past. I think that’s what endeared him to the fans the most. He didn’t just carry on this decades old legacy, he significantly built upon it.
If the Packers ever have a fullback that’s significantly counted on in the future, he’ll automatically be compared to Kuhn in every way. Good luck to him.
5. William Henderson is in the Packers Hall of Fame
Henderson was named First Team All-Pro once, to the Pro Bowl once, helped the Packers win a Super Bowl title, blocked for a Hall of Fame quarterback, and scored 19 touchdowns in a brilliant 12 year career in Green Bay.
Kuhn was named First Team All-Pro once, to the Pro Bowl three times, helped the Packers win a Super Bowl title, blocked for a Hall of Fame quarterback, and scored 30 touchdowns in a brilliant nine year career in Green Bay.
If Henderson was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 2011, five years removed from his playing career (the standard for the Packers’ best modern day players). Kuhn should get in at least as quickly as Henderson, based on the above comparison. That said, Henderson did amass 1,753 more total yards than Kuhn, so that should be mentioned. In terms of pure yardage, Henderson was a more consistent threat catching the ball.
And although William Henderson never had the chance to make this list, as it debuted in 2011, John Kuhn was named No. 92 in the 2012 edition. He obviously had the respect of his peers and that counts for something.
6. Aaron Rodgers’ Praise for Kuhn
Throughout the years Rodgers would call John Kuhn the smartest player on the field and would remark that his knowledge of the team’s offense was second to none.
It’s true that no one knew the playbook or everyone else’s assignments better than Kuhn. Upon Kuhn’s official NFL retirement Rodgers reiterated this message when he said, “No one ever knew the offense like you, or corrected me more. You’re hall of fame in my book.”
Praise doesn’t get much more legitimate than that, coming from one of the smartest quarterbacks in NFL history, and Rodgers isn’t ever accused for pumping the tires of guys when they don’t deserve it.
In the regular season when Kuhn scored the Packers owned a record of 15-5. Which mostly meant, if Kuhn scored, you had a pretty good feeling that it was going to be a good game. We can see why Rodgers is so quick to praise the man throughout the years and at his retirement.
7. He Came Home
The fullback did right by his fans and came “home” to retire as a Green Bay Packer.
Not that this should matter, and it ultimately doesn’t, but Kuhn did the right thing here in ending his professional football career where it mattered the most. Pittsburgh and New Orleans combined to have Kuhn for three years, but the Packers were the only franchise to ever have “Kuuuuuuuhn.”
That something special he felt in Green Bay, and the fans felt about him, will last a lifetime. We’re glad he realized that and retired back at Lambeau FIeld.
8. He Spanned Two Eras
Kuhn, along with his quarterback Rodgers, was the only player to last from the Brett Favre era to the year 2015 on the Green Bay Packers. James Jones also accomplished the feat, but did leave for Oakland for one season before returning to Green Bay in 2015, so his tenure wasn’t consecutive.
Longevity just counts. It counts to a player’s legacy and their impact on an organization. This is especially true in Green Bay and Kuhn found a way to last longer than almost everyone else.
In fact, in one of the coolest stats ever, Kuhn actually played with–and caught passes from–four separate Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Ben Roethlisberger, Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees. It’s pretty insane that he was tasked with blocking for all four of them; apparently all coaches trusted this man with their most valuable asset.
We’re not sure if that’s an NFL record to someone to play with four separate Hall of Fame quarterbacks (probably), but it almost certainly is for a modern fullback.
John Kuhn joins Pro Football Hall of Famer Johnny Blood and Packers’ all-time leading rusher Ahman Green as the only players in team history to record multiple touchdown receptions in four consecutive seasons coming out of the backfield. Something Jim Taylor, Paul Hornung, Dorsey Levens, Tony Canadeo, Clarke Hinkle, John Brockington and all other running backs and fullbacks never accomplished.
Think about that for a moment. Sure, it’s not like he was setting the world on fire, but he did something consistently that some of the all-time greats never did. That’s no joke. He also caught a touchdown in three straight postseasons from 2010-2012.
Plus, he had just four regular season fumbles in nine years in Green Bay, that’s less than one fumble every two years as a Packer.
In his nine seasons in Green Bay, the fewest games he played in a season was 14, six times playing all 16 games. So you can add durability to his legacy, too, despite the contact-first demands of his position.
Not to mention, Kuhn registered 36 tackles and five fumble recoveries in his career (playoffs included). As he was used on special teams as well as fullback. Productive indeed.
What’s most obviously special is that we keep referencing, with vigor, times when he touched the ball, when he was one of the best in the league at blocking pass rushers for a decade. All of these offensive remarks are secondary to the majority of the reliable, gritty work he did game in and game out.
10. His Touchdowns Per Touch is Unreal
Including the playoffs, John Kuhn touched the ball 313 times while wearing the green and gold. He scored a touchdown on 0.095% of those touches. That’s nearly 10% off his total touches going for touchdowns.
William Henderson scored on 0.039% of his touches. The same Henderson that’s in the Packers Hall of fame.
We rounded these percentages off to compare Kuhn to some of the top touchdown creators in team history:
Don Hutson: 15%
Jordy Nelson: 12%
Sterling Sharpe: 11%
John Kuhn: 10%
Jim Taylor: 5%
Ahman Green: 3%
And yes, it’s a matter of sample size for Kuhn comparatively and where on the field he was utilized the most plays into it, but still. It’s interesting and shows that he was extremely effective when called upon. Makes you wonder how many touchdowns he’d have if his name was called more often.
On most plays he was counted on to do the job that didn’t get his name called out over the loudspeaker or by the announcer, but when it was asked of him, he seamlessly rose to the occasion.
And about 10% of the time, he’d end up leaping into the crowd.
11. John Kuhn Remains Irreplaceable
Kuhn’s last year with the Packers was 2015 and since then the team has missed the playoffs two out of the three years and Rodgers has had to play through injuries.
If Kuhn had been in Green Bay through 2018 would the team have made the playoffs every season? Would Rodgers have not gotten hurt? We aren’t saying that at all, but it is an interesting thing to ponder. The Packers toyed with replacing Kuhn with fullback Aaron Ripkowski, but that experiment failed. In three seasons he registered just three touchdowns and had one of the costliest fumbles in recent Packers history.
Would Kuhn have coughed up the ball against the Falcons in the 2016 NFC Championship Game nearing the goal line, a place where he excelled throughout his career?
Doubtful. In fact, he hadn’t fumbled the ball in over two years at that exact moment.
Sure, maybe you could argue that the Packers simply don’t use a blocking fullback anymore, so that’s why they haven’t replaced Kuhn. But we’d argue that they don’t use a blocking fullback anymore because they no longer have Kuhn. They’re unable to do the things that Kuhn enabled them to do on offense.
What is not debatable is that they now have one less brilliant (OK, at least well-studied) offensive mind in the huddle these days. It’s likely that, for years, when a block is missed or the team fails to punch it in at the one yard line, we’d all be missing No. 30.
Many players of his ilk tend to be underappreciated, but not Kuhn. He was valued, even if most of his best plays were unsung blocks that resulted in highlight reel material for his teammates. That said, there was nothing better than watching him spike the football after a score.
Few have ever done it as well as you, John. Even fewer have connected to the fans in Titletown so immensely.
Thank you, and see you in 2024.
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