The 15 Most Influential Green Bay Packers of All-Time


The most influential of them all. How does your top-5 compare?

5. Arnie Herber, QB:

The NFL wasn’t the same after Arnie Herber, the Pro Football Hall of Famer, left his mark. He was one of the first truly dangerous and accurate deep throwers in football history. It helped that his primary target was the legendary Don Hutson. Together, they influenced the game of football in an incalculable way. We believe Hutson wouldn’t have been so revolutionary without Herber’s arm. Disagree? Herber led the NFL in passing touchdowns twice before Hutson even got to Green Bay!

Clearly, Herber had a lot of talent on his own. And even as a hometown Green Bay kid, Hollywood showed interest in Herber’s throwing ability and featured his astonishing accuracy on film; he was as big-time as a person from Green Bay had ever been to that point in time.

Very few quarterbacks have ever led the league in passing touchdowns, yards, completions, and rating three times each, but Herber did. On top of that, the All-Pro was an NFL Champion four times, twice throwing touchdowns in victorious Championship games. What’s most underrated about Herber is that he is the foundation of quarterbacking success in Green Bay. A lineage that includes Starr, Favre, and Rodgers — an untouchable legacy in football history. Green Bay became Titletown USA with Herber under center for the Packers. A franchise’s history of greatness needs a genesis and he was there for that spark that began it all. What a legacy.

GBP Hall of Fame, 2017

4. Bart Starr, QB:

Starr was the most iconic player on the most iconic team as the NFL took over as the nation’s favorite sport in the 1960s with the nationwide rise of television. The Green Bay Packers won five World Championships in the 60s and Starr was the steady hand guiding the team through it all, with head coach Vince Lombardi on the sideline. Yes, the team had a phenomenal defense, a legendary offensive line, and a pair of great runners behind Starr, but the team wouldn’t have won so proficiently without him at quarterback. And the team wouldn’t have won as much, period. His character and the way he influences every Packer, and football, fan to simply be a better person is ultimately his defining quality.

Can a quarterback get much more influential than being named MVP of the first two Super Bowls? Not to mention he had been named MVP of the league as well in 1966. Four times the Hall of Famer led the NFL in completion percentage and he was more athletic than people remember with 16 rushing touchdowns, including one of the most famous plays in football history. Yeah, that one. The Ice Bowl quarterback sneak will live on forever, just like Starr’s influence.

The Packers aren’t the franchise they are today without Starr, just as Vince Lombardi likely doesn’t have the Super Bowl trophy named after him without Starr. Lombardi was a great coach, but it took a man with Starr’s determination and mental fortitude to handle the coach’s great demands. The romanticism of the Packers’ dynasty, and football a whole in the 1960s, isn’t nearly as rich without Starr — if existent at all. In that way Starr’s influence is incalculable. It’s near impossible to even understand what this fan base’s self-esteem would be today if he had never thrown a ball for the Packers. It’s possible the whole thing unravels without his play in that decade.

3. Reggie White, DE:

In 1993, Free Agency in the NFL was brand new. No one knew what would come of it, if stars would actually use it to choose a new city to play in for a chance at a championship, a chance to make as much money as possible, or a chance to live in a place they’ve always wanted to. Defensive end Reggie White was a free agent that year, as fate would have it. He was one of the biggest stars in football history and, to this day, is still the biggest free agency signing in NFL history. He’d averaged 11.5 sacks and 2.5 forced fumbles per season in Green Bay. And added eight sacks in the postseason, including a then-NFL record three sacks in Super Bowl XXXI to help seal the victory.

To be named the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year at the age of 37 is remarkable. His influence on the Packers’ franchise cannot be understated as he helped bring respect back to the Packers, but his influence on the importance and stature of Free Agency in the NFL is perhaps even greater.

White was the “Minister of Defense” on the field and was an ordained Baptist minister off of it. Ultimately, he was a religious figure known for studying multiple religions toward the end of his life. He even helped a congregation overcome an arson at a church he was the pastor of in Tennessee. White had massive influence, was controversial at times, and arguably helped make Green Bay a desirable location of black athletes once again (which is obviously pretty damn important culturally both on the field and off). Maybe Santana Dotson, Sean Jones, Desmond Howard, and Keith Jackson don’t sign with the Packers to help win Super Bowl XXXI without White. Going further, maybe Ryan Pickett and Charles Woodson don’t come and help Green Bay win its next title. Nothing can be taken for granted.

It’s likely a player won’t be as influential as White on the defensive side of the ball in Green Bay for quite some time — perhaps ever.

2. Don Hutson, E:

Hutson foreshadowed the future of football and the new NFL that was to come. He was, and is, the Babe Ruth and Wayne Gretzky of his sport.

He broke every single receiving record he could and his influence lives on emphatically today. Many of the routes he invented are still being used in NFL games today. Without Hudson, the “end” that basically invented the position of wide receiver, who knows how the game of football would have developed in the 1930s and 40s. With Arnie Herber throwing him the ball, they changed the game. It should be noted that, just as Herber had success before Hutson, Hutson had a plethora of success after Herber left. As previously mentioned, this era was when Green Bay first became known as Titletown.

Green Bay became Titletown in those days, and Hudson was mayor. Or King. He was bigger than football, as he shaped the game to fit his style of play. To be clear, the game would have evolved without him, but not nearly as quickly. He’s still the all-time leader in touchdowns in Green Bay, still, with 105 total times crossing the end zone with the ball in his unmatched hands. People forget that the three-time NFL Champion and two-time NFL MVP was a star defensive back, too, with 30 career interceptions. Eight straight First-Team All Pro seasons later, he showed every football team in the country how the game was meant to be played. 

No player has so profoundly impacted, or influenced, the NFL as much as Hutson. The only players to challenge him in overall impact are Lawrence Taylor, Jim Brown, and maybe Tom Brady — otherwise known as football’s freaking undisputed royalty.

But somehow, there was a player that was even more influential to the Green Bay Packers franchise.

One man remains, read about him on Page 3

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We seek to bring more context to, and share interesting stores about, the history of the Green Bay Packers and the NFL as a whole. Clickbait be damned. "We" are Daniel and David Zillmer; hit the about or contact to learn more.

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