Many of the professional footballers of the decade were first tested a decade earlier in the Second World War. It was the days of America the rising superpower and the good old American boys juxtaposed with the slapstick ruthlessness of 1950s NFL football.
The 1950s was a decade of monumental football milestones in Green Bay. However if there’s one decade of Packers history that is particularly known for futility, it is those same 1950s. Some football historians have recalled when the team was more punchline than preeminent. Nothing was certain, on the field and off, and most fans today don’t think twice about any Packers players from those years.
Some may believe, and even argue, the Packers couldn’t have had any real stars in the ‘50s because the team was so bad. How could they have?
However there’s an argument that there actually is much to be celebrated within this forgotten decade of Packers football. No really, you just have to be willing to look for it. But no one said it would be easy.
For whatever reason every other decade of Packers football is attached to some type of firm narrative, whether exaggerated for not.
The 1920s were the decade when the Packers joined the NFL, jumping in way over their heads only to find unexpected greatness. The story has been told many times. The 1930s, and the four World Championships won, were when Green Bay started to become Titletown USA. The pride of a region swelled as a small town took on the world. The 1940s was the decade of offensive explosion and star power; Don Hutson, Tony Canadeo and so on. This franchise, it seemed, was destined to change football time and time again. The war was won and Green Bay had remained prosperous!
The 1960s are fabled and chronicled with precision, nothing more could be written or said about that decade for the Green Bay Packers and Vince Lombardi’s teams, and the many stories that accompany them, will still never be forgotten. Starr, Nitschke, Taylor… the list of transcendent players is too long to get into here.
Even the 1970s and 1980s get lumped together collectively as the “Lean Years”, two decades blessed with a certain type of silly nostalgia, memorable moments, and relatively hilarious underachieving. Looking back, many consider those two decades as the necessary payment for the aforementioned 1960s and the upcoming prolonged success led by two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks.
In hindsight, the franchise so eloquently absorbed the pain of those years because it was sandwiched by such greatness.
The 1990s will always be about Brett Favre and the return to glory for this franchise. Reggie White chose Green Bay in newly-minted Free Agency and the rest is history. The Lombardi Trophy finally came home. The 2000s were a transition period from Favre to another all-time great quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. Few teams had ever been so blessed. The 2010s were a continuation of that success, although speckled with spectacular heartbreak and drama.
Nonetheless the team remained unquestionably viable on and off the field.
The 1950s though? Nothing really specific remains other than historians recalling that the team was the laughing stock of the league in those years. At least the “Lean Years” have ample video evidence to look back at and featured an exciting Hall of Fame wide receiver in James Lofton. No Packers players that played the majority of their NFL career in the 1950s are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Interestingly, the 1950s is the only era of Packers football that can be classified as “After Lambeau and before Lombardi”
It truly was the “Wilderness” that it’s been called by some. Perhaps that is the entirety of its legacy after all.
Still the decade remains the most obscure deep cut of Packers history. It resides still as the one decade in Green Bay football history when the team failed to secure more than one winning season. In total, it featured seven losing seasons, including the franchise’s worst, 1958, when the team finished 1-10.
It shares the distinction with the 1980s as the only decades the Packers failed to win a division title. Although the ‘80s saw “just” four losing seasons in Green Bay. Plus fans were actually able to watch those games on television, somehow that just makes a difference. The decade isn’t as lost as the ‘50s.
Four separate men stood on the sidelines as Head Coach for the Packers in the 1950s — the most in franchise history for a single decade. The instability was tangible. Just as precarious was the team’s financial future.
Curly Lambeau, team co-founder, coach and larger than life figure, was gone as of 1949. Would the team survive? Would they get a new stadium to sustain the team? As the decade rolled on some wondered if they would ever have a winning season again. Something not enjoyed in Green Bay since 1947. Many figured the team would finally fold up; midnight was approaching for sport’s most famous Cinderella.
These were all legitimate questions for the 1950s Packers. The roster was not particularly skilled, but there were a few players with legacies, unfairly, overshadowed by the team’s collective failures.
Some forget that Tony Canadeo, the Gray Ghost, played three years into the 1950s. The future Hall of Fame inductee scored nearly one-third of his career touchdowns in the decade despite his advancing age. It was in this decade that he truly turned into a receiving threat out of the backfield, as he adjusted his playing style for the modern era of football that was forthcoming. In fact, he made nearly 60% of his total receptions in these final three seasons. Not to mention his most productive season as a kick returner came in 1950.
He was one of the most complete football players in team history and the 1950s were an important part of that legacy, despite the team’s record in those years. Canadeo deserves recognition for his play in this frustrating decade of Packers history.
However the “big five” from the 1950s, as far as sincerely dynamic Packers players, were Billy Howton, Bobby Dillon, Tobin Rote, Jim Ringo and Bill Forester. With a special nod to Dave Hanner, Max McGee, Roger Zatkoff and a few other players to be mentioned.
Billy Howton and Bobby Dillon both joined the Packers in 1952 as 22 year old rookies and their careers were incredibly linked to one another, in terms of individual success, just on opposite sides of the ball. For years in practice they went up against each other with the ball in their air, honing their mirrored skills. Although because of their being on the hapless Packers of the 1950s, both were shamefully left of the the NFL’s 1950 All-Decade teams. Both were equally snubbed by the NFL back then and their legacies suffer to this day because of it.
One of the Best Pass Catchers in Team History:
Billy Howton was one of the Packers’ most impactful wide receivers in team history, despite playing just seven seasons with the team. Of course, in his day his position was called “end.” In 1952, as a rookie, he led the entire league in receiving yards (1231) and yards per game (102.6). His yards per game mark is still elite in this franchise’s history books today. That translates to 1641 receiving yards in a 16 game season, which would be a Packers record.
His career yards per game (69.8) is third in Packers history behind just James Lofton and Sterling Sharpe.
Four times he was named a Pro Bowler, twice he was named First Team All-Pro. In 1956 he’d again lead the NFL in receiving yards, but also led the league in receiving touchdowns (12). His 43 career receiving touchdowns in just 80 games as a Packer makes him more productive than Jordy Nelson on a per-game basis, who had Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball.
Don Hutson and Dillon are the only two receivers to ever lead the NFL in receiving yards more than once.
However Howton truly was the Packers’ first true deep threat wide receiver. Hutson was better, mind you. He was an all-around elite receiver, a possession receiver that could catch deep balls whenever he wanted. But Howton genuinely was a threat to go deep on every play — yes, even more so than Hutson.
Four times Howton averaged over 18 yards per reception for an entire season, in seven years in Green Bay. Something Pro Football Hall of Famer Hutson accomplished twice in his 11 seasons.
The three ends (or wide receivers) that made the NFL’s 1950’s All-Decade team were Raymond Berry, Tom Fears and Bobby Walston. Berry tallied 31 receiving touchdowns in the ‘50s. Fears posted 25 and Walston caught 40.
Howton, left off the team, topped all of them with 44 receiving touchdowns in the 1950s — 43 with the Packers. The three ends that made the team combined for three seasons leading the NFL in receiving in the ‘50s. Howton accomplished that feat twice himself. The three ends that made the team posted two combined 10+ receiving touchdown seasons. Howtown had two 10+ receiving touchdown seasons on his own.
No doubt he was snubbed because of the team around him.
The Best Packers Defender You Know Nothing About:
Bobby Dillon, a safety that had to learn the position as the NFL became more of an aerial game, was one of the most awarded defensive backs in team history — despite having just one working eye.
He played just eight seasons with the Packers, just one more than Hotwon, and was named First Team All-Pro four times, to go along with four Pro Bowls.
Three times Dillon intercepted at least nine passes in a season. No other Packer has ever accomplished that feat twice. Charles Woodson, Willie Wood and Herb Adderley combined for two such seasons in their Hall of Fame careers. Those nine interceptions translate to 12 over a 16 game season, which would be the most in team history.
Dillon, known cheekly as “The Hawk” still holds the Packers’ all-time interception record (52). Again, he only played eight seasons. He was just the second player in NFL history to ever hit the 50 interception plateau and should be remembered as one of the first ballhawks to play professional football.
Three safeties were named to the NFL’s 1950 All-Decade team. Dillon was not one of those men. Emlen Tunnel deserved to be on that team without question, but Dillon had more career interceptions, and more interceptions in the 1950s, than both Jack Christiansen and Yale Lary, the other two safeties named to the team.
Lary himself had just 25 interceptions in the 1950s.
Dillon also had five interceptions returned for touchdowns in his career, which equalled Christiansen’s and Lary’s combined career totals. Not to mention his 976 interception return yards were significantly more than Christiansen and Lary amassed in their careers.
Dillon had five seasons with at least seven interceptions in the 1950s. Christiansen and Lary combined for five such seasons in the 1950s (six combined including the 1960s). In six consecutive seasons Dillon registered at least 110 interception return yards. By far the longest streak in Packers history.
No doubt he was snubbed because of the team around him.
In terms of Pro Football Hall of Fame, Dillon has a legitimate case to be in the hall. However he wouldn’t be the last safety in team history that, inexplicably, remains uninvited to Canton. See LeRoy Butler and the symmetry of their careers. Dillon and Butler were both named First Team All-Pro and Pro Bowlers four times. Both were instrumental in the development of the safety position.
Dillon was one of the first true ball-hawking safeties as modern football came to be. Butler was one of the first safeties to dominate at the line of scrimmage. Neither have gotten the recognition they deserve for their contributions to the position — with NFL debuts separated by 38 years. True to these proclamations, Dillon is still the only Packer with 50 interceptions and Butler is the only with 30 interceptions and 20 sacks to this day.
However Christiansen and Lary, have both been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
A Quarterback Season for the Ages:
Tobin Rote, the Packers’ quarterback from 1950-1956, led the NFL in passing yards once, passing touchdowns twice, completions twice and rating once during that span.
But he was most dangerous when he ran, culminating in 29 rushing touchdowns, 2205 rushing yards and a 5.3 yards per rush average — while leading the NFL in yards per rush in 1951.
Rote was either a nod to football’s running past or a nod to football’s future dual-threat quarterbacks. That determination is up for debate. Perhaps he was both.
All of his success in Green Bay led up to his final season as a Packer, 1956, when he was named to the Pro Bowl. His 1956 season may not seem monumental to most, but it was utterly historic. Only a few times in NFL history has a quarterback been so lethal through the air and on the ground in the same season.
Tobin Rote, 1956*: Led the NFL in passing touchdowns (18), passing yards (2203) and completions (146). Ran for 398 yards and 11 touchdowns. Named to Pro Bowl. *Season was only 12 games.
Look how his best season stacks up all-time with the best ever dual-threat quarterback seasons:
Johnny Lujack, 1950*: Did not lead NFL in any of the big three passing statistics, but threw for four touchdowns. Ran for 397 yards and 11 touchdowns. Named to Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro. *Season was only 12 games.
Steve Grogan, 1976*: Did not lead NFL in any of the big three passing statistics, but threw for 18 touchdowns. Ran for 397 yards and 12 touchdowns. Not named to Pro Bowl. *Season was only 14 games.
Randall Cunningham, 1990: Did not lead NFL in any of the big three passing statistics, but threw for 30 touchdowns. Ran for 942 yards and five touchdowns. Named to Pro Bowl.
Steve Young, 1994: Led NFL in passing touchdowns (35). Ran for 293 yards and seven touchdowns. Named to Pro Bowl, First Team All-Pro, AP MVP.
Kordell Stewart, 1997: Did not lead NFL in any of the big three passing statistics, but threw for 21 touchdowns. Ran for 476 and 11 touchdowns. Not named to Pro Bowl.
Daunte Culpepper, 2000: Led NFL in passing touchdowns (33). Ran for 470 yards and seven touchdowns. Named to Pro Bowl.
Michael Vick, 2010: Did not lead NFL in any of the big three passing statistics, but threw for 21 touchdowns. Ran for 676 yards and nine touchdowns. Named to Pro Bowl.
Robert Griffin III, 2012: Did not lead NFL in any of the big three passing statistics, but threw for 20 touchdowns. Ran for 815 yards and seven touchdowns. Named to Pro Bowl.
Cam Newton, 2015: Did not lead NFL in any of the big three passing statistics, but threw for 35 touchdowns. Ran for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns. Named to Pro Bowl, First Team All-Pro, AP MVP.
Aaron Rodgers, 2016: Led NFL in passing touchdowns (40). Ran for 369 yards and four touchdowns. Named to Pro Bowl.
Russell Wilson, 2017: Led NFL in passing touchdowns (34). Ran for 586 yards and three touchdowns. Named to Pro Bowl.
As of 2019, only seven quarterbacks had ever rushed for double-digit touchdowns in a single season (Newton twice).
Honorable mention quarterbacks that could run: Steve McNair, Fran Tarkenton, Donovan McNabb, John Elway, Bobby Douglass, Jack Kemp, Colin Kaepernick and Billy Kilmer. None of these players were dominant at both throwing and running in a single season in a way that demanded inclusion on the above list.
Watch for Lamar Jackson to be added to this list in the coming years…
Rote’s 1956 season is the only time in NFL history a quarterback has led the NFL in any of the three big passing statistics (touchdowns, yards or completions) and rush for 10+ touchdowns in the same season.
And he not only led in one of those statistics, but all three in the same year that he ran for 11 touchdowns (1956). It was the first time it had ever happened and the feat hasn’t been replicated since.
It was, perhaps, the greatest dual threat season for any quarterback in NFL history. It’s right up there with Newton’s 2015 MVP season. Unlike Newton in 2015, Rote was the best statistical passer in 1956 and he still ran for one more touchdown than Newton did.
In 1956, just one player finished with more rushing touchdowns than Rote’s 11. In 2015, four players rushed for more touchdowns than Netwon’s 10. Remember, Rote played just 12 games in 1956 because NFL seasons were shorter back then. Over a 16 game season his 1956 stats translate to 531 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns, while still leading the NFL in passing yards, touchdowns and completions. His passing touchdowns rise to 24 if averaged out over a 16 game season.
But again, Newton had a very good team around him in 2015 and his team made it to the Super Bowl. Rote’s team was particularly bad and finished the season with a losing record, so he won’t get the respect he’s due. Just like Billy Howtown and Bobby Dillon.
Rote didn’t win MVP in 1956; he didn’t even get named First Team All-Pro despite leading the league in all of those stats.
Noticing a trend here?
It’s likely no quarterback will ever again lead the league in passing touchdowns, yards, and completions while rushing for at least 10 touchdowns. That feat cannot be minimized.
And he accomplished these feats while still wearing an old leather helmet. He’d later comment on how “cheap” the Packers of the 1950s were. He was tough, unafraid.
By the time Tobin Rote retired he was professional football’s all-time leading rushing quarterback. But statistically, his greatest accomplishments were, arguably, leading the NFL in passing touchdowns on two separate occasions. His legacy is interesting, but marred by the underwhelming records his teams sustained. Twice he guided the Packers to .500 seasons, the best it ever got for him in Green Bay.
Things went a little better for the man that was snapping him the ball.
The Best Center in the Game:
Jim Ringo, known best for being Bart Starr’s center for the Packers’ first two World Championships of the Vince Lombardi Era, was Rote’s center first. For four years he snapped Rote the ball, including for the entirety of Rote’s historic 1956 season.
Interestingly enough, the year Rote left Green Bay, 1957, would begin a stretch seven straight Pro Bowls for Ringo while he was with the Packers (seven of his 10 career Pro Bowl trips). Ringo was the best center in football, plainly put.
The first two of his six First Team All-Pro nominations came in the 1950s, but he’d ultimately be rewarded by finding a home on the NFL’s 1960s All-Decade Team. What should be remembered about Ringo, beyond his rings from the 1960s and his Hall of Fame status, is his excellence in the ‘50s.
Ultimately, an astonishing 19 men that played on those dynastical Packers teams of the 1960s went on to be named First Team All-Pro at some point. Ringo was the first of the group to gain that distinction, with his first nomination coming in 1957.
He set the tone for the Packers that would become a dynasty; in some ways that made him a leader on a team full of future Hall of Fame inductees.
He would go on to be named First Team All-Pro six times for Green Bay. Only two men have ever been awarded that honor more as Packers: Don Hutson and Forrest Gregg. Many have made “greatest of all-time” arguments for these two at their respective positions. Amazing to even think that Ringo could possibly be in that company, but all of that success was unquestionably born in the 1950s.
Linebacker to be Remembered:
Bill Forester, like Ringo, saw his personal success of the 1950s morph into individual and team success in the 1960s. He isn’t the most often remembered of Lombardi’s linebackers, but he should be.
In 1959 he made his first of four consecutive Pro Bowls, in 1960 he was named First Team All-Pro and would be again in ‘61 and ‘62. That individual achievement, and league-wide respect as a player, came when the Packers started to be more competitive. He won World Championships in ‘61 and ‘62 and then, as a player, was finally considered one of the best at his position.
Curious of how much more he’d have been respected, and how much more awarded he’d have been, in the 1950s had the Packers been better.
Consider this, he registered four interceptions in three consecutive seasons from 1955-57, a Packers record for any non-defensive back that remains intact to this day. And that was when they played just 12 games a season.
His best statistical seasons came in those three years, 1955-57, when he amassed 17 total takeaways, but he went awardless. In his three First Team All-Pro years, when the Packers were winning championships, he registered “just” six takeaways, but still took home the awards.
Team success directly impacts individual awards and legacy. This is what hurts the few bright spots of the 1950s Packers.
Amazingly, Forester is the only linebacker in Packers history to be named First Team All-Pro at least three times, another record he holds.
Forester’s short-lived partner at linebacker, Roger Zatkoff, also joined the Packers in 1953.
Actually, a Linebacker Duo to be Remembered:
For just four seasons Zatkoff, with Forester, patrolled the the Packers’ defense. He too was named First Team All-Pro, with his nomination coming in 1955. Three times named a Pro Bowler, in just four seasons. In those same four seasons he created 10 turnovers.
Those two were, for that short time period, one of the best linebacker duos in team history. But no one seems to give them credit. In 1955 alone the two accounted for seven interceptions. That equals Hall of Fame duo Ray Nitschke and Dave Robinson’s best combined total (from 1965 and ‘66).
A few of other men deserve attention, notably Dave Hanner, Max McGee and John Martinkovic.
Hanner was, arguably, the team’s most consistent player of the 1950s. He started every game from 1953 through 1959. His back-to-back Pro Bowl appearances in 1953-54 are a rarity for an interior defensive lineman in Packers history. And his 13 career turnovers created are second-most all-time in franchise history for a defensive tackle (second to his Lombardi Era, future Hall of Fame Inductee, teammate Jordan Henry).
For what it’s worth Sporting News named him First Team All-Conference in 1957 and ‘59.
Max McGee is a folk-hero that lives inside the mind of everyone that’s read the books or watched the old highlights of Lombardi’s two Super Bowl teams.
He famously caught the first touchdown in Super Bowl history, after coming off the bench, supposedly hungover, due to starter Boyd Dowler’s injured shoulder. He added another touchdown later in the game. But, to the surprise of some, he was no a stranger to the end zone throughout his career.
McGee finished his career with a whopping 50 touchdown receptions — 22 of them coming in the 1950s. Including his career high of nine coming as a rookie in 1954. Although his 1959 season, in which he led the NFL in yards per reception (23.2), may have been his best year of football.
He would had scored more in the ‘50s, but his Air Force service required him to miss the 1956-57 seasons. Maybe the Packers would have won a few more games, too. It should be noted that he served as the team’s primary punter in three separate seasons in the ‘50s, twice leading the league in total punt yardage.
Of all the fabled skill players of the Lombardi Era, McGee was the first to arrive in Green Bay. He was the grizzled veteran, but–true to his laid-back nature–set aside his ego for team success.
John Martinkovic, a defensive end for the Packers in the mid-1950s, is one of the most overlooked pass rushers in team history. Unfortunately, he played just six seasons in Green Bay, but it’s easy to say he made the most of it.
From 1953-55 he was elected to the Pro Bowl in each season. That gives him the distinction of joining Willie Davis and Reggie White as the only defensive ends in team history to be invited to the Pro Bowl in three consecutive seasons. But because of the poor record of the team he played on, his name isn’t usually recalled when chronicling the Packers’ best ever defensive linemen — if recalled at all.
He recovered at least one fumble during each season he played in the NFL, including when he scooped one up for a touchdown in 1952. So he did have a nose for the ball.
It should be noted, when combing through the best Packers players of the 1950s, that legendary safety Emlen Tunnell spent three years with the Packers beginning in 1959. That ‘59 season is noteworthy because it was the final Pro Bowl appearance of his unbelievable Hall of Fame career.
Other 1950s Players Worthy of Mention:
Two-way player Deral Teteak should be mentioned, as he played for the Packers from 1952-1956 and was an above average player at both guard and linebacker. He was a local kid, but didn’t get to enjoy the success with the Green Bay Packers that he grew up witnessing. He was one of the last true two-way players to wear the green and gold.
Fullback Howie Ferguson had a 1955 season worthy of remembrance, in which he amassed 859 yards on the ground with an impressive 4.5 yards per rush. His final season in Green Bay, 1958, was fullback Jim Taylor’s rookie season and, looking back, it makes sense that Ferguson moved on at the year’s end.
End Gary Knafelc and halfback Breezy Reid had some success for the Packers, but lineman Dick “The Bruiser” Afflis was perhaps the most interesting character. His career was short lived due to injury, but he was regarded as the strongest player of the team when healthy. He would go on to become a highly-successful professional wrestler and was once quoted as saying those Packers squads of the early 1950s would drink and dance all night.
Their win-loss records do not dispute that claim.
A few other players from the 1950s had good seasons, but none that demand specific attention. Indeed, it truly was just a small handful of players, spaced out throughout a decade, that tried but couldn’t carry the team to the next level.
The story, or legacy, of the 1950s Packers is that of a few individual stars that didn’t quite have enough around them to get the team back to a competitive level. But those stars were dominant and if the Packers had a more complete team and they had battled for championships, some of them would have been more seriously considered for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
No, do not say this decade did not have star players. Say instead that this decade let those stars down.
Perhaps because it was the era in between Lambeau and Lombardi, that alone, is the reason the teams couldn’t rally behind their star players. Clearly the Packers’ different coaches of the decade couldn’t get the most out of the rest of the roster.
Maybe if a Lambeau or Lombardi been there then Howtown, Dillion, Rote, Ringo, Forester and the others would have been able to propel this team to national relevance, in the 1950s, once again.
But one thing is certain, the “Wilderness” wasn’t an era of completely lost Packers teams. There were star players that should still be celebrated today. There are names that should be remembered and accomplishments worthy of enshrinement. Some literally, others figuratively.
In all, it was a decade of necessary struggle, a decade of pain… but ultimately growth.
Growth in more ways than one, as Bob Mann broke the Packers’ color barrier in 1950. He was the first black man (not the first minority) to ever play for Green Bay. In 1951 he led the team in receiving, including an impressive eight touchdowns good enough for third in the NFL. But his importance to the team, the city, the league and the country were much larger than his statistics.
New City Stadium, later to be named Lambeau Field, debuted in 1957. Vice President Richard Nixon, James Arness of Gunsmoke, and current Miss America Marilyn Van Derbur all were there to celebrate the moment. The stadium is more revered today and will likely forever be the home of the Packers. The stadium grew Green Bay’s football culture immeasurably; another feather in this decade’s cap.
The franchise was saved.
However the Packers’ overall record in the 1950s was 39-79-2. You could have added two wins to every Packers season in the 1950s and they still wouldn’t have ended the decade with a winning record. Yet they were still interesting — somehow.
The Foundation of Historic Success:
The 1950s were the calm before the proverbial storm of the Packers returning to glory. The team did get its new stadium, and financial security, and in 1959 the Packers brought in soon-to-be legendary Head Coach Vince Lombardi. The Packers went 7-5 in his first year, saving the franchise from posting zero winning seasons in the 1950s.
But more important than that season is the list of players brought to Green Bay in the 1950s.
A decade that has been largely forgotten, stealthy became the foundation of the NFL’s most dominant dynasty in the 1960s. All of the following men first donned green and gold, at some point, in the 1950s — mostly late in the decade.
Bart Starr, Forrest Gregg, Ray Nitschke, Jim Taylor, Paul Hornung, Jerry Kramer, Jim Ringo and Henry Jordan. All are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Fuzzy Thurston, Boyd Dowler, Jesse Whittenton, Bob Skoronski, Ron Kramer and as detailed, Bill Forester, Dave Hanner and Max McGee were all major contributors to this team’s dynasty as well.
When looking at the Packers’ list of World Championships today, with the five that came under Lombardi’s control, it’s easy to say “thank God for these 16 players.”
But what could just as easily be said instead is, “thank God for the 1950s.”
Who would have thought?