Herb Adderley Green Bay Packers & Dallas Cowboys

"Lombardi had certain players who he’d call into his office and talk to, others he’d talk to on the field or in the locker room. One thing I remember he said to me…He said I was the best cornerback he’d ever seen. In front of the whole team he said I was the best athlete …I’ll always remember that."

When Herb Adderley reported to his first Green Bay training camp in 1961 as the Packers’ No.1 draft pick, he had the unenviable task of competing against future Hall of Fame running backs Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung for a starter’s spot. Midway through the season, however, Packers coach Vince Lombardi decided to try the former Michigan State star as an emergency replacement for injured starting cornerback Hank Gremminger.

Adderley, using his speed and marvelous instincts, quickly demonstrated he had what it took to be an NFL cornerback. The 6-1, 205-pound Philadelphia native took immediate command in the Packers' defensive backfield and, within two years, had won All-NFL honors, acclaim he was to earn four more times in 1963, 1965, 1966 and 1969. A speed-burning ball hawk, Herb amassed 48 interceptions, returning them for 1,046 yards and a 21.8-yard average, with seven touchdowns during his 12-year career with the Packers (1961-69) and Dallas Cowboys (1970-72). He doubled as a kickoff return specialist during most of his Green Bay career and wound up with a 25.7-yard average on 120 returns. Included were a 103-yard return in 1962 and a 98-yard thrust in 1963.

Lombardi once admitted that he almost made a mistake with Adderley. “I was too stubborn to switch him to defense until I had to,” he confessed. “Now when I think of what Adderley means to our defense, it scares me to think of how I almost mishandled him.” Adderley played in five Pro Bowl games during the 1960s and was seemingly a fixture in post-season games. He played in four of the first six Super Bowl games, winning championship rings in three of them. He also played in seven NFL championship games in an 11-year span from 1961 through 1971. His teams – the Packers five times and the Cowboys twice – won every one. Herb's 60-yard interception return for a clinching touchdown for the Packers in Super Bowl II was the only interception return for a touchdown in the first 10 Super Bowls.