This Year of Death -- about the 5th in a row, it seems -- will not let up. It has taken so many, including several sports legends. Now, another.
Herbert Anthony Adderley was born on June 8, 1939 in Philadelphia. There, he won All-City honors in football, basketball and baseball at Northeast High School. Among is other alumni are Temple and Philadelphia Warriors star Guy Rodgers, baseball All-Star Eddie Stanky, U.S. soccer legend Walter Bahr; Sonny Hill, Philadelphia basketball organizer; Howard Eskin, host at Philadelphia's all-sports radio station, WIP; and singer Diane Renay.
He went to Michigan State University, coached by Duffy Daugherty, where the Spartans were known as Duffy's Toughies. He was mainly a running back, and also caught a few passes. He made the All-Conference team in 1960, and was named to the East-West Shrine Game.
He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 1961, but, already having future Hall-of-Famers Paul Hornung and Jim Taylor in the backfield, coach Vince Lombardi moved him to cornerback when Hank Gremminger was injured in their Thanksgiving Day game with the Detroit Lions. Adderley intercepted a pass that set up the game-winning touchdown, and the rest was history.
He helped the Packers win 5 NFL Championships: 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966 and 1967. This included the 1967 NFL Championship Game, played on New Year's Eve, beating the Dallas Cowboys in frigid contest at Lambeau Field, known as the Ice Bowl. It also included winning Super Bowls I and II.
He made the 1st of 5 Pro Bowls in 1963. In Super Bowl II, he intercepted a pass from Daryle Lamonica of the Oakland Raiders, and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown, effectively putting the game on ice.
Lombardi said, "I was too stubborn to switch him to defense until I had to. Now, when I think of what Adderley means to our defense, it scares me to think of how I almost mishandled him."
In 1970, with Lombardi no longer in charge of the Packers (he died later that year), Adderley was traded to the Cowboys, becoming a part of their "Doomsday Defense." He helped them win the 1st NFC Championship, but they lost Super Bowl V to the Baltimore Colts. After acquiring his Packer teammate, offensive tackle Forrest Gregg, and switching quarterbacks from Craig Morton to Roger Staubach, they won Super Bowl VI.
Adderley later said, "I'm the only man with a Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl ring who doesn't wear it. I'm a Green Bay Packer." Adderley also did not get along well with Cowboy coach Tom Landry, comparing him unfavorably with Lombardi.
Nevertheless, the win in Super Bowl VI made Adderley and Gregg the 2nd and 3rd players to win 6 NFL Championships. Fred "Fuzzy" Thurston was the 1st: A guard on all 5 of Lombardi's title teams, he also played on the 1958 Colts, but was acquired by the Packers before the Colts also won in 1959. No other player has legitimately won 6 NFL Championships. Yes, there is Tom Brady, but he cheated.
During the 1972 season, Landry benched Adderley, and had him traded to the Los Angeles Rams before the 1973 season. Rather than report, he retired. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the NFL's 1960s All-Decade Team, and the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.
In 1999, The Sporting News listed him 45th on their list of the 100 Greatest Football Players. The only cornerbacks ranked ahead of him were Dick "Night Train" Lane, Mel Blount and Deion Sanders. In 2010, the NFL Network ranked him 64th on their list of the 100 Greatest Players. The only cornerbacks ranked ahead of him were Lane, Sanders, Blount, Rod Woodson and Mike Haynes.
His teammate, the later Packer quarterback Bart Starr, called him "The greatest cornerback to ever play the game." This was echoed by Johnny Morris, a flanker for the Packers' arch-rivals, the Chicago Bears. He helped the Bears win the 1963 NFL Championship, and set an NFL record (long since surpassed) in 1964 with 93 catches. He said:
I played against all of them. Jimmy Johnson was a great defensive back. So was Night Train Lane. I could do things against them. Herb was in a class by himself. I don't have to think about it: He was the best.
Note that this Jimmy Johnson is the Hall-of-Famer who played for the San Francisco 49ers in the 1960s and '70s, not the later Dallas Cowboys coach and Fox NFL Sunday contributor of the same name. Both of those men are in the Hall of Fame, and both are still alive. Nor should he be confused with the late Jim Johnson, a longtime assistant coach with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Speaking of which: Herb went back to Philadelphia, broadcasting games for his hometown teams, the Eagles and Temple University. Under head coach Willie Wood, his former mate in the Green Bay defensive backfield, he became an assistant coach at Temple and with the Philadelphia Bell of the World Football League.
Nasir Adderley is the grandson of a first cousin of Herb's. He played at Great Valley High School in suburban Malvern, Pennsylvania, went on to the University of Delaware where he made 2 All-Conference Teams, and is now a safety with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Herb Adderley died yesterday, October 30, 2020, from the effects of COVID-19, at the age of 81. He is survived by his wife, Brenda. I can find no reference to children.
With his death, there are now 9 surviving players from the 1961 NFL Champion Green Bay Packers: Paul Hornung, Jerry Kramer, John Roach, Tom Moore, Dale Hackbart, Nelson Toburen, Lee Folkins, Gary Knafelc, and Boyd Dowler.
There are 11 from the Packers' 1962 NFL Champions: Hornung, Kramer, Roach, Moore, Toburen, Knafelc, Dowler, Howie Williams, Ed Blaine, Ron Gassert, and Gary Barnes.
There are 13 from the Packers' 1965 NFL Champions: Hornung, Kramer, Moore, Dowler, Tom Brown, Junior Coffey, Bill Curry, Ken Bowman, Steve Wright, Bob Long, Marv Fleming, Carroll Dale, and Dave Robinson.
There are 17 from the Packers' 1966 NFL Champions, winners of Super Bowl I: Hornung, Kramer, Dowler, Brown, Curry, Bowman, Wright, Long, Fleming, Dale, Robinson, Red Mack, Jim Grabowski, Phil Vandersea, Donny Anderson, Dave Hathcock, and Jim Weatherwax.
There are 19 from the Packers' 1967 NFL Champions, winners of Super Bowl II: Kramer, Dowler, Brown, Bowman, Wright, Long, Fleming, Dale, Robinson, Grabowski, Anderson, Weatherwax, Don Horn, Chuck Mercein, Ben Wilson, John Rowser, Bob Hyland, Jim Flanigan, and Dick Capp.
And there are 37 from the Dallas Cowboys' 1971 NFL Champions, winners of Super Bowl VI, including Hall-of-Famers Roger Staubach, Bob Lilly, Rayfield Wright, Mel Renfro, Cliff Harris, and, like Adderley and Gregg better known for playing for other teams, Mike Ditka and Lance Alworth.