Thursday, July 23, 2015


by TJ Troup

Don Hutson. Colorization by John Turney
This year will mark 70 years since Don Hutson last played in the NFL, and during his 11-year career he set a standard that remains the benchmark for production against divisional opponents. When the NFL began divisional play during the 1930's those games took on an even stronger degree of importance.

Though much has been written about this all-time great receiver, in this article, for the first time, you will read his accurate receiving stats and his production against divisional opponents. Steve Sabol is quoted with describing players with "the acid test of greatness"(seeing the player perform in front of your own eyes). During 1964 at Sycamore Junior High school in Anaheim, California I was fortunate to hear stories from Woody Fries (teammate of Hutson in '43) the football coach and physical education teacher.

The sparkle in Coach Fries eyes is a treasured memory as he described not only what Hutson did, but how he did it. The chapter in the sporting news book Football's greatest players on Hutson states "he was a gift from the future".

The criteria for measuring Don Hutson against all who came after him is as follows: the receiver must have over 1,000 yards receiving, and at least 15 touchdown receptions against divisional opponents. Hutson against his four divisional rivals is as follows: Lions (1,395 yards and 16 touchdowns), Rams (1,264 yards and 18 touchdowns), Cardinals (1,322 yards and 17 touchdowns), and the Bears (1,465 yards and 15 touchdowns). Though there have been many great receivers since 1945... Hutson is the ONLY receiver to achieve this criteria. Much, much more can be shared concerning his production...yet there are two other achievements in his career that stand out.

Five times Hutson took the field against the Brooklyn Dodgers football team and in every game against this non-divisional opponent, he caught a touchdown pass; as he snared 26 passes for 623 yards for 7 scores. The 1942 Chicago Bears were an undefeated juggernaut in winning eleven games. The Bears allowed only 1,179 yards and 7 touchdown passes all season. Hutson caught 18 passes for 264 yards and 3 touchdowns in his two games against Chicago...which simply put means the ENTIRE rest of the league caught 93 passes for just 915 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Film study shows him usually as the left end, usually split, yet sometimes flexed or even closed. The "Alabama antelope" would explode out of his frog-like stance and dart down the field on his route. Though he would fake, and cut on his routes but what stands out the most is how his lithe receiver glided down the field adjusting to the ball in flight. Opponents attempts at limiting him with deployments of their personnel in the form of linebackers or an additional defensive back were fruitless and allowed the Packers a strategical advantage in outnumbering the defensive in either running the ball or passing to other Green Bay receivers.

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