Friday, October 30, 2020

RIP Herb Adderley—The Complete Corner

 By John Turney

Art Credit: Merv Corning
News came across the Internet this morning that Hall of Fame cornerback Herb Adderley passed away this morning at the age of 81.  

Adderley was a first-round pick of the Packers in 1961 and earned six NFL title rings and was First-team All-Pro five times, Second-team All-Pro twice times named to the Pro Bowl or was All-Conference seven times, and was a member of the NFL's 1960s All-Decade Team. Additionally, he was Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame (1981) and was named to the AFL-NFL 1960-1984 All-Star team and in 1980 he was voted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

He was a complete corner—he was a coverage expert, a hitter, and a ball hawk. The Packers had the best coverage for any team in the 1960s and Adderley was a major reason why that was true.  Adderley returned seven interceptions for touchdowns during regular seasons and another one  Super Bowl II. Adderley's 48 interceptions rank him high among the all-time leaders. His interception returns totaled 1,046 yards for a 21.8-yard average. He had seven scoring returns.

Adderley didn't play bump-and-run coverage much, if at all—he liked to play off the receiver a bit. He reasoned that every once in awhile he was going to get faked out, "Everyone gets beat, but the question is if you can recover". Adderly could.

"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."

"Adderley is the most difficult man in the NFL against a passing attack for three reasons," a leading receiver once explained. "First is his all-around ability. Second is the great help he gets from the rest of his defensive unit. The third is that Adderley himself is the best team player of any cornerback I know." "I'm just thankful he's playing for the Packers."

Tom Landry said that Adderley was the best "cluer" ever, meaning he could read offenses and diagnose the play and put himself in the right position. George Allen named him the best cornerback ever, "Adderley anticipated plays superbly. Wherever the ball was, he was. If it was a pass he was the best single coverage I ever saw, if it was a run he came up and got into it". Bart Starr stated that Adderley was "the greatest cornerback ever to play the game".

Adderley, like Night Train, was a hitter (though not quite as vicious) and Steve Sabol once said, "The only adjustment Adderley would have to make to play in the modern game was he'd have to eliminate "the clothesline tackle".

Adderley left the Packers after the 1969 season and played three years with Dallas (After being traded for Malcolm Walker and Clarence Williams), two of which were stellar, in 1971 he didn't allow a touchdown pass and helped the Cowboys secure their first Super Bowl trophy. 

Adderley was traded to the New England Patriots in early July 1973 and was cut later that year and was traded to the Los Angles Rams for Bill Dulac in July. In early August Adderley was cut by the Rams, ending Addely's Hall of Fame career.

He was also a very good kick returner and kick blocker as well.

Adderly played collegiately at Michigan State under coach Duffy Daugherty from 1958-60 and was a two-play player. He was a team co-captain for the Spartans his senior year and was First-team All-Big Ten that year as well. After that season he played in the East-West Shrine Game, the Coaches' All-American Game, and the College All-Star Game and was picked for the All-Michigan State University team in 1970.

Adderley was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania graduating from Northeast High School in 1957, won All-City Honors where he starred in football, basketball, and baseball.

After his NFL career Adderley was part of the broadcast teams for Temple University and the Philadelphia Eagles. He also briefly was an assistant coach at Temple and with the Philadelphia Bell of the World Football League.


  1. RIP Herb Adderley

    I always felt if he covered Charlie Taylor of the Redskins in the 72/73 NFC Championship game instead of Taylor being covered by Charlie Waters, the Cowboys would have won and met the Dolphins two years in a row in the SB ...

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