3

July

The Complete History of Green Bay Packers in Professional Wrestling: Chapter 3 — Dick “the Bruiser” Afflis

Da Crusher from Milwaukee and Dick the Bruiser, a former Packer, dominated wrestling's tag team division for over 10 years.

We continue our “Sunday Storytime” with chapter 3 in a series examining the history of the NFL, the Green Bay Packers and professional wrestling. The introduction to the series can be read here. Chapter 1 can be read here and Chapter 2  can be read here.

Remember when pro wrestlers had barrel chests and round bellies instead of bulging biceps and chiseled physiques? Remember when wrestlers looked like larger and meaner versions of your dad’s drinking buddies? Remember when old ladies used to sit in the front row at wrestling events and swing their purses at the bad guys?

If you do, then you also probably remember Dick the Bruiser. Dick the Bruiser’s wrestling career began in the mid 50s and lasted until the late 80s. He won multiple titles in the American Wrestling Association (AWA) and the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and started his own promotion in Indianapolis called the World Wrestling Association.

The Bruiser used his wrestling career to become a cross-media star and local celebrity in the Indianapolis area. But the first step on his rise to fame came with the Green Bay Packers.

Scary, Heroic and Goofy
Dick the Bruiser was born William Richard Afflis and played on the Packers offensive and defensive lines from 1951-54. Titletown was a ways off in Green Bay’s future as the Packers went 15-32-1 in Afflis’s 48 games. This group of Packers were more interested in drinking beer than winning. And Afflis fit right in.

The 6-foot, 251-pounder left Purdue after clobbering his line coach with his helmet and was kicked out of Miami after bookmaking allegations. He lasted a couple of weeks at Notre Dame and Alabama before settling at Nevada-Reno. The Packers drafted him in the 16th round (somewhere along the way, he also officially changed his first name to Dick).

Afflis was a decent lineman, but most people remember him more for his colorful personality than his on-field play. Some Afflis stories are scary, some are heroic, and some are goofy. All of them are entertaining.

8

February

McCarthy’s Playcalling Shines on Packers Final Super Bowl Drive

McCarthy kept throwing, and throwing, and throwing on Sunday. His pass-happy strategy is a big reason why the Packers are Super Bowl champs.

It was no secret that the Green Bay Packers were going to have to pass and pass often if they wanted to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. Conventional NFL wisdom often says that teams should build a lead through the air, then secure the win by killing the clock with the run late in the game.

Thankfully for the Packers, Mike McCarthy ignored conventional wisdom and stuck to his team’s strengths when the game was on the line and the Packers had the ball late in the fourth quarter. Instead of running the ball because “that’s what you have to do late in the game,” McCarthy kept doing what his team does best: throwing the ball. McCarthy put the game on the shoulders of Aaron Rodgers through the first three-and-a-half quarters, and he didn’t change course in crunch time.

Of course it’s much easier to stick with passing when your quarterback is as good as Rodgers. Rodgers especially validated McCarthy’s late playcalling when he zipped that seam route to Jennings for 31 yards on third and 10 on the Packers’ last drive. That throw will go down as one of the best in Super Bowl history.

Plus it’s not like its imossible to run some clock while passing. Tom Crabtree made a nice catch on a 1-yard dumpoff to keep the clock moving. James Jones caught a screen that gave him a chance to make a play and score, or get tackled in bounds and keep the clock moving. In today’s NFL, a coach doesn’t have to be married to the run in order to bleed the clock.

We give McCarthy plenty of flack for his playcalling, especially when he gets too pass-happy. But the fact remains that McCarthy knows his team is best when it’s passing. That’s why he almost always goes to the air when his team is treading water.

Thankfully he stayed ture to himself and his team on Super Bowl Sunday. He resisted the temptation and ignored conventional wisdom to get conservative. McCarthy’s late playcalling is a major reason that the Lombardi Trophy is returning to Titletown.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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