Clarke Hinkle of Green Bay and Bronko Nagurski of the Chicago Bears were football's top fullbacks during the 1930s. Their meetings were highlights of each NFL season. Comparisons were, of course, inevitable.
Hinkle maintained that no one ever hit him harder than Nagurski, but on one occasion, when Nagurski closed in for a tackle, Clarke slammed into him with such force that he broke Bronko's nose and fractured one of his ribs.
Not even Hinkle, who was 30 pounds lighter, could consistently match Nagurski's brutal raw power. But Clarke was more versatile. He not only shattered lines with his power running, but he could also run outside, pass effectively, catch even better, block like a demon, place kick long field goals, punt for distance, back up a line with the best of them, and defend against passes. He insisted that during his career, only one receiver ever got behind him. He was named all-league four times.
Hinkle (1909-1988) starred at Bucknell University and led the East in scoring as a sophomore. In one game, he scored 50 points. After winning All-American honors in 1930 and 1931, he received offers from several pro teams.
In those pre-draft days, a player could sign with any team he chose. The New York Giants were interested and wooed him with an all-expense-paid weekend in New York. The climax was the Giants' Sunday game. Unfortunately, their opponent was Green Bay. When the Packers won impressively, Hinkle decided his future was in Wisconsin.
Hinkle used his football talents to the utmost, playing with a burning desire to win. During his 10 years with the Packers, he helped them win three division titles and two NFL championships, in 1936 and 1939.
When he retired after the 1941 season to enter the Coast Guard, Hinkle was the leading rusher in NFL history, with 3,860 yards. He also scored 370 points on 44 touchdowns, 28 extra points, and 26 field goals-and punted for a 43.4 average.
To learn more about football greats, see:
- Great Football Players
- Great Offensive Football Players
- Great Defensive Football Players
- Great Football Coaches