Green Bay Packers Charley Brock

Charley Brock

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Charley Brock​

Inducted: 1973

Center: 1939-47

Height: 6'2"; Weight: 207

College: Nebraska, 1936-38

HONORS

  • NFL All-Decade Team: 1940s
  • Associated Press All-Pro Team (chosen since 1940): 1945
  • Other years selected to an all-pro first team: 1940, ’46
  • Pro All-Star Game Selection (game played 1938-42): 1940, ’42
  • Packers All-Time Team: 1946, ’57
  • Packers All-Iron Man Era Team: 1976

Brock was a ball hawk like few other two-way linemen of his era. A steady and reliable offensive center for nine years, he stood out more as a linebacker on defense. At the time, teams played five- and six-man fronts on defense with the fullback and center often playing the two linebacker positions.

That’s how Brock intercepted 20 passes during his career, not counting the team-high eight that newspaper accounts credited to him his rookie year before the NFL tracked interceptions as an official statistic. Add those to his total and Brock would have more career interceptions than any linebacker in Packers history.

Three of his eight picks in 1939 came against legendary Sammy Baugh in a victory over Washington that helped propel the Packers to the NFL title. Brock also had two clutch takeaways in that year‘s NFL Championship Game against the New York Giants. 

Just as impressive as his interceptions was Brock’s uncanny knack for stealing the ball from opposing ball carriers.

In a 17-14 victory over the Chicago Cardinals in 1942, he snatched the ball from fullback Bob Morrow’s grip and scored the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. “He was the mainstay,” said Royal Kahler, a teammate that season. “He was one of the best. He was tough as nails. Oh! I mean he liked to hit people.”

In a 23-14 victory over the Giants in 1945, Brock scored a touchdown on an interception, set up a touchdown by swiping the ball from veteran back Ward Cuff and also picked off another pass.

Yet another highlight on Brock’s résumé is that he started all 10 games when the Packers won the 1944 NFL title and made the second eleven on United Press’ all-pro team that year.

Along with toiling in the Iron Man Era when players performed double duty on offense and defense, Brock also played most of his career in Curly Lambeau’s Notre Dame Box offense. That required him to repeatedly deliver sure, short snaps to any of four backs. Another of Brock’s strong traits was his leadership. He served as permanent captain of the Packers his final three seasons. 

His one misfortune was that he was a contemporary of several other great centers, including Mel Hein of the Giants, Clyde “Bulldog” Turner of the Chicago Bears and Alex Wojciechowicz of the Detroit Lions, all members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. While Brock was a consensus all-pro once and either a first- or second-team selection in three other seasons, he probably never received the recognition he deserved.

Turner, for example, was a consensus all-pro six times yet Lambeau thought Brock was better. “(Charley) is the best center in professional football,” Lambeau said in 1945. “I include Bulldog Turner… I have a great deal of respect for Bulldog Turner. He is fast, too, but does not maneuver with the skill of Brock, who has the coordination of a halfback.”

That same year, when the Packers were coming off their sixth and final NFL title under Lambeau, the legendary coach said Brock and Larry Craig had been his two most underrated players going back to 1939 when the Packers won their fifth title.

“Why is Brock tops?” said Lambeau. “He is on the ball all the time. He is aggressive and untiring. He has no peer at intercepting passes. In fact, National league teams haven’t thrown in his defensive territory the last two seasons. And he is tops as a ball thief. By this I mean grabbing the ball from a player on the other team. He has a great physique. He has abundant energy.”

The Packers drafted Brock in the second round, with the 24th overall choice, in 1939. He played in 92 games and started 44, all at center.

He retired March 10, 1948, to take a coaching job at what was then the University of Omaha. He returned to the Packers in 1949 as an assistant coach, but lost his job following the season in the shakeup that led to Lambeau’s resignation.

Born March 15, 1916, in Columbus, Neb. Given name Charles Jacob Brock. Died May 25, 1987, at age 71.

- By Cliff Christl

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