Center: 1935-37, 1940-41
Height: 6-4; Weight: 230
College: Minnesota, 1933-34
- NFL All-Decade Team: 1930s
One of the biggest centers in the league at the time, Svendsen established himself as the Packers’ starter in 1936, his second season and the year Green Bay won its fourth NFL championship. He played in pro football’s one-platoon era, so he also was an oversized linebacker when he wasn’t being used as a down lineman.
Newspaper accounts unofficially credited Svendsen with five interceptions in 1936, including two in a November win over the Chicago Bears. In 1941, his final season, Svendsen was chosen on the second team of the official NFL all-pro team. He also was gifted enough athletically to have played two years of basketball at the University of Minnesota and also for the Oshkosh All-Stars of the National Basketball League in 1937-38.
“I feel lightning has struck twice in the same place,” Curly Lambeau said after the 1937 season when both George and his brother Earl quit the Packers to go into coaching. “The loss of these two centers really is serious… I expected George Svendsen to be the best center in the league next fall.”
The Packers announced George Svendsen’s signing on June 22, 1935, the year before the first NFL draft. Less than a month earlier, Svendsen had been ruled ineligible for a third season of football at Minnesota when it was discovered he had played as a freshman at Oregon State.
In February 1938, Svendsen quit the Packers to coach football and basketball at Antigo High School. He stayed at Antigo for two years before agreeing to rejoin the Packers in the summer of 1940. Following the 1941 season, Svendsen joined the Navy and served throughout World War II. He played Armed Forces football for Iowa Pre-Flight in 1942 and for Camp Lee in 1943.
Following the war, he became an assistant coach at the University of Minnesota and stayed through 1953. In January 1949, Svendsen interviewed for Wisconsin’s head-coaching vacancy that was filled by Ivy Williamson.
In his five seasons with the Packers, Svendsen played in 53 games and started 30, all at center.
Born March 22, 1913, in Minneapolis, Minn. Given name George Peter Svendsen Jr. Died Aug. 6, 1995, at age 82.
- By Cliff Christl