Height: 6-0; Weight: 199
College: Northwestern, 1929-30
One of the hardest-hitting and most popular players during the 1930s, Bruder started out as a halfback but flourished as a blocking quarterback in Curly Lambeau’s Notre Dame Box offense.
As a halfback, Bruder was a tough inside runner who rushed for 459 of his 778 career yards in 1932 and ’33, the first two seasons the NFL kept statistics. In 1934, Bruder was moved to blocking back in Lambeau’s revised Box. He packed a savage punch as a blocker, but threw only 13 passes in his final six seasons despite being officially listed as a quarterback.
Bruder might have slid into the obscurity of the position except his coaches and teammates knew his value was immeasurable. In his nine seasons with the Packers, the team compiled an overall record of 76-32-3. As a testament to his selfless play, it was once written that there had never been “a blocking quarterback who attacked with the merciless energy of the tireless Bruder.” He also was a deadly tackler backing up the line on defense when players went both ways.
At a time when quick kicks were rather common, another of Bruder’s specialties was the one-step punt or what he called “the rocking horse” kick.
The Packers won their third straight NFL championship in Bruder’s rookie year and he had an immediate impact. Lambeau showered him and fellow rookie Milt Gantenbein with praise following an eastern swing where the Packers played three games in a week and clinched the title based on regular-season standings. Bruder also played on NFL championship teams in 1936 and ’39.
“Bruder is one of the slipperiest field runners,” Lambeau said during that ’36 title run. “He has perfect body coordination, timing, rhythm and sense of distance. He is a great pass receiver, is smart on defense, a good punter, a smashing tackler, a good passer and a real hard blocker. He has no weakness. He is the most valuable man on the team.”
The Packers announced Bruder’s signing on June 23, 1931, at a time when there was no NFL draft. At Northwestern, he had been given the nickname “Hard Luck Hank,” due to injuries and illness that had cut short his playing time there.
In his nine years with the Packers, Bruder played in 101 games and started 52, including 24 as a blocking quarterback, 23 at either left or right halfback, and five at fullback. He was traded to Pittsburgh on July 27, 1940, for guard Lou Midler, and played one season there.
Born Nov. 22, 1907, in Pekin, Ill. Given name Henry George Bruder Jr. Died June 29, 1970, at age 62.
- By Cliff Christl