The first selection in what was generally regarded as the best draft in Packers history, Dan Currie got off to a better start as a pro than fellow linebacker and future Pro Football Hall of Famer Ray Nitschke, who was chosen two rounds later. Currie played more than Nitschke as a rookie in 1958 and clearly made a better impression on Vince Lombardi when he studied film of that 1-10-1 team after being named coach of the Packers in January 1959.
At a banquet in Milwaukee after completing his film work, Lombardi declared Currie was one of three untouchables on his roster, along with seasoned veterans Jim Ringo and Bobby Dillon.
Currie established himself as the starting left linebacker in Lombardi’s first year and was named to the Pro Bowl the next year. In 1961, he was named to two of the three most widely recognized all-pro teams – United Press International and Newspaper Enterprise Association – and a year later he was a consensus all-pro, making the Associated Press team, as well. Nitschke, on the other hand, was unable to supplant Tom Bettis as the starting middle linebacker until late in the 1960 season and didn’t seal the starting job until 1962.
In 1961, the Packers shut out the Chicago Bears for the first time in 26 years as Currie intercepted two passes. In the NFL Championship Game that year, Currie was one of the stalwarts of a defense that held the New York Giants to six first downs in the Packers’ 37-0 victory.
His career continued on an upswing until Nov. 11, 1962, when he was blindsided by receiver Tommy McDonald and suffered an injury to his left knee in a 49-0 battering of the Philadelphia Eagles. Currie returned after missing two games and was outstanding in the Packers’ 16-7 victory over the Giants in the 1962 NFL Championship Game, intercepting a pass, almost picking off another and causing a fumble.
However, despite being named to the NEA team, which was selected by the players, for the third straight time in 1963 and also AP’s second-team, Currie wasn’t the same player after his knee injury.
“One of the best. No question about it,” said tight end Gary Knafelc, who went head-to-head with Currie in practice for four years. “Very quick. Very smart. He was a big guy. He was an all-around good football player. He was aggressive and Lombardi liked linebackers like that.”
The Packers selected Currie in the first round with the third overall choice in the 1958 NFL Draft. An All-American center at Michigan State during the one-platoon era of college football, Currie was considered a potential starter on either side of the ball. He took over as the Packers’ starting left linebacker in his rookie year after Carlton Massey suffered a broken leg in the third game. But Currie also played some defensive end late in the year and doubled as Ringo’s backup at center.
Currie entrenched himself as a starting outside linebacker in Lombardi’s first season and played in 90 games for the Packers over seven years. He intercepted 11 passes and recovered six fumbles.
On April 13, 1965, Currie was traded to the Los Angeles Rams for offensive end Carroll Dale. Currie played two seasons with the Rams before being cut prior to the 1967 season.
Born June 27, 1935, in Detroit, Mich. Given name Daniel George Currie. Nicknamed “Dapper Dan.” Died Sept. 11, 2017, at age 82.
- Linebacker: 1958-64
- Height: 6-3; Weight: 235
- College: Michigan State, 1955-57
- Associated Press All-Pro Team (chosen since 1940): 1962
- Other years selected to an all-pro first team: 1961, ’63
- Pro Bowl Selection (game played since 1950): 1960