Burt Gustafson, who worked for the Packers for 18½ years as a coach and scout, died Saturday in Crystal Falls, Mich. He was 96.
Gustafson served four head coaches: Dan Devine, Bart Starr, Forrest Gregg and Lindy Infante. Hired in 1971, Gustafson was Devine's linebackers coach for four years. Under Starr, Gustafson served as a college scout for two years, special teams coach in 1977 and the first three preseason games in 1978, and then as a pro scout for one year and director of pro scouting for six years. In 1985, Gregg reassigned Gustafson to the position of administrative assistant in football operations. Gustafson held that post through 1988, Lindy Infante's first year as coach.
A native of Marquette, Mich., Gustafson won 12 letters at Northern Michigan University in football, basketball and track. He returned to Northern in 1956 as an assistant coach and served until 1961. From 1962 to 1970, he was an assistant under Lloyd Eaton at the University of Wyoming.
In fact, Gustafson's first introduction to the Packers was when he was a college coach in the 1960s.
"I was given an opportunity by Mr. Lombardi to be at training camp three years in a row," Gustafson said in a 2018 interview. "So I got to know Mr. Football himself. Hawg Hanner (defensive tackle and later assistant coach under Lombardi) invited me. I was coaching at Wyoming and got to stay in the dormitory, the whole bit. (Lombardi) let me come to the meetings. I'd go to a meeting at 7 o'clock and he had all the clocks set five minutes early. If the rookies came in late, they'd get fined."
In his final year with the Packers, Gustafson came to respect Infante more than the other coaches he worked under.
"From a football standpoint, he was the best of the four I worked for," Gustafson said in the same interview. "No doubt in my mind. He was tough but fair. He was a smart guy. He left the defense up to the defensive coaches. He didn't mess with it. He was strictly offense. It was his offense and that was it."
On the other hand, Gustafson said Tom Braatz, executive vice president of football operations, didn't like him and didn't listen to him, including when he offered unsolicited advice about drafting tackle Tony Mandarich, one of the biggest busts in NFL history, with the second overall pick in 1989.
"I told Braatz. 'Did you see the Iowa game film?' (Mandarich) couldn't block a 6-foot-3, 216-pound defensive end for Iowa," said Gustafson. "He didn't have the feet. I think he wore a 10 or 11 shoe. Guys his size wore 13, 14s."
For more information on funeral arrangements, visit Burt Gustafson's obituary.