Former Packers backup QB Dennis Claridge dies

Nebraska star was a third-round draft choice in 1963

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Former Green Bay Packers quarterback Dennis Claridge, drafted in the third round in 1963 and viewed as the first of several heirs apparent to Bart Starr, died Tuesday.

Claridge, 76, was selected as a future, or junior eligible, with the 39th overall pick in the 1963 draft. At the time, a future was a player whose class was graduating but had another year of college eligibility remaining and couldn't sign with an NFL team until it expired. Thus, Claridge didn't sign with the Packers until 1964.

Claridge spent two years with the Packers as third-string quarterback to Starr and Zeke Bratkowski, but appeared in only one game and threw only one pass. He was selected by Atlanta in its expansion draft in 1966. Claridge played one season with the Falcons, appeared in seven games and started three.

He retired following the 1966 season to become dentist.

Claridge's death was reported by huskers.com. The website said he had battled bladder cancer for three years.

Two weeks before Vince Lombardi exposed Claridge in the expansion draft, Packers cornerback Doug Hart predicted big things for him during a speech in Manitowoc.

"I'd say he has the strongest arm of the three (quarterbacks)," said Hart. "You should be seeing more of him this season."

Claridge was a three-year starter at Nebraska and was twice named all-Big Eight. As a senior, he led the Cornhuskers to a 10-1 record and a victory in the Orange Bowl.

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