Former Packers CB Doug Hart dies at 80

Lombardi acquisition started on '65 title team


Doug Hart, starting cornerback on the Packers' 1965 NFL championship team, died Jan. 1. Hart was 80.

Hart played for the Packers from 1964 to 1971 and didn't miss a game. The Packers signed Hart during training camp in 1963 after he had signed with the St. Louis Cardinals as a rookie free agent, only to get cut early in camp. It was a surprising move considering the Cardinals were coming off a 4-9-1 season, while the Packers were defending NFL champions.

"We had a good report on Hart before the Cardinals signed him," coach and general manager Vince Lombardi announced at the time. "He's fast and smart."

Hart was waived by the Packers before the final preseason game and spent 1963 on what was then called the taxi squad, or practice squad in today's vernacular.

The next year, Hart was the Packers' third cornerback behind Herb Adderley and Jesse Whittenton, but started two games. In 1965, he became the starter at right cornerback when Bob Jeter was injured in the final preseason game and held the job until he got hurt in the NFL Championship Game against Cleveland. Jeter took over and retained the position for the next five years.

After backing up Adderley and Jeter for three seasons, Hart became the Packers' starting left safety in 1969 and basically held the position through his final year.

"I went to training camp in Lake Forest, Ill., and I got cut after two weeks," Hart said in 2004, explaining how he went from being a Cardinals reject to joining a team that had finished 13-1 the season before. "I went back to Arlington, Texas, on a Friday and on Monday, I went to Bell Helicopter and applied for a job and I got it on Tuesday. I worked a couple days and I came home from work one day and my mother said, 'The Green Bay Packers had called.'

"I returned the call to Pat Peppler, the director of player personnel. I said, 'Look, I just got cut and just got a job and I'm planning on going to law school. I don't want to go to another team and get cut again.' He said, 'Well, you're going to have to come over and talk to Lombardi.' I was in Hurst, Texas, at the time, and the Packers were in Dallas getting ready to play the Cowboys in a preseason game. So I went over to the hotel where they were staying and met Pat Peppler and we woke Lombardi up from a nap. I said to the coach, 'I don't want to go with another team and get cut again.' He stood up for a second and said, 'Well, then we'll give you your release.' From somewhere out of the blue I said, 'But I don't want to miss the chance.' He said, 'Work out with us for two days and we'll let you know.' I went back to work, got a leave of absence for two days and worked out.

"At the end of the two days, Phil Bengtson came over and said, 'We want you to suit up for the game.' I played the last four plays of the game and at the end of the evening dinner, following the game, coach Bengtson came over and said, 'We want you to go to Green Bay with us.' I went to Green Bay. On Monday morning, I called Bell Helicopter and told them I wasn't coming back and asked them to send me my paycheck for the three days I worked. I just made the decision that, 'It looks like I can make it here and I want to try and do that.'"

Hart played in 112 games with the Packers and intercepted 15 passes. He reported to camp in 1972, but retired in late August.

"He was a tough kid and had speed," former defensive line coach Dave Hanner said in 2004. "He wasn't a bad athlete."

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