Carl Barzilauskas, who started 21 games at defensive tackle over two seasons for the Green Bay Packers, died Dec. 20 in Bloomington, Ind. Barzilauskas, 72, was a patient at the Indiana University Health Hospice House in Bloomington at the time of his death.
The Packers acquired Barzilauskas from the New York Jets on June 6, 1978, in exchange for fourth- and fifth-round draft picks. Barzilauskas had injured his knee and missed the final five games of the 1977 season. He also had lost his starting job to rookie Joe Klecko, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this past summer.
Barzilauskas was selected by the Jets with the sixth overall pick in the 1974 NFL Draft. He played four years for the Jets and made the NFL's all-rookie team in 1974. The Packers owned the 12th pick that year and were prepared to draft one of three players: Barzilauskas, running back Wilbur Jackson or fullback Barty Smith. In anticipation of a bidding war with the World Football League, the Packers had assistant coaches standing by with all three players. When Jackson was drafted ninth overall by San Francisco, three spots after the Jets had taken Barzilauskas, the Packers then grabbed Smith.
The Packers acquired Barzilauskas, who stood 6-foot-6 and weighed 271 pounds, to anchor the middle of their defense. They were still employing a 4-3 as their base defense but also planned to experiment with a 3-4 alignment and believed Barzilauskas would be a fit in either scheme. As it turned out, the Packers abandoned their 3-4 plans after the preseason, and Barzilauskas played almost exclusively as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 his first year in Green Bay.
In 1978, Barzilauskas started 16 games and had four sacks. In 1979, he was bothered by knee problems and then suffered a nerve injury that affected his shoulder and neck and was placed on injured reserve after five games.
Barzilauskas announced his retirement in the spring of 1980 at the age of 29.