Ron Widby, maybe the best of the Green Bay Packers' ever-changing string of punters over a lean 22-year period, starting in 1972, died Wednesday.
Widby was 75.
After trading Donny Anderson to the St. Louis Cardinals for MacArthur Lane before the 1972 season, the Packers desperately needed a punter 12 days before the opener and shipped what turned out to be a second-round draft choice to the NFL champion Dallas Cowboys for Widby and defensive back-kick returner Ike Thomas. When the Cowboys won the title in 1971, Widby was the NFC's Pro Bowl punter
Widby averaged 41.8 yards per punt in his first season in Green Bay, finishing 10th in the NFL as the Packers won the NFC Central Division title. The next year, Widby averaged 43.1 yards and ranked sixth in the league. No Packers punter would rank higher until Craig Hentrich in 1997.
Widby had punted for the Cowboys for four years, including their 1970 and '71 Super Bowl teams. An outstanding punter and basketball player at the University of Tennessee, Widby also played a year of professional basketball with the New Orleans Buccaneers of the American Basketball Association in 1967.
The Packers placed Widby on injured reserve before the start of the 1974 season with a back injury and then released him before camp opened a year later. In the late 1990s, Widby also competed on the PGA Senior Tour.
No cause of death was given by the Cowboys when they made the announcement.