Hank Bullough, former Packers player and assistant coach, dies at 85

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Hank Bullough, who played for the Packers in the 1950s and then returned as defensive coordinator in the 1980s, died Sunday. He was 85.

Bullough was drafted by the Packers in the fifth round in 1955 and showed promise as a rookie guard. However, he was drafted into the Army in June 1956 and missed the next two seasons. He returned to the Packers in 1958 and played for Scooter McLean in their 1-10-1 season. In April 1959, almost three months after Vince Lombardi was named coach of the Packers, Bullough retired and accepted a coaching position at Michigan State, his alma mater.

When Forrest Gregg was named head coach of the Packers in December 1983, Bullough joined him as defensive coordinator and linebacker coach. Bullough had held those positions for four years under Gregg in Cincinnati and was hoping to succeed him there as head coach. But the Bengals hired Sam Wyche as head coach and Dick LeBeau as defensive coordinator instead.

“He’s one of the most outstanding defensive coordinators in the National Football League,” Gregg said when he announced Bullough’s hiring on Dec. 30, 1983.

A little more than five months later, Bullough announced his resignation to become head coach of the Pittsburgh Maulers of the United States Football League. The USFL played its games in the spring and when Bullough took the job, the Maulers were 2-11 and he was their third head coach of the season. But in an odd twist, Bullough decided to let interim coach Ellis Rainsberger continue to run the team while he observed from the press box and the Maulers folded after the season without Bullough ever coaching a game.

Four years later, Lindy Infante, Gregg’s successor as head coach of the Packers, hired Bullough to be his defensive coordinator and linebacker coach. This time, Bullough stayed four years and oversaw defenses that ranked seventh, 16th, 22nd and 10th in yards allowed.

A native of Canton, Ohio, Bullough played on Michigan State’s 1952 national championship team. He coached at the school from 1959 to 1969 and then spent more than 20 years as an NFL assistant, including stints with the Baltimore Colts, New England, Cincinnati, Buffalo and Detroit in addition to Green Bay. As a coach, his nickname was the “Doctor of Defense.”

Bullough had two sons and three grandsons who all played linebacker for Michigan State.

The university announced his death Monday, but provided few other details.

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