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Packers' deep threat still in the fast lane


Carroll Dale was the deep threat on the Packers' greatest teams, holding the club's all-time record for yards per catch, and he hasn't slowed down since. Dale was pinned down briefly for a conversation about coming to Green Bay after five years in Los Angeles, getting a college football program off the ground and how working into your 70s is the key to marital bliss.

Dale, who played in 111 games for the Packers from 1965-72, had 13 contests with over 100 receiving yards and enjoyed a 200-yard game in '68. In all but three years he had a catch of over 75 yards and departed with an average of 19.7 yards on 275 receptions. When Bart Starr went for the long strike, he often found Dale streaking down the sideline.

"Bart had a knack on third-and-1 to fake a run and throw it over everyone's heads. It worked a time or two. Those defensive backs would suck up on the fake and Bart would throw it right over them," Dale said.

Dale arrived in Green Bay after a five-season stint with the Rams. He had individual success after being drafted in the eighth round out of Virginia Tech, but Los Angeles was consistently mediocre, finishing 5-7-2 in '64, the year before he was dealt to the Packers for linebacker Dan Currie.

So Dale traded the bright lights of Hollywood for Wisconsin and tutelage under a demanding coach, Vince Lombardi. Dale was joining a club that was full of talented veterans.

"I loaded up the family for the drive and told them if I don't make it, at least we are going on a vacation," Dale said. "When I arrived, I met Bart and we lived with him for the first two weeks.

"I had gone through five years of losing. Lo and behold, my first year with the Packers we win the NFL championship. It felt so good it was like getting your first automobile. It meant a lot."

The Packers would follow the '65 season with victories in the first two Super Bowls, games in which Dale would combine for eight catches for 102 yards. While several of the greats he played with departed or retired in the years that followed, he soldiered on as Green Bay slipped out of playoff contention. Dale had more receptions than any other Packers player from '69-72, and kept going deep, with an 89-yard TD in '70 and a 77-yarder in '71.

"It's the nature of the league," he said. "There are injuries, teams get older, you need the right person as a coach, and it takes the entire squad to keep it going. You need to be better the year after you win than the year that you won the championship. That's the challenge. It will be the challenge for the present Packers. I think they can do it."

When his career ended, Dale went back to Wise, Va., and opened his own "mom and pop" coal mining business, operating the company for 17 years. In 1991, the college in his hometown, The University of Virginia's College at Wise, did a feasibility study on starting a football program, sought Dale's input, and he became the school's athletic director.

That year the Highland Cavaliers played their first football game, at Carroll Dale Stadium at the local high school. In 1997, UVa-Wise opened a football stadium, the first new building at the campus in two decades. Dale originally served as AD/wide receivers coach.

"I got out of the coaching end pretty quickly," he said. "Standing around on the sidelines has never been one of my strengths. It takes a special person to be a coach."

Dale would also walk away from being the full-time athletic director. He's now the assistant vice chancellor for athletic development.

"For the most part, I'm raising money for our athletic department," he said. "It's a pretty tough challenge. Over the last seven or eight years we've met our budget, which is $400,000. We're an NAIA school, in the Mid-South Conference, and we offer about 24 full scholarships, but usually we break those up into partial scholarships."

Dale is 74 but has no plans for retirement. His job allows him to get back to Green Bay a few times a year and he's always amazed the way Packers fans remember former players. Dale's wife, Pat, also prefers he put in a full day of work daily, or at least get up and go.

"I'm in a job that's not overly demanding, and I get to play a lot of golf," he said with a laugh. "My wife thinks I'm demanding, and I think she is. We get along better if I'm out of the house."

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