Feisty and fearless despite his lack of height, Elijah “Pete” Tinsley played on the Packers’ 1939 and 1944 NFL championship teams. He was a substitute in 1939, but started seven of 10 games at guard in 1944. Tinsley settled into the guard slot as a rookie after playing every backfield position, as well as end and guard, at the University of Georgia.
After starting only three games in his first three pro seasons and missing the first four games in 1940 due to a badly bruised foot suffered in the College All-Star Game, Tinsley took over as the Packers’ starting right guard in 1941. While he was acclaimed for having a nose for the ball and a knack for pouncing on fumbles when players doubled on offense and defense, there were no official statistics to prove it.
What can be verified is that he recovered a drive-stopping fumble when the Packers beat the Bears, 16-14, in a huge game in 1941, and also that he recovered back-to-back fumbles against Card-Pitt in a 1944 game. “Pete was Pete. He was just as ornery as they came,” said former teammate Herm Rohrig.
In 1941, Tinsley was named second-team all-pro by the Associated Press and two newspapers.
“He was a little wiry guard,” said former teammate Nolan Luhn. “He was tough as a boot. He was hurt half the time, but he stayed in the ball game. He played hurt a lot of times.”
The Packers selected Tinsley in the 11th round of the 1938 NFL Draft. In 1943, he was drafted into the Army and served eight months, but was honorably discharged due to chronic arthritis and ear trouble and rejoined the Packers on Sept. 15 of that year.
Tinsley played in 76 games over eight seasons and started 31, all at guard. In May 1946, Lambeau announced he had transferred Tinsley’s rights to the Boston Yanks. No player or cash was involved in the deal, and Tinsley never played again.
Born March 16, 1913, in Sumter, S.C. Given name Elijah Pope Tinsley Jr. Died May 11, 1995, at age 82.
Elijah “Pete” Tinsley
- Guard: 1938-45*
- Height: 5-8; Weight: 205
- College: Georgia, 1935-37
* “Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League” credited Tinsley with playing in only the NFL championship games in 1938 and ’39 and missing the 1940 season. NFL.com credits Tinsley with playing all three years. Official league records show Tinsley played in nine regular-season games in 1938, 10 in 1939 and seven in 1940. In all, he played in 76 games. “Total Football” had Tinsley playing in only 50 regular-season games during his career.