GREEN BAY – Bobby Dillon officially is overlooked no more.
The former Packers safety is getting inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday night in Canton, Ohio. The wait has been long. The late Dillon, who died two years ago this month, retired 62 years ago.
He was finally chosen for enshrinement as part of the Hall of Fame's Centennial Class of 2020, a larger-than-usual group of inductees that grew out of the selection committee's expanded examination of previous, passed-over candidates as part of the NFL's 100 seasons celebration.
Then the wait was extended by yet another year, as the pandemic cancelled the 2020 inductions. They were pushed back to this weekend and are combined with the ceremonies for the Class of 2021.
But however long it took doesn't diminish the deservedness of the honor for Dillon.
One of the best defensive backs in franchise history, Dillon owns the team record for career interceptions with 52, which he achieved in just eight seasons (1952-59). Second on that list is Hall of Famer and fellow safety Willie Wood (48), followed by another Hall of Famer in cornerback Herb Adderley (39).
Three times ('53, '55, '57) Dillon intercepted nine passes, one off the single-season team mark set by Irv Comp in 1943. The multiple nine-pick seasons are even more impressive when considering a full season was just 12 games back then.
Dillon led the Packers in interceptions every season except his final one in 1959, which turned out to be the only winning team on which he played. Prior to that 7-5 season in Vince Lombardi's first year as head coach, the Packers went just 26-56-2 in Dillon's initial seven years, no doubt the primary reason he was overlooked for so long.
Former Packers general manager Ron Wolf, inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015, has long advocated for Dillon's inclusion in Canton. Lombardi himself considered Dillon "the best in the league" at defensive back when he came to Green Bay, and labeled him "untouchable" in any discussions of roster moves with other clubs, according to research by team historian Cliff Christl.
Dillon's personal story makes his successful NFL career all the more remarkable, as he played with a glass eye due to an accident from his youth.
The Packers drafted him in the third round (No. 28 overall) in 1952 out of the University of Texas, his home-state school, and he went on to earn first-team Associated Press All-Pro honors four times as well as four Pro Bowl selections. He added one second-team AP All-Pro honor as well.
With Dillon and Class of 2021 member Charles Woodson, the Packers now have 27 individuals enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the second-highest total amongst all NFL clubs behind only the 30 from the Chicago Bears.
Dillon is just the second of those 27 Packers who was not a member of one of Green Bay's 13 championship teams. The other is receiver James Lofton, who played for the Packers from 1978-86 and was inducted in 2003.