Packers great Willie Davis dies at 85

Former Green Bay Packer, and Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end, Willie Davis died Wednesday, April 15, at 85. (The Plain Dealer)

Pro Football Hall of Fame member Willie Davis, a key member of the Lombardi-era Green Bay Packers, died Wednesday morning at age 85.

The Packers said he died at a hospital in Santa Monica, Calif., but did not reveal the cause of death.

A defensive end, Davis played for the Packers from 1960-69 and was part of Green Bay's Super Bowl-winning teams in 1967 and 1968 — and five NFL championship teams. Davis also was the first African-American captain in the team's history.

In 12 NFL seasons, he never missed a game.

Davis was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1981. He holds the Packers' career record for fumble recoveries with 21.


"Willie's extraordinary athleticism was an undeniable factor in Green Bay's winning tradition of the 1960s under Coach Lombardi," said Hall of Fame president and CEO David Baker. "He helped the Packers through an unprecedented championship run and to two Super Bowl victories. Willie was a man of true character on and off the field. The Hall of Fame will forever keep his legacy alive to serve as inspiration to future generations."

Davis played his college ball at Grambling under legendary coach Eddie Robinson and was a 15th-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns in 1956. After two years in the military, he joined the Browns in 1958 and was traded to the Packers before the 1960 season.

Davis played in 162 career games, earned All-Pro accolades five times and was named to the NFL's 1960s All-Decade Team. After his retirement, he was an analyst for NBC for five years.

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