Packers HOF Willie Davis dies

May have been franchise sack leader

Mike Clemens
April 15, 2020 - 3:54 pm
Packers Willie Davis

© Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

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Santa Monica, CA - Green Bay Packers legendary defensive end Willie Davis has died at the age of 85.

Davis may have been the Packers all-time leader in quarterback sacks. 

Some have estimated he had as many as 100 quarterback sacks, maybe more, in his 10 seasons with Green Bay. 

We'll never know for sure. 

Sacks were not a part of the official records of the NFL back then. 

"I know he must have had at least 25 in just one year for us," said former teammate and star running back Paul Hornung. 

Davis had tremendous upper body strength, and was known for his drive and energy through all four quarters of a football game. 

He was drafted by the Cleveland Browns out of Grambling State in 1956, but did not begin his NFL career until 1958, after a serving in the US Army.

The Browns traded Davis to the Packers in 1960,  just as Vince Lombardi was leading the team to an NFL Championship that season. 

Davis would earn six All Pro honors, and five NFL Championship rings, while playing in 138 consecutive regular-season games with the Packers. 

He became one of the first African-American players on the Packers to room with a white teammate, right guard Jerry Kramer. 

"Really an exceptional human being," said Kramer after joining Davis in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio two years ago. 

Kramer said Davis' mother insisted her son further his education after football. 

He enrolled in the business school at the University of Chicago, earning a masters degree and academic honors including the dean's list. 

"Willie went on to serve on the board of directors of 17 of the top companies on the New York Stock Exchange," said Kramer. 

Davis died Wednesday after being hospitalized for a month following kidney failure. 

Packers team historian and former beat reporter Cliff Christl offered this report on the outstanding career of Willie Davis:  

- Mike Clemens covers the Packers and NFL statewide for The Bill Michaels Show and on AM1250/105.7 FM The FAN, Milwaukee

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