Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Second-choice custom for Fuzzy

As I posted on Saturday, I had long intended to create a 1958 Topps-style football card of Fuzzy Thurston with the Baltimore Colts. A lack of a suitable foil has sidelined that effort, but since I did find a decent picture of Thurston during his college days, I've gone ahead and created a '55 All-American custom.

In researching Thurston, I was surprised to find he didn't play college football until he was a junior at Valparaiso University in 1954. He had been recruited to Valpo as a basketball player. During and after his NFL career, Thurston continued to be a fixture on the Green Bay Packers charity basketball squads.

With the Crusaders in 1954, when they won the Heartland Collegiate Conference in 1954, Thurston was named an AP "Little All-American." As team captain in 1955, he repeated as a Little All-American and was named the HCC Most Valuable Lineman. In his two years at Valpo, the team was 17-7-2.

Thurston was a fifth round pick (#54 overall) of the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1956 NFL draft,but never played for them. He spent two years in military service before joining the Baltimore Colts in 1958. His play during the last four games of the stretch drive helped the Colts to a World's Championship.

Just three days into the Colts' training camp in 1959, Thurston was traded to the Green Bay Packers for linebacker Marv Matuszak. New head coach Vince Lombardi wanted Fuzzy to anchor the offensive line which was integral to the "run to daylight" offense he brought to the Packers' dynasty of the 1960s.

Thurston won five more championship rings with the Packers (1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1967) before retiring after Super Bowl II.

In my next posting, I'll tell you about the time I "met" Fuzzy Thurston.

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