NFL – Throwback Thursday: The Enigma Quarterback

09 Dec

The oldest rivalry in pro football gets renewed this week on the NFL schedule as the Chicago Bears take on the Green Bay Packers. For this week’s Throwback Thursday feature we’ll travel back to November 4, 1973 for a matchup between these 2 historic franchises. By the ’73 season, the Packers were long past the Vince Lombardi dynasty years, and the Bears’ founder, owner and coach George “Papa Bear” Halas had moved from the sideline into the front office to run the club. The teams were now coached by a couple of forgettable names – Dan Devine with Green Bay and the large, jovial Abe Gibron for the Bears. Both teams were foundering, with the Packers at 2-3-2 and Chicago a lowly 2-5, entering the game.


Bears’ coach Abe Gibron, large and in charge

The Bears’ quarterback at the time was an NFL enigma. A novelty in 1973 but perhaps a player well ahead of his time, he was Bobby Douglass, a 6’4″ 225 lb. corn-fed Kansas boy. Douglass was a couple of things that didn’t mesh with NFL football quarterbacks at the time. He was left-handed, and he was a runner rather than an effective passer. His career passing statistics are cringe-worthy – in 10 seasons, he threw for 36 touchdowns and 64 interceptions and had a career QB rating of 48.5. Nevertheless, he paved the way for southpaw throwers like Ken Stabler and later Steve Young to be accepted despite being lefty and having run game skills. It could be argued that Douglass was the original lab experiment and Young the perfected final product.

Back to the November 1973 game. It was at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, an intimidating place for visiting teams in the Lombardi era but not so much now. This was a matchup between Douglass and the heir apparent to Bart Starr, a not-so-legendary signal caller named Scott Hunter. The pair traded first quarter touchdowns as Douglass opened the scoring on a 1 yard run, with Hunter answering on a 5 yard scoring toss to MacArthur Lane. In the second stanza Hunter ran in from a yard out and the clubs traded field goals, putting Green Bay ahead 17-10 at the half. The second half turned out to be the Bobby Douglass show. He accounted for all the scoring with 3 more short TD runs, giving him a total of 4 six-pointers on the day as he amassed an even 100 yards rushing on 18 carries. His passing stats were unspectacular but efficient, as he hit on 10 of 15 throws for 118 yards in his team’s 31-17 victory. In all the Bears rushed for 230 yards while their defense made life miserable for Hunter. He completed only 3 of 15 passes for a meager 17 yards. The only offensive bright spot for the Packers was the 119 yards gained on the ground by Lane and John Brockington, who was a very underrated running back in the post-Lombardi Packer era. Unfortunately for the Bears, this would be the last game they won in the ’73 season as they finished 3-11 for last place in the NFC Central Division. Green Bay managed a bit more success, but not much more as they wound up just ahead of the Bears in the standings at 5-7-2.



Packer defenders spent the day chasing Douglass

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