Star football player in the early years of the NFL
, who held almost all receiving records at the time of his retirement.
Hutson (DOB: 1/31/1913) was an All-American at the University of Alabama his senior year in 1934, and was signed by the Green Bay Packers. On his first ever play, Hutson caught an 83 yard touchdown pass.
Hutson progressively had better and better seasons, catching a then-record 45 receptions in 1940. His speed helped earn him the nickname "The Alabama Antelope".
1942 was his best season, with 74 receptions, 1211 yards, and 17 touchdowns (all single-season records). Those numbers are even more impressive, considering the NFL played 11-game seasons at that time (as compared to the current 16). Despite the NFL lengthening the schedule in the decades since Hutson played, his touchdown mark lasted more than 40 years (Miami's Mark Clayton broke it with 18 in 1984). His 1211 yards were the first time a receiver ever had even 1000 yards in a season.
Hutson led the NFL in scoring 5 straight years, from 1940-1944. In addition to catching passes, he was also the Packers kicker and played defensive back.
Hutson retired after the 1945 season. In his 11 season career, Hutson led the NFL in touchdowns 9 times and receptions 8 times. The Packers won 3 NFL championships during his career. Hutson held virtually every NFL receiving record at the time, since the NFL didn't use the pass nearly as much as nowadays. His 99 career touchdowns were an NFL record for nearly a half a century (Steve Largent broke it in 1989). Hutson's 488 receptions and 7991 were also records, by a good amount (second place in receptions was a mere 190).
Hutson was a charter enshrinee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.
The Packers opened their new practice facility in 1994, naming it The Don Hutson Center.
Hutson passed away a few years later, on June 26, 1997, at the age of 84.
In 1999, ESPN's SportsCentury named Hutson as #93 on their list of the 100 greatest North American athletes in the 20th century. If the early days of the NFL were taken as seriously as the early days of baseball (Babe Ruth, anyone?), he would've undoubtedly been higher.