Before There Were Helmets: Clarke Hinkle

Clark Hinkle PackersA continuation of our series on Packer greats from before the 1943 NFL helmet rule. If you missed the others in the series, you can find them here.

Clarke Hinkle was the Packers’ fullback/linebacker from 1932 to 1941. He earned the nickname of Battering Ram in college, and Packer fans soon found out why.

Clarke Hinkle vs Bronco Nagurski

The Packers and the Bears have always had a knock-down, drag-out relationship over the years. But, one of the most epic matchups between the two teams was the head to head competition between Clarke Hinkle and the Bears’ fullback/linebacker Bronco Nagurski.

No matter which team had the ball it was a matchup of two hard hitting players. One trying to hammer his way to more yardage and the other attempting to slam him to the ground. And, the hits were bone-jarring.

Nagurski out-weighed Hinkle by 30 pounds, but Hinkle’s competitive spirit and his desire to win more than made up for his relatively smaller size. Though the two players had the same will to beat their rival that Packer and Bears players feel today, off the field they had the utmost respect for each other. In fact, Nagurski spoke at Hinkle’s hall of fame induction ceremony.

Clarke Hinkle and the Multiple Jersey Disorder

Before there were helmets players didn’t seem to get as attached to jersey numbers as they do today, but the variety of jerseys Hinkle wore is perplexing. They are as follows:

  • 1932 – Number 27 and 33
  • 1933 – Number 30 and 39
  • 1934 – Number 45 and 48
  • 1935 – Number 30
  • 1936 – Number 41
  • 1937-41 – Number 30

Career Stats for Clarke Hinkle

With Hinkle in the backfield and Don Hutson running pass routes, the Packers were a nearly unstoppable force. Seven times Hinkle led the Packers in rushing. In 1937 he had six games in a row with a rushing touchdown. Twice Hinkle was all pro.

In addition to running the ball and chasing down ball carriers, Hinkle also was the Packers’ placekicker. In 1938 his rushing touchdowns and placekicking generated 58 points in a single season, which made Clarke the league leader in scoring that season.

During Hinkle’s time with the Packers, the Pack won two league championships. One of which was scheduled to be the first (and only) championship game held in the great city of Green Bay. However, the game was moved to the state fairgrounds in West Allis in an effort to boost attendance. The Packers won that game 27-0 against the NY Giants.

Hinkle still holds the record for most seasons leading the Packers in rushing. That’s a feat that has never been topped by another Packer running back, though Ahman Green was able to match it.

In 1941 Clarke Hinkle retired from football as the league’s all time leading rusher. That record would stand until 1949.

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