Green Bay Packers' legendary fullback and linebacker Clarke Hinkle was remembered as a physical workhorse and one of the NFL’s most versatile players in the 1930’s. Hinkle, who played his entire ten year career (1932-1941) with the Green Bay Packers, was known for his intense and fearless style of play, en route to his 1964 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction.
Before his hall of fame professional career began in Green Bay with the Packers, William Clarke Hinkle played college football at Bucknell University, where he was known as the “Bucknell Battering Ram”. Hinkle helped lead the Bisons to an undefeated season in 1931, and his college coach, Carl Snavely, reportedly said “without a doubt, (Hinkle) was the greatest player I have ever coached”.
Standing at 5’11 and weighing in at 202 pounds, Hinkle was a small kid from a small Ohio town (Toronto). Hinkle though put together an impressive NFL career, and was known as one of the game’s toughest and most intimidating players ever. Hinkle’s versatility helped propel the Packers to two NFL titles in 1936 and 1939.
Hinkle starred out of the offensive backfield for Curly Lambeau’s Packers, racking up over 4,300 total yards and scoring 44 total touchdowns. In his career, Hinkle rushed for 3,680 yards, which was an NFL best by the time he had retired from football.
At linebacker, Hinkle was often remembered for his famous battles against Chicago Bears' offensive back and hall of famer Bronko Nagurski. Nagurski, who weighed 226 pounds, was a tremendous offensive weapon whom opposing defenders often feared. Nagurski was one of the toughest players to drag down in the 1930’s, yet Hinkle reportedly was one of the very few players who could consistently tackle him. Nagurski reportedly had such respect for his former foe that he had presented Hinkle in Canton for his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1964.
Besides playing fullback and linebacker, Hinkle was also the Packers’ punter and placekicker. In his career, Hinkle averaged just below 41 yards per punt. In 1937, Hinkle led the league in total touchdowns (7) and total scoring with 58 points (7 TDs, 3 field goals, 7 PAT’s). In six of his ten seasons, Hinkle was a top ten rusher.
In his ten year career, Hinkle was second-team All-NFL six times, and was named to the All-NFL team four times. Hinkle, one of the greatest players of his era, was named to the NFL 1930’s All-Decade Team.
In November 1988, Hinkle died in Steubenville, Ohio. Nine years later, the Green Bay Packers honored Hinkle, naming their outdoor practice field (behind the Don Hutson Center) “Clarke Hinkle Field”. Hinkle not only exhibited the toughness and attitude needed to be a great football player, but put down the blue print on how to become a great Packer player as well.
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