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Green Bay Packers Legends of the Past: Mike Michalske

July 9th, 2013 at 3:11 PM
By Sean Tehan

Green Bay Packers legendary offensive guard and defensive lineman Mike Michalske was the first truly tough “sunnuva-gun” to play for Curly Lambeau’s Packers. Born as August Mike Michalske in April 1903 in Cleveland, Ohio, Michalske was remembered for his great stamina, toughness, quickness, speed, and strength in his pro football hall of fame career.

Michalske, an All-American fullback at Penn State University in 1925, played for the American Football League’s New York Yankees at the start of his professional career. In Michalske’s first season lead blocking for future hall of fame offensive back Red Grange, Michalske earned AFL Rookie of the Year honors.

The Yankees became an NFL franchise for the next two seasons, as Michalske was named All-NFL in each of the next two years. After the 1928 season, the NFL Yankee franchise folded, and Michalske signed a contract to play for Lambeau’s Green Bay Packers.

Michalske, who was a fullback at Penn State and with the Yankees, convinced Lambeau to move him to the offensive line because of Michalske’s great combination of skills to help counter his 6-feet tall, 210-pound frame. Michalske, who possessed excellent agility, quickness, and power, pioneered the idea of using fullbacks at the offensive guard position to help capitalize on size and speed, and he became the NFL’s first great offensive guard.

Michalske, who blocked for Packer offensive backs Bob Monnett and future Hall of Famer Johnny “Blood” McNally, wore a Packer team record nine different jersey numbers, en route to being named to the All-NFL team five times as a member of the Packers. Michalske was a cornerstone talent who helped the Packers win three consecutive NFL titles (1929-1931) in his first three seasons in Green Bay.

Michalske, who was also a ferocious defensive lineman, was given the nickname of “Iron Mike”, because he rarely missed a game while starring on offense and defense. In his nine-year career with the Packers (1929-1935, 1937), Michalske missed only nine of 104 games (he missed five games in his final NFL season in 1937), and played with an unrepaired hernia throughout most of his football career.

After finishing his professional football playing career, Michalske was an assistant coach for the NFL’s Pittsburgh Pirates and Baltimore Colts. Michalske was also an assistant coach at the University of Texas, Texas A&M, and Purdue University, and was Iowa State University’s head football coach from 1942-1946 (Cyclones went 18-18-3 in four seasons).

Michalske was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1964 and the Green Bay Packers’ Hall of Fame in 1970. Michalske, who was inducted as a member of Canton’s second hall of fame class, was the first player ever inducted into the Hall as an offensive guard.

August “Iron Mike” Michalske died in October 1983 at the age of 80.

Tags: Bob Monnett, Curly Lambeau, Football, Green Bay, Green Bay Packers, Mike Michalske, NFL, Pro Football Hall of Fame, Red Grange

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