Illini Legends, Lists & Lore: Ray Nitschke

Ray Nitschke, by the numbers

Thirty-five years ago, former Illinois standout Ray Nitschke was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, joining Lance Alworth, Weeb Ewbank, Tuffy Leemans and Larry Wilson in ceremonies at Canton, Ohio. Nitschke lettered for UI coach Ray Eliot from 1955 to '57. He was an All-State quarterback at Proviso High School for coach Andy Puplis but was converted to fullback during practice in 1955. His parents died at early ages, so his older brothers raised Ray from age 13. Born in 1936, Nitschke died in 1998 at the age of 61.

NUMBER: SIGNIFICANCE

2: Played in two Super Bowls for the Packers (I and II).

3: Number of times he was named to the All-NFL team.

5: Touchdowns he scored in 1957 as the Illini's top scorer.

15: Nitschke was the 15th Packer to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, one year after teammates Bart Starr and Forrest Gregg earned that honor.

25: Career interceptions as an NFL player.

32: Nitschke's number with the Illini.

36: He was the 36th overall pick in the 1958 NFL draft.

66: Number he wore for the Packers was the fourth numeral retired by Green Bay.

998: Nitschke's career rushing yardage as an Illini fullback (176 attempts)

1962: Named MVP of the NFL title game when the Packers beat the New York Giants.

1969: Named the NFL's all-time top linebacker during the league's 50th anniversary, he also was a member of the 75th anniversary NFL team.

1978: Played a character named "Guard Bodanski" in the film "The Longest Yard."

Illini Birthdays

Sunday: Eric Siebert, wrestling (38)

Monday: Morganne Criswell, volleyball (19)

Tuesday: Mike Stankiewicz, baseball (26)

Wednesday: Mac McCracken, football (57)

Thursday: Richard Ryles, football (50)

Friday: Scott Shaw, baseball (26)

Saturday: Rachel Henderson, volleyball (25)

By Mike Pearson, author of Illini Legends, Lists & Lore and assistant athletic director at Miami (Ohio)

Get Illini birthdays, trivia and historical tidbits daily on Twitter @IlliniLegends

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