Former Green Bay Packers rushing great John Brockington, the first NFL player to run for 1,000 yards in each of his first three seasons, died Friday at the age of 74.
A member of the Packers Hall of Fame, the hard-charging Brockington burst upon the NFL scene with 1,105 yards in 1971. He garnered Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year honors to kick off an eight-season NFL career that saw seven years and three Pro Bowl selections with Green Bay before retiring after one campaign with the Kansas City Chiefs.
"The Packers family was saddened to hear about the passing of John," Packers president/CEO Mark Murphy said in a statement. "One of the great runners of his era, John was an exciting player to watch with his powerful running style. Fans enthusiastically welcomed John back to Lambeau Field over the years, fondly remembering the 1972 division championship as well as the bright spots he provided in the less-successful seasons.
"I enjoyed getting to know John during his return visits to Green Bay and greatly respected his work in support of organ donation through the John Brockington Foundation. He leaves a wonderful legacy.
"We extend our condolences to his wife, Diane, and his family and friends."
Born Sept. 7, 1948 in Brooklyn, New York, Brockington became a Buckeye gridiron great when, as a member of the Super Sophomores, he helped Ohio State to a national championship in 1968.
He was selected ninth overall by the Packers in the 1971 NFL Draft.
Brockington finished his career with 5,185 rushing yards on 1,347 carries over 95 games. The fullback posted 30 touchdowns on the ground for his career, but it was how he began his professional tenure that is most fondly remembered.
He ran for 3,276 yards over his first three seasons -- all played in a 14-game schedule. He posted 1,105 yards, 1,027 and 1,144 in his first three seasons, respectively. All three seasons saw Brockington garner Pro Bowl selections, with an All-Pro nod as a rookie. Brockington also led the NFL with 309 touches in 1974 when he rushed for 883 yards.
Having played under head coaches Dan Devine and Bart Starr, Brockington was largely an overlooked standout during some lean seasons in the Packers' decorated history. However, he received the acclaim and just recognition of being enshrined in the Packers Hall of Fame in 1984 -- seven years after his NFL retirement.