Herb Adderley, a star defensive back with the Packers and Cowboys who was the only player to play in four of the first six Super Bowls, has died at the age of 81.
Adderley played primarily on offense in college at Michigan State and was the Spartans’ leading rusher and their leading receiver in 1959. He was selected 12th overall by the Green Bay Packers in the 1961 NFL draft and 13th overall by the New York Titans in the 1961 AFL draft. He chose to go to Green Bay and play for Vince Lombardi, where he became a key cog in one of the great dynasties in pro football history.
Although he began his career playing running back, Lombardi moved him to cornerback when the Packers had a string of injuries, and Adderley thrived there. Lombardi later said he blamed himself for not immediately recognizing how great Adderley would be on defense. Adderley recalled with pride that Lombardi told him he was the best cornerback in football.
“He said I was the best cornerback he’d ever seen. In front of the whole team he said I was the best athlete,” Adderley recalled. “I’ll always remember that.”
Adderley played for the Packers from 1961 to 1969, winning Super Bowls I and II, but after Lombardi left the Packers, the team traded him to the Cowboys. Although he remained in Dallas for three years and played in Super Bowl V and earned a third ring in Super Bowl VI, he said he never felt comfortable playing for a coach other than Lombardi, and wore only the two Super Bowl rings he won with the Packers. The Cowboys would trade him to the Rams after three seasons, but Adderley chose to retire.
After retiring from the NFL, Adderley was a broadcaster in his hometown of Philadelphia, calling Eagles games as well as Temple football. He was also an assistant coach for the World Football League’s Philadelphia Bell. He was chosen to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980.