Willie Davis, Green Bay Packers legend and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, died on Wednesday, the team announced. He was 85 years old. Davis' wife, Carol, said her husband had been in the hospital for a month with kidney failure.
"The Green Bay Packers Family was saddened today to learn about the passing of Willie Davis," Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy said in a statement. "One of the great defensive players of his era, Willie was a significant contributor to the Packers' five NFL championship teams during the 1960s. I enjoyed getting to know Willie and his wife, Carol, especially when he served as our honorary captain for the 2010 NFC Championship game and Super Bowl XLV, and again for the 2014 NFC Championship game. He also was a great role model for our players, having gone on to a very successful career after football and serving on the Packers Board of Directors."
Davis began his NFL career in 1958. He was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the 15th round in 1956, but he did not start playing for another two years due to his military service. He played multiple positions for the Browns before being traded to the Packers in 1960. Under the leadership of head coach Vince Lombardi, Davis became one of the many stars on the Packers during that time. Along with helping the team win five NFL Championships (including the first-ever two Super Bowls), Davis was named to the Pro Bowl five times, and he was also a five-time member of the All-Pro First team. He was named to the 1960s All-Decade Team, and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1981.
"I think he had a great deal of affection for Willie Davis," Chuck Lane, the Packers' public relations director under Lombardi, said when talking about the coach's relationship with Davis. "I think (Lombardi) was determined that Willie Davis was going to be a success after football. He cut him some slack to go to night school, law school, etc. Willie Davis was a bright, articulate guy. Great with the team. And Lombardi was spot on about him."
Davis has no sacks recorded on his stat sheet because sacks didn't become an official statistic until 1982. However, it is believed that Davis tallied as many as 140 sacks during his time in Green Bay, which would have put him among the top-10 all-time leaders.