May 4, 2012

MVP Profile: Don Hutson, 1941


End/Defensive Back, Green Bay Packers



Age:  28
7th season in pro football & with Packers
College: Alabama
Height: 6’1”    Weight: 185

Prelude:
Coming out of college, where he had been an All-American at Alabama, there were questions as to whether Hutson was suited to the pro game. He quickly allayed such concerns as a rookie in 1935, catching 18 passes for 420 yards (23.3 avg.) and 6 TDs (he led the league with a total of 7). The numbers improved dramatically as he became the top receiver in the NFL, leading the league in receptions (34), yards (536), and TDs (8) in 1936 and receptions (41) and TDs (7) in ’37. Fast and innovative in the maneuvers he utilized and routes he ran, Hutson became the first deep threat and caused defenses to utilize new strategies, such as double- and triple-teaming, to contain him. He led the NFL in receiving yards (548) as well as TDs (9) in 1938 and in receptions (34), yards (849), and yards per catch (24.9) in ’39. While he didn’t lead the league in receptions in 1940, he still had a then-career high with 45.

1941 Season Summary
Appeared in all 11 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 58 [1]  
Most receptions, game – 9 (for 135 yds.) at Washington 11/30
Yards – 738 [1]
Most yards, game - 135 (on 9 catches) at Washington 11/30
Average gain – 12.7 [6]
TDs – 10 [1]
100-yard receiving games - 2

Rushing
Attempts – 4
Yards – 22
Average gain – 5.5
TDs – 2

Kicking
Field goals – 1 [12, tied with twelve others]
Field goal attempts – 1
Percentage – 100.00
PATs – 20 [1, tied with Bob Snyder]
PAT attempts – 24 [1, tied with Bob Snyder]
Longest field goal – 13 yards at Cle. Rams 10/19

Interceptions
Interceptions – 1
Return yards – 32
TDs – 0

Kickoff Returns
Returns – 1   
Yards – 8
Average per return – 8.0
TDs – 0

Scoring
TDs – 12 [1]
FG – 1
PATs – 20
Points – 95 [1]

Postseason: 1 G (Western Division playoff at Chicago Bears)
Pass receptions – 1
Pass receiving yards - 19
Average yards per reception – 19.0
Pass Receiving TDs – 0

Field goals - 0
Field goal attempts – 0
PATs – 2
PAT attempts – 2

Awards & Honors:
NFL MVP: Joe F. Carr Trophy
1st team All-NFL: League, AP, UPI, Chicago Herald American, Collyers, NY Daily News
NFL All-Star Game

Packers went 10-1 to tie for first place in the Western Division. Lost Division playoff to Chicago Bears (33-14).

Aftermath:
Having tied the league record for pass receptions in 1941, Hutson set a new standard in 1942 – another MVP season – with 74 while also setting records with 1211 yards and 17 TDs in just 11 games. Taking advantage of diluted competition during World War II, he continued to be the NFL’s dominant pass receiver. He retired following the 1945 season as the career leader in receptions (488), receiving yards (7991), TD receptions (99), and overall TDs (105). Many of those records lasted for decades – the one for TD receptions lasted until 1989. Used as a defensive back (rather than end) on defense, he intercepted 30 passes in his last six seasons (individual interceptions were first compiled in 1940). As a placekicker, he compiled 7 field goals and 172 extra points and his overall point total was 823, which also was the NFL career record at the time. Hutson was a consensus first-team All-Pro on eight occasions. The Packers retired his #14 and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a Charter Member in 1963.

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MVP Profiles feature players who were named MVP or Player of the Year in the NFL, AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, Maxwell Club – Bert Bell Award, or the league itself). 

[Updated 2/9/14]