Counting down the weekdays to Super Bowl LI on Feb. 5 in Houston, we look back at the 50 greatest Super Bowl competitors from the ASN family of schools as calculated one year ago. Today: 45
For an athlete who attended college on a basketball scholarship, Fred “Fuzzy” Thurston made his name on the football field. A graduate of Valparaiso, Thurston is one of only three players in pro football history to participate on six world championship teams, including the first two Super Bowls.
Thurston, an offensive lineman, was one of the pulling guards for Vince Lombardi's signature play that helped pave Green Bay's way to five championships, including the first two Super Bowls against the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders. Thurston also won an NFL championship with the Baltimore Colts in 1958.
A two-time All-American in 1954 and 1955 as an offensive lineman for Valparaiso, Thurston was among 15 charter members inducted into the Valpo Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998. He was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1975
Playing under the legendary Lombardi, Thurston was often paired with guard Jerry Kramer, and was selected All-Pro in 1961 and 1962. But the highlight of his career was five championships with the Packers in 1961-62 and 1965-67.
Among Thurston's most famous quotes, he said he drank “about 10 vodkas” in an effort to stay warm during the famous Ice Bowl, the 1967 NFL championship during which the Packers beat the Cowboys, 21-17, where temperatures dipped to 13-below zero at Lambeau Field.
He explained the importance of the Packers' winning the first two Super Bowls: “I don’t want some guy to come into my steak house, point at me and say, ‘You played on the first team to lose to the AFL.’”
Thurston, who died in December 2014, is not a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1975. He’s also been enshrined in the Indiana Football Hall of Fame (1982) and Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame (2003). In Wisconsin, Thurston was the first player ever voted in by the residents of the state.
Drafted by the Eagles in the fifth round in 1956, Thurston didn’t play for Philadelphia that season, as he was drafted by the Army. When he returned, he played for the Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles, Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Canada and the Baltimore Colts before being traded to Green Bay in 1959. In 2011, one of his Super Bowl rings sold for $50,788 at auction.
“I came in with Coach Lombardi, and I retired when he stepped down,” Thurston said in a 2011 interview with Packer Plus. “I was lucky to play for the Green Bay Packers, a great coach with such great teammates. Not bad for a kid from Altoona (Pa.).”
Jill R. Dorson is a freelance writer based in San Diego.