On the eve of what would have been his 86th birthday, the Green Bay Packers announced during Thursday’s virtual shareholders meeting they’ll wear a helmet decal this season in honor of Hall of Fame defensive end Willie Davis, who passed away in April.
Davis played 10 seasons in Green Bay, where he won five NFL championships – including the first two Super Bowls – and was named the first African-American captain in team history in 1965. He was a five-time All-Pro selection (1962, 1964-67) and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1981.
Though he played before sacks were counted as an official statistic, it is believed Davis recorded more than 100 during his time with the Packers. He is, however, officially the franchise’s all-time leader in fumble recoveries with 21.
Davis played collegiately at Grambling State and was selected in the 15th round of the 1956 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. He spent two years in the Army before joining the Browns, for whom he played both offensive tackle and defensive end.
Cleveland sent Davis to Green Bay in 1960 in exchange for offensive end A.D. Williams in what is considered one of the most lopsided trades in NFL history. Williams retired after just three seasons in the league, while Davis played in 162 consecutive games for the Packers, which ranks second in team history to teammate Forrest Gregg.
When his playing career came to a close in 1969, Davis shifted his focus to broadcasting. He spent the next six seasons as a color commentator on NFL telecasts for NBC, then founded All-Pro Broadcasting in 1976, which operates stations in California and Wisconsin to this day.
Davis served as a member of the Packers’ board of directors from 1994-2005 and on the boards of numerous Fortune 500 corporations until his death. He is also the father of actor Duane Davis, best known for his role in the 1993 film “The Program,” and the grandfather of Ohio State offensive guard Wyatt Davis, an All-American who is widely expected to be taken in the first round of next year’s NFL Draft.
Green Bay wore a helmet decal last season in honor of former quarterback Bart Starr, who passed away in May 2019. It’s possible Davis’ decal follows the same design, which would place his last name and number inside of a black circle on the Packers’ helmet stripe, as seen above.
Photos courtesy of the Green Bay Packers.