One of the greatest players in football history — college or pro — was Alabama end Don Hutson.

He revolutionized football, blazing a trail for later receivers like Steve Largent and Jerry Rice. A two-time All-American at Alabama, much of Hutson’s career is lost among younger generations of SEC fans.

For the uninitiated, here are 25 facts on Hutson, one of the greatest players ever to wear Crimson and White.

  • Born on Jan. 31, 1913, in Pine Bluff, Ark., Hutson played just one year of high school football. According to the New York Times, he was better known for his collection of pet rattlesnakes.
  • Hutson came to the University of Alabama on a partial baseball scholarship. Baseball was his childhood love, and then he became an all-state basketball player in high school, but he was a football walk-on.
  • The basketball coach doubled as the athletic director and asked Hutson to join the track team. The three-sport standout said he didn’t have time, and the coach asked him to at least practice for a day so that the team would have someone to push its to sprinter. The next afternoon, Hutson ran 100 yards in 9.7 seconds. He never practiced, but finished second at the conference track meet, running the same time.
  • Hutson, listed at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, looked even thinner because he wore tiny shoulder pads and no hip pads. He also became famous for faking out opposing defenses, feigning cuts in several directions on every play. Maybe that’s why they called him the “Alabama Antelope.”
  • The other end on the Crimson Tide football team was Paul “Bear” Bryant. “Don had the most fluid motion you had ever seen when he was running,” Bryant was quoted as saying. “It looked like he was going just as fast as possible when all of a sudden he would put on an extra burst of speed and be gone.”
  • Hutson and Bryant ran an on-campus dry-cleaning business at Alabama, Captain Kidd Cleaners. The only athlete in business school at Alabama, Hutson hoped to become a professional athlete just to get a stake for future business investments. While with the Packers, he built Packer Playdium, a bowling alley, and launched Hutson Motor Car Co., eventually making a fortune selling cars (more on that later).
  • Hutson played college football before the NFL draft. College graduates were, effectively, free agents who could sign with any pro football team. Green Bay Packers coach Curly Lambeau, he of the stadium namesake, went to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., each year to scout players. Banned from Alabama’s “secret” practice in December 1934, Lambeau climbed a wall so he could watch, tearing his trousers in the process.
  • ”Hutson would glide downfield, leaning forward,” Lambeau said, ”as if to steady himself close to the ground. Then, as suddenly as you gulp or blink an eye, he’d feint one way and go the other, reach up like a dancer, gracefully squeeze the ball and leave the scene of the accident, the accident being the defensive backs who tangled their feet up and fell trying to cover him.”
  • Hutson, an All-American his final two years at Alabama, caught six passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns in the 1935 Rose Bowl against the Stanford Vow Boys as the Tide cruised to a big upset win. Stanford, West Coast champions, had wanted to play Minnesota, by then named national champions, a fact that didn’t sit well with Hutson.
  • Green Bay wasn’t the only team to sign Hutson. The NFL draft launched just one year later, but he was able to negotiate what was then an outlandish contract of $300 per week. After talking with several teams, he chose the Packers, but also had promised the Brooklyn football Dodgers that he’d allow them to match any offer he got. Football teams in the ’30s didn’t have offices, and after failing to reach the Dodgers on the telephone in three days, he signed with the Packers. Only the Dodgers tracked him down, finally, and he signed with them as well. NFL commissioner Joe Carr decided he would play for Green Bay, since the time stamp on the Packers contract sent to the league office was just 17 minutes before the Dodgers’ contract.
  • ESPN named him “The First Modern Receiver,” noting that at the time Hutson played, defenders didn’t have a five-yard rule and could hit you all the way down the field. As such, there was skepticism about whether the slight-looking Hutson would make it in the NFL.
  • Defenses often double- and triple-teamed Hutson in the NFL. He modernized all sorts of common receiving routes — he was the first to run a slant in a straight line while others did it in rounded fashion — but perhaps his most famous was inventing the post route. At that time, the field goal posts were within the field of play in the end zone, and instead of one bar in the center, there were two wooden posts on each side, just below the uprights, supporting the crossbar. Hutson ran right at the post, grabbed it and slung himself to the other side, where he told the quarterback to throw the ball. All three Cleveland Rams defenders ran past him and he caught it for a touchdown, inventing the “post route.”
  • In 1942, Hutson played in 11 games and caught 74 passes for 1,211 yards and 17 touchdowns. It could be the most impressive season in NFL history. The next-best performance in all three categories that season, produced by three different players: 27 receptions, 420 yards and 8 touchdowns.
  • Hutson led the NFL in total touchdowns eight different times and in receiving yards nine different times. No other player has achieved those titles more than three times. When he retired, he held 14 of the league’s 15 pass-catching records. Steve Largent finally broke his record of 99 career touchdown catches in 1989, 44 years after Hutson retired. Largent played 14 seasons to Hutson’s 11.
  • Hutson scored a touchdown once every 4.5 catches in the NFL. For perspective, Jerry Rice scored once every 7.9 catches and Randy Moss once every 6.3.
  • He accomplished all of that as a two-way player who also played safety for the Packers, intercepting 30 career passes, and often handling kicking duties as well.
  • An eight-time Pro Bowler and three-time NFL champion playing left end with the Packers (1936, 1939, 1944), Hutson publicly announced his retirement in the winter of 1944-45 (after deciding privately to play one more season). Lambeau, the coach, begged him back, and he asked for $15,000 for the next season, an unheard-of sum at at the time. According to the Los Angeles Times, Lambeau refused, saying nobody makes $15,000. “Sammy Baugh does,” said Hutson. “That will be two of us.” He got the contract.
  • Hutson was best man at Bryant’s wedding and later helped his former teammate land his first college head coaching job. The NFL champion always played in the Chicago All-Star game the following year. Either Hutson or Sammy Baugh, the quarterback of the Washington Redskins, were involved in the NFL championship nine of the 11 years Hutson played in the league. The Packers won in ’44, and Hutson got a long-distance call from the Redskins owner in the summer of ’45 at his hotel in Chicago. The owner asked: “I can get Bryant the coaching job at Maryland if I find him tonight. Do you know where he is?” Hutson had gotten Bryant a ticket to the game, and was able to hand the call to his friend, who took the job.
  • Hutson was a charter member of the College Football Hall of Fame (1951) and the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1963).
  • In 2012, the NFL Network named Hutson the greatest Packers player of all-time, ahead of Brett Favre and Bart Starr.
  • Four years after he retired from the NFL, Hutson had two offers, to sell frozen orange juice in Florida or to buy a Cadillac dealership in Racine, Wisc. Preferring to stay in the state, Hutson took the car dealership and made a fortune, owning multiple lots.
  • After retiring, he spent more than three decades playing gin rummy in the locker room of the Thunderbird Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
  • Said his wife, Julia: “The day we were married, he was so calm that you’d think he’d merely stepped into the church to get out of the rain.”
  • Said his mom: ”He wouldn’t say two words in an A-bomb attack. He doesn’t talk unless he has something to say.”

Most of the information in this story came from the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune or ESPN.