Jim Ringo

Jim Ringo, an undersized center who played 15 seasons in the National Football League and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1981, died Monday November 19th in Chesapeake, VA. He was 75. The cause was pneumonia, his wife, Judy, said. She said he had had Alzheimer’s disease since 1996.

Ringo played 11 seasons (1953-63) with the Green Bay Packers and four (1964-67) with the Philadelphia Eagles. He played in 187 N.F.L. games, including 182 in a row, a record at the time. He played for two N.F.L. championship teams, was chosen All-Pro seven times and was voted to 10 Pro Bowls.

Jim Ringo earned a degree in marketing from Syracuse University in 1953 and was chosen by the Packers in the seventh round of the NFL draft. When he arrived at training camp at 6 feet 2 inches and 211 pounds, saw how big the other players were and went home. His family persuaded him to return. He grew to 235 pounds, still small for an offensive lineman. Even so, his speed and quickness helped him lead the Packers’ trademark running play, the power sweep.

According to Ringo’s Hall of Fame biography, Vince Lombardi, one of his Packers coaches, once said: “A bigger man might not be able to make the cutoff blocks on our sweeps the way Jim does. The reason Ringo’s the best in the league is because he’s quick and he’s smart.”

James Stephen Ringo was born Nov. 21, 1931, in Orange, NJ, and played high school football in Phillipsburg, NJ After his playing career, he was an assistant coach for the Buffalo Bills, the Chicago Bears, the New England Patriots and the Jets. He was head coach of the Bills for a year and a half when their star runner was O. J. Simpson. He was fired after compiling a record of 0-9 for the last half of the 1976 season and 3-11 in 1977.

His first wife, Betty, died in 1987. In addition to his second wife, he is survived by a daughter, Michelle Wagner of Woodville, NY; two sons, James of Elma, NY, and Kurt of West Henrietta, NY; and six grandchildren. At his Hall of Fame induction, Ringo had special praise for his Syracuse coach, Ben Schwartzwalder, a former paratrooper. Ringo said: “Once, I started doing push-ups with him, and I had to stop at 30 while he kept going. He said, ‘When you keep up with me, you’ll be a man.’”

Source: New York Times