Deral Teteak, known as “The Little Bull” during his playing career with the Green Bay Packers, died Thursday in Naples, Fla.
Teteak had turned 85 one week earlier. He was a native of Oconto, Wis., played high school football at Oshkosh and college ball at the University of Wisconsin.
Teteak joined the Packers in 1952 as a ninth-round draft choice and played through 1956. A middle linebacker, he was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1987.
Teteak personified his nickname. He wore a crew cut and was a short and stout 5-foot-10 and 225 pounds. He was the first Packers middle linebacker to wear No. 66, later worn by Ray Nitschke, and he was named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie. In Teteak’s first two seasons, he played middle backer in an old 5-3 defense, he said in an interview in 2000.
“He was a good player,” former teammate and longtime Packers coach and scout Dave Hanner said in 2002. “He could move and he could tackle. He could fill inside, outside.”
The highlight of Teteak’s career might have come on Nov. 2, 1952 in a 12-10 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles at Marquette Stadium in Milwaukee. With a little more than seven minutes remaining and the Packers trailing 10-6, Teteak blocked a punt that defensive end John Martinkovic scooped up inside the Eagles’ 10-yard line and returned for the winning touchdown.
While Teteak played during some of the leanest years in Packers history, he remembered in a 2007 interview how supportive the team’s fans were during that period. He specifically remembered returning from New York in 1952 following a victory over the Giants in a season that ended 6-6.
“When we got back to Green Bay, they (the fans) had put champagne in our locker room,” he said. “They had wine. They had beer.”
At Wisconsin, Teteak was a member of the school’s famous “Hard Rocks” defense that led the nation in 1951, allowing only 68.9 yards per game.
After retiring from the Packers, Teteak served as an assistant coach with the Badgers from 1957-68. He later owned an industrial cleaning supply company in Green Bay. Over many years in retirement and until his death, he split time between Kelly Lake, outside Suring, Wis., and Naples, Fla.
Teteak is survived by his wife Shirley, a son Peter, daughter Lynn and three grandchildren. He and Shirley would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in February.
Teteak was preceded in death by a son, Jack. He died in a nursing home in Naples. His funeral will be held there on Tuesday.