Donny Anderson
No. 44
Position:Running back,
Personal information
Born: (1943-05-16) May 16, 1943 (age 81)
Borger, Texas, U.S.
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:215 lb (98 kg)
Career information
High school:Stinnett (TX)
College:Texas Tech
NFL draft:1965 / Round: 1 / Pick: 7
AFL draft:1965 / Round: Red Shirt 1 / Pick: 1
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career highlights and awards
Player stats at PFR

Garry Don Anderson (born May 16, 1943) is an American former professional football player who was a halfback and punter for nine seasons with the Green Bay Packers and St. Louis Cardinals of the National Football League (NFL).

From Texas Tech (then Texas Technological College, now Texas Tech University), Anderson was the first-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in the 1965 NFL draft, the seventh overall selection.[1] That year's draft included future hall-of-famers Dick Butkus, Gale Sayers, Joe Namath, and Fred Biletnikoff.

Early life

Born in Borger, Texas,[2][3] Anderson grew up in Stinnett, seat of Hutchinson County in the Texas Panhandle, and graduated from Stinnett High School in 1961. A talented multi-sport athlete, he was all-state in football and basketball, placed in the state track meet (hurdles and relay) and played baseball in the summer.[4][5]

College career

At Texas Tech in Lubbock, Anderson earned the nickname the "Golden Palomino".[6] He received All-American honors twice (1964 and 1965)[7] and was a three-time all-Southwest Conference halfback (1963–65). Anderson held many of Texas Tech's football records and finished fourth in the 1965 Heisman Trophy race.[8][9] He is part of the Texas Tech Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame. Donny's Selective service Number was # 55 for the 1969 Vietnam Official Draft.[1].

Because of a redshirt year due to academic issues,[4][5] Anderson was eligible as underclassman for the 1965 NFL Draft, then known as a "future" pick.[1][10][11] In 1964, he ran for 966 yards with three touchdowns (TDs) and had 32 catches for 396 yards and four TDs;[12] Despite being selected by the Packers, he returned for his senior season at Texas Tech in 1965 and led the Red Raiders to an 8–2 regular season and a berth in the Gator Bowl on the afternoon of New Year's Eve.[13] As a senior, he ran for 705 yards with 10 TDs and had 60 catches for 797 yards and seven TDs.

Selected the outstanding player for Texas Tech in a 10-point loss to Georgia Tech, Anderson signed his professional football contract hours after the game. He selected the Packers over the reportedly higher offer from the Houston Oilers of the AFL.[14] His contract was believed to be a then-record $600,000, exceeding Joe Namath's contract of the previous year.[15]

Professional career

Anderson began his NFL career in 1966 as #44 for the world-champion Packers. Fellow All-American Jim Grabowski, a fullback from Illinois, was the Packers' first pick in the 1966 NFL Draft, and ninth overall. The well-paid pair were the projected successors of Paul Hornung and Jim Taylor,[16] future hall of famers in their final seasons with Green Bay. The two rookies were on the College All-Star team that lost to the defending NFL champion Packers 38–0 on August 5 at Soldier Field in Chicago.[17] They joined the Packers' training camp after the game, and were tabbed the "Gold Dust Twins."[18][19]

Though he did not carry the ball often as a rookie, Anderson was part of a memorable play. During his second carry in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl I, Anderson's knee knocked out Chiefs defensive back Fred "The Hammer" Williamson, who had been boastful in pregame interviews.[20] Williamson was carried off on a stretcher.[21] Anderson also served as the team's return specialist that year, returning six punts for 124 yards and a touchdown, along with 23 kickoff returns for 533 yards.

In the following season, Anderson took on a far more prominent role in the Packers' offense, gaining 733 yards from scrimmage, catching 22 passes, and scoring nine touchdowns, while also gaining another 324 yards returning kicks. The Packers went on to a second consecutive championship win in Super Bowl II, where Anderson was the team's second leading rusher with 48 yards and a touchdown, while also catching two passes for 18 yards. He also punted the ball six times for 239 yards. One of his punts was fumbled, which the Packers recovered and were able to convert into a field goal just before the end of the first half.

After six seasons in Green Bay under three head coaches, Anderson was traded in February 1972 to the St. Louis Cardinals for MacArthur Lane.[22][23][24] Anderson played through the 1974 season with the Cardinals, then was traded to the Miami Dolphins in the offseason. At age 32, he recognized that his prospects for playing time were low,[25] and retired during training camp in mid-August 1975.[26][27][28]

Anderson finished his career with 4,696 rushing yards, 209 receptions for 2,548 yards, 15 punt returns for 222 yards, and 34 kickoff returns for 759 yards. He scored 56 total touchdowns (41 rushing, 14 receiving, one punt return).[29] He was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1983.[30]


While with the Packers under head coach Vince Lombardi, Anderson originated the concept of hang time in punting. Until Anderson, punters typically strove for maximum distance, with the NFL's leaders usually averaging 45 or more yards a punt. Punt returns varied, with an average of perhaps five yards per return. In 1967, the left-footed Anderson worked instead at punting the ball higher, shortening the distance traveled, but increasing the ball's time in the air, allowing better coverage by his team on the punt return. Green Bay punted 66 times that year, 63 of them by Anderson; opponents were able to return only 13 of them for a total of 22 yards, or about one-third yard (one foot) per punt.

Anderson had a total of 387 punts for 15,326 yards.

Lombardi explained the concept to sportswriters who questioned why he did not try to find a better punter than Anderson, who averaged only 36.6 yards per punt that year. Lombardi pointed out the lack of return yardage. Other punters soon followed Anderson, working for greater hang time. Eventually, the NFL changed its rules governing punt coverage, to increase the ability to return punts.

After football

Following his retirement from the NFL, Anderson spent nearly two decades on the celebrity golf tour.[31] As of 2017, Anderson lives in the Dallas area and stays busy with 10 grandchildren and his Dallas-based foundation, Winners for Life, that helps send at-risk kids to college.[32][33]


  1. ^ a b Johnson, Chuck (November 29, 1964). "1st round future a Packer 1st". Milwaukee Journal. p. 1, sports. Archived from the original on April 16, 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  2. ^ Foster, Dan (July 2, 1975). "Donny Anderson". The Greenville News. Greenville, South Carolina – via
  3. ^ Cross, Ron (December 30, 1965). "Rambling With Red". Pampa Daily News. Pampa, Texas – via
  4. ^ a b Lea, Bud (February 4, 1966). "Donny excelled in all sports". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 2-part 2. Archived from the original on May 13, 2016. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
  5. ^ a b Beilue, Jon Mark (December 26, 1999). "'The best college football player in America'". Amarillo Globe-News. Retrieved January 9, 2014.
  6. ^ Lea, Bud (February 5, 1966). "'Packers biggest challenge'". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 1-part 2.
  7. ^ "Garrett, Anderson top All-America list". Spartanburg (SC) Herald. December 2, 1965. p. 42.
  8. ^ "1965 Heisman Trophy voting". Sports Reference. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  9. ^ "Garrett captures Heisman Trophy". News and Courier. Charleston, SC. Associated Press. November 24, 1965. p. 1C.
  10. ^ "Green Bay drafts 9 backs, 10 futures". Milwaukee Sentinel. November 30, 1964. p. 3-part 2.
  11. ^ Lea, Bud (February 3, 1966). "How Packers landed a star". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 2-part 2.
  12. ^ "Donny Anderson Stats | College Football at". Archived from the original on August 8, 2014. Retrieved July 14, 2014.
  13. ^ "Texas Tech, yearly results". College Football Data Warehouse. 1965-69. Archived from the original on January 10, 2014. Retrieved January 19, 2014.
  14. ^ "Anderson signs up with Pack". Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. January 1, 1966. p. 1-part 2.
  15. ^ "Anderson to Pack?". Associated Press. December 31, 1965. p. 8-part 2.
  16. ^ "Anderson, Grabowski have to fit usual Green Bay mold, says coach". Tuscaloosa News. Associated Press. January 5, 1966. p. 16.
  17. ^ Lea, Bud (August 6, 1966). "Packers roll over Stars, 38-0". Milwaukee Sentinel. Archived from the original on November 18, 2015. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
  18. ^ Maule, Tex (September 12, 1966). "On with the golden game". Sports Illustrated: 53.
  19. ^ "Jim Grabowski quits pro ball". Bryan Times. UPI. September 2, 1972. p. 7.
  20. ^ Daley, Arthur (January 17, 1967). "Did it prove anything?". Nashua (NH) Telegraph. (New York Times). p. 10.
  21. ^ Lea, Bud (January 16, 1967). "Packers 'Super' in routing Chiefs". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 1-part 2. Archived from the original on May 14, 2016. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
  22. ^ "Cards, Pack make swap of 2 backs". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. February 22, 1972. p. 19.
  23. ^ Johnson, Chuck (November 7, 1973). "Shuffled off to St. Louis, Anderson scores as a Card". Milwaukee Journal. p. 14-part 2.
  24. ^ Lea, Bud (February 23, 1972). "Donny tells of rift with Devine". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 1-part 2.
  25. ^ Williams, Gene (August 14, 1975). "Donny Anderson won't hang on". Miami News. p. 1C.
  26. ^ "Donny Anderson quits Dolphins". Bangor Daily News. Associated Press. August 15, 1975. p. 9.
  27. ^ "Donny Anderson calls it quits". Milwaukee Sentinel. wire services. August 15, 1975. p. 1, part 2.
  28. ^ "Anderson, Jaynes leave pro ranks". Milwaukee Journal. press dispatches. August 15, 1975. p. 7, part 2.
  29. ^ "Donny Anderson Stats, Height, Weight, Position, Draft, College".
  30. ^ Christl, Cliff. "Donny Anderson". Archived from the original on May 23, 2023. Retrieved September 20, 2023.
  31. ^ Zeller, Ricky (April 14, 2011). "Where are they now? Donny Anderson is on the golf course". Retrieved January 9, 2014.
  32. ^ Bryce, Charles (October 13, 2013). "Golf: Anderson recalls 'Ice Bowl,' Texas Tech days". San Angelo Standard-Times. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  33. ^ "About us". Winners for Life. Retrieved January 10, 2014.