Hall of Fame cornerback Herb Adderley, who played for six NFL championship teams during his 12-year career, died Friday. He was 81.
Adderley’s death was confirmed on Twitter by his cousin Nasir Adderley, who is a safety for the Los Angeles Chargers.
No details were given. The younger Adderley called him a “unique soul who has had such an incredible influence on my life.”
Adderley, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980, played on all five of Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers championships in the 1960s, including the first two Super Bowls. He also played in Super Bowl VI for the Dallas Cowboys.
“The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Herb Adderley,” Hall of Fame CEO David Baker said in a statement. “He was a great player and an even greater man. Herb left an indelible mark on the Game and was respected tremendously by players and personnel across the league.”
Adderley was a first-round draft choice of the Packers in 1961 as a halfback out of Michigan State but was switched to cornerback by Lombardi. He became one of the league’s great defensive players, intercepting 48 passes and scoring seven touchdowns. The 6-footer was a first-team All-Pro five times during his nine seasons in Green Bay and was named to the NFL’s 1960s All-Decade team.
Adderley played his final three seasons in Dallas and helped the Cowboys to their first Super Bowl title. He also played in Super Bowl V and played in four of the first six Super Bowls.
However, Adderley always considered himself a Packer.
“I’m the only man with a Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl ring who doesn’t wear it. I’m a Green Bay Packer,” Adderley said in the book “Distant Replay,” the 1985 memoir by former Packers teammate Jerry Kramer and a followup to Kramer’s 1968 book, “Instant Replay.”
“(Adderley) was the best I played with,” said former Packers linebacker and fellow Hall of Famer Dave Robinson. “I played with a lot of guys.”
Adderley’s most famous play was his 60-yard interception return for a touchdown against Oakland in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl II, which clinched the Packers' 33-14 victory against the Oakland Raiders.
Adderley returned kicks for the Packers and scored two touchdowns, including a 103-yard return against the Baltimore Colts on Nov. 18, 1962.
“To watch (Adderley) up close, unforgettable,” defensive lineman Pat Toomay told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Never have I seen such grace. And he could just hang, hang, hang. It was like he was in slow motion. He’d go up and up and up, and hang and hang and hang, and then bat down the ball or pick it.”
Adderley was born June 8, 1939, in Philadelphia. He was a football, basketball and baseball star at Philadelphia’s Northeast High School, and played college football at Michigan State from 1958 to 1960. After his career, Adderley was an activist for the rights of former players. He and two other retired players filed a class-action lawsuit against the NFL Players Association in 2007, alleging nonpayment of licensing fees, according to The Associated Press. The case was settled for $26.25 million in 2009, according to the AP.