The Green Bay Packers lost more than a game on Sunday. They lost a character. Former guard Fuzzy Thurston passed away at age 80.
He died after a long battle with cancer and complications of Alzheimer’s disease.
For people of a certain age, Thurston will be remembered as a guard on Lombardi’s Packers of the 1960s. He teamed with Jerry Kramer on the vaunted Packers sweep that opened so many holes for the likes of Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung.
Thurston, whose given name was Fred, was a first-team All-Pro in 1961 and is a member of the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.
He won six championships — five with the Packers and one, in 1958, with the Baltimore Colts, who he played one season for before being traded to his home state Packers.
Now, if you’re my age and a Wisconsin native, you remember Thurston for something else entirely. Sure, I was aware that the guy actually played for the Packers during the 60s glory years, but to me he was more the old timer on TV with the gravelly voice sitting down at Fuzzy’s Bar.
Of course, he owned Fuzzy’s Bar, which was close to Lambeau Field.
Local news needs someone to talk Packers? Get over to Fuzzy’s and see what Fuzz has to say!
He always had plenty to say and he always said exactly what he felt in that gravelly tone, which was a result of his first bout with cancer in the early 1980s.
Thurston would eventually lose his life to a second bout with cancer, this time in his colon. He had been battling the disease, along with dementia, for the past three years.
Thurston was a Wisconsin original. He was, after all, the guy who, when asked how he stayed warm for the Ice Bowl, answered that he drank about 10 vodkas.
Spent an evening in his bar on a Sat night back in about 1996 before a Packers/Bears game. When I went inside, Fuzzy was standing on the bar about half hammered singing a Packers song. Got him to sign my cap. Wasn’t the bar called “Shenanigans” back then?
Never knew that he won 6 championships.
Bumped into him at an ice-fishing derby once. Saw a huge group of sleds and pulled up. There was Fuzzy, sitting on his sled with cocktail in hand, holding court and regaling the crowd with stories. Guy bantered and busted balls as well if not better than he blocked.
Fuzzy, Hornung and McGee were the lighter side of Lombardi’s Packers, proof that if you showed up for work and did your job well, Vince could overlook the off-field stuff. I think Lombardi might have even envied those guys a little bit.
McCarthy wishes he was this cool
Thurston and Kramer together were the greatest combination of offensive guards on one team in NFL history. Fuzzy wasn’t as big or quite as fast as Kramer (one of the five best guards in NFL history IMO), but he was a great player. God, those Lombardi teams were awesome. I’m sorry Fuzzy has passed, but I’m even more sorry he suffered in his later years, which seems to be the case with his illness history; he was indeed a character.
A true Packer. Lots of great memories.
He will be missed.
I will always remember him cruising around or sitting in the Harbor at the Chain O’ Lakes.
Was in his bar around 2000, it was weird, but right at the same time.
All very old people all around the bar (packed). Then the younger crowd had the rest of the joint. But it worked. Everyone was having a good time, the place was filled with laughter.
R I P Fuzzy
all the more urgency to address his immortal wingman jerry kramer’s delay in getting inducted into the FB HOF. the way things are going, that slimy POS goodell weasel will somehow be squeezed in there before jerry kramer… what a travesty! maybe that indonesian CEO of pepsi will put a good word in, LOL: “we of pepsi cola, a major sponsor of the nfl [LOL again!] would like to voice our support of ______
btw, when i moved from WI to WDC area in the late seventies, i met a coworker who was an old timer NY giants fan. we talked about Lombardi who had recently passed away in our local nfl organization, the redskins. my coworker friend stated that one of the most amazing things about Lombardi to knowledgeable giants fans was how he was able to get “slackers” like thurston away from NYC where they had not been performing up to snuff; he got them to respond up to their full potential under his coaching… to me it was a revelation, and i learned from my friend’s lamentations what true coaching genius was and how to recognize its presence and impact on game day…