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Donny Anderson signs pro football's richest pact

1966 JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Donny Anderson, who says "happiness cannot be measured in dollars and cents," late Friday became the highest-priced grab in professional football history when he signed a three-year contract with the Green Bay Packers.

Both Anderson and the club remained mum on the price of the package, but people supposedly in the know place the pact's total value at "well above a half-million dollars" - with close family sources setting the figure at "over $600,000."

Donny Anderson signed a three-year contract with the Green Bay Packers in 1966. He played on the Texas Tech football team and was voted his team's outstanding player in the Gator Bowl football game in 1966.

The pact reportedly had a three-year no-cut provision with apparent provisions for extension.

Anderson, at a pre-arranged press conference in a downtown hotel here, clutched in one hand a glass of water and a box of Anacin in the other while answering questions from some 25 newsmen who had scrambled from the Gator Bowl to attend the session.

Texas Tech had just lost a 31 to 21 decision to Georgia Tech in the Jacksonville classic before a record-breaking crowd.

Pat Peppler, director of player personnel for the Packers, received the signature that ended a week's speculation over which choice Anderson would make.

No official comment

But the Green Bay executive would not release any figure nor would Anderson's attorneys, State Sen. H. J. (Doc) Blanchard of Lubbock and Thurmond Adkinson of Shamrock, comment on terms.

Actually, the only element of surprise in the entire transaction was the three-year element. Most expected it to run from a five-year period.

The 215-pound all-purpose player insisted on making the announcement personally at a midtown hotel, saying: "I want to be fair to both sides who have been bidding for me, and I want to tell the loser myself."

Bud Adams, president of the Houston Oilers of the American League, said earlier he had offered Anderson an $887,000 package, which included a $200,000 home in Houston, $16,000 worth of furniture and a $36,000 swimming pool.

"I know that Green Bay's offer was $200,000 less than ours," Adams said.

Attending the signing in a cramped mezzanine room were Peppler, for the Packers, Blanchard, as Anderson's lawyer, and the football player's mother and father.

(The fact that Anderson would receive in the neighborhood of $600,000 was reported exclusively by the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal last week. The Avalanche-Journal also reported earlier in the week that all indications pointed toward Anderson signing with the Packers.)

Anderson was the No. 1 draft choice of the Packers and the Oilers a year ago when he was selected as a future choice.

No details given

Peppler declined to divulge any details of the contract, saying, "Vince Lombardi (Packers' general manager and coach) considers this private business."

Lombardi said in Green Bay, where he is getting the Packers ready for Sunday's National Football League title game with Cleveland, that he was pleased with the signing, but he declined to name the sum.

"Everybody is just guessing," he said. "There is no way of getting the price from Anderson or the Packers."

Asked if Anderson signed a term contract, Lombardi said, "When you sign a first draft choice these days you sign him for more that one year." Lombardi refused to disclose if the contract had a no-cut provision but added, "He must play to earn his contract money."

Blanchard, however, said the contract was the richest ever signed by a football player.

It is reported to call for a sizable bonus, a three-year no-cut stipulation and benefits.

(Anderson was also quoted by another wire service as saying that he would be an offensive back for the NFL western division champions and it was his understanding he probably would start. The Packers now have two veteran running backs - Paul Hornung and power-runner Jim Taylor, but neither was as effective this past season as in previous years.)

Anderson emphasized that his decision was not made merely on the basis of monetary gain.

"I have felt for a long time that I wanted to play for Green Bay. My heart is there. I feel that I'll be much happier with the Packers, and happiness is not something you can measure in dollars and cents."

Anderson was voted his team's outstanding player Friday in the Gator Bowl football game won by Georgia Tech 31-21.

Two sensational catches

He made two sensational one-handed catches which led to touchdowns, scored one touchdown and showed a lot of power in carrying the ball.

For the last two years as an All-America he has been the country's top offensive performer, as a runner, pass receiver and kick returner.

The $600,000 figure for Anderson exceeds the $427,000 contract given last year's top-priced signee, Alabama quarterback Joe Namath, who signed with the New York Jets of the AFL.

However, there have been unconfirmed reports that Illinois fullback Jim Grabowski, who also signed with Green Bay, and Texas linebacker Tommy Nobis, who signed with Atlanta of the NFL, received contracts that might be in the same neighborhood as Anderson's.

The unconfirmed reports have listed Nobis as receiving as much as $700,000 and Grabowski as much as $625,000.

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SPECIAL SECTIONS: 1909-1933 / 1934-1958 / 1959-1983 / 1984-PRESENT | PRINT VERSION