John Brockington, the former Green Bay Packers running back who was one of the best players of his era, passed away on Friday, March 31, 2023, at the age of 74. His death shocked and saddened the NFL community, especially the fans and alumni of the Packers, who revered him as a Hall of Famer and a legend. However, the cause of his death remains unknown, as his family has not released any official statement on the matter.
A Stellar Career Cut Short by Injuries
John Brockington was a star at Ohio State University, where he helped the Buckeyes win two national championships in 1968 and 1970. He was drafted by the Packers in the first round of the 1971 NFL Draft, and he immediately made an impact as a rookie. He rushed for 1,105 yards and four touchdowns, becoming the first player in NFL history to rush for over 1,000 yards in his first season. He also won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award and earned his first Pro Bowl selection.
Brockington continued his dominance in the next two seasons, rushing for 1,027 yards and eight touchdowns in 1972, and 1,144 yards and three touchdowns in 1973. He became the first player in NFL history to rush for over 1,000 yards in his first three seasons, a feat that has only been matched by Earl Campbell and Eric Dickerson. He also earned two more Pro Bowl selections and two first-team All-Pro nods in those years.
Brockington was a powerful and explosive runner who could break tackles and outrun defenders. He was also a reliable receiver out of the backfield, catching 104 passes for 806 yards and four touchdowns in his career. He was part of the Packers’ offense that featured quarterback Lynn Dickey, wide receiver James Lofton, and tight end Paul Coffman. He helped the Packers reach the playoffs twice, in 1972 and 1982.
However, Brockington’s career was hampered by injuries and declining performance in his later years. He suffered a knee injury in 1974 that limited him to only nine games and 883 yards rushing. He never regained his form after that, averaging only 3.3 yards per carry in his final four seasons. He was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs in 1978, where he played only one game before retiring. He finished his career with 5,185 rushing yards, 30 rushing touchdowns, and four receiving touchdowns. He ranks fourth on the Packers’ all-time rushing list behind Jim Taylor, Ahman Green, and Aaron Jones.
Brockington was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1984. He was also named to the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is widely regarded as one of the best running backs in Packers history and one of the best players of his generation.
A Life Saved by Love and Philanthropy
Brockington’s life after football was not easy. He struggled with depression, alcoholism, and financial problems. He also developed kidney disease that required dialysis and a transplant. In 2002, he received a kidney from Diane Scott, a fellow San Diegan who had met him at a golf tournament and fell in love with him. The transplant saved his life and gave him a new purpose.
Brockington and Scott married in 2003 and founded the John Brockington Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides education, support, and resources for people affected by kidney disease. They also promote organ donation awareness and help people find donors. They have helped hundreds of people through their foundation and have been recognized for their humanitarian efforts.
Brockington also remained involved with the Packers organization and attended several alumni events. He was beloved by his former teammates, coaches, and fans for his personality and generosity. He was always grateful for his football career and his second chance at life.
A Mystery Surrounding His Death
Brockington’s death came as a shock to many people who knew him and admired him. His family has not revealed any details about his cause of death or his funeral arrangements. Some reports have speculated that he may have suffered a heart attack or a stroke, but there is no confirmation from any official source.
Brockington’s death has left a void in the NFL community, especially among the Packers faithful. He will be remembered as one of the greatest players to ever wear the green and gold jersey and one of the most inspiring stories of overcoming adversity and giving back to others.
John Brockington’s cause of death may remain a mystery for now, but his legacy will live on forever.