Known as the “Gray Ghost”, Canadeo rushed into football history with the Green Bay Packers.
The “Gray Ghost” was born Anthony Robert Canadeo on May 5, 1919, in Chicago. He played for Gonzaga University in Washington before being drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 1941 in the seventh round.
Although he was selected primarily to serve as a backup to tailback Cecil Isbel, Canadeo became a starter in 1943 and ultimately became the first Packer – and the third NFL player – to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season.
Canadeo served in the military in 1945, then returned to Green Bay as a running back in the newly formed T formation. In all, he spent 11 years with the Packers – first under team founder E.L. “Curly” Lambeau and eventually under head coach Gene Ronzani. In 1949, he became the first 1,000-yard rusher in Packer history – and only the third in the history of the NFL.
One of only four Packers to have his jersey number retired, Canadeo was an All-Pro selection in 1943 and 1947. Over the course of his career, he rushed for 4,197 yards in 1,025 attempts – an average of 4.1 yards per carry.
Canadeo retired in 1952 and was elected to the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 1974. He was elected to the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 1979.