Remembering Chester Marcol’s Incredible Rookie Season

By the time of the 1972 NFL Player Draft, the Green Bay Packers, in particular their head coach Dan Devine, had had enough. Divine’s first year at the helm of the Packers would end up with a poor 4-8-2 record.

There were plenty of reasons for this, one of the most prominent of which came with the team’s inability to successfully convert field goals. A total of nine different place kickers attempted at least one field goal from 1968 to 1971. There was simply no consistency in the team’s kicking position to be found.

None. Many people would voice their displeasure over Green Bay’s kicking woes, as they asked themselves during this time “How tough could it be to find a kicker?” Well, it took several years, but Green Bay and Dan Divine in particular, finally found a good place kicker.

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An Unlikely Hero - Chester Marcol

An unlikely young man by the name of Czeslaw Boleslaw Marcol hailed from the foreign nation of Poland, in the small town of Opole. He became known to many in America as Chester Marcol, and he had one God-given gift:

He could kick a football. Marcol migrated to the United States and attended a tiny school in Michigan called Hillsdale College. It was during his college years that pro scouts began to take a look at Marcol. Kicking a football is a great evener of talents in the world of the sport.

You can either kick a football or you cannot. Bonus points go to your name if you can kick a football in a variety of difficult outdoor wintry elements, such as wind, rain, freezing rain, and snow. Marcol had proven that he could succeed despite the harsh weather. Moreover, he could succeed with long-distance kicks, something that pro scouts were — and still are — most desiring to see.

By the time he was drafted by the Packers in the second round of the 1972 NFL Draft, Dan Devine was already hailing him as the best placekicker in all of college football, and he ordained Marcol as the starting kicker in Green Bay from the moment he signed his rookie contract. Devine’s declaration of Marcol’s greatness was proof that pro scouts were able to go to virtually every small College in America to find a player with the talent necessary.

Marcol was one of the growing number of soccer-style kickers who were populating the league in the 1970s. When he was growing up as a kid in his native Poland, he probably never even once thought about making a living kicking an American football somewhere in America. But that is exactly what happened.

Yes, Houston had more injuries to their starting personnel than any team in the 1979 postseason tournament. Yes, the Oilers would be without starting quarterback Dan Pastorini in this game.

Pastorini would be replaced by little-used second-year signal caller Gifford Nielsen. Yes, Houston would be without their starting tailback Earl Campbell, another key performer whose injuries kept him out of the lineup.

But the Oilers had a load of heart and character on their roster.

And they also had Vernon Perry.

1972 Rookie Season - Chester Marcol

Marcol’s 1972 season was the stuff of legend. A virtual nobody coming to a team with a losing record from the previous year, then not only leading that team in scoring but leading the entire league in scoring. Pretty remarkable.

Markel finished the 1972 season with 48 field goals attempted and 33 field goals made. He also converted on 29 of his 29 extra points. His total scoring output in 1972 was 128 points, which was seven more points than Bobby Howfield of the New York Jets, who finished second in the league in scoring with two 121 points.

Marcol got off to a very good start, and so did the Packers. He kicked four field goals in Green Bay’s 26-10 opening-day victory at Cleveland. A couple of weeks later he kicked three field goals to lift the Packers over the defending World Champion Dallas Cowboys,16-13. Marcol booted the winning points in the next two contests, a 20-17 win over Chicago, and a 24-23 victory at Detroit on Monday Night Football. Marcol certainly had a hand…er, a foot…in Green Bay’s 4-1 record to begin the 1972 season.

But the good times would not last, however. The Packers lost a 10-9 heartbreaker to the Atlanta Falcons in week six. Marcol scored all nine of the Packers’ points in this game, but when he attempted his fourth field goal of the game with less than a minute to play, he missed.

Yes, it was raining and it was windy, but pros don’t make excuses for their failures. Marcol certainly did not make any excuses. Instead, he patiently studied the craft of place kicking more diligently, and he silently affirmed to not miss another game-winning kick.
For the remainder of the 1972 season, Markel may have missed some more kicks, but he connected on many more.

The Packers would enjoy three separate three-game winning streaks during the 1972 season, and Marcol’s role was prominent in each of those victories. He scored a total of 72 points in the second half of the year, including a couple of bone-chilling outdoor games in Green Bay and in Minnesota. Thanks largely to Marcol’s efforts, the Packers won 10 games in 1972, which was good enough for them to win the NFC Central Division title.

Naturally, winning a league-scoring title would have been even nicer had Green Bay won a Super Bowl in 1972, but that did not happen. Nevertheless, the Packers, and in particular Chester Marcol, made some headlines once again in 1972, and some good headlines at that.

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    Trivia Question:

    Who was Chester Marcol’s placement holder during the 1972 season?

    Host of Pro Football in the 1970s - Joe Zagorski

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