Cecil Isbell
Cecil Isbell was born on July 11, 1915 and died on June 23, 1985. After playing his college football at Purdue, Isbell was drafted by the Green Bay Packers with pick 7 of the first round of the 1938 NFL Draft. Cecil Isbell played tailback and was an excellent passer. Curley Lambaugh wanted him to learn under the great Arnie Herber but ended up playing alongside Herber early in his career before Herber left the Packers.

Cecil Isbell #17

Player Info

Height 6' 1"
Weight 190 lbs
DOB: 7/11/1915



NFL Draft

1938/Round 1/Pick 7

Career Highlights

All-Pro 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942
Best Year 146 of 268 for 2021 yds 24 TD & 14 INT
Honors NFL 1930's All-Decade Team

Team(s) As A Player

Green Bay Packers 1938-1942

Isbell and the Packers Win the Title

In 1939, the Green Bay Packers played against the New York Giants for the NFL Championship Game. The Giants had the league’s best defense but proved to be no match for the high-powered Packers offense led by Herber, Isbell, and Hutson. With the Packers leading 10-0, from the 31-yard line, Cecil Isbell executed a perfect passing play. He tossed a high, lazy pass to Joe Laws who caught the ball at the six-yard line and took it into the end zone for the touchdown and a 17-0 Packers lead. Green Bay went on to shut out the Giants 27-0. (1)

Cecil Isbell – Record Setter

After Hall of Famer Arnie Herber, left Green Bay following the 1940 season, Cecil Isbell flourished. In 1941, Isbell set the single season passing yards record with 1479 yards. He completed 117 of 206 passes for a sparkling 56.8 completion percentage and added 15 touchdown passes against only 11 interceptions.

The 1942 season was full of NFL records. On October 18 the Cleveland Rams came to Green Bay to play the Packers. Cecil Isbell helped receiving great Don Hutson set a new NFL record by heaving passes his way all day. Hutson caught an NFL record 13 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns. (2)

On November 1, 1942, the Green Bay Packers annihilated the Chicago Cardinals 55-24. Cecil Isbell completed 10 of 21 passes for a new NFL record 333 yards (surpassing Davey O’Brien’s record of 316 yards set in 1940). He also threw 5 touchdown passes, three of them to Hall of Famer Don Hutson. (3)

For the season in 1942, Cecil Isbell shattered several NFL passing records. He completed 146 of 268 passes for 2021 yards (breaking his own record from the previous year) with 24 touchdowns (a new NFL record) and only 14 interceptions. The great Don Hutson helped him achieve these marks by catching 74 balls for 1211 yards and 17 touchdowns, all NFL records.

Cecil Isbell’s Career

Cecil Isbell was on his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but retired prematurely following his record setting 1942 season. As a result, he may never reach the Hall of Fame, but that does not take away from his greatness. Cecil Isbell picked up where Anrie Herber left off and took the passing game to the next level. When his career was done he completed 411 of 818 passes for 5945 yards with 61 touchdowns and 52 interceptions thrown. He also carried the ball as a tailback 422 times for 1522 yards and another 10 touchdowns.

By A. Goodin, 20Yardline.com
April 12, 2008

Cecil Isbell Biography Sources:

(1)  Green Bay Packers Stop Giants to Take Fifth Pro Grid Title (1939, December 11) The Daily Mail, pg. 9
Packers Crush Rams 45-28 (1942, October 19) Daily Globe, pg. 9
CEC ISBELL IN RECORD EFFORT (1942, November 2) Daily Globe, pg. 8