These are my favorite articles to write as I believe a lot of great football players of the past are sadly forgotten. With this in mind, I would love to share with a younger generation the stories of the players that shaped the game of pro football that they may not know about. I wrote an article about 6 men who should not be in the Hall of Fame a little over a year ago,
after the article was posted, I received a written rebuttal regarding one of my selections from none other than former Giants and Rams great Gary Jeter. While discussing my article with Jeter, he brought up his uncle Bob Jeter, who had been a tremendous cornerback for Vince Lombardi’s great Green bay Packers teams of the 1960’s. Full disclosure, I had never even heard of Bob Jeter. Gary went on to explain that his uncle had played in the 1959 Rose Bowl for Iowa (which I knew because I had the game film of that game and remembered watching it). Iowa’s running back in the game that day ran for close to 200 yards on only 9 carries. That running back was Gary’s uncle, Bob Jeter!
I set up a phone interview with Gary to discuss his Uncle Bob for this story. The things I discovered about Bob Jeter drove me to write this article. Bob Jeter was possibly one of the biggest names to bridge the transformation from segregated schools to integrated schools in West Virginia. Bob started as a standout at segregated Dunbar High School in West Virginia but finished his High School career playing at the integrated Weir High School. While at Weir, Bob was named to the West Virginia sports writers All-State team becoming the first African-American in the history of the state to be so named.
After high school, Bob decided to play college football at the University of Iowa where he was a stand out two-way starter for most of his career. He helped lead Iowa to a victory in the 1959 Rose Bowl over University of California where he was named the game’s Most Valuable Player running for 194 yards on just 9 carries including a record 81 yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Bob Jeter was drafted in the first round of the first ever AFL draft by the San Diego Chargers and the second round of the NFL Draft by the Green bay Packers. He chose to begin his professional career in the Canadian Football League for the British Columbia Lions. In 1960, Jeter was second on the team in rushing and receiving yards. In 1961, Jeter’s playing time was cut dramatically and, after the season, he joined the NFL signing with the Green Bay Packers.
In 1962, Jeter was on the Green Bay Packers Taxi squad (the equivalent of today’s Practice Squad) and saw very little playing time in the 1963 and ‘64 seasons. After 1964, Lombardi switched him from receiver to cornerback and his career took off. Jeter got his break in 1965 when he started in the NFL Championship Game win over the Cleveland Browns. He would go on to start for Lombardi’s Packers three straight NFL Championship teams starting opposite from Hall of Famer Herb Adderley, NFL.com ranked them as the 4th best Cornerback duo in NFL history, and Hall of Fame Chiefs Quarterback Len Dawson said they were the best tandem of cornerbacks he ever played against(http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-network-top-ten/09000d5d81118702/Top-Ten-Cornerback-Tandems-Bob-Jeter-and-Herb-Adderley) .Bob was named to the NFL Pro Bowl teams in 1967 and ‘68. His best season was 1968, Lombardi’s last season with the Packers, where he led the team with 8 interceptions.
Bob was traded in 1971 to the Chicago Bears and retired after the 1973 season. In his career, Jeter intercepted 26 passes returning 2 for touchdowns. After his career, Bob stayed in the city of Chicago and worked for the Chicago Parks District coordinating city wide sporting events for kids. Bob Jeter passed away in 2008. Bob’s son Rob is currently the head basketball coach at UW-Milwaukee (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rob_Jeter), his brother Tony played two years for the Pittsburgh Steelers (http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/J/JeteTo00.htm) and his nephew Gary played in the NFL from 1977-89, was first round draft pick and one of the top pass rushers in the league (http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/J/JeteGa20.htm).