Dan Orlich, oldest Packers player, dead at 94

Dan Orlich, the last surviving player from the Curly Lambeau era and the oldest living Green Bay Packers player, died last week, the team announced. He was 94.

Orlich played end for the Packers from 1949 to 1951 and played in 36 career NFL games. He played one season for Lambeau in 1949.

In an interview with ESPN in October, Orlich said he was the second-oldest living Packers player.

"I'll tell you how it goes," Orlich said from his home in Reno, Nevada. "There's Alex Wizbicki. Alex was traded from Buffalo to Green Bay in 1950. He's the oldest. I think he's about 97. I think he's in a rest home in Duluth, and I'm No. 2. But I'm the only living person who played for Curly Lambeau."

Wizbicki died on Dec. 3 at the age of 97.

Born Dec. 21, 1924, Orlich was discovered by Lambeau when he was on a scouting trip to the University of Nevada.

"Stan Heath was our quarterback and he was rated close to No. 1 in the country and Curly came out here to draft Stan Heath," Orlich said. "Stan mentioned, 'You may want to go look at this big guy named Dan Orlich.' And Curly talked to me for a while and he said, 'OK we'll put in a bid for you.' And they got me."

Orlich described Lambeau as a no-nonsense coach.

"Curly was very serious," Orlich recalled. "He pretty much owned the team, but he was very serious. He wasn't difficult to get along with, but you couldn't get too close to him. And of course he favored some of his old-time players."

Orlich, a native of Chisholm, Minnesota, also worked for Harold's Club, a hotel and casino in Reno. He started working at the casino during the offseason and made it his career after he quit playing.

"During the offseason, I had a job here in Reno," Orlich said. "I was a bouncer, I was a dealer, eventually before they closed I was the casino manager.

"But my first two years [in the NFL] we made the tremendous sum of $5,000 [a season]. Then my last year, I got a 10 percent raise so I made $5,500.

Orlich said he had not been back to Green Bay since his career ended following the 1951 season, but he said he watched the Packers whenever they were on TV in Reno.

"Well, then I'll be able to see the game," he said.

In the months before his death, he said he was living alone but had two daughters and three granddaughters who lived nearby.

"Living the life of Riley," he said. "My eyes aren't too good, my hearing isn't too good. What the hell? I'm going to be 94 years old. But I'm getting along OK."