Three-time Super Bowl winner Herb Adderley dies at 81

Hall of Fame defensive back Herb Adderley, who played in four of the first six Super Bowls as a member of the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys, died Friday at the age of 81.

Adderley's 60-yard interception return for a touchdown capped the Packers' 33-14 rout of the Raiders in Super Bowl II. His Packers defeated Kansas City in Super Bowl I.

"The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Herb Adderley," Hall of Fame CEO David Baker said in a statement. "He was a great player and an even greater man. Herb left an indelible mark on the Game and was respected tremendously by players and personnel across the league."

Los Angeles Chargers safety Nasir Adderley, Herb Adderley's cousin, called him a "unique soul who has had such an incredible influence on my life."

Herb Adderley, a first-round pick of the Packers in 1961, played with Green Bay through the 1969 season, winning five NFL championships, before finishing his career with three seasons in Dallas that included a victory in Super Bowl VI. The five-time Pro Bowl selection was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1980.

"Herb was one of the greatest defensive backs to ever play the game," Packers president/CEO Mark Murphy said in a statement. "Few players can match his statistics with 48 interceptions and seven pick-sixes. He was a tremendous all-around athlete, as evidenced by the fact that he was All-City in Philadelphia in football, basketball and baseball, played halfback and defensive back at Michigan State and was an outstanding kick returner in the NFL. He was instrumental in the great success of the Lombardi teams and was the only player to play in four of the first six Super Bowls, and was a key member of six NFL championship teams.

"We extend our deepest condolences to Herb's family and friends."

Adderley was always a Packer at heart.

"I'm the only man with a Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl ring who doesn't wear it. I'm a Green Bay Packer," he said in the book "Distant Replay," a memoir by former Packers teammate Jerry Kramer.

Bart Starr, the Hall of Fame quarterback and a former Packers teammate, once called Adderley "the greatest cornerback to ever play the game."

Born June 8, 1939, in Philadelphia, Adderley was a three-sport star in high school. He excelled at running back at Michigan State and was the 12th pick overall of the 1961 draft. He came to training camp expecting to compete for a starting job against future Hall of Fame running backs Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung.

Midway through the season, Packers coach Vince Lombardi switched Adderley to defense to replace injured starter Hank Gremminger.

The move paid immediate dividends.

Adderley's speed and instincts made him a quick learner in his new position, and he became a stalwart of Green Bay's secondary. Adderley intercepted 48 passes, returning them for 1,046 yards and seven touchdowns in his career.

"Herb Adderley simply wouldn't let me get to the outside," Hall of Fame wide receiver Tommy McDonald once said. "He'd just beat me up, force me to turn underneath routes all the time. ... Other guys tried the same tactic, but he was the only one tough enough and fast enough to get it done."

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Adderley had a career-best seven interceptions in 1962. He also led the league in interceptions in 1965 and 1969. Adderley returned kickoffs in all but the final year of his playing days with the Packers, averaging 25.7 yards per return.

In the early days of football on television, Adderley made his appearances count and is most remembered for his postseason contributions. He was a member of all five of Lombardi's NFL title teams and played in the first two Super Bowls.

"I was too stubborn to switch him to defense until I had to," Lombardi said. "Now when I think of what Adderley means to our defense, it scares me to think of how I almost mishandled him."

Adderley played in two more Super Bowls with Dallas in 1971 and 1972, winning his sixth title with the Cowboys in his final season. Adderley was an All-Pro seven times, from 1962 to 1967 and again in 1969.

"Herb Adderley was yet another dominant figure for us on the Packers,'' former Packers teammate Bill Curry tweeted. "He was quiet, but when he did speak, everybody listened. When he performed, no one was better!"

After his retirement, Adderley was a crusader for the rights of former players. In 2007, Adderley and two other retired players filed a class-action lawsuit against the NFL Players Association, alleging nonpayment of licensing fees. He had received only $126.85 per month in pension from the NFL.

He became the lead plaintiff in the case on behalf of more than 2,000 retired players who claimed the NFLPA breached licensing and marketing terms by using their images in video games, sports trading cards and other items. The case was settled for $26.25 million in 2009.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.