Nelson Edward Toburen (born November 24, 1938) is a former American football linebacker in the National Football League for the Green Bay Packers. A serious neck injury in his second season ended his NFL career; he attended law school and eventually became a judge.
|Born:||November 24, 1938|
|Height:||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
|Weight:||235 lb (107 kg)|
|High school:||Colby (KS)|
|NFL Draft:||1961 / Round: 14 / Pick: 194|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at PFR|
Toburen was selected in the fourteenth round (194th overall) of the 1961 NFL draft by the Green Bay Packers. It was the third season under head coach Vince Lombardi and the Packers won the NFL championship, their first since 1944. As a rookie, Toburen was a reserve linebacker, playing mostly on special teams.
In 1962, Toburen was a second-year linebacker when he made his first NFL start, replacing the injured Dan Currie on November 18 at City Stadium in Green Bay. The Packers had won all nine games and the opponent was the Western Conference rival Baltimore Colts, led by star quarterback Johnny Unitas. The Packers were leading 17–13 early in the fourth quarter when, "Unitas went back to pass and then started to run," Toburen said. "(Ray) Nitschke was coming at him straight on and I was coming from the side.
"I hit him squarely in the hip, but the mechanics of the tackle got blown up. My head was down and it should have been up." Toburen's hit jarred the ball loose from Unitas and Nitschke recovered the fumble. But Toburen lie still on the City Stadium turf. "With my first start, my emotions were high, and I was playing reckless that day," Toburen said. "It was the greatest thing with my first start in front of my wife and dad. One moment I was on top of the world and then I wasn't."
Before Toburen even hit the ground, James Nellen, the team physician, was off the Packer bench and running onto the field to assist. "Doc Nellen realized right away what had happened - Nelson had broken his neck," said former guard Jerry Kramer. "According to Kramer, Nellen put pressure on Toburen's neck as they put him on a cart, moved him off the field, loaded him in the ambulance, wheeled him into the hospital and took him up to his room where they put him into traction.
Nellen's quick actions to stabilize Toburen's head and neck were instrumental to a successful outcome. "Nellen was wringing wet and shaking after that, but he made the difference," Kramer said. "He preserved Nelson's functions and maybe his life."
The 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m), 235-pound (107 kg) Toburen said it was a tackle that he had made more than 1,000 times in his football career, but he immediately knew something was wrong, very wrong. "I was aware of things and just knew that it felt like my arms were on fire," Toburen said. "Doc Nellen saved my bacon. He realized what was wrong and he didn't let me get up."
Toburen, whose sixth vertebrae broke in half and fifth was displaced, was fortunate that his spinal cord was stretched, not severed. At St. Vincent's Hospital, he was put in a body cast for the next six weeks. With Currie and Toburen out, backup center Ken Iman played linebacker and started the next game four days later on Thanksgiving in Detroit against the Lions (8–2).
"I tell people I broke my damn neck, but I had to be dramatic and do it against a hall of fame quarterback like Johnny Unitas," Toburen said with a laugh. "But I accomplished everything I set out to do on the play - make the tackle and cause a fumble. "Most important, we won the game. The next week we lost our only game at Detroit, and I always told my teammates it was because I wasn't there." But for Toburen, his first start in a Green Bay uniform also was his last.
His son Chris was a standout linebacker at the University of Kansas and became a helicopter pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was killed at age 27 in a training mission crash of his CH-46 in California in 1987.
The 1961 Green Bay Packers season was their 43rd season overall and their 41st season in the National Football League. The club posted an 11–3 record under coach Vince Lombardi, earning them a first-place finish in the Western Conference and ending a fifteen-year playoff drought. The Packers ended the season by defeating the New York Giants 37–0 in the NFL Championship Game, the first title game ever played in Green Bay. This was the Packers 7th NFL league championship.
The 1961 season was the first in which the Packers wore their trademark capital "G" logo on their helmets.1961 NFL Draft
The 1961 National Football League draft took place at the Warwick Hotel in Philadelphia on December 27–28, 1960. The league would later hold an expansion draft for the Minnesota Vikings expansion franchise, and the Vikings were also awarded the first selection position in this draft. This draft was also the first regular draft for the Dallas Cowboys as they had only participated in the 1960 NFL expansion draft that year. The Cowboys held the worst record in the NFL the previous season, but selected second in this draft because of the entry of the Vikings into the league.Colby High School (Kansas)
Colby High School is a public school in Colby, Kansas. It is located on 1890 S. Franklin Avenue. It enrolls approximately 300 students every year. The current principal is Stephanie McNemar.Green Bay Packers draft history
This page is a list of the Green Bay Packers NFL Draft selections. The Packers have participated in every NFL draft since it began in 1936, in which they made Russ Letlow their first-ever selection.List of Wichita State Shockers in the NFL Draft
This is a list of Wichita State Shockers football players in the NFL Draft.Wichita State Shockers football
The Wichita State Shockers football team was the NCAA Division I football program of Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas. The Shockers fielded a team from 1897 to 1986. They played their home games at Cessna Stadium and were members of the Missouri Valley Conference until the program was discontinued.