Bob Jeter, 71; football star for Iowa Hawkeyes, Green Bay Packers
Bob Jeter, a former University of Iowa halfback who was named most valuable player of the 1959 Rose Bowl and went on to play defensive back for the Green Bay Packers, died of a heart attack Thursday at his home in Chicago. He was 71 and had undergone prostate surgery the previous week.
Jeter’s son Rob is the men’s basketball coach at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Jeter’s brother Tony played tight end for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and his nephew Gary was a defensive lineman for USC as well as the New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams.
Bob Jeter, 6 feet 1 and 200 pounds, played on the Green Bay teams that won the National Football League championship in 1965 and the first two Super Bowls. He played for the Packers from 1963 to 1970 and was with the Chicago Bears from 1971 to ’73. He was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1985.
In the 1959 Rose Bowl, Jeter rushed for 194 yards on nine carries, including an 81-yard touchdown run. Iowa, using Coach Forest Evashevski’s wing-T offense, ran off with a 38-12 victory over UC Berkeley, which was led by quarterback Joe Kapp. Jeter’s rushing total, long scoring run and 21.6-yards-per-carry average set Rose Bowl records. The last record still stands.
The Hawkeyes finished with an 8-1-1 record, having lost to Ohio State University and tied Air Force. Louisiana State University won the national championship in voting that the Associated Press conducted before the Rose Bowl game.
“We played in the best bowl game you could ever play in,” Jeter said this September in an interview with the Iowa City Press Citizen. “But what made me mad is how in the world could they have [picked] the No. 1 team before we played in the Rose Bowl? I could not believe that.”
The Packers selected Jeter in the second round of the 1960 NFL draft, and the Los Angeles Chargers used their No. 1 pick in the American Football League draft on him, but he chose to play in the Canadian Football League at first. After two seasons at Vancouver, he joined the Packers and spent the 1962 season on the taxi squad.
The Packers tried him at wide receiver, but he was an ill fit at that position, so Coach Vince Lombardi switched Jeter to the defensive backfield. In 1965 he became a starter, opposite future Hall of Famer Herb Adderley, and became an integral part of the Packers’ dominant defense of the 1960s.
An All-Pro in 1967 and ’68, Jeter was traded to the Bears in 1971. By the time he retired he had intercepted 26 passes for 333 yards and two touchdowns.
Robert DeLafayette Jeter Jr. was born May 9, 1937, in Union, S.C., and grew up in Weirton, W.Va. He and his wife, Gwendolyn, had two sons, Rob and Carlton, and welcomed several foster children into their Chicago home.
“I like it a lot, and it keeps me young,” Jeter told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2003. “This gives us a busy house, and it’s been fun.”
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