Deral Teteak ’54 never played for a championship — neither as a Badger nor as a Packer, and his time as an assistant coach at UW–Madison ended with back-to-back winless seasons. But Teteak played like a champion, and with a sharp sense of humor, he entertained fans on and off the field.
A native of Oconto, Wisconsin, Teteak came to UW–Madison to play football for the Badgers. Between 1943, after most of the university’s players left to fight in World War II, and 1947, the UW had compiled an 18–34–3 record, with only one winning season. Though small by modern standards — Teteak stood five feet ten inches tall and weighed just above 200 pounds — he gave a boost to the team’s defense. Playing linebacker, he was known as “the Little Bull,” and he anchored what came to be known as the “hard-rocks defense.” Once Teteak arrived, the UW put together three straight winning seasons.
A colorful character, Teteak enjoyed the Packers’ fans far more than he did the team’s stingy leadership.
Teteak entered the NFL draft in 1952, and the Green Bay Packers selected him — but not until the ninth round. Still, he made an immediate impact on the field — and gained attention as a colorful character. He enjoyed the fans far more than he did the stingy team leadership. While the Packer Backers brought him and other players beer and wine after games, management tried to get by on the cheap.
“I tell you what,” he said, “the locker room was terrible. … Small lockers, the showers were terrible. It was a run-down deal. I … signed a one-year contract for $5,000 and no bonus money. After my rookie year, I went to the Pro Bowl. The next year, they didn’t want to increase my salary.”
Teteak played for the Packers for five years, during which they never had a winning season. Rather than continue to risk injury for low pay, Teteak left Green Bay to return to Madison as an assistant coach, and he was on the staff from 1957 through 1968. The Badgers reached the Rose Bowl after both the 1959 and 1962 seasons.
Teteak departed after 1968, and he soon returned to Green Bay, where he owned an industrial cleaning supply company. He passed away in 2014.