By Bob Berghaus
SPECIAL TO PACKERLAND TITLETOWN USA
Sports Illustrated published a project last month that was very cool, long overdue and provided debates around watercoolers from Green Bay to Seattle.
Peter King, the founder and editor-in-chief of the magazine’s Monday Morning Quarterback, held an all-time draft in which 12 people with extensive NFL backgrounds put together 12 teams from a pool of the 23,000 or so men who have played football at the professional level.
The rules were fairly simple: pick an 11-man offensive and defense, kicker, punter and a wild card player in 25 rounds. After that, each man selected a coach.
A fun project? You betcha. Not surprisingly, the Green Bay Packers were well represented with 26 players who played at least one season in Titletown among the 300 players drafted.
In addition, Curly Lambeau, who guided the Packers to six championships and Vince Lombardi, the man who won five NFL titles and the first two Super Bowls during his nine seasons with the Packers, were among the 12 coaches.
Defensive end Reggie White, who won a Super Bowl in Green Bay, was the first former Packer picked, seventh overall. Don Hutson, the end who was ahead of his time during an 11-year career from 1935-’45, was picked eighth overall.
The following men selected the players in the all-time draft:
• Ron Wolf: Longtime personnel man who came to Green Bay in 1991 and built a team that played in two Super Bowls, winning it all in 1996.
Ron Wolf shows off his Pro Football Hall of Fame ring to the Lambeau faithful.
• Bob McGinn: Covered the Packers for 38 seasons, the last 26 in Milwaukee.
• Ernie Accorsi: Former general manager of the Colts, Browns and Giants.
• Gil Brandt: Native of Milwaukee who is known as the father of modern football scouting.
• Joel Bussert: The NFL’s vice president of player personnel for 40 years.
• Dan Fouts: Hall of Fame quarterback.
• Rick Gosselin: Veteran football columnist, well known for his annual special teams analysis/rankings.
• Joe Horrigan: Pro Football Hall of Fame executive vice president.
• Peter King: Longtime pro football writer for Sports Ilustrated.
• Bill Polian: NFL executive of the year six times.
• John Turney, editor of Pro Football Journal.
• John Wooten, 10-year NFL guard, former NFL scout, head of The Fritz Pollard Alliance.
Bussert had the first pick and selected Lawrence Taylor, the menacing linebacker who led the New York Giants to two Super Bowl championships.
Reggie White, the Minister of Defense, addresses the Lambeau Field crowd in the Return To Titletown celebration after the Packers Super Bow XXXI championship. White was the first Packer selected in the Sports Illustrated all-time draft.
Wolf picked second and took Joe Greene, the Hall of Fame defensive tackle for the great Pittsburgh Steelers teams of the 1970s. The former Packers GM chose Greene over White, who was taken by McGinn with the seventh overall pick.
“I thought Joe Greene was the pick for me because of the position he played,” said Wolf. “Reggie White was in my group (for potential first-round picks).”
Aaron Rodgers was one of two quarterbacks picked in the draft, in the eighth round. The other was Brett Favre, in the 10th.
Current quarterback Aaron Rodgers was selected in the eighth round, two rounds ahead of Brett Favre, chosen in the 10th, by Wolf.
Brett Favre hugs former center and current Packers announcer Larry McCarren, while Packers president Mark Muphy smiles. Favre was picked in the 10th round.
Bart Starr, who guided the Packers to all of their titles under Lombardi, was not among the quarterbacks chosen.
“Look at the guys who weren’t selected,” said Wolf. “Joe Namath. Bob Griese. Bobby Layne. You could go on and on and on of all the great players who played quarterback who were not selected.”
Other quarterbacks chosen were Johnny Unitas; Roger Staubach; Terry Bradshaw; Troy Aikman; Dan Marino; Peyton Manning; Tom Brady; Otto Graham; Joe Montana; and John Elway.
Wolf made a shrewd move by taking Sammy Baugh, a star quarterback in the 1940s, as his punter.
The Green and Gold
Of the 26 former Packer players chosen, 19 spent all or significant parts of their careers in Green Bay. Here are those players:
• Defensive end Reggie White (1st round, taken by McGinn): Played with the Packers from 1993-’99 and had three sacks in a 35-21 win over New England in Super Bowl XXXI.
• Receiver Don Hutson (1st, Horrigan): A record-breaking receiver who retired in 1945 with 99 touchdowns, a record that stood for 44 years.
Don Hutson’s jersey hangs in the Packers Hall of Fame. His record of 99 touchdown receptions stood for decades.
• Middle linebacker Ray Nitschke (3rd, Fouts): A ferocious player who was the heart of Lombardi’s defense during the Glory Years.
• Defensive end Willie Davis (5th, Wooten): Excellent pass rusher who came to Green Bay in a trade with Cleveland in 1960 and eventually helped the Packers win five NFL titles and the first two Super Bowls.
• Tackle Forrest Gregg (6th, Bussert): Seven-time All-Pro with the Packers during the 1960s and Lombardi’s proclaimed best player. Also won a Super Bowl with Dallas.
• Quarterback Aaron Rodgers (8th, Turney): Two-time MVP who led the Packers to a Super Bowl win over Pittsburgh in the 2010 season.
• Fullback Jim Taylor (8th, Horrigan): Had five straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons for the Packers from 1960-’64. Was the league MVP in 1962 when he rushed for 1,474 yards and scored 19 touchdowns.
• Center Jim Ringo (8th, Wooten): Undersized at 225 pounds, but one of the best centers of his time. Won two titles with the Packers.
• Safety Charles Woodson (8th, Brandt): The Raiders may claim him, but during seven seasons in Green Bay he made 38 of his 65 career interceptions and also won a Super Bowl ring.
• Cornerback Herb Adderley (8th, Wooten): Had 39 interceptions during his nine seasons with the Packers. Was All-Pro four times and won five NFL championships and two Super Bowls.
• Quarterback Brett Favre (10th, Wolf): Wolf made the trade for him that gave the Packers a superb signal caller for 16 seasons. He was a three-time MVP and led the Packers to a win in Super Bowl XXXI.
• Guard Jerry Kramer (11th, Wooten): Was a key figure in the famed Lombardi sweep and made the block that enabled Starr to score the winning touchdown over Dallas in the Ice Bowl. Will he ever be enshrined in Canton?
• Linebacker Dave Robinson (14th, Horrigan): The most recent member of the Lombardi era to be inducted into the Hall of Fame (2013). Spent 10 of his 12 seasons in Green Bay and finished his career with 27 interceptions and also forced 12 fumbles. Played on the final three championship teams under Lombardi.
• Safety Willie Wood (16th, Bussert): Undrafted free agent who played 12 seasons in Green Bay, finishing with a club-record 48 interceptions. Was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and a big part of the Packers defense under Lombardi.
• Halfback/kicker Paul Hornung (16th, Wolf): The Golden Boy was selected by Wolf as a kicker. He was the NFL MVP in 1961, a year after he set a record for scoring with 176 points when the league had a 12-game season. He scored 15 touchdowns, kicked 15 field goals and made 41 extra points.
Everyone in this stretch of Packers Hall of Fame lockers was selected in the draft.
• Cornerback Willie Buchanon (17th, McGinn): Spent seven of his 11 NFL seasons in Green Bay where had most of his success. Was a two-time Pro Bowl selection and made 21 of his 28 career picks wearing the green and gold.
• Safety LeRoy Butler (21st, McGinn): Wolf often referred to Butler as the real leader of the defense when the Packers went to back-to-back Super Bowls in the mid-1990s. Intercepted 38 passes and had 20.5 sacks during a 12-year career.
• Safety Bobby Dillon (22nd, Wolf): Despite having one working eye he made a team-record 52 interceptions during an eight-year career that ended in 1959. He made the Pro Bowl four times and was a four-time All-Pro.
• Receiver James Lofton (24th, McGinn): Spent the first half of his career with the Packers, making the Pro Bowl seven times in eight seasons. Finished 16-year career with 764 receptions, 14,004 yards and 75 touchdowns.
Others who spent at least one season with Packers:
• Jan Stenerud (4th, Fouts): Started his career with Kansas City and played in Green Bay from 1980-’83. Fifty-nine of his 373 field goals were kicked while playing with the Packers.
• Linebacker Ted Hendricks (5th, Wolf): The “Mad Stork” played just one season (1974) in Green Bay, but it was memorable as he blocked seven kicks and picked off five passes. He won three Super Bowl rings with the Raiders and one with the Baltimore Colts.
• Defensive end Len Ford (5th, Accorsi): A dominating player who won three championships with the Cleveland Brown before winning just one game with the Packers during his final season in 1958.
• Safety Emlen Tunnell (8th, Gosselin): Came with Lombardi from the Giants to Green Bay in 1959 to provide leadership. Spent three seasons with the Packers, winning a championship in 1961. In 1967, he was the first African-American player inducted into the Hall of Fame.
• Receiver John Jefferson (22nd, Fouts): Caught 199 passes in three seasons with the Chargers, but underachieved during his four years with the Packers, catching a total of 149 passes.
• Lineman Walt Kiesling (25th, McGinn): A two-way lineman who helped the Packers win a championship in 1936, his second and last with the team. Played with five other teams during his career.
• Punter Sean Landeta (25th, Horrigan): Spent the 1998 season with the Packers. Played with five other teams during a 21-year career including the New York Giants, with whom he won two Super Bowls.
Our fearless leaders
• Vince Lombardi (Accorsi): Came to Green Bay in 1959 and won five championships and the first two Super Bowls with the Green and Gold.
• Curly Lambeau (Wolf): Founder of the Packers who guided the organization to its first six NFL titles.
Wolf said he understood why so many former Packers were selected in this unique draft.
“The legacy here, the tradition here, the quality of the people who have gone through here. No, it didn’t surprise me at all,” Wolf said.