Pro Football Hall of Fame: Some Observations About Potential Green Bay Packers in the Class of 2020

hall of fame packer logo 2

The time is getting closer about finding out who will be in the Class of 2020 for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In 2020, the class will be much larger because of the centennial year of the NFL.

There will be the five modern-era players, plus 10 seniors, three contributors and two coaches.

Last week the modern-era nominee list was pared down to 25 semifinalists from a total of 122 nominees. One of those players is LeRoy Butler. This is the third straight year that Butler had made it down to the semifinals. But No. 36 has never been a finalist, which is a big step in getting a Gold Jacket, based on what I have heard from Clark Judge, who is voter for the Hall of Fame.

Butler, along with Steve Atwater of the Denver Broncos, were named All-Decade in the 1990s at safety. Of the 22 players on that All-Decade team of the ’90s, only Butler and Atwater don’t have a bust in Canton.

The list of 25 will be pared down to 15 in January and then that group will be taken down to the final five inductees on the day before Super Bowl LIV, which would be on Saturday February 1.

Another player who is among the 25 modern-era semifinalists has a bit of a Green Bay connection. I’m talking about Clay Matthews Jr., who is the father of Clay Matthews III, who played with the Packers from 2009 through 2018 and is the all-time leader in sacks for the Packers with 83.5 and was also named to six Pro Bowl squads.

No. 52 was a big reason why the Packers won Super Bowl XLV over the Pittsburgh Steelers when he helped to force a fumble during a key point of the game.

I’ll be writing a piece on Clay Jr. in the near future about why he deserves a place among the best of the best in Canton, which just happens to include his brother Bruce.

In terms of the seniors, the group of over 200 nominees will also be trimmed to 20 at some point in the very near future.

This group will be determined by a 25-person “blue-ribbon panel”, which consists of 13 current Hall of Fame voters, as well as some well known NFL names.

The panelists are Ernie Accorsi, Bill Belichick, Jarrett Bell, Joel Bussert, John Clayton, Frank Cooney, John Czarnecki, Rick Gosselin, Elliott Harrison, Joe Horrigan, Ira Kaufman, Dick LeBeau, Jeff Legwold, John Madden, John McClain, Gary Myers, Ozzie Newsome, Sal Paolantonio, Carl Peterson, Bill Polian, Dan Pompei, Charean Williams, Chris Willis, Barry Wilner, and Ron Wolf.

The panel will eventually name the 10 seniors, the three contributors and two coaches without needing a vote from the 48-person selection committee, which used to be the process in the past.

But because 2020 is a special centennial year for the NFL, this group of 15 will be inducted into the Hall once the list if finalized by the panel.

The Packers have a number of senior nominees who deserve a place in Canton in my opinion. And I believe that one of those seniors will be part of the Class of 2020.

The list of seniors for the Packers includes Boyd Dowler, who was an All-Decade player in the 1960s, plus was on the NFL 50th anniversary team.

Plus there is Ron Kramer, who was also on that 50th anniversary team.

Dowler and Kramer are the only two members of that 45-man team without a bust in Canton.

Jerry getting his Pro Football Hall of Fame ring at Lambeau

Jerry Kramer was another member of that 50th anniversary team and he finally got his rightful due and was inducted in 2018.

There are a few other All-Decade players who are senior nominees for the Packers. One is Lavvie Dilweg, who was All-Decade in the 1920s, while another is Cecil Isbell, who was All-Decade in the 1930s.

Dilweg is the only first-team member from that All-Decade team of the ’20s not in Canton, while Isbell is the only All-Decade quarterback not to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Another former Packer who was named All-Decade in the 1960s was Don Chandler. The former Florida Gator played most of his career with the New York Giants, both as a kicker and a punter, but also played three years with Green Bay from 1965 through 1967.

The Packers won the NFL title in each of those years, which also included the first two Super Bowls. Chandler was named as the punter on the All-Decade team of the ’60s.

Being named All-Decade is supposedly one of the key factors that the 25-person blue ribbon panel will use in their determination of the final group of 10 seniors.

That certainly helps players like Dowler, Dilweg and Isbell.

But there are a number of other former Packers were dominant players in their day and came very close to being named All-Decade.

I’m talking about Verne Lewellen in the 1920s, Bobby Dillon in the 1950s, (Ron) Kramer in the 1960s, Gale Gillingham in the 1970s and Sterling Sharpe in the 1990s.

Lewellen was considered the premiere punter of his era, when punting was truly an art form in the era of “three yards and a cloud of dust” in the NFL of the ’20s. There was no punter named on the All-Decade team of the 20s.

Plus, Lewellen was multi-talented, as he scored more touchdowns than anyone who played in the NFL while he was a player, plus once led the NFL in interceptions one season.

Dillon intercepted 52 passes in just eight seasons in the NFL. One of the people who will be on the blue ribbon panel, Ron Wolf, is a big fan of Dillon.

“He was a 9.7 sprinter coming out of the University of Texas and would be a corner in today’s game,” Wolf said. “But back then the best athletes were put inside. In order to qualify for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I believe you are talking about the best of the best. Bobby Dillon is one of those from his era. Witness the fact that (safeties) Jack Christiansen, Yale Lary and Emlen Tunnell are in the Hall. Dillon accomplished more than those particular players did in the same era. He was a rare football player, the best defensive back of his time.”

Kramer was considered among the best three tight ends in football when he played in the 1960s and the other two, Mike Ditka and John Mackey, are in Canton.

Gillingham was considered the one of the top guards in the NFL for several years and most likely would have been named All-Decade in the 1970s had not head coach Dan Devine foolishly moved No. 68 to defensive tackle for the 1972 season.

Not only was that move ridiculous, but a knee injury cost Gillingham almost the entire ’72 season.

When Sharpe played from 1988 through 1994 before a neck injury ended his career, only Jerry Rice was considered to be above No. 84 in terms of stature at the wide receiver position.

Another former Packer who deserves consideration for a place in the Hall is Fred “Fuzzy” Thurston. The first trade Vince Lombardi ever made once he became head coach and general manager of the Packers, was to acquire Thurston from the Colts.

Thurston, along with Kramer, made the power sweep the signature play of the Packers in the Lombardi era. The two guards would pull out and get to the second and third levels with their blocks, as Jimmy Taylor and Paul Hornung would continually and consistently gain large chunks of yardage.

Based on my discussions with people like Rick Gosselin and Judge, I believe the two best possibilities in terms of being named as a senior for the Packers as part of the Class of 2020, are Dowler and Dilweg.

Lavvie Dilweg(2)

Lavvie Dilweg and Boyd Dowler

But I believe only one Packer will get in as a senior in 2020.

We should know something very soon.

I also believe Jack Vainisi has a chance to be one of the three contributors for the Class of 2020. If not that class, he should be put in the Hall of Fame in the near future.

Wolf should know all about Vainisi’s prowess as a scout in the 1950s for the Packers. There are seven Packers who Vainisi drafted in the ’50s who are now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

I’m talking about Jim Ringo, Forrest Gregg, Bart Starr, Hornung, Taylor, Ray Nitschke and (Jerry) Kramer.

Plus, it was Vainisi who also drafted Dillon, (Ron) Kramer and Dowler.

Vainisi also played a pivotal role in bringing Lombardi to Green Bay in 1959.

These are my observations as the hourglass continues to run down regarding who from the Packers could be in the Class of 2020 for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

We will know soon enough.

Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions: A Historical Perspective

Jim Taylor scores vs. the Lions

The Green Bay Packers entered the NFL in 1921, while the Detroit Lions (then the Portsmouth Spartans) joined the league in 1930.

Portsmouth moved the franchise to Detroit in 1934 and became the Lions.

In their history since then, the Packers lead the series 98-72-7 in the regular season and 2-0 in the postseason. The 98 wins over the Lions by the Packers is the most that Green Bay has over any NFL opponent.

The two teams have always been in the same conference or division. When the NFL started using the division format in 1967, both teams were part of the NFL Central Division, which later became became the NFC Central in 1970 and then the NFC North in 2002.

Since the divisional play started in 1967, the Packers have won 14 divisional championships, while the Lions have won three.

In terms of NFL championships, the Packers have won 13 titles, including four Super Bowls, while the Lions have won four, with the last one coming in 1957, the year that Lambeau Field was originally built.

The Lions were a dominant NFL in the 1950s, as they won three of their NFL titles (1953, 1954 and ’57) that decade. That same decade, the Packers had the worst record that they ever had in any decade in their history, as the team went 39-79-2, which is a .331 winning percentage.

Even with all that losing, the Packers were able to build championship teams that decade, thanks to the expert drafting by Jack Vainisi. In the 1950s, Vainisi would draft seven players who would later be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and would help head coach Vince Lombardi win five NFL titles (including the first two Super Bowls) in the 1960s.

Those players are Jim Ringo, Forrest Gregg, Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, Jim Taylor, Ray Nitschke and Jerry Kramer.

The acquisition of those players led to quite a rivalry between the two teams in the early 1960s. The Packers won the Western Conference title for three straight years from 1960 through 1962, which also led to NFL championships in ’61 and ’62.

The Lions finished second to Packers in each of those years. The 1962 season was especially memorable, as the Packers finished with a 13-1 record, while the Lions were 11-3. The Packers only loss of the season happened on Thanksgiving Day at Tiger Stadium in Detroit.

But before we get to that game, we have to set up why the Lions were more than ready for the Packers on that Turkey Day.

In the first meeting between the Packers and Lions in the ’62 season at City Stadium (now Lambeau Field), the Packers had narrowly won 9-7, as quarterback Milt Plum threw a late interception to Herb Adderley which set up a game-winning Hornung field goal.

The Lions were furious after the game. Alex Karras reportedly threw his helmet at Plum’s chest after the game. Jerry Kramer could hear all types of screaming and banging in the Detroit locker room.

“We were undefeated when we went into Detroit on Thanksgiving,” Kramer said. “Detroit hated our guts. One of my best pals in college, Wayne Walker, played linebacker for the Lions. He hated that the Lions could never get over the top against us to win a championship. He never got over that.

“Before we played the Lions on Thanksgiving, Fuzzy lost his mother about three days before the game. Fuzzy decided to play, but his heart was somewhere else. The Lions just guessed and gambled correctly all day long that game.

“They did things that they had never done before. Alex [Karras] would line up just about everywhere. Over the center, over my right shoulder and anywhere he felt like he could do some damage. Add to that, the Lions were incredibly motivated.

Bart being harrased by the Lions in 1962

“They got Bart about 11 times that game. On the way home to Green Bay, Fuzzy said that all wasn’t bad, because we invented a new block called the look out block. As in, ‘Look out, Bart!’

“I don’t think we even watched film of that game afterwards, as we went down the road and continued to have success.”

Lombardi hated playing the Lions on Thanksgiving Day each year and he ended that series in 1963. The Packers had played in that game for 13 consecutive years from 1951 through ’63. Green Bay had only won three times during that period (twice under Lombardi) and tied once in the final game in ’63.

Since then, the Packers have played eight more games in Detroit on Thanksgiving, winning five of those contests.

The next time that the Packers and Lions became really big divisional rivals was in the early 1990s. Detroit won the NFC Central in both 1991 and 1993, plus was a Wild Card team in 1994 and 1995. The Lions also made playoff appearance in 1997 and 1999.

The Packers were also very successful in the ’90s, as the team won three NFC Central titles and were in the playoffs six times overall. That included winning Super Bowl XXXI.

During that period, the Packers played the Lions twice in the postseason. One after the 1993 season at the Pontiac Silverdome and once at Lambeau Field in two very memorable games.

Mike Holmgren was the head coach of the Packers and Wayne Fontes was the head coach of the Lions.

The playoff appearance in the 1993 postseason by the Packers was their first since 1982 and only their third since the Packers won Super Bowl II.

The stars for the Packers that year were quarterback Brett Favre, wide receiver Sterling Sharpe and defensive end Reggie White.

The big star for the Lions was running back Barry Sanders, who did not disappoint in this game, as he rushed for 169 yards.

Quarterback Erik Kramer threw for 248 yards for the Lions, but was sacked four times (including twice by White) and threw two costly interceptions, including one for 101 yards and a score by safety George Teague.

The biggest threat in the Detroit passing game turned out to be wide receiver Brett Perriman, who caught 10 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown.

Favre threw for 201 yards, plus tossed three touchdown passes, compared to one pick. Sharpe caught all three of those touchdowns and had five receptions overall for 101 yards.

But none was bigger than the one No. 84 caught with the Packers trailing late in the game 24-21.

Football: NFC playoffs. Green Bay Packer

Yes, with less than a minute to go in the game, Favre threw a bomb across the field to No. 84 for a 40-yard touchdown pass to win the game 28-24.

In the 1994 postseason game between the two teams at Lambeau Field, both squads went in as Wild Card teams as the Minnesota Vikings won the NFC Central.

The defense of the Packers was magnificent that day, especially in stopping the run. Sanders who had run wild against the Packers the previous postseason, was held to -1 yard in 13 carries. That’s mind-boggling when you really think about that stat.

Quarterback Dave Kreig threw a touchdown pass to Perriman, but was also sacked four times, including twice by linebacker Bryce Paup and once each by White and Sean Jones.

Favre meanwhile, threw for 262 yards. Favre was missing Sharpe, who had suffered a career-ending neck injury late in the 1994 season. Robert Brooks became the key receiver for No. 4 and had seven catches for 88 yards.

The big offensive star for the Packers in the game was running back Edgar Bennett, who rushed for 70 yards, plus caught six passes for 31 more yards, as the Packers won 16-12.

In recent years, the Packers have done well in this rivalry up until 2017, as the Lions have won four consecutive times. Under head coach Mike McCarthy, the Packers were 18-4 against the Lions from 2006 through 2016.

None was a bigger win than the “Miracle in Motown” game in 2015.

The Packers were down in that game 23-20 at Ford Field with just seconds to go in the game.

Saved by a facemask penalty against Detroit’s Devin Taylor on what would have been the final play of the game, quarterback Aaron Rodgers was able to get one more shot at a miraculous finish.

Rodgers did not disappoint either.

The Packers were on their own 39 yard line and Rodgers was going to need some time to launch a pass to the opposite end zone. That’s if he could get it there.

Rodgers was able elude the three-man rush, first going left, then scrambling to the right and then running up to launch his moon-rocket pass that soared way up into the air and traveled close to 70 yards.

Tight end Richard Rodgers of the Packers leaped up and caught the ball at it’s highest point in the end zone surrounded by several players from both teams.

The result? The 6’4″, 272-pound Rodgers had unbelievably secured a 61-yard touchdown pass to end the game, as the Packers won 27-23.

Richard Rodgers catch vs. the Lions

As I mentioned earlier, the Lions have won the last four games between the two teams, although Aaron Rodgers did not play in three of those games.

But Rodgers will be behind center when the 4-1 Packers take on the 2-1-1 Lions at Lambeau Field on Monday night.

Historically, Rodgers has fared very well versus Detroit.

No. 12 is 13-5 against the Lions in his career and has thrown 37 touchdown passes versus just six picks for 4,526 yards. That adds up to a passer rating of 109.0.

Meanwhile, quarterback Matthew Stafford of the Lions is 7-10 against Green Bay. No. 9 has thrown 34 touchdown passes versus 19 interceptions for 4,921 yards. That adds up to a passer rating of 89.6.

The game on Monday night will be the first time new head coach Matt LaFleur of the Packers takes on second-year coach Matt Patricia of the Lions. Detroit was 6-10 under Patricia in 2018, with two of those wins coming against Green Bay.

Both the Packers and Lions have surprised experts this season, as most thought that the NFC North would be controlled by the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings. But the Packers have already beaten both da Bears and Vikings, while the Lions have yet to play anyone in the division as of yet, but did beat the Philadelphia Eagles who gave the Packers their only loss of the season.

Rodgers is having a typical season thus far for him, as he has six touchdown passes versus just one pick for 1,307 yards. That being said, his passer rating this year (93.4) is below his career passer rating of 102.8.

However, that has to be expected seeing as he is running a new offense under LaFleur, which has started to get much better the past two games.

Stafford has thrown nine touchdown passes this year, compared to just two picks for 1,122 yards. No. 9’s passer rating for the year is 102.6.

So quarterback play will be a key on Monday night. As will the play of the running backs.

The Green Bay ground game is led by Aaron Jones, who has rushed for 302 yards and has eight touchdowns. The Detroit running game is led by Kerryon Johnson, who has rushed for 251 yards and one score.

Detroit is ranked ninth offensively in the NFL, while Green Bay is ranked 25th, but is improving as of late.

The Packers are ranked 22nd defensively, but it doesn’t tell the true story. Green Bay is eighth in the NFL in points allowed (18.6) per game. The Packers are also tied for 10th in the league with 15 sacks, plus have held opposing quarterbacks to a 75.9 passer rating, as they have allowed six touchdown passes while picking off seven passes.

The weakness for Green Bay has been run defense, as they are ranked 26th in the league in that category. The Packers have allowed on average 138.2 yards per game on the ground. That can’t continue to happen if the Packers want to continue their winning ways.

The Lions are ranked 27th in the NFL in total defense, as they give up an average of 405.5 yards per game, as well as 23.8 points per game. Detroit is ranked 29th in stopping the pass and 20th in stopping the run.

I look for Rodgers to have a big night, even without wide receiver Davante Adams, who has been ruled out.

Finally, the two teams have met on Monday night three times in their history. The series is even at 1-1-1. Overall on Monday night, the Packers are 32-32-1.

I expect that Packers to go up in the series 2-1-1 and also get their 99th victory in the regular season versus the Lions.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame: The Green Bay Packers Deserve More Recognition

hall of fame packer logo 2

The Green Bay Packers have won 13 NFL championships, which is the most in league history. The next closest team to that total is the Chicago Bears, who have won nine NFL titles.

Yet, da Bears have 28 members of their team in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, while the Packers have just 25. Something seems amiss to me here.

Here are the Packers who have a bust in Canton:

They are Curly Lambeau (Class of 1963), Robert “Cal” Hubbard (Class of 1963), Don Hutson (Class of 1963), Johnny “Blood” McNally (Class of 1963), Clarke Hinkle (Class of 1964), Mike Michalske (Class of 1964), Arnie Herber (Class of 1966), Vince Lombardi (Class of 1971), Tony Canadeo (Class of 1974), Jim Taylor (Class of 1976), Forrest Gregg (Class of 1977), Bart Starr (Class of 1977), Ray Nitschke (Class of 1978), Herb Adderley (Classof 1980), Willie Davis (Class of 1981), Jim Ringo (Class of 1981), Paul Hornung (Class of 1986), Willie Wood (Class of 1989), Henry Jordan (Class of 1995), James Lofton (Class of 2003), Reggie White (Class of 2006), Dave Robinson (Class of 2013), Ron Wolf (Class of 2015), Brett Favre (Class of 2016) and Jerry Kramer (Class of 2018).

Now here are the Bears who are in the Hall of Fame:

They are George Halas (Class of 1963), Bronco Nagurski (Class of 1963), Harold “Red” Grange (Class of 1963), Ed Healey (Class of 1964), William Lyman (Class of 1964), George Trafton (Class of 1964), Paddy Driscoll (Class of 1965), Dan Fortmann (Class of 1965), Sid Luckman (Class of 1965), George McAfee (Class of 1966), Bulldog Turner (Class of 1966), Joe Stydahar (Class of 1967), Bill Hewitt (Class of 1971), Bill George (Class of 1974, George Connor (Class of 1975), Gale Sayers (Class of 1977), Dick Butkus (Class of 1979), George Blanda (Class of 1981), George Musso (Class of 1982), Doug Atkins (Class of 1982), Mike Ditka (Class of 1988), Stan Jones (Class of 1991), Walter Payton (Class of 1993), Jim Finks (Class of 1995), Mike Singletary (Class of 1998), Dan Hampton (Class of 2002), Richard Dent (Class of 2011) and Brian Urlacher (Class of 2018).

Now let’s look at the years the Packers have won the NFL title:

The years are 1929, 1930, 1931, 1936, 1939, 1944, 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1996 and 2010.

Here are the NFL titles won by da Bears:

1921, 1932, 1933, 1940, 1941, 1943, 1946, 1963 and 1986.

The Bears were in the league right from the start in 1920 (when it was the American Professional Football Association), while the Packers joined the league in 1921.

Both the Bears and Packers each won six NFL titles through 1946. Yet, Chicago has 13 players recognized in Canton who played on some of those teams, while the Packers only have eight.

That tells you something right there.

Now I’m not saying that the members of the Bears from those teams don’t deserve to have a place in Canton. They absolutely do.

What I’m saying is that more Packers from that era deserve a place among the best of the best in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Players like Lavvie Dilweg, Verne Lewellen and Cecil Isbell.

Dilweg was a first-team member of the All-Decade team of the 1920s in the NFL. He is the only member of that All-Decade team not in Canton. Dilweg was named first-team All-Pro team six times and was also a second-team selection at All-Pro once. There was no Pro Bowl (started in 1938) when Dilweg played.

The former Marquette star set all the Green Bay receiving records until a fellow by the name of Don Huston came on the scene. Dilweg was part of the squad that won three consecutive NFL titles from 1929 through 1931. This was prior to the playoff era in the NFL. Unbelievably, Dilweg has never been a finalist for the Hall of Fame.

Dilweg was also the grandfather of Anthony Dilweg, who played quarterback for the Packers in 1989 and 1990.

Lewellen was also part of the team which won three straight NFL titles in 1929, 1930 and 1931. The former Nebraska star was a do-it-all type of player. Lewellen rushed for 2,410 career yards and 37 TDs, passed for 2,076 yards and threw nine TDs and gained another 1,240 yards receiving and had 12 more scores.

Lewellen was also the Green Bay punter, as he averaged 39.5 yards per kick. Lewellen was named All-Pro four times and should have been named to the NFL All-Decade team of the 1920s like Dilweg was. Also like Dilweg, Lewellen has never been a Hall of Fame finalist.

Cecil Isbell in the 1939 NFL title game at State Fair Park

Cecil Isbell  carries the ball in the 1939 NFL Championship Game at State Fair Park.

Then there is Isbell, who had a short five-year career before he retired. But what a great career he had in those five years. Isbell was a two-time first-team All-Pro and a three-time second-team All-Pro. Isbell also went to four Pro Bowls.

Isbell was so prolific throwing the ball to Don Hutson, that he was named to the NFL All-Decade team of the 1930s. From 1920 through 2000, there have been 21 quarterbacks selected to the All-Decade teams. All but Isbell are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The two best years that Hutson ever had were in 1941 and 1942 when Isbell was throwing him the ball. In 1941, Hutson caught 58 passes from Isbell for 738 yards and 10 touchdowns. In 1942, Hutson caught 74 passes from Isbell for 1,211 yards and 17 touchdowns.  In ’42, Hutson became the first-ever 1,000 yard receiver.

The NFL was mostly a three yards and a cloud of dust league before Hutson came into the league. That all changed when No. 14 became a huge receiving threat and had Isbell throwing him the ball.

In his short career, Isbell threw 61 touchdown passes versus 52 interceptions for 5,945 yards. He was not a bad runner either, as he rushed for 1,522 yards and 10 scores. Isbell also found time to catch 15 passes.

So if you can make the case for 13 Bears to be in the Hall of Fame because of the six NFL titles won through 1946, you can also say that the Packers, who also won six championships during that time, deserve more than eight players in Canton from those teams.

Dilweg, Lewellen and Isbell are three more that should definitely have busts right now.

Plus, there are the other Packers who deserve consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I have written about a number of them. Players like Bobby Dillon, Ron Kramer, Boyd Dowler, Fuzzy Thurston, Don Chandler, Gale Gillingham and Sterling Sharpe.

Plus you have to also consider players like Bob Skoronski and LeRoy Butler.

And we can’t forget scout Jack Vainisi either. Vainisi was just as responsible for the success of the Packers of the 1960s, as Ron Wolf was for the Packers of the 1990s.

So, will the Packers ever catch the Bears in terms of having as many or more individuals in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Well, the Pack certainly has some excellent candidates to get a bust in Canton.

Plus there is this. The Packers now have a 96-93-6 advantage (regular season) in their series against the Bears dating back to 1921. But it wasn’t until last season that the Packers were able to get ahead in the series for the first time since 1932.

The Packers and Bears are also 1-1 against each other in the postseason, which includes the 2010 NFC title game at Soldier Field, when Green Bay won 21-14.

Packers-Bears Helmets

The bottom line is that the Packers are the most successful franchise in NFL history. They have proven that with their league-leading 13 NFL championships. But some of the great players who helped win some of those championships have been ignored by the Hall of Fame.

That needs to change.

Plus there are players like Dillon, who played on mostly bad teams in Green Bay in the 1950s. Or Gillingham or who played on mostly bad or mediocre teams except for his first two years in the NFL (1966 and 1967) when he played for the Super Bowl I and the Super Bowl II champion Packers.

Gillingham was also on the 1972 Green Bay team which won the NFC Central title, but he missed almost the entire season due to a knee injury after Dan Devine ridiculously decided to move him to defensive tackle.

Playing on mostly bad teams didn’t stop voters from putting Sayers and Butkus in the Hall of Fame. Neither No. 40 or No. 51 ever played in a NFL postseason game. But they were both among the best of the best at their position when they played in the NFL.

That is also true of all the Packers I have mentioned.

And that’s why the Packers deserve more recognition in terms of individuals who belong in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Green Bay Packers: Why Sterling Sharpe Deserves to be Considered for the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Green Bay Packers vs Pittsburgh Steelers

Donald Driver is the all-time leading receptions leader in Green Bay Packers history. Driver accumulated 743 receptions in 14 seasons. That averages out to about 53 catches per season.

Can you guess who is No. 2 all time in receptions for the Packers?

Don Hutson? No. James Lofton? No. Jordy Nelson? No. Boyd Dowler? No.

The answer is Sterling Sharpe, who had 595 catches in just seven seasons in Green Bay. That averages out to a whopping 85 catches per season.

Driver is also first in pass receiving yardage, as he had 10,137 career yards. That averages out to be about 724 yards per season.

Lofton, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2003, is next with 9,656 career yards in nine seasons. That averages out to be about 1,073 yards per season.

Sharpe is next with 8,134 career yards. That averages out to be about 1,162 yards per season.

There is no doubt that Sharpe was heading for a place among the best of the best in the Pro Football Hall of Fame before he suffered a career-ending neck injury in 1994, which cut short his career in the NFL.

Early in Sharpe’s career, he and quarterback Don Majkowski were a great tandem, especially in the 1989 season, when Sharpe caught 90 passes for 1,423 yards and 12 touchdowns.

But that was just a precursor until the arrival of quarterback Brett Favre. Once Favre became the starter early in the 1992 season, No. 4 and No. 84 became the dynamic duo.

From 1992 through 1994, Sharpe caught 314 passes (an average of 105 receptions per season) for 3,854 yards (an average of 1,295 yards per season) and 42 touchdowns (an average of 14 TDs per season).

Just imagine the numbers Sharpe would have put up in his career had he not been injured. Plus, also think about the effect he would have had being on the great teams the Packers had from 1995 through 1997, when the Packers won three straight NFC Central titles, went to three straight NFC titles games (winning two) and two straight Super Bowls (winning one).

Sharpe only had one opportunity to play in the postseason, which was in 1993. No. 84 was truly exceptional. In two games, Sharpe had 11 receptions for 229 yards (20.8 average) and four touchdowns.

Football: NFC playoffs. Green Bay Packer

The most memorable reception by Sharpe in that postseason, was when Favre in the last minute of the game vs. the Detroit Lions at the Pontiac Silverdome, threw a bomb across the field to No. 84 for a 40-yard touchdown pass to win the game 28-24.

It’s difficult to fathom just how dangerous the Packers would have been in the passing game from 1995 through 1997 if Sharpe was on the team. Favre won three straight MVPs in those three seasons, but his numbers would have been off the charts with Sharpe as his No. 1 receiver.

As it is, in his short seven-year career from 1988 through 1994, Sharpe was second only to Jerry Rice in receptions and touchdowns. Rice had 620 catches, compared to 595 by Sharpe. Rice also had 91 touchdowns versus the 65 caught by Sharpe.

But it’s also important to note that Sharpe was escalating upward in TD receptions once Favre arrived in 1992. And even with Rice dominating the NFL, Sharpe led the NFL in receptions three times, plus led in touchdown receptions twice.

Sharpe also won the “Triple Crown” in receiving in 1992, by leading the NFL in receptions (108), receiving yards (1,461) and touchdowns (13).

That has only been accomplished by six other players in NFL history. They are Rice, Hutson, Elroy Hirsch, Pete Pihos, Raymond Berry and Steve Smith. All except Smith have a bust in Canton and he just recently retired.

Sharpe was also named to five Pro Bowls, plus was first-team All-Pro three times by the Associated Press.

Had he not been injured, Sharpe would definitely been on the NFL’s All-Decade team in the 1990s. In my opinion, he would have joined Rice on the first team. But because of his injury, Cris Carter joined Rice on the first team, while Michael Irvin and Tim Brown were on the second team.

Rice, Carter, Irvin and Brown are all in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Let’s imagine that Sharpe played only three more years in the NFL had he not been injured in 1994. Based on what he had done in the regular season from 1992-1994 and what he had done in the postseason in 1993, one can certainly envision that the Packers may have been even more successful than winning just one Super Bowl in those three years.

If we take the production of Sharpe while Favre was his QB and add that to his career numbers for three more years, Sharpe would have had 910 career receptions, 12,019 career receiving yards and 107 career TDs.

Plus, just imagine the damage Sharpe would have done in the postseason. The Packers played in nine postseason games from 1995 through 1997. In the 1993 postseason alone, Sharpe averaged 5.5 catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns per game.

Sharpe was one of 102 names on this year’s Pro Football Hall of Fame nominee’s list which was released a couple weeks back. Sharpe deserves to make the first cut to 25 players and then the final cut to 15 players when the the 48-person Hall of Fame selection committee names the Class of 2019 the day before Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta.

Sharpe should definitely be one of the members of the Class of 2019.

The great Gale Sayers is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, even with just a seven-year career in the NFL, which was cut short by a knee injury. The voters knew that Sayers was a special player who was a dominant force on the field when healthy.

2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony

The same holds true with Sharpe, who also just played seven years in the NFL. No. 84 was truly a dominant player in the NFL, plus his career was cut short due to injury while he was in his prime.

I believe it’s time for Sharpe to be on the enshrinement stage in Canton receiving a bust like his brother Shannon did in 2011.

It was Sterling who presented Shannon that day.

In 2019, Shannon can return the favor.

Sharpe will then become the 26th player from the Packers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, joining the group that recently added Jerry Kramer.

Sharpe will also be joining a couple of players who were on those great Green Bay teams in the 1990s. I’m talking about Favre and Reggie White. Safety LeRoy Butler is also deserving of consideration in Canton and I will write about that at a later time.

The bottom line is that Sharpe was second only to Jerry Rice in terms of production at wide receiver while both were in the NFL together. That has to tell you something, as Rice is considered the greatest wide receiver in modern-day NFL history.

Pre-1950, the greatest receiver ever in the NFL was certainly Hutson.

Like Kramer recently had happen, Hutson has his name on the Lambeau Field facade, which represents all the players from the Packers who are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Sharpe deserves his name up there too.

Ted Moore Belongs in the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame

Ted Moore doing a Packers game at MCS

Anyone who is familiar with my writing over the past 16 years covering the Green Bay Packers knows that I was a huge proponent for the rightful induction of Jerry Kramer into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That goes back to my days at Packer Report.

I feel the same way about other former Packers. Players like Bobby Dillon, Boyd Dowler, Ron Kramer, Fuzzy Thurston, Gale Gillingham,  LeRoy Butler and Sterling Sharpe. At the very least, the careers of these players need to be brought into the discussion about being enshrined in Canton.

But that’s another story. This story is about a man who definitely needs to be inducted into another Hall of Fame…the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame. Just like [Jerry] Kramer (1975), Dowler (1978), [Ron] Kramer (1975), Thurston (1975), Gillingham (1982), Dillon (1974), Butler (2007) and Sharpe (2002) were.

I’m talking about the former radio announcer of the Packers in the Vince Lombardi era, Ted Moore.

I grew up in that era. It was the golden age for Packer Nation, as Lombardi’s Packers won five NFL titles in seven years, including the first two Super Bowls. The team also won an unprecedented three NFL championships in a row, a feat that has never been duplicated in the playoff era of the NFL going back to 1933.

Back in those days, if you watched the Packers on television, you heard and saw Ray Scott do the games on CBS. But if you listened to the games on the radio, you listened to Moore on the Packers radio network. The flagship station for the Packers then and now was WTMJ in Milwaukee.

Back then, all local games were blacked out on television (even if they were sold out). So unless I was able to attend a game in person at Milwaukee County Stadium (which I did on a few occasions), I listened to the rest the Packer games in Milwaukee on the radio. The same held true for anyone who lived in Green Bay for Packer games at City Stadium/Lambeau Field.

Scott was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 2001. So were a couple of other legendary Green Bay newspaper reporters who covered the Packers back then, as both Art Daley (1993) and Lee Remmel (1996) have been enshrined as well. So was the team photographer during that time, Vernon Biever (2002).

Basically everyone who covered the Packers during the Lombardi era is in the Packers Hall of Fame. All except Moore.

Ted Moore and Vince Lombardi

Now there have been two Packer radio announcers who have been inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame. They are Russ Winnie (2016) and Jim Irwin (2003).

I expect them to be joined at some point by Moore and current radio play-by-play man, Wayne Larrivee.

I got to know Irwin pretty well at WTMJ in 1980 and 1981 when I worked there, first as an intern and then as a freelance reporter. In fact, I got to know Irwin so well, that he was the No. 1 reference listed on my résumé while I was looking for broadcasting and journalism work out of college.

Now longevity in covering the Packers does play a part in getting into the Hall of Fame for the team. Daley (68 years), Remmel (62 years) and Biever (61 years) each covered the Packers for over six decades.

Scott (10 years), Winnie (17 years) and Irwin (29 years) all covered the team for at least a decade and in Irwin’s case, almost three decades.

Moore spent 12 years broadcasting games for the Packers. And it was he who first hired Irwin.

Like I mentioned in my most recent story, the quarterback sneak by Bart Starr in the 1967 NFL title game between the Packers and the Dallas Cowboys, was one of the most iconic plays in NFL history.

And it has to be the greatest play in the history of the Packers. It was Moore who provided the play-by-play on that legendary moment in Green Bay lore.

“Third down and inches to go to pay dirt. 17-14, Cowboys out in front. Starr begins the count and he takes the quarterback sneak and he’s in for the touchdown and the Packers are out in front. The Green Bay Packers are going to be world champions,” Moore yelled out, as the 50,000-plus frozen faithful in the Lambeau Field stands went delirious.

Moore did the radio broadcasts for all six of the NFL championship games that the Packers under Lombardi played in.

There are currently 159 members of the Packers Hall of Fame. That number will go up by two, as Mark Tauscher and Ryan Longwell will get inducted later this summer. Of those 159 members, 26 have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

After Moore left the Packers, he broadcast the games in 1970 for the Baltimore Colts. He brought some championship luck to the Colts as well, as the team went on to win Super Bowl V.

Bob's latest 130

Moore later returned to Milwaukee and spent some time at WEMP and WOKY.

My dad was one of Moore’s loyal listeners during in his time in Wisconsin, as he announced football and basketball games (22 years) for the University of Wisconsin, and also called basketball games for Marquette University one year.

Speaking of fathers and sons, Moore’s son Richard has page on Facebook called Put Ted Moore in The Packer Hall of Fame.

Moore is already in the Wisconsin Broadcasters Hall of Fame, but he also certainly deserves to be in the Packers Hall of Fame.

Moore passed away in 2014 at the age of 87, so he never was able to see himself enshrined with the best of the best in the the history of the Packers.

Being inducted in 2019 would be very apropos, as it would be the 50th anniversary of Moore’s final season with the Packers.

Each summer when I come back to Wisconsin, I always try to make a number of trips to Green Bay from our summer home in Cedar Grove, right off of Lake Michigan. I almost always stop in and go through the Packers Hall of Fame in the Lambeau Field Atrium.

The Packers Hall of Fame has been around since 1967, but with the new and improved look of the historical landscape now, it has truly become a must-see stop for not only all Packers fans, but all NFL fans in general.

I look forward to the day when I will see Moore’s name listed among the greats in the Packers Hall of Fame.

Donald Driver Personified Hard Work as a Member of the Green Bay Packers

Donald Driver 2007 NFC title game

Donald Driver had a 14-year career with the Green Bay Packers and is currently the all-time leader for the team in terms of receptions (743) and receiving yardage (10,137).  Driver was also named to four Pro Bowl teams.

Driver had 61 TD receptions, which is the fourth-best mark in Green Bay history, only behind Don Hutson (99), Sterling Sharpe (65) and Jordy Nelson (63).

The 14 seasons that Driver spent with the Packers only puts him behind notable legends such as Bart Starr (16 seasons), Brett Favre (16 seasons) and Ray Nitschke (15 seasons). Forrest Gregg also spent 14 seasons with the Packers in his career.

That all led to Driver being inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame on Saturday.

But nothing came easy for Driver when he joined the Packers in 1999 as a seventh-round draft pick for the Pack out of Alcorn State when general manager Ron Wolf selected him.

As a rookie, Driver was way down on the pecking order at wide receiver, as Antonio Freeman (74 receptions for 1,054 yards and six TDs), Bill Schroeder (74 receptions for 1,051 yards and five TDs) and Corey Bradford (37 receptions for 637 yards and five TDs) were all above him on the depth chart catches passes from Favre, a three-time NFL MVP.

Driver only had three catches for 31 yards and one touchdown as a rookie.

But Driver kept working hard and he got more opportunities in 2000, as he had 21 receptions for 322 yards and one TD.

But in 2001, Driver took a step back and only had 13 catches for 167 and one TD.

The first three years of Driver’s career in Green Bay weren’t exactly eye-opening.

But that all changed in 2002, when No. 80 worked his way up the depth chart. Driver had 70 receptions for 1,064 yards and nine TDs that season.  Driver also was named to the Pro Bowl squad for the first time.

But then Driver took another step backwards in 2003, as he had only had 52 receptions for 621 yards and two touchdowns. In addition to that, Driver suffered a scary injury against the Minnesota Vikings. But no matter, Driver was both resilient and persistent in becoming a better player.

“I think everything in my career has been truly a blessing,” Driver said Saturday. “I made a way out of no way. I remember 2003, when I fell on my neck against Minnesota, I remember being on a stretcher going through that tunnel, my wife told me that my career was over. She wanted me to retire and put the cleats up. I told her, ‘I don’t think God’s done with us yet. If I can recover from this, let’s just see where God takes us.’ Eleven years later, he took us to places where we never thought we would go. It’s been truly amazing. I can look back and appreciate every opportunity that I’ve had.”

But all his continued hard work paid off, because from 2004 through 2009, Driver averaged 82 catches for 1,141 yards and six touchdowns per season. Driver was also named to two more Pro Bowls during that period.

The 2010 season would be a special one for Driver. Not so much for his production, as he had just 51 receptions for 565 yards and four touchdowns (and another Pro Bowl selection). No, it was because his team was able to win the Super Bowl.

In Super Bowl XLV, Driver was injured early in the game and only had two catches for 28 yards. But even with the disappointment of being injured, Driver cheered on his fellow receivers, as Nelson (nine catches for 140 yards and one TD), Greg Jennings (four catches for 64 yards and two TDs) and James Jones (five catches for 50 yards) put up some big numbers.

Donald Driver Super Bowl XLV

The Packers ended up beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in that game of all games 31-25, behind the MVP performance of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who threw for 304 yards and three TDs without a pick.

Speaking of the postseason, in his career, Driver had 49 catches for 675 yards and three TDs. One of those touchdowns was when he caught a 90-yard pass from Favre in the 2007 NFC title game against the New York Giants at frigid Lambeau Field.

In his last two seasons with the Packers in 2011 and 2012, Driver had just a combined 45 catches for 522 yards, but did have eight touchdowns.

But all in all, Driver had a tremendous career in Green Bay which eventually put him among the best of the best in Green Bay lore. But when did Driver ever imagine being enshrined in the Packers Hall of Fame?

“I don’t think it ever crossed my mind until the day that I was up for breaking Sterling’s record,” Driver said. “I think that’s when I said, ‘OK, maybe there’s an opportunity for me to be in the Packers Hall of Fame. I remember getting that phone call from Sterling. He said, ‘Listen, if you break my record, you better score a touchdown, because just a catch is not going to do it.’ I remember catching the ball against Detroit and made one move and I thought, ‘Oh, I scored. It’s easy.’ Seven guys hit me and I didn’t score on that play. At that point, I think that’s when I started to think about it. Then I knew I was only 3,000 yards away from breaking James Lofton’s record. At that point, that’s when I started thinking, ‘This could be possible.’

“To be the all-time Packers leading receiver in franchise history, that tells you that you’re among some of the greatest icons and legends that ever played in the Green and Gold. To surpass those individuals is something I’m going to cherish for a long time. The day will come when somebody will break mine. I hope they cherish it as much as I cherished it when I broke theirs.”

When Driver retired from the NFL, I happened to chat with Jerry Kramer, another member of the Packers Hall of Fame and someone who definitely should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, soon after that occasion. Kramer obviously was impressed with Driver as a person, both on and off the field.

“Donald is an exceptional human being, and obviously a sensational ball player, but he’s also just an awfully nice man,” Kramer said. “He’s well-grounded and he has some character about him, and also some class. Plus I think of grace. Grace off the field, and obviously grace on the field, with the beautiful moves, and the tippy-toes, the great hands and the intelligence to run the route, but there’s a grace, which is the only word I can use to describe his attitude off the field. That’s with the fans and with everyone. He treats everyone with dignity and class.”

Green Bay Packers: Miracle in Motown

Richard Rodgers catch vs. the Lions

When it comes to having a crazy finish to a football game, the 27-23 victory by the Green Bay Packers over the Detroit Lions on Thursday night will be hard to top.

Saved by a facemask penalty against Detroit’s Devin Taylor on what would have been the final play of the game, quarterback Aaron Rodgers was able to get one more shot at a miraculous finish.

Rodgers did not disappoint either.

The Packers were on their own 39 yard line and Rodgers was going to need some time to launch a pass to the opposite end zone. That’s if he could get it there.

Rodgers was able elude the three-man rush, first going left, then scrambling to the right and then running up to launch his moon-rocket pass that arced way up into the air and traveled close to 70 yards.

Tight end Richard Rodgers of the Packers leaped up and caught the ball at it’s highest point in the end zone surrounded by several players from both teams.

The result? The 6’4″, 272-pound Rodgers had unbelievably secured a 61-yard touchdown pass to end the game.

“My goodness,” coach Mike McCarthy said as he talked to the media after the game. “Just before the ball was snapped, we were talking on the headphones that if anyone can get it there, Aaron can.

“What a great throw…what a great catch. A big-time play at the last possible moment of the game. We needed this.”

Richard Rodgers catch vs, the Lions II

Yes, indeed. The Packers really did need this. The team had lost four out of the last five games going into the game against the Lions.

Not only that, but in three of those four losses, the Packers had a chance to tie or win the game in the final seconds of those contests.

But the Packers couldn’t deliver. At least not until Thursday night.

For awhile during the game, it looked like the Packers were going to get blown out by the Lions. Green Bay was down 20-0 midway through the third quarter.

Luck and good fortune helped the Packers on their first score. As he was running towards the end zone of the Lions, running back James Starks fumbled near the 5 on a strip by  defensive back Isa Abdul-Quddus.

The ball bounced forward into the middle of the end zone and wide receiver Randall Cobb jumped on it the ball for the touchdown.

In less than two minutes, the Packers had another opportunity for a touchdown thanks to a sack-strip by Julius Peppers on quarterback Matthew Stafford of the Lions.

Seconds later Rodgers threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams to make it 20-14.

The Lions added a field goal midway through the fourth quarter to make the score 23-14. Rodgers closed the score to 23-21 with around three minutes left in the game when he scampered 17 yards for a touchdown.

That led to the incredible finish to the game.

The Lions have had a history of losing big leads to the Packers over the years at home.

In a recent story, Jerry Kramer talked to me about the 1965 Packers. The Packers played the Lions in the fifth week of that ’65 season at old Tigers Stadium.

Similar to what happened on Thursday night, the Packers were dominated by the Lions in the first half and were down 21-3.

Kramer didn’t play in the first half of that game, as the Packers were slowly working him back into the lineup after No. 64 had gone through nine operations due to intestinal issues that offseason.

No. 64 had also missed almost all of the 1964 season because of that situation.

Jerry blocking Alex

But with Kramer back in the starting lineup, the Packers stormed back to score 28 unanswered points in the second half to register a 31-21 victory.

Then there was the 1993 Wild Card playoff game at the Silverdome. Quarterback Brett Favre threw across the field to a wide open Sterling Sharpe for a 40-yard touchdown pass in the final minute of that postseason game, as the Packers won 28-24.

In addition to all that, there is the Rodgers to Rodgers connection. Besides having the same last name, both Aaron and Richard went to the University of California.

The father of Richard Rodgers, Richard Sr., was part of the event which became to be known as “The Play”, as Cal battled it’s long-time rival Stanford in 1982.

Stanford was ahead 20-19 with four seconds to go in the game when they kicked off to Cal via a squib kick. Rodgers was part of a sequence which involved five laterals (including two by Rodgers) and covered 55 yards. Eventually Kevin Moen of the Golden Bears scored, as he ran through the Stanford band which had come onto the field.

The result? A 25-20 improbable victory.

Then there was presence of Golden Tate of the Lions in the game last night. Packer Nation surely remembers the “Fail Mary” play when Tate was then with the Seattle Seahawks.

The replacement officials ruled that Tate caught a last-second 24-yard pass from Russell Wilson, even though it appeared that the ball was actually intercepted by M.D. Jennings of the Packers.

That terrible call led to a 14-12 win by the Seahawks and also thankfully ended the replacement officials era.

Tate had to watch from the sideline on Thursday night, as Aaron Rodgers launched his 70-yard moon-shot missile to Richard Rodgers.

McCarthy noted the difference between those two plays.

“I’ll say this,” McCarthy said. “At least our guy really caught the ball.”

Aaron celebrating vs. Lions

Yes, Rodgers caught the ball. The Packers also caught a break in stealing this game from the Lions.

Even in this stirring last-second victory, it’s quite obvious that the Packers have a lot of work to do to improve things, especially on offense.

The now 8-4 Packers now have 10 days to rest and get ready for the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field on December 13.

The Packers are hoping that their offensive line will be back to full strength for that game. Going into the game against the Lions, both right guard T.J. Lang and right tackle Bryan Bulaga were inactive due to injuries.

Then center Corey Linsley went out of the game with an ankle injury. Left tackle David Bakhtiari also left the game briefly with a knee injury.

Bottom line, the Packers have some added time to get their injured players ready to play versus Dallas, plus can continue to improve the efficiency and production of their offense.

It’s a lot easier to do those things coming off a miraculous victory like the one which occurred on Thursday night in Detroit.