In 1991 The Green Bay Packers traded their first round draft pick in the 1992 NFL Draft for a quarterback who started his college career as a as the seventh string QB at a small, non-power five conference school in Mississippi. It was the only school that had offered him a scholarship. In his one year as a pro he had thrown an interception that was returned for a touchdown on his very first pass. In three more passes he did not make a single completion and threw one more interception in four total attempts while taking a sack for an eleven yard loss for good measure. His first NFL coach never wanted him and claimed it would take a plane crash for him to play him. The Packers gave up their 19th overall pick for him anyway. Then he flunked his physical which should have nullified the trade. The Packers took a risk. For those of you have been in a coma for three decades, it worked out for them (and glad you are feeling better, by the way).
In his very first game as a Packer he came into the second half down 17 points to Tampa Bay and threw his very first completion for a loss of seven yards… to himself, off a deflected pass. In the next game he replaced an injured Don Majkowski and after four fumbles and the crowd trying to boo him off the field, he drove the Packers 92 yards and threw the winning touchdown with 13 seconds left. That game would be the first time he did NOT start for the next 18 seasons. Favre ended up taking the Packers to two Super Bowls and winning one. He set every important all time passing record you could hold, and he is generally viewed as one of the best three quarterbacks to ever play the game. He did not do it all alone however. He had a lot of teammates who helped him along the way, and also a few who did not help that much. Here are the 8 best, and 7 worst Packers of the Brett Favre era.
15. Best: Ahman Green
Ahman Green was probably the best running back in the NFL over his first four years with the Packers. Originally drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the third round of the 1998 NFL Draft, Green played his college football at the University of Nebraska. During his freshman year he was behind Cornhuskers legends Tommie Frazier and Lawrence Phillips but over the next three years he established himself as one of the all time Nebraska greats. In 2000, Green was traded to the Packers and from that season until 2004 he gained more total yards from scrimmage, 9,036, and more rushing yards, 6,848, than any other player in the NFL. He was injured for much of 2005 but returned to form in 2006 with another 1000 yard rushing season. He finished his career as a Packer holding most of the team’s major rushing records.
14. Worst: Jamal Reynolds
Following a standout career for the Florida State Seminoles where he was a unanimous first team All-American, Jamal Reynolds was drafted by the Green Bay Packers with the 10th selection in the 2001 NFL Draft which they received from the Seattle Seahawks in a trade for Matt Hasselbeck. Due to injuries and being outplayed by Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, Reynolds only played six games during his rookie year. He did not show much improvement when he received more playing time in the following seasons. Over his three year career with the Packers, he played 18 games and only recorded 14 tackles and three sacks. After being cut by the Packers he tried to catch on with the Colts and Browns but was unable to make his way back to the NFL.
13. Best: Donald Driver
Having spent his college career at unheralded Alcorn State University, Donald Driver was not thought of as a highly sought prospect in the 1999 NFL Draft. The Green Bay Packers saw something in him however and when their seventh round pick came around they selected Driver. He ended up playing his entire 14 year career with the Packers setting the team’s all time record for receiving yardage. Eight of Driver’s seasons were during the Favre era during which he compiled over 1000 yards in five of those seasons. Driver was a four time Pro-Bowler with the Packers and won Super Bowl XLV with them. He finished with over 10,000 yards receiving on 743 receptions with 61 touchdowns splitting his career almost evenly between Favre and Rodgers.
12. Worst: Ryan Wetnight
After playing for two years for the Stanford Cardinal, Ryan Wetnight was not selected in the 1993 NFL Draft but was signed by the Chicago Bears. He ended up playing seven seasons for the Bears before he came to the Green Bay Packers for his final year as a pro. He had over 1500 yards receiving during his time in Chicago averaging almost nine yards per catch. Once he became a Packer he played in ten games but only had three catches on nine targets for 20 yards and no touchdowns. Now it is probably not the case, but if you were a conspiracy theorist, one might think that after spending his entire career with the rival Chicago Bears, his final year with the Packers may have been an undercover sabotage job based on his 33% catch rate and lack of any notable production… but probably not.
11. Best: Chad Clifton
After red-shirting his first year at the University of Tennessee, Chad Clifton became a three year starter for the Volunteers offensive line, winning a National Championship in 1998. In the second round of the 2000 NFL Draft the Green Bay Packers chose Clifton with the 44th overall selection. It only took about six games until he claimed the starting left tackle position where he would remain for most of his ten plus year career. He protected Favre’s blind side for over seven seasons until Favre retired (the first time). Clifton was named to two Pro-Bowls and won a Super Bowl protecting Favre’s replacement Aaron Rodgers in Super Bowl XLV. Needless to say, not all the best Packers of the Favre era had thousands of catches or hundreds of tackles, some of them just did their job of helping Favre remain upright for long enough to throw all of those passes.
10. Worst: Charles Jordan
After growing up in the rough neighborhood of Inglewood California, Charles Jordan left his college program at Long Beach Community College after an injury and fell into a life of gang-banging. Eventually, after a few close calls with the law, Jordan returned to finish his eligibility and was later invited to a try out for the Oakland Raiders in 1993. He did not end up playing for the team that year but made his way to the Green Bay Packers in 1994 where he played for two years. As a wide receiver for the Packers he had nine catches for 171 yards on 25 targets for unimpressive 36% catch rate. He also fumbled twice in his few touches.
9. Best: Aaron Rodgers
He may not have played much at all during the Brett Favre era, specifically because the Brett Favre era was not over, but as a player who was there for three full seasons, Aaron Rodgers probably qualifies as a potential best Packer of the Favre era depending on how you look at it. The question becomes, is his performance during the era what matters in choosing these BESTS, or is his performance as a Packer in general what matters. If it is the latter Aaron Rodgers was definitely one of the best Packers of the era, he just did not happen to get any playing time during the era. In the years since he did manage to get off the bench however, Rodgers has had six seasons where he has thrown for over 4000 yards, has two NFL Most Valuable Player awards and of course a win in Super Bowl XLV.
8. Worst: Reshard Lee
After racking up over 1400 rushing yards over two seasons at Middle Tennessee State Reshard Lee went undrafted in the 2003 NFL Draft. He was eventually signed as a free agent by the Dallas Cowboys and joined the team in 2004 after an injury kept him out for the entirety of the previous season. Lee played in 14 games for the Cowboys but was released in 2005. After signing and being cut by a couple of teams around the league he ended up with the Green Bay Packers. He had seven appearances with the Packers but only managed 1.5 yards per carry with 16 yards on 11 rushing attempts while fumbling twice. Lee did also have one catch for five yards with the Packers. He played one more slightly better season with the Raiders in 2006.
7. Best: George Koonce
After playing college football at East Carolina University, George Koonce was not drafted by any NFL team. He did receive a tryout with the Atlanta Falcons but did not make the team. After spending some time in the World League of American Football with the Ohio Glory, he signed with the Green Bay Packers in 1992. Over eight years with the Packers he became a cornerstone of their defense. Koonce started 102 of 112 games and recorded 433 tackles, 7.5 sacks while also adding four interceptions and six fumble recoveries to go along with one touchdown. He played each linebacker position for the Packers during his time with the team while leading them in tackles in multiple seasons, and was an important part of the team that won Super Bowl XXXI.
6. Worst: Herbert Goodman
For someone who only began playing football during his senior year of high school, and played his college football in the NAIA instead of the NCAA, Herbert Goodman might just be the best player to ever come out of Graceland College in Iowa. Unfortunately that still makes him one of the worst players to play for the Packers during the Brett Favre era. After going undrafted in the 2000 NFL Draft the Green Bay Packers signed him as a free agent and he actually lasted two years with the team. As a backup running back his numbers were as bad as one could imagine. On four carries in his career he had -3 yards and two fumbles. He also had one reception for zero yards.
5. Best: Sterling Sharpe
Despite only playing a few years during the Favre era, Sterling Sharpe and Brett Favre became one of the best quarterback wide receiver combos ever during their short time together. Sharpe was drafted in the first round with the seventh overall pick by the Packers out of the University of South Carolina in the 1988 NFL Draft. He immediately made an impact leading the league with 90 receptions during his second season. In 1992, with Brett Favre as his new quarterback, Sharpe broke the single season reception record with 108 catches while also leading the league in touchdowns and receiving yards, becoming one of only seven receivers ever, to top the league in all three categories in a season. He was a three time All-Pro over his injury shortened career, collecting 595 receptions for over 8100 yards and 65 touchdowns, the majority of those numbers as Brett Favre’s favorite target.
4. Worst: Jim McMahon
Despite a career with over 18,000 passing yards and 100 touchdown passes as well as wins in Super Bowls XX and XXXI, to any respectable Packers fan, Jim McMahon will always be the worst Packer of any era. This is of course because the majority of McMahon’s career and successes came for hated rivals, the Chicago Bears. After attending BYU where he threw for almost 10,000 yards and 84 touchdowns under LaVell Edwards’ pass happy offenses, McMahon was drafted with the fifth overall pick of the 1982 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. He spent seven seasons with the Bears, ruining many Packers’ fans days, especially from 1985 through 1988 when he beat the team in eight straight games. In his final two years in the NFL, McMahon joined the Green Bay Packers where he backed up Brett Favre, passing for 45 yards on four out of five passes. Although he did not do much with his time as a Packer, good or bad, the stench of his years as a Chicago Bear is enough to earn him the status as one of the worst Packers of the Brett Favre era.
3. Best: Leroy Butler
The best defensive player during the Brett Favre era, even counting Reggie White, was probably Leroy Butler. The Florida State Seminole star played his entire 12 year professional career with the Packers, recording 721 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 38 interceptions, 12 fumble recoveries and was the first defensive back to have 20 sacks and 20 interceptions in his career. Most importantly Butler is credited with inventing the famed Lambeau Leap. After forcing a fumble against the Raiders that Reggie White scooped up and headed towards the end zone with, White lateraled the ball back to Butler who took it in for a touchdown. In the excitement, Butler proceeded to leap into the arms of the fans that were going wild in the stands. From that moment a great tradition was born. Butler scored two additional touchdowns in his Packer career but only had one more Lambeau Leap.
2. Worst: Ahmad Carroll
After a stellar career at the University of Arkansas where he was a two-time All-SEC selection, Ahmad Carroll was chosen with the 25th overall selection in the 2004 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers who hoped he could help shore up the secondary which had ranked as 23rd in pass defense the previous season. Unfortunately Carroll was inconsistent and soon gained a reputation for someone who could be beaten in one-on-one coverage and who had a tendency to commit costly pass interference and illegal contact penalties in big situations. He was cut during his third season with the Packers having recorded three interceptions and three sacks during his time in Green Bay. He played 22 more games for the Jets and Jaguars before he finished his career.
1. Best: Reggie White
The Minister of Defense had a great career before he even played a single snap for the Packers. One of the greatest defensive players in Tennessee Volunteers history he was a consensus All-American and 1983 SEC Player of the Year and until this past week held the all time record for sacks by a Tennessee Volunteer with 32. Out of college he went to the USFL where he played for two years before the league went defunct (thanks to Donald Trump). White then spent eight seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles where he recorded 124 sacks during his time there and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1987. In 1993 the Packers made a big splash by signing White as a free agent and he played the next six seasons with the team, racking up 68.5 more sacks, winning another Defensive Player of the Year award in 1998, and helping the Packers win Super Bowl XXI, ending the game with a sack.
Bonus: Brett Favre
Bonus choice! Who else would be THE BEST Green Bay Packer of the Brett Favre era other than Brett Favre himself? He was the leader of the team, the man that threw the passes that were received, handed off the balls that were rushed, and well, sometimes threw the interceptions or committed the fumbles that allowed the great defensive players to get back onto the field. Over 16 seasons, he led the team to two Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl XXXI. He holds ALL of the all-time passing records for the Packers and at one point held many of the all time NFL records for passing. Favre was an 11 time Pro-Bowler, a three time NFL MVP, and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
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