The Green Bay Packers are one of the finest professional franchises in all of North American professional sports. No National Football League team has been as successful as the Packers since the start of big-time pro football in the United States. The Super Bowl trophy that is handed to the winners of the final game of every NFL season is named after Vince Lombardi, the famous head coach who guided the Packers to glory during the beginning of the Super Bowl era. Every time that one steps foot into Lambeau Field, the home of the Packers, that person is walking into a football museum.
It should come as no surprise to anybody who knows about the history of the club that some of the greatest NFL players to ever wear a jersey suited up for the Packers. Brett Favre was undeniably a “gunslinger” who made plenty of regrettable throws during his career. Favre is also an all-time great who will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame at some point before the end of the current decade. Amazingly, Favre's replacement may even be better at the position. Aaron Rodgers has been a joy to watch for casual football fans who have no ties to the Packers. He also has a reservation for his name in Canton.
With all of that said, no entity gets everything right. That holds true for even a storied franchise such as the Packers. It may be difficult for some to believe, but there was a time when it seemed as if the Packers would never land a quarterback who could lead the team to playoff appearances and Super Bowl championships. Things were once so bad for the Green Bay, in fact, that the team could have been responsible for the worst draft bust in NFL history. Players such as Ryan Leaf and JaMarcus Russell ended up overshadowing that draft bust, but the pick was nevertheless a disaster for the club.
14 Matt Flynn
We begin the list with Matt Flynn if only because of the humorous overreactions he generated from NFL teams. Flynn looked good in a handful of relief performances with the Packers, so much so that the Seattle Seahawks believed that he could be a franchise quarterback even though he had never proven himself capable of being one. Flynn ultimately lost the starting gig to a young, undersized QB named Russell Wilson. The Buffalo Bills and Oakland Raiders soon learned what Seattle did: There is a big difference between a truly great QB and one who has somewhat of a hot streak while playing on a great team.
13 John Michels
Injuries are an unfortunate reality in the world of sports. John Michels is just one example of a player who never had a real chance to be his best in the NFL because he was slowed down by multiple injury knocks. The offensive tackle, who was selected in the first round of the 1996 NFL Draft, made nine starts in his rookie campaign. Michels would be in the starting lineup for the Packers only five more times before Green Bay gave up on him. Would Michels have evolved into an All-Pro offensive tackle for a championship team had he been healthy? Nobody will ever be able to say for sure.
12 Brent Fullwood
You may look at the stats that Brent Fullwood produced while with the Packers and then not understand how he could be one of the worst players in the history of the team. The fourth overall pick of the 1987 NFL Draft had one big issue: He could not hold onto the football. Fullwood put the ball on the ground six times in his second season in the NFL. He repeated that feat in this third year with the club. Green Bay traded Fullwood to the Cleveland Browns during the 1990 season. Fullwood played one game with his new team before the Browns had decided that they had seen enough.
11 Terrell Buckley
Here is what you have to remember about Terrell Buckley before you criticize the fact that he makes the cut here. Buckley was the fifth overall pick of the 1992 NFL Draft. Such a player is meant to be a cornerstone of a team for at least five years. Buckley had plenty of memorable plays while with the Packers, but he was out of Green Bay after only three seasons. The harsh truth of the matter is that the Packers would have been better off trading the Buckley pick and stocking up on multiple selections that could have been used on players who would have remained with the club longer than three years.
10 Randy Duncan
Pro sports in the United States were different back in 1959. Randy Duncan was widely believed to be the best quarterback in college football and the Packers were counting on Duncan to help the team out when they drafted him via the first overall pick. The problem for the club was that Duncan followed the money, cash that was paid to him after he linked up with the Canadian Football League. Imagine a world in which it is financially a better career move to join the CFL rather than the NFL. A lot has changed since Duncan decided that he did not want to play for the Packers.
10. Kit Lathrop
Kit Lathrop found some success playing in the USFL. Lathrop was also a member of the Washington Redskins team that won the Super Bowl in 1987. For the Packers, however, Lathrop was largely an afterthought during his short run with the team. The defensive lineman failed to take up spots in post-game recaps and in box scores while with Green Bay. Lathrop also had stints with the Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs and the Redskins before was no longer an active player. He will always be able to remember those two fumble recoveries that he had while in the NFL.
9 Justin Harrell
Professional general managers sometimes ignore warning signs about a player and instead go with their gut. Justin Harrell was banged up and damaged goods when he entered the 2007 NFL Draft, but that did not stop the Packers from selecting the defensive lineman in the first round. Harrell was a first-round pick in name only at that point, though, and he started only twice for the Packers in his rookie campaign. Those would be the only two starts that Harrell would have during his short NFL career. Harrell did not play in the league past the 2010 campaign.
8 Rick Norton
The next two players who make the list are examples of men who did not have long careers with the Packers but who still deserve to be mentioned because of an overall lack of talent. Rick Norton was already a flop of a quarterback who had managed to notch just a single win in 11 starts with the Miami Dolphins. Norton never earned a start while with the Packers, but he did throw five regular season passes as a member of the club. Three of those attempts were completed to teammates. One was even a touchdown! That TD was not enough to save Norton's career in the league.
7 Steve Pisarkiewicz
Steve Pisarkiewicz was a miss as a first-round pick when he landed in Green Bay after a few seasons with the St. Louis Cardinas. Those of you who weren't paying attention to the Packers at the time may have missed Pisarkiewicz's stint with the team. Pisarkiewicz tossed five regular season passes while wearing a Green Bay jersey. He missed on three of those attempts. Those would be the final three meaningful passes that Pisarkiewicz threw with the Packers and with any other NFL team. He ended his career with an overall record of 2-2.
6 Jamal Reynolds
It is bad enough that the Packers spent a first-round pick on a player who did not work out for the club. That happens to every NFL team. However, Green Bay moved up in the 2001 NFL Draft in order to obtain the rights to Jamal Reynolds. What did the Packers get for their troubles? Green Bay selected a defensive line who did not register a single start in his three seasons with the team. Reynolds had all of 14 tackles and three sacks with the Packers before the team moved on to a different player at the position. Reynolds, meanwhile, did not play another down of regular season NFL football after leaving Green Bay.
5 Bruce Clark
Whether or not Bruce Clark even deserves to be mentioned among the worst players in the history of the Packers could spark a debate on its own. Clark was selected by the Packers with the fourth overall pick of the 1980 NFL Draft. The defensive end out of Penn State simply did not want to play for Green Bay. He instead went up north and played in the Canadian Football League. When Clark did decide that he wanted to give it a go in the US, he linked up with the New Orleans Saints rather than playing home games at Lambeau Field. Perhaps a pre-draft interview with Clark would have helped the Packers here.
4 Rich Campbell
There was a time when Rich Campbell was perceived as the worst draft pick in the history of the Packers. Green Bay selected Campbell with the sixth overall pick in the 1981 NFL Draft, and the club was hoping that he would materialize into a franchise quarterback who would take the Packers back to a Super Bowl. Not only did that not occur. Campbell never earned even one start during his four seasons with the Packers. When all was said and done, Campbell had tossed 68 meaningful passes as a pro before Green Bay moved on. Campbell failed to pick up another long-term gig in the league.
3 Jim Grabowski
The Packers acquired the rights for Jim Grabowski in the first round of the 1966 NFL Draft. That pick could and should have been used on a different player. The running back out of Illinois failed to prove himself worthy of earning a spot in the starting lineup in four consecutive seasons. Grabowski did manage to find the end zone at least once every year that he was with the Packers. He was nevertheless never a first-round talent on the field while with the Packers. Grabowski would go on to play a single season with the Chicago Bears before his NFL career came to a quiet end.
2 Michael Haddix
The hope with any NFL running back is that he will be able to at least help a team gain positive yards with the goal of earning first downs. Michael Haddix not only failed to achieve this mission throughout his NFL career. Haddix was, per Jeff Pearlman of Deadspin, historically bad as a pro:
"Averaged three yards per carry for his career, the worst in NFL history for anyone with more than 500 runs."
To Haddix's credit, his average was higher during his two seasons with the Packers. Haddix averaged 3.1 yards per carry while playing for Green Bay.
1 Tony Mandarich
Congratulations go out to Tony Mandarich for being known as one of the biggest NFL Draft busts in the history of the league. Mandarich entered the 1989 NFL Draft as arguably the most-hyped rookie offensive lineman to emerge from college. It would be a massive understatement to say that Mandarich failed to live up to those advertisements. After not starting a single game during his rookie campaign, Mandarich was in the Green Bay lineup for 31 starts over the following two seasons. That was to be the end of his run with the Packers. At least the Packers didn't pass on guys such as Barry Sander, Derrick Thomas, or Deion Sanders to take Mandarich. Oh. Right.
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