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Bill Walsh’s final days in the 49ers organization were sadly approaching. It was the spring of 2004, 25 years after he first arrived to transform not only the 49ers but the entire NFL.

It was time for glorious reflection.

One afternoon, Walsh set aside an hour to revisit history, to talk about a draft pick from his first year in 1979, to explain the third-round arrival of quarterback Joe Montana.

“It’s almost a timeless experience,” Walsh began. “It seems like yesterday, in a sense. Then you think of everything that’s occurred since.”

The Team of the 80s. The Super Bowls. The fourth-quarter comebacks. The innovative offense. The quarterback controversy. The tearful exits. And, of course, the gallant beginning.

San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr. right, congratulates Coach Bill Walsh, left, and quarterback Joe Montana in the locker room at Stanford Stadium on Sunday, Jan. 21, 1985 following their 38-16 Super Bowl XIX win over the Miami Dolphins. (AP Photo)
“There wasn’t any way of predicting how great Joe would be,” Walsh told me in that March 2004 interview, inside an office neighboring the 49ers’ practice field.

“We knew he’d be very good, but how can you quantify one of the greatest players of all time? You just don’t know that until it happens.”

The NFL draft is an annual crapshoot, often reliant upon educated guesswork. This year’s version, set for April 23-25, is being hailed as historic. Selections will be made virtually from the computers and phones of team officials’ homes, where they’re sheltering amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

NFL drafts are not measured by how they’re conducted. More important is how players end up faring.

No pick proved more instrumental to the 49ers’ fortunes than Walsh’s selection of Montana on May 3, 1979. Walsh, who coached the 49ers to their first three Super Bowl titles, passed away in 2007 at age 75. What follows is this treasured interview from 2004 in which he recaps the road to Montana:

In this Nov. 9, 1986 file photo, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana throws a pass during the first quarter against the St. Louis Cardinals in an NFL football game at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Drafted by the 49ers in the third round in 1979, Montana was the perfect quarterback for Bill Walsh’s West Coast Offense. An unshakeable leader who performed his best in tight situations, he led the 49ers to four championships in nine seasons and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)
Why did it even happen?

Walsh: “We had Steve DeBerg, and he was a good quarterback. People thought a lot of Steve. We felt we didn’t have anyone else on the roster, and so we had to have a quarterback, and hopefully a man who had the potential to someday replace Steve.

“I traveled the country all over with (then-quarterbacks coach) Sam Wyche. We saw Phil Simms, deep in the Appalachia area (at Moorhead State). We went to Miami of Ohio to watch a player (quarterback Larry Fortner went in Round 12). The person who was sort of a mystery was Joe. We finally made arrangements to see Joe in Los Angeles at UCLA.

“It really didn’t take long to decide on Joe. His quickness, the only person I could connect with that was Joe Namath, (who) had the quickest feet of any quarterback I had ever seen. Joe Montana had the same quickness, agility and fluid movement that Namath had. And he threw the ball fine in our drills.

Sidebar: Montana worked out earlier for Wyche and alongside James Owens, a UCLA running back whom the 49ers would select in the second round, before taking Montana. “They were putting me through different footwork and watching me throw different passes,” Montana recalled in an exclusive 2004 interview. “You get a reputation you don’t have a strong enough arm. … I did a lot things he liked. I didn’t throw the ball as hard as I could every play, but I made difficult passes he wanted me to throw.”

What was Montana’s draft stock?

Walsh: “There wasn’t any question when Sam and I got on the plane to come back that Joe was in our plans. Now, it was when can we draft him? Our team was in desperate need of virtually every position. We did not have a wide receiver, no matter what Mike Shumann might say. We had Freddie Solomon and Mike, and we felt that maybe we could improve on that. So we needed a wide receiver, some speed. We didn’t have a first-round draft choice and a number of choices, all because of the O.J. trade. We had Dallas’ pick in the third round, right at the end of the third round. And we had a second-round pick.

“I don’t think there was a scout on our staff who did not like Joe Montana. John McVay liked him. Tony Razzano liked him. All the guys that saw him liked Joe. His workouts, some people would not have seen the things that we saw.”

Sidebar: McVay, the 49ers’ all-time great personnel executive, concurred how there was a unanimous consensus to take Montana. That bred something else. “I remember there was no shortage of people who take complete and absolute credit for drafting Montana,” McVay recalled in 2004. “Bill went down and worked him out in SoCal, and Bill, he’s got the Midas touch.”

DO NOT USE. IN SPECIAL SECTION. From left, statues of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana and Head Coach Bill Walsh are featured in the Edward J. Debartolo, Sr. 49ers Hall of Fame gallery at the Levi’s Stadium 49ers Museum in Santa Clara, Calif., on Tuesday, August 5, 2014. (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group)
Was Montana a secret gem?

Walsh: “Sam and I got on the plane (back from L.A.) and said, ‘We want Joe. Now we have to decide when to draft him. Do we take him with our second pick or can we wait and take him in the third round? We canvassed every team in the league, one way or another. We didn’t state why we were calling but we always brought up his name along with others.

“And we were the dregs of NFL football. Nobody could really take us very seriously. We found as many people as possible that would respond to our phone calls, and to a man, even those that were pretty high up in scouting and personnel, either felt he would not be drafted and would play up in Canada or he’d be drafted fifth round or later. That was the consensus.

“The consensus feeling among people is he wasn’t big enough, he couldn’t throw the ball far enough and had been inconsistent in college, because he didn’t start every game in college.

“But they couldn’t see his instincts and his competitiveness and more than anything else, his ability to control a game, as he did in the Cotton Bowl. If they couldn’t see that, what more could they see about a quarterback? We knew he’d be instinctive and move. He’d proven that on tape when he played.”

Sidebar: The Green Bay Packers were hot on Montana’s trail, too. Their quarterbacks coach, Zeke Bratkowski, flew to Los Angeles and worked out Montana at a neighborhood park. Green Bay coach Bart Starr passed on Montana in favor of nose tackle Charlie Johnson in the third round, despite Packers scout Red Cochran’s urging to take the Notre Dame quarterback. “I said I’d throw up and walk out of the room,” Cochran said in 2004. “That was how emphatic I was.”

How did draft day go?

Walsh: “We needed speed and (second-round pick) James Owens had just won the NCAA high hurdles and he was a good football player. In our drills, he did fine. As it turned out, we didn’t account for one thing: hamstring pulls.

“… We had some time (after the Owens’ pick). We had the whole second round. We didn’t want to arouse anybody’s interest that we were interested in Joe, because I had a history of developing quarterbacks.

“We didn’t want to arouse people’s attentions, so when we called other clubs, there were always three or four other players and his name would come up and we’d ask what they were thinking.

“So we did our homework all the way through, and then we drafted him and he obviously became the greatest player possibly of all time.”

Sidebar: Before that selection, Walsh and McVay checked with Notre Dame’s coaches for a scouting report. Walsh said the-coach Dan Devine’s modest recommendation was that Montana “can make a pro team.” McVay checked in with one of his former assistants at Dayton, Jim Gruden, who was then a Notre Dame assistant and succinctly advised about Montana: “Don’t hesitate and take him.”

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana leaves Memorial Church on the Stanford University campus following the private memorial service for former 49ers coach Bill Walsh Thursday August 9, 2007. Walsh died July 30, 2007 after a long struggle with Leukemia. (Pauline Lubens/Mercury News)
How did the pick feel?

Walsh: “In Joe’s case, it was decided we could hang in there and wait it out, because nobody would draft him. We drafted him with Dallas’ pick (at the end of) the third round (No. 82 overall). Nobody quarreled with that. We were excited he came up.

“Sam and I felt very strongly about it, as did everybody else. Everybody had sentiment toward Notre Dame.”

Sidebar: Eddie DeBartolo Jr., a Notre Dame graduate, was two years into his family’s ownership of the 49ers when they took Montana. Meanwhile, Montana anxiously awaited his draft fate while going from breakfast to lunch at The Kettle, a corner diner in idyllic Manhattan Beach. “They got word to us and I was excited, I was glad,” Montana recalled. “It was a great opportunity coming to a great city, and they had a Notre Dame owner.” When he heard people denounce the 49ers as the worst team in football, Montana’s retorted: “That will change. They won’t be the worst forever.”

First impressions?

Walsh: “Joe turned out to be a great player. It took some time. At Detroit (in November 1980), we split Charle Young out as a tight end and he ran a slant. Joe threw the ball into the stands. I don’t mean over Charle’s head. That ball went up in the stands and Charle looked around like, ‘What was that?’ Whatever it was, it slipped out of Joe’s hands because he was nervous or something.

“Point being, it was a work in progress with Joe. But I was really fortunate in that we had Steve DeBerg, who was playing well. But Steve couldn’t move and avoid anybody. It cost us dearly but he could step and throw. We could shift Joe in at certain times and felt we could be successful. Halfway through the 1980 season, he began to start.”

Who were Walsh’s top three draft picks?

Walsh: “Michael Carter would have to be in there. Joe goes without saying. What the heck, of course he’s in (the top three). Jerry (Rice) would have to be in. Dwight (Clark) would have to be in. When I say my three favorite draft choices, I don’t include Joe. Joe’s the franchise.

“We won four Super Bowls with Joe, and we could have very well won a fifth. We’d have won a Super Bowl along the way without him. I don’t who it would have been or when. But we put together a really good team. It could have been someone else, but never another Joe.

“It wasn’t though the franchise would just go defunct without him, because we developed some Hall of Fame players and great players at all positions. But the first Super Bowl, my God, it was mirrors, and Joe was a big part of that.

“Joe, of all people in the history of this franchise, is the center figure. That includes Y.A. Tittle and all those great players of the past. He’s the central figure of the San Francisco 49ers. Joe made it all work. Hell, he’s the greatest player in history.”

San Francisco 49ers’ head coach Bill Walsh, center, shares a laugh with quarterback Joe Montana, in red jacket at right, and receiver Dwight Clark, left, during picture day at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, Jan. 16, 1985. The 49ers will meet the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XIX on Sunday. (AP Photo) AP Photo
How has the draft changed? (circa 2004)

Walsh: “It still takes professional judgment. It still takes an intuitive, instinctive feel for athletes and what they can do and how you detect them on your roster and how they fit on your squad. These are all things computer programs don’t connect with. That’s why we did so very well.”

Sidebar: Montana concurred with that as he surveyed the draft landscape back in 2004. “It’s crazy now, all the things they put you through,” Montana said. “The scary thing is half that stuff doesn’t make a football player.”

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The Packers selected Jordan Love by moving up from the 30th pick to number 26. Many folks think a good model for reaching a super bowl is to have an inexpensive quarterback starting for the team. Aaron Rodgers is not inexpensive, so when could the Packers release or trade Rodgers?

2020: Straight Trade/Release – NO!

If traded today, Rodgers has $51.148M in dead money charges that would accelerate onto the 2020 cap. Since his current cap number is $21.642M, the Packers’ cap space would shrink by $29.506M. The team has insufficient cap space to absorb that kind of dead money charge. It would be illegal. The team has about $11M in cap space, but about $5.5M has to be used to pay for the practice squad, the 52nd and 53rd players, and to sign their draft picks.

To generate the necessary cap space, Green Bay would have to trade David Bakhtiari and Davante Adams, which gains $20.75M. Still short, the team could trade Corey Linsley to gain $8.5M more. That would be $29.25M, still short, but close enough with the team’s current cap space.

Otherwise, after trading Bakhtiari and Adams, the team could trade or release Lane Taylor to get $4M in cap space and then restructure Preston Smith to gain roughly $5M. The Packers cannot get much cap relief by restructuring ZaDarius Smith or really anyone else.

2020: Post June Trade – YES

$1.964M cap savings in 2020*. The Packers would have to take $14.352M in a signing bonus proration and $5.24M for the roster bonus just paid as dead money charges in 2020. That would result in $1.964M in cap saving for 2020. It leaves a dead money charge in 2021 of $31.556M. Since Rodgers’ scheduled cap number for 2021 is $36.352M, the team would have $4.796M more in cap space than overthecap is currently projecting for 2021. Note with Covid-19, the expected increase in the salary cap is problematic.

2020 Positional Spending: $53.548M with an immediate trade. [The Packers would have to divert large resources already committed to other positions.] Jordon Love’s cap number should be about $2.4M plus the $51.148M dead for Rodgers. For my own safety (so my head does not explode), I am going to simplify the rest. With an immdiate trade, it would be $2.4M plus $51.148M for Rodgers and probably $752K for Boyle (if not more should the Packers decide a veteran backup is necessary). That’s adds up to $53.548M.

2020 Positional Spending would be $22.744M with a June trade. Rodgers would count $19.592M, Love about $2.4M, and Boyle $752K, which adds up to $22.744M for 2020 (with that pesky $31M dead money charge in 2021).

2021: Immediate Trade in February or March: YES

The Packers would gain $4.79M in cap space and have no dead money in 2022. That is after taking a $31.56M dead money charge but offsetting it against Rodgers’ $36.352M scheduled cap number.

Post June trade: $15.2M in cap saving for 2021* with a $17.204M dead charge for 2022. If Rodgers agreed to defer payment of his $6.8M roster bonus until after June (and the acquiring team agreed to pay it all), then the cap savings would be $22M. Rodgers has a $6.8M roster bonus due March 15.

Positional Spending: $34.46M in 2021 with an immediate trade. That is $31.56M for Rodgers, plus perhaps $2.9M for Love. Boyle would be an RFA, and his salary, either the tender or a negotiated salary that is less than the tender, should be added (or the cost of a veteran backup) to QB positional spending.

It is $17.25M with a post June trade (with a $17.202M dead money charge in 2022). Rodgers would have a $14.352M dead money cap hit (not counting the $17.2M dead in 2022), plus Love’s $2.9M hit. [This is the first year Green Bay could divert money from the quarterback position to shore up other positions, but it only is possible with a June trade.]

2022: Immediate Trade – YES. Post June Trade – YES

$22.648M in cap savings in 2022 with no dead money charge in 2023. A post June trade would generate $25M* in cap saving with a $2.85M dead money charge in 2023.

*Add $500K to the post June cap savings in each year if the acquiring team pays Rodgers’ workout bonus. Workout bonuses are usually earned by early June and paid shortly thereafter. Here, the trade would be official June 2nd, but Rodgers would still have to pass a physical, and who knows when that might be, especially in 2020.

Positional Spending: $17.752M plus an unknown amount for a backup or two. That is $3.4M for Love and $$14.352M +$2.85M dead for Rodgers. in 2023).

Year Cap Savings Pos. Spending
2020 Now -$29.506M $53.548M
2020 June +$1.964M $22.744 + $31M dead
2021 March +$4.79M $34.46M + backup
2021 June +15.20M/$22M $17.25M + $17.2 dead + vet?
2022 March +22.648M $20.602M No dead + backups
2022 June +$25.0M $17.75M + $2.85M dead in 2023
The Packers would not have a really cheap quarterback position until 2023 when Love would have about a $4M salary cap number. Love would be on his fifth year option in 2024 which is considerably less useful under the new CBA. With a Pro Bowl or two, he might earn the transition tag number. Drafting Love really does not make too much sense from a pure cap perspective if the model is paying one’s quarterback around or less than 4% of the salary cap and using that money to buy free agents..

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Obituaries
Willie Davis, Hall of Fame defensive end for Green Bay Packers of the 1960s, dies at 85
Willie Davis, center, with Green Bay quarterback Bart Starr, left, and Chicago Bears center Mike Pyle, right, in 1967.
Willie Davis, center, with Green Bay quarterback Bart Starr, left, and Chicago Bears center Mike Pyle, right, in 1967. (Charles Harrity/AP)
By
Matt Schudel
April 16, 2020 at 10:43 a.m. GMT+8
Willie Davis, a Hall of Fame defensive end and a team captain for Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers in the 1960s, when he helped lead his team to the first two Super Bowl championships, died April 15 at a hospital in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 85.

The Packers announced his death, noting that his wife said he had been treated for kidney failure.

Mr. Davis played 10 years for the Packers, joining the team in 1960 and becoming a stalwart defensive performer at left end. He was one of the leading disciples of Lombardi, an intense taskmaster and perfectionist who is considered one of football’s greatest coaches.

“Perfection is not attainable,” Lombardi said, in one of many maxims attributed to him. “But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”

Throughout most of the 1960s, the Packers reached a level of excellence that few teams in any sport have equaled, winning five National Football League championships in seven years. In January 1967, the Packers met the Kansas City Chiefs of the rival American Football League in the inaugural Super Bowl, winning 35-10. The next year, in Super Bowl II, the Packers beat the Oakland Raiders, 33-14. The Super Bowl trophy is named for Lombardi.

Mr. Davis in 1963.
Mr. Davis in 1963. (AP)
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The 6-foot-3, 245-pound Mr. Davis led Green Bay’s pass rush in both games, and as the team’s defensive captain he was, in effect, Lombardi’s alter ego on the field.

“He told us this was a way of life, a game of survival, a test of manhood,” Mr. Davis told author David Maraniss for his 1999 biography of Lombardi, “When Pride Still Mattered.”

Steady, smart and seemingly indestructible, Mr. Davis did not miss a game during his 12-year NFL career. He never gave up on a play and often chased down runners on the opposite side of the field.

Before his Super Bowl heroics, Mr. Davis forced what Green Bay fans call the “million-dollar fumble” during a game against the Baltimore Colts late in the 1966 season. With the Colts driving for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas dropped back to pass, then tucked the ball under his arm and ran toward the goal line.

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Mr. Davis caught him from behind on a muddy field and jarred the ball loose. Linebacker Dave Robinson recovered the fumble, and the Packers held on for a 14-10 victory. They then beat the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL championship game before going on to the first Super Bowl.

“As a pass rusher, he was so quick off the ball,” Robinson said of Mr. Davis in an interview with Packers.com. “He was a good run player, too. He was so strong in the chest, he could hit the tackle and control them. Throw them or drive them.”

Mr. Davis played his first two NFL seasons with the Cleveland Browns, doubling as an offensive tackle and defensive end. Admiring his ability, Lombardi acquired him in a trade before the 1960 season, making him a full-time defensive player.

“In Willie Davis we got a great one,” Lombardi said in 1962.

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During the team’s grueling preseason drills, Lombardi was known for loudly criticizing some players and quietly encouraging others, depending on what he thought was the best motivational tool in the moment. One year, after ripping another player, he unexpectedly turned on Mr. Davis, who was never unprepared for practice or a game.

The next morning, Mr. Davis asked Lombardi for an explanation.

“He said, ‘I’ve got to prove nobody’s beyond chewing out,’ ” Mr. Davis recalled to sportswriter W.C. Heinz for the book “Once They Heard the Cheers.” “I said, ‘Yeah, coach, but give me some warning.’”

Mr. Davis was a five-time all-pro and still holds the Packers record for recovered fumbles, with 21. Sacks of opposing quarterbacks were not an official statistic when he played, but historians have credited him with more than 100 during his career. He brought a tenacity to the game that made him, according to NFL Films, one of 100 greatest players in pro football history.

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He was the leader of a defensive unit filled with Hall of Fame players, including defensive tackle Henry Jordan, linebackers Robinson and Ray Nitschke and defensive backs Herb Adderley and Willie Wood, who died in February.

Former Packers center Bill Curry called Mr. Davis, in an NFL Films documentary, “the finest combination of leader and player that I ever saw.”

Willie Wood, Hall of Fame defensive back for Vince Lombardi’s Packers, dies at 83

Beyond the field, Mr. Davis served as a leader for other African American players in the NFL and, as Lombardi instilled, a force for team unity on the Packers. As a white player from Georgia, Curry had not been on an integrated team until he joined the Packers in 1965.

Mr. Davis “didn’t just help me to play in the NFL for 10 years,” Curry said, “he changed my life because I was never able to look at another human being in the same way I had.”

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William Delford Davis was born July 24, 1934, in Lisbon, La. He was 8 when his parents separated, and he moved with his mother and two younger siblings to Texarkana, Ark. His mother was a cook at a country club.

Mr. Davis earned a scholarship to the historically black Grambling State University in Louisiana, where his coach was Eddie Robinson, who prepared dozens of players for pro careers and was the first college football coach to win 400 games.

After graduating in 1956, Mr. Davis served two years in the Army before joining the Browns in 1958. While playing in the NFL, he also received a master of business administration degree in 1968 from the University of Chicago. He retired from the Packers at the end of the 1969 season and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1981.

Mr. Davis was a football broadcaster for NBC in the 1970s and turned down several coaching offers. He operated a prosperous beer distributorship in Los Angeles before selling the business in 1989.

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He was a key figure in planning the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and was reportedly recruited to run for mayor of the city. He later owned several radio stations and was on the boards of the Packers and several companies and founded a charitable foundation in Lombardi’s name.

His marriages to Ann McCullom and Andrea Erickson ended in divorce; survivors include his wife, the former Carol Dyrek; and two children from his first marriage.

In his business office, Mr. Davis kept pictures of his Packers championship teams and a framed portrait of Lombardi.

“There are days when I wake up and I don’t feel like getting up and crawling into the office,” he told Heinz in the 1970s. “I say to myself that I own the Willie Davis Distributing Company, and today I’m going to exercise my prerogative and not go in. Then I think, ‘What would Lombardi do?’ I get up and out of bed.”

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Willie Davis, a Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive lineman who helped the Green Bay Packers win each of the first two Super Bowls, has died. He was 85.

The Packers confirmed Davis’ death to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Wednesday, as did his former teammate and fellow hall member, Dave Robinson.

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Davis died in a Santa Monica, Calif., hospital. His wife, Carol, told the Packers her husband had been hospitalized for about a month with kidney failure and passed away peacefully.

Davis was raised in Texarkana and graduated from Texarkana’s Booker T. Washington High School.

“The Green Bay Packers family was saddened today to learn about the passing of Willie Davis,” Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy said. “One of the great defensive players of his era, Willie was a significant contributor to the Packers’ five NFL championship teams during the 1960s.

“I enjoyed getting to know Willie and his wife, Carol, especially when he served as our honorary captain for the 2010 NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl 45, and again for the 2014 NFC Championship Game. He also was a great role model for our players, having gone on to a very successful career after football and serving on the Packers Board of Directors.”

A 15th-round draft pick from GramblingState, Davis began his NFL career by playing both offense and defense for the Cleveland Browns in 1958 and ’59. He had his greatest success after getting traded to the Packers.

He remained with the Packers until finishing his NFL career in 1969 as a five-time All-Pro. Although tackles and sacks weren’t measured at the time Davis played, his 22 career fumble recoveries showcased his dominance and big-play ability.

He was voted to the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 1960s and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1981.

Davis helped the Packers win the NFL championship in 1965 before capping the 1966 and 1967 seasons with titles in the first two Super Bowls.

But he didn’t initially embrace the move to Green Bay.

Davis noted in his book, Closing The Gap: Lombardi, the Packers Dynasty and the Pursuit of Excellence, that he had just signed a contract with the Browns and believed he was being groomed as Cleveland’s future starting left tackle on offense when he learned about the trade on the radio. Green Bay acquired Davis in a July 1960 trade that sent wide receiver A.D. Williams to Cleveland.

“At the time, I felt slightly betrayed,” Davis wrote . “I felt the organization didn’t care much about me, like I was being thrown away. I also panicked, wondering what this would mean for my future. I absolutely did not want to play in Green Bay. In fact, I was so turned off by the idea that my first thought was about retiring.”

He instead stuck it out and developed into one of the top defensive linemen of his era.

“Willie’s extraordinary athleticism was an undeniable factor in Green Bay’s winning tradition of the 1960s under Coach Vince Lombardi,” Hall of Fame President David Baker said. “Willie was a man of true character on and off the field. The Hall of Fame will forever keep his legacy alive to serve as inspiration to future generations.”

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Davis earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Chicago late in his NFL career, which helped him make a successful transition to the business world after he stopped playing.

“We all knew football wasn’t going to last forever,” Davis wrote. “The longevity of the average football player was less than 10 years, and that meant there were many men who were jobless with little financial security by the time they were in their early 30s. That was a scary prospect. I wanted to make sure I didn’t fall into that category.”

Davis served on the Packers’ board of directors from 1994-2005.

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Bobby Dillon, holder of the Green Bay Packers’ oldest and most prestigious individual defensive record, died Aug. 22, at age 89. He was living in Temple, Texas, at the time and funeral services were held there Wednesday.

Dillon played safety for the Packers from 1952 to 1959 and intercepted a club-record 52 passes. Interceptions were the first defensive statistic kept by the National Football League, starting in 1940, and Dillon’s team record has stood for 60 years with little chance of it being broken anytime soon.

He led the Packers in interceptions in seven of his eight seasons, including three years with nine: 1953, ’55 and ’57. Irv Comp set the Packers’ single-season record for interceptions with 10 in 1943.

Dillon also shared the Packers’ single-game record for interceptions with Willie Buchanon. Dillon set the record with four against Detroit on Nov. 26, 1953.

“He and Willie Wood were the two best safeties we ever had here,” Dave Hanner, who spent 44 years with the Packers as a player, coach and scout, said in a 2004 interview. “Old Bobby was smart. And he was tough. He’d get knocked out a couple times a game, but he’d come right back. Return punts with one eye and he did a good job. When Lombardi came here, he talked about Bobby being the best defensive back in the league at that time.”

Hanner played with Dillon his entire career and retired as a scout in 1996. His tenure in football operations was longer than any coach, scout or player in Packers history.

Born on a farm in Pendleton, Texas, Dillon moved with his family to Temple and lived there his entire life. After playing collegiately for the University of Texas, Dillon was selected by the Packers in the third round of the 1952 draft.

He was chosen Associated Press All-Pro four times and to the United Press team in yet another season. Dillon also was selected for the Pro Bowl four times.

He was named to the Packers’ 50th anniversary team in 1969, their all-modern era team in 1976 and their all-century team in 1999.

When Dillon retired, his 52 interceptions ranked second on the NFL’s all-time list behind Emlen Tunnell.

When Vince Lombardi was named head coach and general manager of the Packers in 1959, he spent his first few months on the job studying his players on film. When he was done, Lombardi declared that Dillon was one of three untouchables on his roster. He also said he was the best defensive back in the league.

Dillon was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1974.

Pro Football Hall of Fame general manager Ron Wolf has lobbied for Dillon to also be inducted into Canton for years.

“Look what he did,” Wolf said in 2008. “Six years on a first team all-pro. (Detroit’s) Yale Lary got in there because he was a really good player, but he also was an exceptional punter. But Dillon played on a much poorer team and he had six years he was all-pro.”

Dillon planned to retire before Lombardi was hired but was coaxed into playing another season. But when the season ended, Dillon announced his retirement again and stuck with it.

“I was never against him man-to-man, but he happened to be one of the best centerfielders who ever played the game,” Raymond Berry, Pro Football Hall of Famer and all-time great Johnny Unitas’ favorite target with the Baltimore Colts, said in 2013. “Bobby Dillon was one of the most superior athletes you’ll ever find in the NFL. He had tremendous speed. Great brains. Great range. Great instinct.”

Dillon’s funeral arrangements were handled by Scanio-Harper Funeral Home in Temple. He was survived by his son, Dan, and daughter Karen Gooch and her husband, Richard.

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Super Bowl champion and Packers Pro Bowl fullback William Henderson recently made a stunning revelation.

Fan Takes Home New Car For First Time In Brewers History
“I will tell you I will be slower in answering some things. I’m having a little cognitive stuff. I’ve been diagnosed with a moderate cognitive disability. I’m not as fluent with my words as I have been.”

During an interview, Henderson at times struggled with the lights and to find the right words.

“I used to do a lot more public speaking, but I’m not comfortable. I’m not able to get the words out that I want to have.”

But the Packers great has not lost his charm and disarming smile. He easily mingles with fans and poses for pictures, refusing to give in to headaches and back pain. Henderson admits, “I’m not the man I used to be game-wise and all that stuff.”

Those who showed up at Exquisite Threading in Glendale on May 10-11 got a front row seat to a superstar.

The fan-favorite former Packer is a good friend of Anwar Khan. They joke that a Christian and a Muslim can find a common bond.

“Brothers from a different mother.” They laugh.

Khan and Henderson come together not to make money but to raise money to combat bullying. Customers donating to the cause got a free service.

Khan added, “I don’t pay! He just does it because it’s in his heart.”

Henderson’s foundation, “Henderson Helps,” supports programs that help young people combat bullying.

“I have to do everything I can to make these young people know they are cared about, so they’re not alone,” Henderson said.

He admits he was bullied as a teen.

“I was honest, square. I was a nerd. I was not a drug dealer in an environment that was very actively trafficking. The kids thought I was a potential narc.”

Shockingly, some of the adults who bullied Henderson want him to counsel their own kids.

“Now that I’ve had success, some of those who picked on me asked me to help their kids.”

Henderson lives in Richmond, Virginia, but often returns to the state where his NFL dreams blossomed.

“I have to do everything I can to make these young people know they are cared about, so they’re not alone.” — former Packers star William Henderson
The most important lesson he wants his kids to learn is “the golden rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Henderson says he goes to church every week and says his parents passed on strong Christian values.

After spending time with William Henderson, you realize you just met a powerful athlete with a big heart. A man who is a champion on the gridiron and in life.

“I was fortunate to be able to chase my dreams and reap success, but it doesn’t stop with what I accomplished. I have to pay it forward. Whatever adversities I’m facing, I try to do what I can for others.”

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Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst and his scouting department swung for the fences by trading up four spots and taking Jordan Love 26th overall.

Packers coach Matt LaFleur guided the team to a 13-3 mark in his rookie season and will now see a tidal wave of heightened expectations.

So, who will have more pressure in a few years?

Gutekunst just finished up his third NFL Draft. His first draft mined Jaire Alexander and JK Scott. Last year, Elgton Jenkins has been the only person as of note and this year’s draft holds future promise, but not much immediate value.

LaFleur, an offensive mind, guided the Packers to a No. 15 ranking in offensive points and a No. 9 ranking in defensive points allowed. Those numbers seem OK, but he transformed those into a surprising record that gave the Packers a home playoff game that eventually put Green Bay within one game of the Super Bowl.

But for as close as Green Bay appeared last year, the Packers are still not as close as they appear. The defensive line needs a complement to Kenny Clark. Inside linebacker is a position that has been overlooked for years. Going back to 1993, Wayne Simmons (1993), Nick Barnett (2003) and A.J. Hawk (2006) were the only inside linebackers taken in the first round. This team hasn’t had a dynamic presence at tight end since Jermichael Finley and Javon Walker was the last wide receiver taken in the first round in 2002.

That’s why the answer is Gutekunst. You can argue that LaFleur has plenty of weapons, but he has only had one year to enlist his system. Gutekunst “bought the groceries” and it will ultimately come down to him if this organization sinks or swims. Gutekunst made eight other picks this year, but the only one that anyone is going to rememebr is Love. If Love cannot transition to the NFL, Gutekunst will be in trouble for jeopardizing further success of today in order to solidify future gains.

The only way that LaFleur could be on the hot seat is if Rodgers plays amazing the next two years. If he is given the green light of what to do next with his quarterback and he chooses Love, that decision falls on him. Then again, LaFleur could easily choose Rodgers and make Love sit more — which wouldn’t make the Packers’ front office feel warm and fuzzy.

This is a delicate situation right now and it’s all because Rodgers has dead cap hits of $51.1 million this year, $31.5 million next year and $17.2 million in 2022. That’s why many are predicting that the Packers will move on from Rodgers in 2022, because it’s a lot cheaper and because Love would still have two years left on his rookie deal.

But that’s what makes this so confusing. Gutekunst could’ve had Jameis Winston for $1.1 million for one season, which would’ve given the Packers a proven backup. However, Gutekunst chose to give away draft capital for a rookie quarterback that may not be ready to start if Rodgers gets seriously injured this season.

Gutekunst was amazed by the Patrick Mahomes and Rodgers’ traits that Love possesses and figured he had to strike now or else he may not get a similar chance at another franchise quarterback. And since finding a franchise quarterback is the most important thing in pro football, Gutekunst took a swing.

We will find out if he will connect or whiff.

——————-

Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on “Clubhouse Live” and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Detroit Lions fans wear turkey hats during the 2008 game at Ford Field. (Rod Widdis | MLive file photo)

This is the 78th Lions Turkey Day game

You might say that the Detroit Lions’ annual Thanksgiving game this Thursday against the Minnesota Vikings is a big one. It serves up a heaping helping of NFC North title and playoff ramifications.

This will mark the Lions’ 78th Turkey Day game in their history. They sport a 37-38-2 record in this annual game, a tradition that began in 1934.

Some of the Lions’ Thanksgiving Day contests have been memorable, while others have been quite forgettable.

Here are 10 of the best and 10 of the worst.

10 BEST LIONS THANKSGIVING DAY GAMES

Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah sacks Packers quarterback Matt Flynn during the 2013 Thanksgiving Day game at Ford Field. (Mike Mulholland | MLive file photo)

2013: Detroit Lions 40, Green Bay Packers 10

Green Bay was playing without Aaron Rodgers, and Matt Flynn was pressed into action. So, is everybody supposed to feel sorry for the Packers?

The Lions snapped a nine-game Thanksgiving Day losing streak in this laugher, which could have been worse.

The Lions crushed the Packers in total offense, 561-126. The Lions sacked the Packers seven times.

Detroit actually rushed for 211 yards on 39 carries. That’s pretty telling for this game.

Matthew Stafford passed for 330 yards and four touchdowns.

This one had to feel good for the Lions. Keep in mind: Flynn had passed for 480 yards and six TDs, both franchise records, in his only previous start against Detroit on New Year’s Day 2012.

1983: Detroit Lions 45, Pittsburgh Steelers 3

The Steelers were big favorites in this game, but the Lions intercepted five passes en route to their first win over Pittsburgh since 1962.

Billy Sims rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns, and Eric Hipple went 10-of-18 for 153 yards and two TDs.

That season, the Lions overcame a 1-4 start to post a 9-7 record and win the NFC Central, marking their first divisional title since 1957.

Both the Lions and Steelers made the playoffs that season, and both were bounced in the divisional round.

(Video courtesy of YouTube)

1998: Detroit Lions 19, Pittsburgh Steelers 16 (OT)

This might not have been one of the “best” Thanksgiving Day games, per se, but it’s certainly among the more memorable. This was the infamous Jerome Bettis coin toss game, where the Steelers running back and Detroit native apparently called “tails” on the overtime coin toss and the official swore he heard him say “heads.”

Consequently, the Lions won the toss and Jason Hanson booted the 42-yard game-winning field goal before a sold-out crowd at the Pontiac Silverdome.

Barry Sanders managed only 20 rushing yards that day, but he became only the second running back in NFL history to reach 15,000 career yards.

Lions cornerback Darius Slay intercepts a pass in front of Minnesota Vikings receiver Adam Thielen in the final minute of his team’s 19-16 win on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2016. (Mike Mulholland | MLive file photo)

2016: Detroit Lions 16, Minnesota Vikings 13

Matthew Stafford and the Lions have been masters of the comeback the past couple of seasons. This was another one of those games where they pulled victory from the jaws of defeat.

Darius Slay intercepted a pass with 30 seconds remaining in a tie game. That set up Matt Prater’s 40-yard field goal as time expired, securing the Lions’ sixth comeback win in seven weeks.

The win improved Detroit to 7-4, dropped Minnesota to 6-5 and secured the season sweep of the Vikings.

1951: Detroit Lions 52, Green Bay Packers 35

This was the highest-scoring Thanksgiving Day game in Lions history. It also was the first of 13 consecutive Thanksgiving games against the Packers.

Jack Christiansen had two punt returns for touchdowns in the third quarter, covering 89 and 72 yards, to provide a big lift. Quarterback Bobby Layne passed for 296 yards and four TDs. Bob Hoernschemeyer scored a pair of TDs for the Lions, one on an 85-yard run and the other on a 17-yard reception.

The Lions went 7-4-1 that season, missing out on the playoffs.

(Video courtesy of YouTube)

1962: Detroit Lions 26, Green Bay Packers 14

In a game dubbed a “grudge match,” the Lions denied Green Bay a perfect season. The Packers entered with a 10-0 record and this game proved to be their only defeat en route to winning the world championship. Detroit was an 11-3 team that finished third in the playoffs that year.

The Lions sacked Packers quarterback Bart Starr 11 times for a total of 110 lost yards on the strength of the “Fearsome Foursome” – defensive ends Darris McCord and Sam Williams, and defensive tackles Alex Karras and Roger Brown.

The Lions built a 26-0 lead before the Packers scored a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Green Bay won the first meeting that season in a muddy game, 9-7, on a late field goal.

1995: Detroit Lions 44, Minnesota Vikings 38

It was a day for offense at the Pontiac Silverdome, as the Lions racked up 534 total yards. Scott Mitchell finished 30-of-45 passing for 410 yards and four touchdowns.

Mitchell set records at the time for most passing yards in a game, as well as season records for most completions and attempts.

For the first time in team history, the Lions had three players with more than 100 receiving yards in a game. Brett Perriman had 12 catches for 153 yards and two TDs, Herman Moore had eight receptions for 127 yards and a TD, and Johnnie Morton had seven catches for 102 yards and a TD.

Lions running back Barry Sanders talked turkey following his team’s 55-20 Thanksgiving Day victory over the Chicago Bears in 1997 at the Silverdome. (Al Goldis | MLive file photo)

1997: Detroit Lions 55, Chicago Bears 20

Barry Sanders rushed for 167 yards and three touchdowns, moving past Eric Dickerson for second on the NFL’s all-time rushing list.

The 55 points were the most scored by a Lions team in the regular season, as well as the most allowed ever by a Bears team.

Chicago led by two touchdowns in the first half and held a 20-17 advantage at halftime before Detroit buried the Bears with 38 second-half points.

The Lions finished the season 9-7, good for third in the NFC Central. They lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a wild-card game.

1994: Detroit Lions 35, Buffalo Bills 21

Reserve quarterback Dave Krieg, filling in for injured Scott Mitchell, hit Herman Moore on a flea-flicker touchdown on the second play of the game and the Lions were on their way.

The Bills were the four-time AFC champions, but the Lions had their way with them. Defensive tackle Kelvin Pritchett sacked Jim Kelly three times. Safety Willie Clay picked off a pair of passes, one he returned 28 yards for a TD.

Moore finished with seven catches for a then-career-high 169 yards, including the 51-yard flea-flicker from Krieg.

(Video courtesy of YouTube)

1976: Detroit Lions 27, Buffalo Bills 14

“Juice” got loose in this one, but the Lions had the last laugh.

Bills running back O.J. Simpson ran wild, racking up a then-NFL-record 273 yards and scoring both of his team’s touchdowns.

Quarterback Greg Landry connected with David Hill on a pair of TD passes, and Benny Ricardo made two field goals to lead the Lions. Landry was the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year that season, although the Lions finished with a 6-8 record.

10 WORST LIONS THANKSGIVING DAY GAMES

Lions fans are ashamed to show their faces during a 47-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans during the 2008 Thanksgiving Day game at Ford Field. (Rob Widdis | MLive file photo)

2008: Tennessee Titans 47, Detroit Lions 10

The Titans scored early and often against the Lions in this one, which stands as Detroit’s worst Thanksgiving Day loss in history.

Tennessee manhandled Detroit, outrushing the Lions 292-23. The Titans had two 100-yard rushers that day, as Chris Johnson went for 125 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries and LenDale White went 106 yards and a pair of scores on 23 attempts.

In total offense, Tennessee piled up 456 compared to 154 for Detroit.

If this tells you anything, Drew Henson got some snaps at QB for the Lions that day.

1974: Denver Broncos 31, Detroit Lions 27

This was the Lions’ final game ever played at Tiger Stadium. The temperature was 32 degrees with winds at 15 mph and wind call at 21 degrees.

The Broncos ruined the occasion by rushing for 240 yards and three touchdowns, two by Jon Keyworth.

Detroit led 17-10 at halftime, but Denver scored three TDs in the third quarter to take a double-digit lead.

The Lions finished the season with a 7-7 record. Prior to the start of training camp, head coach Don McCafferty died of a heart attack at age 53. Assistant coach Rick Forzano guided the Lions that season, which was their last playing at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull.

(Video courtesy of YouTube)

1986: Green Bay Packers 44, Detroit Lions 40

The Packers’ Walter Stanley returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown with 41 seconds remaining to stun the Lions. Stanley also made four receptions for 124 yards and two more TDs.

The 40 points were the most scored by the Lions in a loss. The Lions held a 40-30 lead early in the fourth quarter. Jeff Chadwick made six catches for 121 yards and a TD.

Green Bay had three turnovers and 14 penalties for 105 yards, yet still managed to beat Detroit.

The Lions finished the season with a 5-11 record, while the Packers were 4-12.

(Video courtesy of YouTube)

1980: Chicago Bears 23, Detroit Lions 17 (OT)

The Lions had control of this one, 17-3, heading into the fourth quarter before they collapsed.

Bears QB Vince Evans scored on a 4-yard run on the final play of regulation to send it to overtime, and David Williams returned the opening kickoff of OT 95 yards for a touchdown.

At the time, the overtime was the shortest in NFL history at 21 seconds.

The Lions finished the season 9-7 and missed the playoffs, while the Bears were 7-9.

(Video courtesy of YouTube)

2006: Miami Dolphins 27, Detroit Lions 10

Quarterback Joey Harrington came back to haunt the Lions in this one, finishing 19-of-29 for 213 yards with three touchdowns and one interception as the Dolphins rallied from an early 10-point deficit.

It was the only season that Harrington played for Miami after he had spent 2002 through 2005 with Detroit.

In this game, the Dolphins outscored the Lions 20-0 from the second quarter on. Miami outrushed Detroit, 186-21, on the day and outgained the Lions in total offense, 395-220.

This was during the Matt Millen era, and the Lions finished the season 3-13.

Lions fans give the thumbs down during the 29-27 loss to the Green Bay Packers during the 2001 Thanksgiving Day game. (Chris Clark | MLive file photo)

2001: Green Bay Packers 29, Detroit Lions 27

This game had an exciting finish, to be sure, as the Lions scored two touchdowns in the final 1:17 to make it very interesting. But it still was a tough one to take for Lions fans.

Detroit trailed 29-13 with about seven minutes left, but the Lions’ comeback attempt fell just short.

Mike McMahon hit Scotty Anderson on a 29-yard touchdown pass with 10 seconds left, but the two-point conversion pass failed. McMahon finished 9-of-20 for 89 yards.

Brett Favre went 18-of-26 for 252 yards and two TDs.

The Lions finished 2-14 that season, while the Packers went 12-4.

1968: Philadelphia Eagles 12, Detroit Lions 0

This was the lowest-scoring game in the history of Lions Thanksgiving Day contests.

Both teams were lousy, but the Eagles managed four field goals – one each quarter – in what’s remembered as the “Mud Bowl” at Tiger Stadium.

On the 40-degree day, Philadelphia’s Sam Baker connected on field goals of 36, 18, 32 and 35 yards. The Lions mustered only 66 passing yards, while the Eagles had only 58 yards through the air.

The Lions finished 4-8-2, while the Eagles went 2-12.

(Video courtesy of YouTube)

1993: Chicago Bears 10, Detroit Lions 6

This one has to be in the running for worst Lions Thanksgiving Day game. Barry Sanders suffered a knee injury, which put him out for the rest of the regular season.

The game featured three field goals, plus a 42-yard touchdown pass from Jim Harbaugh to Terry Obee in the third quarter that put the Bears over the top. Harbaugh finished 9-of-16 for 123 yards. He was picked off once and sacked four times.

The Lions finished the season 10-6 and took first place in the NFC Central. They lost to the Green Bay Packers, 28-24, in the wild-card game.

1949: Chicago Bears 28, Detroit Lions 7

On a chilly day before 24,835 fans at Briggs Stadium, the Bears dominated the Lions.

Chicago outgained Detroit, 346-110, and built a 28-0 lead before Lions defensive back Bob Smith intercepted a pass and returned it 102 yards for a touchdown for a then-NFL record.

(Video courtesy of YouTube)

1945: Cleveland Rams 28, Detroit Lions 21

It’s not fun losing, but when you get torched by one player, it makes it even worse.

That’s what happened in this game. Rams quarterback Bob Waterfield completed 12 of 21 passes for 329 yards – 10 of the completions and 303 yards going to Jim Benton.

Cleveland outgained Detroit in total offense, 444-259,, including 329-101 in passing yards.

The Lions finished the season 7-3 and took second place in the Western Conference. The Rams won the Western Conference with a 9-1 record.

What do you think?

Obviously, these lists of the best and worst Lions Thanksgiving Day games are subjective.

We’d like to hear what you think are the best and worst Lions Turkey Day games from your viewing experience.

Discuss your opinions in the comment section.

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The goal of anyone to have ever strapped on a helmet and shoulder pads is to be a first round NFL Draft pick. However, only a infinitesimal percentage of football players earn that distinction.

Though Texas Tech has been playing football since 1925, only seven men to play their college football in Lubbock have heard their name called in round one of the NFL Draft. That list stretches from 1945 to 2017 and includes some of the top names in program history.

1945 – Walt Schlinkman – Fullback
Fans of modern college football would not be able to fathom any scenario in which a fullback would be drafted in the first round. But in 1945, Texas Tech fullback Walt Schlinkman was taken No. 11 overall by the Green Bay Packers.

The Channing, Texas native was born in 1922, the year prior to Texas Tech’s founding, when the forward pass was a controversial idea. It would be fascinating to get his thoughts on Kliff Kingsbury’s “Air Raid” offense, especially knowing that the fullback has become a relic.

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#8 Ahman Green 218 yards 2 TDs vs. #9 Vonnie Holliday 5 sacks
Ahman Green is the all-time leading rusher in Green Bay Packers’ history, and on this day in 2003, he ran especially wild, setting the Packers’ record for rushing yards in a single game. This record still stands. In the final week of the season, they were tied for 1st in the division with the Minnesota Vikings. Green willed them to a huge 31-3 win and a division championship.

Vonnie Holliday was an absolute animal against the Buffalo Bills in this game in 2002. He had a Packer-record five sacks and did much more. He had seven total tackles, a pass breakup, and three forced fumbles. All of this added up to a 10-0 shutout win for the Green Bay Packers.

#8: 2003 Ahman Green 218 yds & 2 TDs

#9: 2002 Vonnie Holliday 5 sacks

— Dairyland Express (@DairylandXpress) March 19, 2020

#5 Aaron Rodgers 2018 Week 1 comeback vs. #12 Greg Jennings 152 yards 3 TDs
Aaron Rodgers’ stats for this game aren’t fantastic or glamorous, with 286 yards and three touchdowns, but it’s all about the circumstances. He played the entire second half essentially on one leg and managed to shred the Bears defense en route to a 24-23 Green Bay Packers’ win. He couldn’t use his usual talent of navigating around the pocket and managed to still put on a phenomenal show for the Lambeau Field crowd.

It’s somewhat fitting that Jennings is facing Rodgers in round one of this tournament considering all of the things Jennings has said in the past few years about playing with number 12. In this game in 2010, Jennings had a career day, catching seven passes from Rodgers for 152 yards, making an explosive 16.9 yards per catch. Hitting the end zone three times led Green Bay to a 31-3 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

#5: 2018 Aaron Rodgers Wk 1 comeback v. Chicago

#12: 2010 Greg Jennings 152 yards & 3 TDs

— Dairyland Express (@DairylandXpress) March 19, 2020

#4 Charles Woodson all over the field vs # 13 Za’Darius Smith 3.5 sacks, 5 TFLs
Charles Woodson had one of the greatest defensive games in Green Bay Packers’ history in 2009. He did everything possible for a defensive player, he had a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, four passes defended, two interceptions, including a pick-six, and seven total tackles. He was absolutely everywhere as the Packers held the Lions offense to only 12 points in a 34-12 win.

Za’Darius Smith’s week 16 performance this past season is the most recent in the bracket. We all remember how he lived in the Vikings backfield all game. He hit quarterback Kirk Cousins a total of five times and he was simply too much for the Minnesota offensive line as he lined up everywhere on the line of scrimmage and destroyed them on nearly every snap, blowing up run plays and not letting Cousins drop back without breathing down his neck.

#4: 2009 v. Detroit – Charles Woodson sack, 2 INTs, TD, FF, fumble recovery, 7 tackles, 4 pass breakups.

#13: Za’Darius Smith week 16 v. Minnesota 2019 w/ 3.5 sacks and 5 TFLs.

— Dairyland Express (@DairylandXpress) March 19, 2020

#6 Aaron Jones 182 total yards 4 TDs vs # 11 Aaron Rodgers Super Bowl MVP
Earlier this year Aaron Jones had his breakout performance against the Dallas Cowboys. He showed his prowess in the passing game, making 7 catches for 75 yards. His four rushing touchdowns are the reason he’s in this bracket, though. Finding the end zone four times in a 34-24 win made him the difference-maker in the game. He also had a signature moment, waving goodbye to Byron Jones on his way to the end zone.

Speaking of signature moments, the Super Bowl win is probably the defining game of Rodgers’ career to date. When people talk about his legacy, the Super Bowl MVP award is a big part of his resume. He threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns, good for a passer rating of 111.5, leading Green Bay to a 31-25 win.

#6: Aaron Jones 182 total yards and 4 TDs v. Dallas in 2019

#11 Aaron Rodgers Super Bowl MVP

— Dairyland Express (@DairylandXpress) March 19, 2020

#3 Matt Flynn 480 yards 6 TDs vs. #14 Donald Driver 191 yards 1 TD
Matt Flynn was thrown in as the starting quarterback week 17 in 2012 against the Lions as the Packers had already locked up a playoff spot. This was essentially a throw-away game, but Flynn turned it into a big paycheck that offseason. His 480 yards and 6 TDs are both tied for Green Bay Packers’ records.

A Packers’ list just wouldn’t be a Packers’ list without Donald Driver, the all-time receiving leader in franchise history. His career day came in 2006 when he caught six passes for 191 yards. That’s a ridiculous 31.8 yards per catch. This included his 82-yard touchdown catch from Brett Favre which was the difference-maker in a 23-17 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

#3: Matt Flynn 6 TDs and 480 yards.

#14: Donald Driver 191 yards and a TD v. Minnesota in 2006.

— Dairyland Express (@DairylandXpress) March 19, 2020

#7 Ryan Grant 201 yards 3 TDs vs #10 Davante Adams 160 yards 2 TDs
Ryan Grant did not want to go home in the Packers Wild Card round game against the Seahawks in 2008. He was an absolute workhorse, carrying the ball 27 times for 201 yards. He also plowed into the end zone three times, twice from the one-yard line, punching it in with power to score.

Davante Adams didn’t want to go home against the Seahawks either. Earlier this year in the Divisional Round, Adams was busy all game long, catching eight passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns. He knew he was one of the only effective Packers’ weapons and the Seahawks would try to shut him down, but that didn’t stop Adams. He shimmied and shook his way free just enough to squeak out the 28-23 win.

#7: Ryan Grant 201 yards and 3 TDs v. Seattle in 2008.

#10: Davante Adams 160 yards and 2 TDs v. Seattle 2019.

— Dairyland Express (@DairylandXpress) March 19, 2020

#2 Aaron Rodgers 338 yards 6 TDs vs. #15 Brett Favre 319 yards 1 TD
Finally, of course, an Aaron Rodgers game had to be the number two seed with Favre’s best game being the number one seed. Maybe they’ll see each other later in the tournament, but for now, he’s facing off against a different Favre game. Rodgers was absolutely on fire throwing for six touchdowns, all in the first half. He definitely could have broken the NFL record for passing touchdowns had he not been pulled out for Matt Flynn after a few drives in the second half. what makes this performance even more special is that it came against the Chicago Bears.