It was 23 years ago Wednesday that general manager Ron Wolf resurrected a dormant Green Bay Packers organization and put himself on track for a 2015 Hall of Fame induction in one masterstroke by swinging a trade with the Atlanta Falcons for Brett Favre.
NFL Media analyst Steve Mariucci, who toiled under Wolf’s hand-picked headman Mike Holmgren as Packers quarterbacks coach in 1992, will discuss the franchise-altering trade on Wednesday’s edition of NFL Total Access.
Less than a week after Wolf was hired as general manager in late November of 1991, a Packers-Falcons game cemented his conviction that Favre was the savior capable of ending Green Bay’s two-decade drought.
Falcons counterpart Ken Herock dangled a carrot in front of Wolf, alerting him to Favre’s pre-game throwing session.
“He basically decided that day in Atlanta that he was going to make a trade for Brett Favre,” former Packers president Bob Harlan explained.
Wolf’s Favre obsession first began in 1990.
As an assistant to Jets general manager Dick Steinberg, Wolf rated Favre as the No. 1 player in the 1991 NFL Draft and feverishly attempted to trade up for a chance at the Southern Miss star.
“Dick and I were at the East-West game, and Brett was outstanding,” Wolf recently told ESPN New York. “I remember, we both said, ‘This is the best player in the draft.'”
Unable to pull the trigger on Favre because the Jets had forfeited their first-round selection by nabbing wide receiver Rob Moore in the previous summer’s supplemental draft, Wolf watched the Falcons snatch up his quarterback with the No. 33 overall pick.
Favre quickly fell out of favor with Atlanta coach Jerry Glanville, allowing Wolf to swoop in for the steal once he took over football operations with the Packers.
“I had to get him out of Atlanta. … I could not sober him up,” Glanville explained in a 2010 radio interview. “I sent him to a city where at 9:00 at night the only thing that’s open is Chili Joe’s. … And that’s what made Brett Favre make a comeback was going to a town that closed down. If I would have traded him to New York, nobody to this day would have known who Brett Favre ever was.”
Glanville never approved of the draft pick and once said it would take a plane crash to put Favre into a game.
“I’m sure I didn’t help my cause by trying to drink up Atlanta,” Favre has conceded.
In mid-February of 1992, Wolf sent the second of two first-round draft picks to Atlanta in exchange for a quarterback who would soon supplant Don Majkowski as the starter — and remain under center for the next 16 years.
“This was not done just to do it,” Wolf explained at the time. “It was done with a lot of thought. To me the most important thing in professional football is having a person at that position. I think we’ve got a future here in this guy.”
The Packers would go on to win Super Bowl XXXI amid 10 playoff appearances in a 12-year stretch, while Favre captured an unprecedented three consecutive MVP awards as the game’s premier player in the mid-1990s.
“I feel very ecstatic what he accomplished,” Wolf said in 2005, via the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “He’s the third-leading passer all-time, he’s thrown for 50,000 yards, he’s the only three-time MVP; he’s worth a lot more than a first-round draft choice. I really don’t care how they recognize (the trade), but I have to use that Bum Phillips line: I don’t know if it’s the best, but it won’t take long to call the roll.”
23 years ago today, #Packers traded for Brett Favre. No one knew him. This was next day's @gbpressgazette front page. pic.twitter.com/frkBYcTCAz
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