The Packers and Ron Wolf pinned their turnaround hopes on a guy who threw five passes — two of which were intercepted — as a rookie and overslept for the team picture after a night of carousing. And it worked out brilliantly.
But the team president at the time, Bob Harlan, wasn’t so sure. He accompanied Wolf to a Packers-Falcons game in Atlanta late in the 1991 season, four days after he’d hired Wolf as GM.
"So I'm up in the press box in Atlanta, about an hour and a half before the ballgame, just sitting there," Harlan recalled in 2019. "Ron comes up, puts his briefcase in the chair next to me and says, ‘I'm going down to the field to look at Atlanta's backup quarterback. If his arm is still as strong as it was in college,' he said, ‘we're going to go after him.' Just like that. So Ron goes downstairs, and 45 minutes later he comes back and says, ‘I'm going to trade for Brett Favre. Are you OK with that?' I said, Sure.'”
Harlan paused, and smiled. "I didn't know who Brett Favre was."
That wouldn’t last long. After the trade, Favre took over as the Packers’ starter following Don Majkowski’s ankle injury in September 1992. The Packers missed the playoffs that year, but they were in the postseason in 1993, 1994 and 1995 before breaking through in 1996 and winning Super Bowl XXI. Favre would go on to win three consecutive NFL MVP awards (1995, 1996, 1997) and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016.
“The great thing about Atlanta is, it got me to Green Bay. That one lost year was one of the greatest years of my career because it got me to Green Bay. And the rest is history,” Favre told the State Journal several years ago. “It was a perfect fit. Mike Holmgren was the perfect head coach, ‘Mooch’ (Steve Mariucci) was the perfect quarterbacks coach for me. I mean, it just all fell into place. I think I related to the fans there more than I would have anywhere else. It could not have happened any better.”
Jason Wilde covers the Packers for ESPN Wisconsin. Listen to him with former Packers and Badgers offensive lineman Mark Tauscher weekdays from 9 a.m. until noon on “Wilde & Tausch” on 100.5 FM ESPN Madison.