It was 26 years ago on Friday that Bob Harlan was elected as president of the Green Bay Packers.
Under Harlan, the Packers went from a laughingstock to one of the most successful franchises in all of sports. Thanks to people like Mike Holmgren, Reggie White and Brett Favre, the Packers became “cool” again. Harlan has even played a role in building today’s team. Before retiring in 2008, Harlan hired Ted Thompson, a general manger who has brought in players like Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and Jordy Nelson to keep the team “cool.”
Rob Demovsky at ESPN chronicles Harlan’s impact in this piece at ESPN.com. Demovsky notes Harlan’s biggest move probably had nothing to do with personnel and everything to do with how the Packers were run. At Harlan’s urging, the Packers’ seven-member executive committee backed off from middling in football decisions.
Harlan brought in great football minds like Wolf and Thompson, and those minds were allowed to do their thing without a committee of businessmen looming over their shoulders.
Where would the Packers be today if a committee still played an active role in football decisions? Where would they be if Harlan instead used his election as some sort of power grab and ran the Packers like a Jerry Jones or Al Davis, stifling Wolf and the others in favor of his own personal glory? Would the committee have signed off on trading a first-round draft choice for an unknown and unpredictable young quarterback named Brett Favre who was toiling away on Atlanta’s bench?
Today, an entire generation thinks of the Packers only as “cool.” Wolf, Holmgren, Favre, White, Thompson, Rodgers and others deserves a ton of credit for that. But it’s Harlan who probably deserves the most praise.
Packers News, Notes and Links
- Aaron Nagler at Cheesehead TV wonders if Aaron Rodgers playing more during the exhibition season would help the Packers start faster (they’ve began three straight seasons 1-2). To me, the issue with the Packers slow starts isn’t Rodgers, it’s a bland and vanilla scheme on offense. It seems to take Mike McCarthy a month or so to really start mixing things up and trying different things on offense. Would that change if Rodgers played more? Maybe. Even if it does, I’d still be skeptical about playing my MVP quarterback who has had significant injuries in consecutive seasons and has already endured multiple concussions too much in games that don’t matter.
- You probably already knew this, but Tex at Acme Packing Co. goes into detail why the Packers are among the best at drafting offensive players.
- Not to toot our own horn here at ALLGBP.com, but……toot, toot. There’s been some great content on the site this week. If you missed it, check out Jay’s X’s and O’s piece on nose tackles and Thomas’s viewpoint on the nose tackle position. If you’re thirst for defensive line talk still hasn’t been quenched, check out Jeff on the Packers d-line overall.
- Lost amidst the season-ending collapse in 2014 was the fact that punter Tim Masthay wasn’t very good. The Packers brought in Cody Mandell to compete with Masthay in training camp. Hey, a little competition seemed to work for Mason Crosby. We’ll see if it also works for the other guy on the team who makes his living with his leg.
- Big Phat Eddie Lacy isn’t worried about being too fat. Lacy can enjoy all the crab legs and crawfish he wants as long as he keeps trucking defenders.
- The Sporting News picked the Packers to win the Super Bowl. In other news, I had no idea The Sporting News was still around.
Non Packers links and other Nonsense
- This guy was held captive by Somali pirates for 977 days and he’s got an amazing story to tell.
- Man, check out all the eating former Chargers center Nick Hardwick had to do in order to maintain his size. I never really think about how much an offensive linemen or defensive linemen eats. I always assumed they’re just big dudes, but obviously, that’s not always the case.
- Yesterday was the 10th International Day of Slayer. How did you celebrate?
Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .
19 thoughts on “Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived”
“…(they’ve began three straight seasons 1-2). To me, the issue with the Packers slow starts isn’t Rodgers, it’s a bland and vanilla scheme on offense.”
Call me crazy, but I think it has something to do with the Packers playing against very good teams. All six of those losses were to eventual playoff teams, including 2 Superbowl participants. At the end of the regular season, the combined record of those six teams was 68-27-1.
In 2014, the two losses were to…
1) SEATTLE, a 1-seed that finished 12-4 and made it to the SB, and
2) DETROIT, a divisional rival that finished 11-5, earned a 6-seed and lost a tough wildcard game to Dallas.
In 2013, the two losses were to…
1) SAN FRAN, a 5-seed that finished 12-4 won a wildcard, a divisional game, and ended up losing the NFC championship game, and
2) CINCINNATI, a 3-seed that finished 11-5 and lost in the wildcard. This was also the game when Finley was injured. More than that, Lacy was inactive due to concussion, Starks went out with a knee injury, and rookie Jonathan Franklin fumbled away victory.
In 2012, the two losses were to…
1) SAN FRAN, a 2-seed that finished 11-4-1 and made it to the Superbowl, and
2) SEATTLE, a 5-seed that finished 11-5, won the wildcard and lost in the divisional round.
If you ask me, blaming the loses on GB’s supposed “vanilla-ness” is kind of overlooking the obvious.
Thanks for researching that stuff! I was thinking the same thing — the Packers usually start the year with tough opponents.
Maybe the league should try to protect the QB in preseason games. PS: I was more into the anniversary of D-Day yesterday than I was Slayer
We start the season slowly. Part of it, IMO, is that we use the exhibition season to look at new guys and that’s part of the reason our roster is so strong. Part of it is that M3 uses the first four games of the regular season as an extended preseason. As long as we’re at least 2-2 at that point, and healthy, he’s fine with the record.
We talk about our slow starts. Maybe we should talk about our finishes to the regular season. Or in the playoffs, for that matter.
Arod, plays a series or two in the exhibition opener, not at all in the finale. In the second game, he plays a couple of series, and in the third, he probably has five or six drives. All told, that’s about one full game. Most of the other starters are in the same boat.
I think if the played more in the exhibition season, they might start faster. I don’t think slow starts are our problem; I think these post season collapses are a problem.
All good points but a fast start this season with 4 of the first 6 games at home is vital IMO. I believe much of the problem the Packers have had with slow starts is the timing isn’t quite there yet. The Packers offense depends so much on timing that it’s difficult to be completely in sync by week one. With the CBA and the limited number of practices and restrictions the coaches have to work around, well it’s not surprising it takes till weeks 4 to get it going.
Nick…..regardless of when you play the games, it’s always essential that you win your home games. If you win your home games, and beat your division foes on the road, you have 11 wins and you win the division and go to the playoffs regardless of what happens in the other five games.
Personally, I’d rather finish strong than start strong, if I had to choose. I’ve never seen a championship won in September.
Druthers are fine if you have them. I personally always liked to get paid up front and cash the check right away. In sports, I like to get ahead early and often, step on the neck and crush ’em.
I understand and wasn’t suggesting a strong finish isn’t important. This season I think it’s vital the Packers start faster than they have is all. I’m really thinking about the home opener against Seattle. I wanna kick their butts and I think they will. Just have the offense play like they did by week 5 last year right away!
This ‘bland and vanilla scheme on offense” definitely needs to be tucked away like a ‘ Get out of Jail ‘ free card,especially if we lose to the Bears on opening day and Vic Fangio or we can just say that starting 1-2 is how we like to start off….covering all the bases.
Adam – completely agree that Harlan deserves a lot of the credit for transforming the Packer organization and returning the Packers to one of the most respected franchises in all of sports. The executive committee was an obsolete model which may have failed totally in the free agency salary cap era. One of Lombardi’s conditions for taking the HC job back in 1959 was that he would have complete control over all football decisions, so you can make the case that the executive committee was proven obsolete all the way back to the Lombardi era. In any case Harlan’s decision to bring in Ron Wolf probably saved the franchise and directly led to the success the franchise still enjoys today and for the past 2 plus decades. As for the 1-2 starts in recent seasons there are a combination of reasons. First, lack of playing time for the starters during the pre-season. Personally I am fine with this since I would hate to lose any starter or any player in a meaningless exhibition game. Second, limited number of practices due to the latest CBA. Couple that with the lack of preseason snaps for the starters and the result is some sloppy play during the first few games. Third, limited use of the offensive playbook. This does make some sense because if you know that your starters are not fully ready you would want your OL, in particular, to develop some consistency with the standard set of plays before asking them to execute plays with additional complexity. During the first three games last season it was pretty obvious that Rodgers and the OL were not as consistent as they would become over the rest of the season. After starting 1-2 the Packers went 12-3 over their next 15 games including the playoffs. I think we all know that they were one play away from being 15-1 with an SB win. If it plays out that we start 1-2 again and then go 15-1 with a SB win, I’d be perfectly fine with that. Thanks, Since ’61
I wonder if Nagler was drinking when he wrote that because that’s absolutely ridiculous. Must be desperate for things to write ever since the great Brian Carriveau left. I wonder if he wrote that just for shock value to get attention. If he did it worked as we are talking about it here.
I said it before and I’ll say it again. Nagler needs to bite the bullet, unban and hire Stroh aka DannyDS to take over for Carriveau. Is it any wonder this place seems to be getting massive amounts of newer people coming here as of late. They realize this place has some of the best writers out there and enjoy reading and commenting like I do. You have good writers and they will come. Start putting out garbage and they will leave. Just my two cents.
Agree with the comments on Bob Harlan and I would add Jack Vainisi as another under appreciated piece of the Packers success in former decades.
I look at Murphy entirely differently than Bob Harlan, but I will defer at this time from listing the negative.
Overall, good article.
Packer fans owe much to Bob Harlan. He was like our Moses, leading us out of the desert. Vainisi died young but was incredible at drafting in an era where not many were. Mark Murphy ain’t much. Murph, MM and TT are a bit like the three stooges. Thank god for AROD or it would be the bad old days all over again.
Amen Archie. It’s not like Rodgers need a GM to acquire great offensive linemen or a great running back like Lacy or great receivers to function. Any schmuck can draft them. Look at the Bears.
But you do need a great GM to draft a Hall of Fame QB… which is why Archie so loves to sing his ceaseless praise and honor to Ted Thompson for doing exactly that.
Getting A-Rod in the 2005 draft is attributable to unexpected good luck. A great article about A-Rod’s fall to no. 24 in the 2005 draft was written by Joan Niesen on 4/24/15 in Sports Illustrated . See http://www.si.com/nfl/2015/04/24/aaron-rodgers-alex-smith-2005-nfl-draft?page=3&devicetype=default Mike Maycock was one of the few who thought the slide was possible. Reggie McKenzie, then our Director of Personnel, said our coaches thought A-Rod would go in the first 5 picks. “We didn’t spend a whole lot of time on him. It’s not like we brought him in for interviews. In our mind, he was gone.” But, once he slid past 15, McKenzie believed it possible because the others didn’t need a QB. McKenzie said, “. . .that was by far the best player on our board, and we just took the best guy.” No thinking was needed. You’re right, Archie, it would be “the bad old days all over again” without him.
I fail to see how this article proves that TT was “lucky” to draft AR. It mainly shows how the other teams made a mistake, and that TT and staff were smart enough to make the pick. The quotes also make it appear that McKenzie was the driving force behind the pick. While that’s possible, it doesn’t seem likely.
I’d be interested to hear the negatives on Murphy, especially from a local Green Bay perspective. From the outside, I see a guy who has maintained what Mr. Harlan began. Murphy also seems close to Goodell, which is a good thing.
If I were a Green Bay citizen I’d be concerned with the Packers buying all the property around the stadium. Ultramodern development doesn’t seem to fit the Packers and the Green Bay mystique. Of course, as a curmudgeon I was upset when Churchill Downs renovated here in Louisville.
The Packers are truly a unique professional sports team. Without a deep pocket owner, revenue has to be generated somewhere and the long term viability of the organization must always be considered. From afar, it appears Murphy overall is being a good steward.
I just watched the NFC CG for the first time since January. And now I’m pissed off all over again. Why did I do that??
GB was FRIGGING BETTER than Seattle last year. It took a choke of epic proportions and a SERIOUS amount of un-repeatable luck for Seattle to “win.” Any objective observer should say the same – or they’ve lost all “objectivity.”
On a side note, GB is going to win it all next year. They will have fixed their STs, and their DL is going to be at least marginally better with Raji. One of the young CBs will replace Tramon just fine. The only real concern (other than injuries) is whether Peppers can play up to his level again at age 35 this year.
Oh, and they’re going to CRUSH Seattle H2H in Lambeau in week 2 en route to being SB 50 Champs.
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