Monday, January 14, 2008

A lesson for sons of Packers fans

We've enjoyed Brett Favre for so long that it's easy to forget the not so glorious past. As my good friend ATD pointed out in another post here, our sons do not know that there was a time when the Packers were known primarily for mediocrity. Or worse. So here's a little history lesson.
The picture to the left shows the Packer quarterback stable at the beginning of the training camp in 1972. On the left is Jerry Tagge, who very briefly wore #14 until someone pointed out that the number was retired; Bart Starr, who ended up retiring before the season; and Scott Hunter, who led the Packers for three seasons during that time, generally without distinction. The second picture is John Hadl, who arrived in Green Bay in the middle of 1974 in the most disastrous trade in Green Bay history as an aging 34 year old quarterback and was sent away after two middling seasons. The fellow on the right is David Whitehurst, who was the Packers quarterback in the late 1970s. It's easy now, after 17 years of sustained excellence at the quarterback position with Brett Favre, to forget how dire things have been at times in Green Bay. Just looking at those pictures fills me with gratitude for all the good football I've been able to enjoy since Favre arrived in 1992.


Anonymous said...

Mark, good Lord, you’re still attacking John Hadl? We had this conversation 25 years ago, but Packer fans never forget, do they? Yes, he was 34 and a little long in the tooth, but that is all in retrospect. When Devine made that trade, Hadl had just passed for over 2000 yards, was the NFC Player of the Year, and had just missed taking the Rams to the Super Bowl. And, he had had 11 solid seasons in San Diego. Most people thought he was well on his way to Canton. Also, no mention of The Magic Man?

Mark said...

Nope, we never forget a thing, Rich. We even remember old Bears like Bob Avellini and Cyril Pinder.

Hadl himself had the best take on that trade. "Don't blame me. I didn't make the trade," he said. And he was right, of course. And you are right, he had a fine career. I don't blame him for that at all; we blamed Dan Devine for it. Heck, someone shot his dog.

The Magic Man is another matter entirely. He was a pretty good quarterback before he got hurt in 1990. And the 1980s weren't nearly as relentlessly grim as the 1970s were; the Packers of that era were generally competitive, although they weren't able to overcome the better teams, especially the Ditka-era Bears teams.

I grew up in the 1970s and being a football fan was grim stuff in that period at every level. The Badgers were terrible and even my high school was inept at the sport - they won 8 games in the four years I attended there. I remember meeting Chuck Foreman once at an event at the Mall of America, shaking his hand, smiling and telling him that he had ruined my childhood. Things sure change, don't they?


Anonymous said...

The worst part of the Hadl trade was that I'm pretty sure the Packers still owe a first round draft pick to someone in the year 2020.

Chuck Foreman didn't ruin my childhood, Fran Tarkenton did. Speaking of the Vikings, there is still one record out there that Farve doesn't have: Jim Marshall's Iron Man record of consectutive starts. He'd have to stay in the league for 2 more years, but who would have thought that anyone, much less a quarterback would have a shot at beating it. It's probably a stretch but.....