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Desmond Howard signed with the Packers as a free agent in 1996, after previously playing for the Washington Redskins and Jacksonville Jaguars. Howard was part of a free-agent signing class in 1996 that also included DT Santana Dotson, WR Don Beebe, LB Ron Cox and later in the 1996 season...WR Andre Rison.
Howard barely made the Green Bay squad in 1996, and it was a punt return for a TD in the preseason against the Pittsburgh Steelers that won him a spot on the team.
1996 was a year for the ages for Howard. The former Heisman Trophy Award winner returned 58 punts for a NFL record 875 yards (15.1 yards per return average) and three TDs. Howard also returned 22 kickoffs for an additional 460 yards.
Howard led the way in the playoffs in the first game against the San Francisco 49ers at rainy and muddy Lambeau Field. Howard returned a punt for 71 yards and a TD and almost returned one for another that led to another TD in a 35-14 thrashing of the Niners.
But it was in Super Bowl XXXI where Howard really made his mark.
Howard was almost unstoppable that day in New Orleans vs. the New England Patriots, as he had 244 yards in return yardage, both in punt returns and kickoff returns. Howard had six punt returns for 90 yards (a 15.0 average) and almost broke one for a TD.
In addition, Howard had 154 yards on kickoff returns (a 38.5 average), including the 99-yard TD. The Patriots had 257 total yards in the game, while the Packers had 323. Howard came close to those amounts just by himself.
Howard was named the MVP of Super Bowl XXXI as the Packers beat the Pats 35-21.
Howard left the Packers in 1997 as he signed a lucrative free-agent contract with the Oakland Raiders. Howard later returned to the Packers for the 1999 season, but he never again found the magic he created during the 1996 campaign with the Packers—a year in which he was named All-Pro.