Top Five “Black Sheep” in the Green Bay Packers Family
Every team, like every family, has problems and the Green Bay Packers family is no exception.
With 90 years of Packer history, an interesting cast of characters populates the black sheep list of disgraced and disenfranchised players.
Let's examine the best (or worst) to come into the little football town of Green Bay and what impressions they left behind for the organization, fans, and the community.
No.5—The Minister of Defense
Reggie White was the “Minister of Defense” in Green Bay for six veteran seasons. After earning the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award, White suddenly retired after the 1998 season.
In 2000 White “unretired” to play one final year with the Carolina Panthers in the twilight of his career to protect his sack record against Bruce Smith.
White reasoned that his actions, in an interview in Sports Illustrated for Kids, were driven from within.
"Sometimes, being a leader means that you have to become independent of everybody. That's not easy. But you have to stand up for what you believe in, even if you're standing alone."
White’s departure reflected the coincidental fact that Mike Holmgren had also recently departed for Seattle and the team lost to the 49ers in the NFC wildcard game.
No.4—Bosom Buddies Vs. The Frozen Tundra
The Mike McKenzie/Javon Walker duo each demanded trades publicly, voicing complaints in the locker room to any media outlet that would listen.
Both of these frustrated athletes during the 2004 season shocked the community and organization with their outspoken opinions and demands.
An overwhelmed Mike Sherman eventually traded the disgruntled players to New Orleans and Denver.
Walker stated to ESPN.com, "I just don't like the way the organization runs itself."
McKenzie, who seriously injured his knee and was released by New Orleans March 19, 2009, will be remembered as a pedestrian cornerback at best.
Walker suffered insult to injury after signing with the Raiders in 2008 by getting knocked upside his head June 16th, 2008 while being robbed in downtown Las Vegas.
No.3—A Man All About the Sterling
The most surprising character is Sterling Sharpe, "Mr. Holdout."
Before the 1994 season, the four-time Pro Bowler Sterling Sharpe decided to holdout against the Packers, demanding a six year renegotiated contract.
GM Ron Wolf conceded but the 29 year old broke the bond between the two forever. The Packers released Sharpe a month after his spinal surgery in 1995, saving the team a $2.3 million dollar payout.
No.2—When Poor Wagers Happen to Good People
The original wild child is the "Golden Boy" Paul Hornung.
The charismatic Heisman winner was blessed with the talent to score points, which Lombardi loved. Unfortunately, he was cursed with gambling problems and suspended for the entire 1963 season for betting on college and pro football games.
Charismatic and dedicated, Hornung was clearly Lombardi’s favorite player. Injured before Super Bowl One, Hornung was selected off waivers by New Orleans in the 1967 expansion draft.
Lombardi openly wept at the betrayal of the best player inside the 20-yard line in the NFL.
Honorable Mention—Mike Holmgren
My honorable mention award goes to former Packers head coach Mike Holmgren for lying to the team, the fans, and the organization during the entire 1998 season.
Driven by ambition and ego, the season-long rumors surrounding his departure for Seattle shocked locals by the audacity of Holmgren’s bold-faced lies.
Packers GM Ron Wolf enticed Holmgren to remain a Packer with a contract which would make him the highest paid coach in the NFL at the time.
Memorable highlights from the 1998 season included the snapping of Green Bay’s impressive 29-game home winning streak (regular season and playoffs) by Minnesota.
The Vikings were led by rookie receiver Randy Moss' two touchdowns, and won, 37-24.
This season-long distraction continued when the 11-5 Packers had to play the San Francisco 49ers on the road. The last second touchdown pass by 49ers QB Steve Young sealed the 30-27 victory.
No.1—Don't Trust The Babysitter
Mark Chmura, the likable tight end during Favre’s Super Bowl years, was caught in a hot tub with his underage babysitter.
Chmura was charged with third-degree sexual assault and child enticement after he allegedly assaulted his children's 17-year-old baby-sitter at a post-prom party in April, 2000.
As soon as the media published the events, the team quickly released Chmura, who was struggling back from a neck injury.
While Chmura literally risked his neck for the team during his career, expect to not see him invited to reunion events for at least another fore score and twenty years, if ever.