96 Packers and 09 Packers "What's The Difference"...?

Jan MandelContributor IAugust 4, 2009

GREEN BAY, WI - AUGUST 03: Helmets sit on the field during the Green Bay Packers practice at summer training camp on August 3, 2009 at the Ray Nitschke Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

 First let me say...Aaron Rodgers going into year #5, could have an excellent year especially with this receiving core & potential for a good career.  The Packers have the possiblities for a good season, and a fast start especially with this schedule.


That being said...again:


What’s the difference between 1996 Packers & 2009 Packers? I believe both teams had been coming together going on year 5.


If you’ve been a Packer fan for years... these names should ring a bell:


Reggie White, Sean Jones, Keith Jackson, Mike Prior, Eugene Robinson, Bruce Wilkerson, Frank Winters, Don Beebe, Andre Rison, Jeff Dellebach, Bob Kuberski, Jeff Thomason, Jim McMahon to just name a few. 


These players were all on the Super Bowl 96 team, they were all Free Agents, all were 30+ yrs. old, experienced, had a profound affect someplace either in the locker room, on & or off the field.  Some were only roll players, some played just 1 year to 6 years.  I might add that Desmond Howard was also a Free Agent pick up except was about 28 yrs. old.


I believe the Packers had a very good 09 draft this year, will see.  However at the end of the last season, one veteran on the team Charles Woodson stated that “ We need more experience on the team”.  After 50+ new draft picks in 5 years, and being the youngest team in the NFL 3 years in a row…and 31-33 in four years and coming off a 6-10 from a 13-3 previous season…I can understand that statement, and seriously question the decisions & direction of team building.  The old saying is "Proof is in the Pudding".


I like to think of the New England Patriots as the most success team over the last 10 years, as being the poster child for using smart draft picks & yearly usage of the free agent market.  This year alone: Chris Baker, Joey Galloway, Paris Lenon, Shawn Springs, Fred Taylor, …all 32+ yrs. old, and will play key roles in the success of the Patriots. All experience vets who will get down & take care of business in the locker room, on & off the field.  That’s why there were no worries when they signed Randy Moss…they felt they had enough team structure & veterans with presence & team attitude in the locker room to make sure he stayed in line, and 35TD’s in two yrs. and no pants pulling down in the zone after a TD... I’d say it was a success.


  I will give you another great Packer example in 96 Super Bowl team.  We were down 2 starting receivers & a tight end.  Currently released & for the second time in 1 year Andre Rison was labeled a trouble maker, a cancer to any team.  Why did the Packers take a chance on him…Favre pushed for his signing & because the Packers had an incredible locker room of experienced players who would not let “anything” get out of hand or commanded respect especially for the team, and team expectations, player rolls & harmony in the locker room.  I can personally remember hearing Rison say after the Super Bowl..."Thank You Jesus"...I guess he'd been hanging around Don Beebe & Reggie and a few others a little....

I recently heard Antonio Freeman, & Dorsey Levens who were both recently inducted into the Packer hall of fame speak of the Packer Locker room & how great it was & what great strength came from it. 


Do we have it now….Leaders on the field & in the locker room?  If your saying yes…look in the mirror …your nose is growing…!...Who...who is our Super Leader or Leaders in the Locker Room & On the Football Field...who is it that can take over a game or dominate there position and or command respect in the locker room that everyone listens to...?


When Ron Wolf was questioned in a interview in Packer report in the 95 season I believe in Packer Report ( I still have the issue) “ Why are you so involved in free agency…he quipped right away…”BECAUSE I WANT TO WIN NOW”…!  Why was WOlf willing to pay an Older Reggie White the biggest bucks in the NFL except for Marino at the time, why was he willing to trade a 2nd round draft pick for an older Keith Jackson with tender knees, why because "HE WANTED TO WIN NOW".

Wolf for years continued to feed the team and injecting as needed experienced roll playing veterans & had the best record for a winning team for over a decade.  What is the biggest surprise is...  GM Thompson grew up and was trained in the Wolf system….but is totally at the opposite end of the spectrum & won’t have anything to do with Free Agency or anyone of 30+…Woodson being the only exception & a successful one.  Woodson was labeled a cancer, had been injury prone the 2 previous years, & honestly no one else offered him a contract, but Thompson did, and it was a success, that was a great move.




Injuries, troubles & challenges on and off the field, game play and decisions are better dealt during the season with a melting pot of experience & youth are there for each other and working together, and the past success of the Packers proved this…year after year…!

I am hoping for the best and a little less one way only to build a team attitude!