In the early 1990s, Green Bay was generally viewed as a no man’s land by most NFL players.
Cold. Boring. Small market. Cold. Just generally not somewhere you wanted to play.
That all changed with the rise of Brett Favre and the signing of Reggie White, who became the first major black player to sign with the Green Bay Packers as a free agent in 1993 and helped recruit the likes of Sean Jones and other stars to the NFL’s smallest market. The team went on to consecutive Super Bowl appearances, including a win over New England in 1997, and has been a playoff contender nearly every year since then.
Well, that might all be changing again.
A new Sports Illustrated poll put Green Bay among the top three teams NFL players would LEAST like to play for. Not surprisingly, most players (20 percent) picked the Oakland Raiders, followed by the Buffalo Bills (14 percent). But 13 percent of players polled said they wouldn’t want to play in Green Bay. Rounding out the Top 5 were the Detroit Lions (12 percent) and the Cleveland Browns (7 percent).
SI said it polled 296 players for the survey. They could not vote for their own teams.
This might seem like an innocuous little tidbit – a blurb meant to fill space in a magazine more than anything – but it’s interesting to note that the Packers were the least desirable team among players in the league for five or fewer seasons, drawing 16 percent of their vote.
That tells me a lot, namely that the Green Bay Packers are falling out of favor fast among young players and that Ted Thompson & Co. need another Reggie White or Brett Favre to keep the interest alive. There really are no superstars on the Packers right now. Yes, Aaron Rodgers is good and he’s the new “leader of the pack,” but until he starts actually leading this team to the playoffs on a regular basis that doesn’t matter. And yes, we have the likes of Charles Woodson on defense, but he’s going to be around what? Maybe a couple more seasons?
I’d hate to see Green Bay fall back into the pariah category it used to share with teams like Cleveland and Oakland. This is yet another sign that, despite the team’s two recent victories, organizational changes are needed in Green Bay – especially if the Packers fail to make the playoffs – to keep this franchise viable.