GREEN BAY — The Green Bay Packers have had legitimate Super Bowl hopes for most of the last 25 years, but it wasn’t always that way. A new book spotlights Ron Wolf’s role in rebuilding the organization during the 1990s.
From 1973 to 1990, the Packers finished above .500 three times. They were on their way to another losing campaign in 1991 when Packers President Bob Harlan broke up the organizational flowchart, entrusting the entire football operation to a new general manager — Ron Wolf.
“Bob Harlan would always say, ‘It’s like asking the guy who runs the hardware store to run a hospital,’ and that was a pretty good analogy, I think,” said Michael Bauman. “So Ron was ideal in the sense that he was driven. He had a great track record. He knew exactly what he was doing, and he was in a hurry.”
In the next nine seasons, the Packers finished above .500 eight times. Of all the things the new GM did right, the best was trading for Quarterback Brett Favre.
“Let’s face it, I mean, I wouldn’t be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame if it wasn’t for a guy who wore #4,” said Wolf.
“The general response to it was, ‘Who’s this guy?'” said Bauman. “And I remembered looking up his record. He’d thrown five passes for the Falcons. None of them were complete. Two of them were intercepted. I was like, ‘Wait, whoa, what did we do here?’ And Ron got some interesting letters, which we can’t possibly discuss in terms of the wording. He was right and everybody else was wrong.”
“That did it,” said Wolf. “That turned the whole thing around.”
Wolf retired in 2001, and hasn’t held a full-time job in football since. That’s a lot of time to reflect on his role in getting Green Bay back to NFL relevancy.
“I sum it up this way — we resurrected a dead franchise,” said Wolf. “It’s a marvelous place to work. It is the franchise, in my opinion, in the National Football League. We took it from the worst to the first.”
It’s all there in “Ron Wolf and the Green Bay Packers.”
“I’m from a different generation,” said Wolf. “I like reading books. I can turn the pages. I know how to do that.”
Any Packers fan will find it to be good reading.
Wolf said he was only interested in doing a book if he could work with a good writer, so he personally approached Bauman, who had been covering the Packers as a columnist when Wolf was first hired in Green Bay.