32 days to Packers football: Travis Jervey

With 32 days left until the start of the NFL season, our countdown to the big day continues.

Thursday, Sept. 4, is the day when the Green Bay Packers travel to Seattle to take on the Super Bowl Champion Seahawks.  

Over the  course of the next 32 days we focus on the number that represents the days remaining … and for today we take a look number 32.

Do you remember Cedric BensonJohn Stephens and Reggie Cobb?

One might think that #32 would be one associated with many prominent players, given that it’s generally a running back’s number. But such is not the case.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been some very good players to have worn the number … consider  Dave Brown and even Brandon Jackson.

However, there have been some who had some potential to make an impact with the team, but it just didn’t happen.

Do you remember Cedric BensonJohn Stephens and Reggie Cobb?

Travis Jervey

Travis Jervey

I do, and probably wish I hadn’t.

But today for number 32 we look at one of those marginal players who had flashes of brilliance, only to fade away as fast as he broke onto the scene.

Travis Jervey.

He was with the team during the mid-1990s Super Bowl runs and may have been a reflection of the solid team around him.

But today, we are going to once again allow John Maxymuk, the author of “Packers by the Numbers: Jersey Numbers and the Players Who Wore them,” to take us back nearly a couple of decades to examine Jervey’s affect on those teams.

Here is how Maxymuk describes Travis Jervey:

Colorful characters come in a variety of types on a football eam. There are tough guys like Clarke Hinkle,Jim Taylor, Ray Nitschke, and Frankie Winters. There comic cut-ups like Ted Fritsch, Fuzzy Thurston and Brett Favre. There are ladies’ men like Curly Lambeau, Johnny Blood, Paul Hornung and Max McGeen. And then there are the fee spirits who march to the off-beat of their own drum kit. Johnny Blood (again) rode the railroad blinds like a hobo and was dubbed by some the “Magnificent Screwball.”

While all pale in comparison to Blood, some Packers were still goofy. At 6-6 and 250 pounds, tackle Steve Wright was called “Bullwinkle” after the popular carton moose on television because of Steve’s tendency to run in the wrong direction on some plays.

Once in practice, Vince Lombardi was so discouraged by Steve’s likable personality and lackadaisical attitude that the 5-8 coach started flailing away at Wright, trying to get him to hate the coach enough to take it out on the opposing team. In the iIce Bowl, starting tackle Bob Skoronski was indued on one play and the call went out for Wright to replace him. The only trouble was that Steve couldn’t find his helmet. Finally he grabbed the closest one he could find and ran onto the field, but he had grabbed Lionel Aldridge’s helmet and it was too big for him. He realized this as soon as he went into a three-point stance on his irt play and Aldridge’s hemet slid down over his face so that he couldn’t see anything as the was snapped.

Travis Jervey was of the same cracked mold as Wright …

Top 10 examples that Travis Jervey is a few yards shy of the goal line:

• Pulled over for speeding in 1997, Jervey was arrested for possession of marijuana. Three days later, the charges were dropped after lab tests revealed that what the police had found was not pot. In the meantime, the Jacksonville Jaguars withdrew a three-year $3.75 million contract to the restricted free agent and he re-signed with Green Bay for $400,000.

• Pulled over for speeding in his rookie year in Green Bay, he explained to the officer that he had a radar detector, but that the stereo was so loud he couldn’t hear it. He was let off with a warning.

• Again in his rookie year, Travis was having trouble starting a fire in his fireplace. So he doused the wood with gasoline and then threw in a match. After the ensuing explosion, Jervey had to roll around on the floor to smother the fire that was burning the hair off his arms and legs.

• In the off-season after his rookie year, he slept with a football and carried it around the house to lessen his fumbling problem.

• When asked what he wanted for Christmas one year, he resounded “night vision goggles and paint ball guns.”

• After scoring his first and only touchdown of his Packer career in a 1998 in game against the 49ers, Travis was about to strike his intended end zone surfer pose when he was tackled by exuberant quarterback Brett Favre.

• Jervey was such an avid surfer that he invoked the anger of coach Mike Holmgren at Super Bowl XXXII in San Diego by buying a surfboard and hitting the waves while the team was preparing for the Broncos.

• A few weeks before that Super Bowl, Travis took a pair of needle-nosed pliers and removed the braces from his teeth in about 10 minutes because they were driving him crazy.

• Jervey spent several weeks after the Super Bowl XXXI in Costa Rica surfing and bumming around. He liked the people but was surprised because “They don’t even hardly speak English.” He added that, “Poeple don’t realize in the United States, people here go straight from high school to college. Everybody goes to college. In Europe, Australia, Brazil, everyone travels for a couple of years. Everybody. Nobody goes straight to school. Because there’s no hurry. In the United Staes, there’s this big hurry. Especially on the football field.”

• In his rookie year, Travis apparently thought he was on Animal Planet. He shared a house with LeShon Johnson who reportedly was raising 19 pit bulls. The two were fined by the state for illegally setting deer traps n heir back yard. Jervey wanted his own pet and considered a monkey but heard that they were too difficult to take care of so he settled on ordering a lion cub for $1,000. Accounts differ as to whether the lion was actually delivered before Mike Holmgren told his players they were not allowed to have a lion. They were welcomed to tame the ones from Detroit, though.

In the fifth round of the 1995 draft, the Packers’ director of college scouting, John Dorsey, advocated selecting Terrell Davis of Georgia. Ron Wolf was apprehensive of Davis’s frequent injuries, and instead picked Travis Jervey of the Citadel, who had nearly set a record of accumulating the most demerits at the military school.

The Broncos grabbed Davis in the sixth round. Three years later the two would face each other in the Super Bowl.

Jervey was a star on special teams, but Davis had become the top running back in the league.

Travis was not a bad pick for a fifth-rounder, but he was not a Super Bowl MVP. Twice he was chosen as having one of the best physiques in football by Muscle & Fitness and one time he finished fourth in the NFL’s Fastest Man competition.

Jervey was fast but not elusive; muscular, but a fumbler.

Therefore, he failed in his bid to replace an injured Dorsey Levens at running back in 1998 before breaking his ankle. However, he was valuable as a Pro Bowl special teams player who was also named to some All Pro teams.

Travis finally made his big score in 1999 when the 49ers signed him to a four-year, $6 million contract despite the broken ankle and promised him a shot at the starting running back slot. In San Francisco, he was slow to recover and claims he took testosterone to help speed the treatment of his ankle, but was detected as having used steroids and given a four-game suspension by the league.

After two years of more injuries and only seven carries for 49 yards and one TD, the 49ers waived him. He caught on as a special teams guy for the Falcons in 2001, but his football career was all but over.

When Jervey looks back on his career, he will probably recall his years as a special teams player in Titletown as the happiest ones of his career. Winning teams can find a place for a hard-working non-conformist


 

Here are the Packers players who have worn #32 over the past 50 years:

From To AV
Steve Atkins 1979 1981 3
Steve Avery 1991 1991 0
Chris Banjo 2013 2013 1
Cedric Benson 2012 2012 2
Dave Brown 1987 1989 16
Reggie Cobb 1994 1994 8
Don Highsmith 1973 1973 0
Brandon Jackson 2007 2010 16
Travis Jervey 1995 1998 4
ReShard Lee 2005 2005 0
Booth Lusteg 1969 1969 0
Rondell Mealey 2001 2002 2
John Simmons 1986 1986 0
Ken Starch 1976 1976 0
John Stephens 1993 1993 2
Bryant Westbrook 2002 2002 1
Walter Williams 2004 2004 0

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