With 9 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 9 days we focus on the number that represents the days remaining … and for today we take a look number 9.
Most recently, we took a look at number 10, Howard “Cub” Buck, the mountain of a man who got his start in Canton and came to Green Bay as the team’s first “free agent.”
And as we move on to #9 we look at players who, in the broad scheme of Packers history, had little impact.
Consider the likes of Bryan Barker, Josh Bidwell, Bryan Wagner and Seneca Wallace. And while Shaky Smithson had the best name of those wearing the number, probably the most talented of them all was Jon Ryan, who is still playing for the Seattle Seahawks.
And while it pains me to include a player who spent the bulk of his career in Chicago playing for the Bears, we once again turn to John Maxymuk, the author of “Packers by the Numbers: Jersey Numbers and the Players Who Wore them,” who tells us about one who played a single season wearing number 9 for the Packers – the one and only Jim McMahon.
Here is how Maxymuk describes Buck’s time with the Packers:
Third time’s the charm.
Twice the Packers came calling on Bear nemesis Jim McMahon and twice he signed with another team. In 1991 Packers coach Lindy Infante seemed interested, but then signed the tamer Bear Mike Tomczak instead.
In 1995, the Packers pursued McMahon only to have him sign with Cleveland because the Browns promised him more playing time and because his family was not interested in moving to an sara where Jim was often sen as the devil incarnate.
When the Browns released him a few months later, though, McMahon signed at last with Green Bay to serve as Brett Favre‘s backup.
McMahon, though, always would be an obnoxious, petulant, cocky Chicago Bar who would never be welcomed by Packer fans. He was the personification of the ancient Bear-Packer revelry. It’s the oldest rivalry in football and nearly the oldest in professional sports.
Packers-Bears has been sustained by these factors:
• Competitive balance – the Packers and Bears have won more titles than anyone else, 13 and 9 respectively, and have sent the most players to the Hall of Fame, 20 and 25, respectively;
• Combatants with character – the personal rivalry and competition between Georg Halas and Curly Lambeau, probably the two most prominent figures in professional football in its early days, fueled the teams’ mutual antagonism. It was maintained by such great rivals as Clarke Hinkle/Bronko Nagurski and Ray Nitschke/Dick Butkus;
• Irreconcilable grudges – it’s big city vs. small city in neighboring states Illinois and Wisconsin.
In 1936 a Packer fan ran on the field and ended up slugging one of the Bears players;
• Tradition – over 90 years and more than 180 ages of history and bad blood exist between these two teams.
Though McMahon would throw only five passes in his year and a half in Green Bay, Coach Mike Holmgren told McMahon at the end of 1996 that he should think about going into coaching. He has the intelligence to do that, but he also has the disposition of a punk.
His final act in a Packer uniform was out of a Packer uniform.
After the Packers Super Bowl XXXI victory, McMahon was released, but was invited to attend with the team to the White House to celebrate the win.
McMahon did so in a Bears jersey.
Ron Wolf later commented that it didn’t bother him since McMahon would never be known as a Packer anyway.
That was an understatement.
Here are all the players who have worn #9 for the Packers the past 50 years: