With 7 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 7 days we focus on the number that represents the days remaining … and for today we take a look number 7.
Yesterday we took a look at number 8, a number worn by Ryan Longwell, the Green Bay Packers’ all-time leading scorer who kicked his way through a very successful career with the Packers and Minnesota Vikings.
So, today we move away from Longwell at number eight and on to one of the most popular quarterbacks to play with the team over the past three decades - Don Majkowski.
In all, there have been only eight players who have worn the #7 jersey – most of them rather forgettable.
With the exception of Landeta, who went on to a long career in the league as a punter, the rest of these players did nothing.
But for Majkowski, who burst onto the scene just when the Packers franchise needed a boost, became well-loved. Though he’s best known for being injured and paving the way for Brett Favre, we can’t forget what he did for the franchise, especially in that magical season of 1989 when he earned his moniker of “Majik.”
Had it not been for a shoulder injury in 1990 and the ankle injury in 1992, we may have never heard of Brett Favre.
Again, we’ll let John Maxymuk, the author of “Packers by the Numbers: Jersey Numbers and the Players Who Wore them,” tell us about Majkowski’s years with the franchise:
His name was pronounced Mah-KOW-ski, but he was known as the Majik Man, and for one thrilling season he was just that.
Don Majkowski was a quiet, private person off the field, but walked with a cocky swagger on it. He separated his shoulder in his senior year at the University of Virginia and slipped off most teams’ draft lists. The Packers picked him in the tenth round of the 1987 draft and he even started five games as a rookie under coach Forrest Gregg. Offensive guru Lindy Infante replaced Gregg in 1988 and continued to cultivate Majkowski’s potential.
In 1989 the Majik Man emerged for the one great season of his 10-year NFL career. He led the league in passing yards with 4,318 and led the team to a 10-6 record with 27 touchdown passes.
Five of those 10 victories were accomplished by virtue of a furious fourth quarter comeback led by Majkowski.
However, his greatest comeback of the year came in the third game and was unsuccessful.
The Packers trailed the Rams 38-7 at halftime before Majkowski led the team to four second half touchdowns and a field goal only to lose 41-38 when Brent Fullwood fumbled at the Rams one yard line in the closing minutes.
Most of Don’s heroics had a happier ending.
The Packers would trail the Saints 21-0 before coming back to win 35-34. Majkowski completed 18 straight pass and threw a three-yard scoring strike to Sterling Sharpe with 55 seconds left to win that game by a point.
They were trailing the Falcons 21-6 going into the fourth quarter and won 23-21 on Chris Jacke’s 22-yard field goal with 1:42 left.
They beat the Lions 23-20 in overtime on another Jacke field goal. Majik threw the winning touchdown pass to Sterling Sharpe with nine minutes left in a 20-19 victory over the Vikings that veteran cornerback Dave Brown preserve with two interceptions in the final four minutes.
Against Tampa Bay, the Packers were behind 16-14 in the closing minutes when Majik threw an incomplete pass on fourth down. Fortunately, a hands-to-the-face penalty on the Bucs gave Green Bay new life and Majik drove them to the Bucs 30 where Jacke kicked a 47-yard winning field goal with no time left.
The Packers even handed the eventual Super Bowl champion 49ers a 21-17 loss in San Francisco, one of only two Niners losses all year.
The biggest comeback was against the hated Bears.
Majkowski threw a fourth down 14-yard touchdown pass to Sterling Sharpe with 32 seconds left to pull out a 14-13 win. What made this one special was that it came down to instant replay.
Line judge Jim Quirk threw a penalty flag judging that Majik was past the line of scrimmage when he unleashed the pass.
After a lengthy delay to look at the instant replay, official Bill Parkinson overruled the call and ruled it a touchdown. The Bears were so disgusted that they listed the game with an asterisk in their media book for years. And they were right; he was past the line.
The Packers stole the win that day, but could not steal into the playoffs, losing out on tiebreakers in that remarkable season.
While Favre played longer and is the comeback king in Green Bay, Majkowski had his princely season. He made the Pro Bowl in 1989 and sat out the opening game of the next season in a contract holdout.
When he got no free agent offers he joined a lawsuit against the NFL’s unfair labor practices that would eventually be successful. While he achieved success off the field, on the field was a disaster.
Just as he was beginning to play well, Don was sacked hard on his shoulder in the tenth game of the year and would require rotator cuff surgery. He would never be the same player again.
He returned in 1991 with diminished arm strength and injured his hamstring and missed half the season.
Majkowski won the starting job under new coach Mike Holmgren in 1992, but lost his slot to Brett Favre when he went down to an ankle injury in the third game of the year.
In 1993 he was a backup in Indianapolis; in 1995 he moved on to Detroit, again as a backup. After the 1996 season, he was released and drifted out of football.
For one brief shining season, Majik was among the best quarterbacks in the league. While the team didn’t make the playoffs that year, they did provide enough thrills that Don Majkowski will always evoke fond memories from Packers fans.
Don Majkowski’s career statistics:
All the Packers players who have worn #7 for the team over the past 50 years: