Donald Driver (80) celebrates a touchdown by jumping into the stands during the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. The Packers defeated the Bears 23-10. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph
As Green Bay Packers fans, we have experienced two decades of excellent football.
Since 1993, we have seen two Super Bowl victories, nine division titles, four conference championships, a 64 percent regular season winning percentage (205-115), and only two seasons with losing records.
That’s pretty incredible.
We should feel fortunate as fans to be cheering for such a productive franchise. Just think of the records of some of the other teams in our division, such as Detroit, during this time.
I thought it would be fun before the 2013 season gets under way to celebrate two decades of great Packers football by paying homage to some of the best players who have donned the Packers uniform in the past 20 years.
So for the fun of it, let’s do something hypothetical. If you could pick any Packers players from the past 20 years with which to build a team, who would you select?
After giving it some thought, I tried my best to come up with a Packers All-Pro team from the past 20 years. Let me know where I got it wrong and where I was spot on. I would love to hear your thoughts.
(Click on the players’ names to get their complete career stats.)
The Green Bay Packers 1993-2013 All-Pro Team
Quarterback – Brett Favre (’92-’07)
The Packers have been fortunate to have quarterbacks of Favre’s and Aaron Rodgers’ caliber back-to-back. Rodgers is currently the best quarterback in the league and may just be the best player to wear the Green and Gold by the end of his career. But Favre was a three-time league MVP and played at high level for 16 seasons in Green Bay, so he gets the edge over Rodgers. Favre was a true joy to watch on Sundays. No one played with more passion and durability at the position. There will never be another player like him, but I have to say, I don’t miss all the interceptions.
Honorable Mention: Aaron Rodgers (’05-Present)
Running Back – Ahman Green (’00-’06, ’09)
Green had a span of five seasons where he was one of the best backs in the league. His 1,883 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns in 2003 stands up as one of the best seasons by a running back in Green Bay history. Green could do it all and is by far the best Packers running back in the modern football era.
Honorable Mention: Dorsey Levens (’94-’01)
Full Back – William Henderson (’95-‘06)
Henderson was a solid rock for 12 seasons in Green Bay. He spearheaded the Packers running game during the 1996 Super Bowl season and blossomed into a true team leader. Henderson was an excellent blocking full back, and one of my favorite things about him was that he continued to love playing special teams even as a 12-year veteran. That says it all right there.
Driver is the franchise’s all-time leader in receiving yards (10,137) and receptions (743), and he went over 1,000 yards receiving in six straight seasons from 2004 to 2009. Freeman was the Packers’ leading receiving during their run in the mid-90s, and his 1,424 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns in 1998 is still one of the more impressive seasons by a Packers receiver. Sharpe may have been Green Bay’s most gifted receiver they’ve ever had, but he just misses the cut because a majority of his career was played before 1993.
Tight End – Jermichael Finley (’08-Present)
Finley’s career is still young, but his 2009 season (676 yards, 5 TDs) and 2011 season (767 yds, 8 TDs) are still some of the best by any Packers tight end. Chmura was a four-time Pro Bowl selection (’94, ’95, ’97, ’98) during a time NFL tight ends weren’t quite utilized as much in the passing game as they are in today’s NFL.
Honorable Mention: Mark Chmura (’93-’99)
Clifton and Tauscher held down both ends of the offensive line for a decade. In that time they protected two top tier quarterbacks and made the way for eight 1,000 yard rushers. With both Clifton and Tauscher in the lineup the Packers only allowed, on average, 22 sacks per season. That’s less than half of the 51 sacks the Packers’ line gave up last season.
Honorable Mention: Earl Dotson (’93-’02)
Rivera became a starter on the Packers’ line in his second year, and only missed one game in the rest of his time with Green Bay. He was a three-time Pro Bowler (’02-’04), and led the way to a prolific Green Bay rushing attack. Sitton’s skills are underrated. He’s been the Packers best offensive lineman since starting in 2009.
Honorable Mention: Mike Wahle (’99-’04)
Center – Frank Winters (’92-’02)
Winters started nine straight seasons for Green Bay and was a key cog on the offensive line during the Packers’ Super Bowl run in 1996. Winters is an iconic figure from a beloved era of Packers football.
Honorable Mention: Scott Wells (’04-’11)
The late Reggie White is the greatest defensive end to ever play the game. He recorded 68.5 sacks in six meaningful seasons for the Packers, but his impact went beyond the field. He played a pivotal role in turning around the culture in Green Bay when he joined the team in 1993, and he may just be the most beloved Packers player of the past 20 years. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila is the franchise’s all-time leader in sacks with 74.5. However, I gave the edge to Kampman, who has fewer career sacks (54), because he played much better against the run.
Honorable Mention: Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (’00-’08)
Both Brown and Pickett were and have been important run-stuffers during both Packers Super Bowl runs. Amazingly, Pickett is still playing at a high level today and is one of Green Bay’s better defensive lineman. Like Winters, Brown is an iconic figure from the Packers’ 1996 Super Bowl team, but the “Grave Digger” was more than just a guy with an intimidating nickname. He consistently clogged up the middle of the line and was a key piece in some of the Packers’ top rushing defenses.
Middle/Inside Linebacker – Nick Barnett (’03-’10)
Barnett led the team in tackles his first three seasons in the league. He also recorded 15.5 sacks and 9 interceptions in eight seasons with Green Bay. Unfortunately, Barnett’s time in Green Bay was cut short due to a succession of injuries.
Honorable Mention: George Koonce (’92-’97)
Matthews has made the Pro Bowl three out of his four seasons in the NFL. His 42.5 career sacks already rank him fifth on the Packers all-time sack leaders. The scary thing is the best still may be yet to come for Matthews. Paup recorded 32.5 sacks in his five seasons with Green Bay. He was a predecessor to the modern-day rush backer. He was sort of Clay Matthews before there was a Clay Matthews.
Honorable Mention: Wayne Simmons (’93-’96)
Woodson was the defensive player of the year in 2009, and his 38 interceptions and 11.5 sacks are only second to Leroy Butler among Packers defensive backs in the past 20 years. Granted, this is a modern stat, but Woodson does hold the franchise record for passes defended with 99. Harris is second with 87. Harris was an underrated corner, who didn’t tally a lot of interceptions but was one of Green Bay’s better cover corners.
Butler was the epitome of the playmaking defensive back. He recorded 20.5 sacks, 11 forced fumbles, and 38 interceptions in his career. His 87 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 5 interceptions, and a 90-yard interception return for a touchdown in 1996 is still one of the most impressive seasons by any Packers defensive player. Collins was a staple in the Packers secondary after he was drafted in 2005. Collins’ coverage skills were highly underrated, and his interception return for a touchdown in the Super Bowl is still one of the more memorable Packers moments in the past two decades.
Honorable Mention: Darren Sharper (’97-’04)
Kicker – Ryan Longwell (’97-’05)
Longwell is Green Bay’s all-time leading scorer with 1,054 points. He also leads all franchise kickers in career field goal percentage at 81.6 percent. It’s just too bad such a great Packers player had to finish his career with the Minnesota Vikings.
Punter – Tim Masthay (’10-Present)
Green Bay has had a carousel of punters the past 20 years. Masthay seems to be the most consistent among them. His 44.2 punting average is second best to Jon Ryan among Green Bay punters in the past two decades.
Kick Returner – Desmond Howard (’96)
Howard only played one year for the Packers and contributed almost exclusively on special teams, but he had three punt return touchdowns in the regular season and a game-changing kickoff return for a touchdown in the Super Bowl. When was the last time a punt returner was the MVP of the Super Bowl?