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Hall of Fame wait worth it for Ron Wolf

Summer induction will begin two-year celebration of Green Bay’s return to glory


GREEN BAY – For nearly two hours on Saturday, Ron Wolf thought the moment might have passed him by.

Sitting in his Arizona hotel room, Wolf had been told he would be informed by 4 p.m. whether or not the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee had voted for his induction.

It was approaching 6 p.m. and he hadn't heard anything.

"I figured I was not voted in, I was voted out," Wolf said in a phone interview Monday evening with "All of a sudden the knock came."

It was David Baker, president and executive director of the Hall of Fame, and Wolf immediately felt a sense of relief.

"He's standing there with TV cameras, so I had a feeling I was in, not out, or they wouldn't have had those things," Wolf said. "It was a wonderful feeling."

Since then, life has been a bit of a whirlwind for the former Packers general manager, with the NFL Honors show on Saturday night, the Super Bowl on Sunday and an orientation day on Monday that included getting measured for his Hall of Fame bust, jacket and ring.

All the activity has helped the reality sink in, a reality Wolf never seriously considered until the selection committee created a new "contributor" category this year. Wolf and another former GM, Bill Polian, were the inaugural contributor candidates, and both will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer.

Wolf was obviously thankful for the chance, and he's rightfully proud of the fact that his and Polian's selections should help pave the way for others like them down the road. Before this year, only one individual with strictly a GM title, Jim Finks, had been chosen for the Hall.

Wolf was selected for induction into the Hall of Fame on Saturday as part of the class of 2015. He will be inducted in Canton, Ohio, this summer along with the rest of the class of '15.

"They asked us what we thought, who some of the people are who should be included, and the list is too long," Wolf said. "The selectors' duty and job, I wouldn't want to be entrusted with that. There are so many people who are deserving."

There wasn't much debate with Wolf's credentials, and there will be even less next year at this time for the player who helped get Wolf in the Hall, quarterback Brett Favre.

This summer will begin a two-year celebration of sorts for the rebirth of the Packers in the 1990s, with Favre going into the Packers Hall of Fame in July, Wolf going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August, and Favre almost certainly following Wolf into Canton in 2016, his first year of eligibility.

"Brett Favre changed the whole complex of the Green Bay Packers," Wolf said. "When I got to the Packers, the Packers were not very well thought of. That's not the case today."

It all started with Wolf trading a first-round draft pick in 1992 to Atlanta for Favre, whom he came one spot away from drafting in the second round in '91 while working for the Jets (who didn't have a first-round pick that year). It was a bold stroke for the new Green Bay GM, but it was the first of many moments he showed the courage of his convictions.

"I didn't think I was taking any risk," Wolf said. "In 1991, I thought that guy was the best player in the entire draft. The fact he didn't go in the first round didn't bother me. At the end of 1991, I discovered I had an opportunity to get that player, and I did everything in my power to make sure we got him. We got him, and it worked."

It worked to the tune of six playoff berths, three NFC title game appearances and two Super Bowl trips in Wolf's nine seasons at the helm.

With the trade for Favre, the hiring of Mike Holmgren as head coach and the free-agent signing of Reggie White, Wolf was able to "change the image of the operation, to get it back to winning."

Wolf said Favre was one of the first people he informed on Saturday when he got the news, and they exchanged messages.

"My career is wrapped around him, and I think that's a pretty good guy to tie your shirttails to," Wolf said.

Wolf is also appreciative of everyone who played a part in restoring the glory to Green Bay. To him, the upcoming Hall of Fame induction will be a reflection of that bigger picture.

"It's been an amazing road," he said. "I look at my selection as more or less an organizational thing. It's not only about Ron Wolf. It's about the people who worked with me. I'm talking about the scouts, coaches, trainers, equipment people, doctors, front-office staff, all those people.

"It's an honor because I worked for the best franchise in the NFL, and it's a period of my life I always will cherish."

Previously: Wolf elected to HOF

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