Like many great players, Don Majkowski will always be remembered most for one spectacular play. Although it indeed was an unbelievable play in a memorable game, Majkowski accomplished much more than that in the Green and Gold. In fact, the "Majik Man" was in charge when the Packers did something in 1989 that they hadn't done in a long time previously.
Of course everyone remembers the "Instant Replay" game in which Majkowski quarterbacked the Packers to one of the most exciting games in their storied history. Majkowski went back to pass, rolled right and just as he was running out of time and real estate, he found Sterling Sharpe in the back of the endzone. The only problem was that official Jim Quirk threw a flag. The play would come back because the scrambling Majkowski had crossed the line of scrimmage.
But wait a minute, this was the Packers' thrilling season and it was their time to buck all odds. After the play was reviewed, official Bill Parkinson overturned the ruling on the field. Majkowski never crossed the line, at least according to the officials (Bears fans still feel differently) and the Packers picked up a 14-13 win over the Bears -- the first in their previous nine attempts.
While people remember the "Instant Replay" game -- and rightfully so -- what often is lost is just how well the Packers did play in 1989. The win kept the Packers' season rolling and they just missed the playoffs with a 10-6 record. Majkowski had a highlight year in more ways than one, too. He threw for 4,318 total yards with 27 touchdowns. The Packers' success combined with his outstanding year also earned him a trip to the Pro Bowl.
Majkowski, who became known as the "Majik Man" during his glory days as a Packer, recently admitted that it's hard to find just the right words for what the memorable game meant to him.
"It was the defining moment for me in my career," Majkowski said. "I don't know if it was my greatest play, but without a doubt, it was the most dramatic win with the most significant meaning. Packers-Bears is such a great rivalry. Packers fans show such an allegiance like no other team in the NFL.
"Bears fans aren't far behind though. The rivalry is still intact, and with the Bears dominating us for four years and helping put an end to that, it was something special and I think Packers fans will always cherish it and so will I."
The win is cherished indeed. When your favorite team wins 12 World Championships, certainly there is no shortage of memories. Yet, the '89 game versus the Bears still finds its way into conversations.
"Still to this day, wherever I go, whenever I travel around the United States, people come up to me and still want to talk about the instant replay game against the Chicago Bears in 1989," Majkowski explained. "They come up to me and they can clearly tell me exactly where they were for that game. Not many people can remember where they were 12 years ago watching a football, game but that game was different.
"It was one of those games, one of those moments in history where people just knew where they were when that game happened -- what bar they were in, who they were with. It was unbelievable and it was one of the greatest moments in Packers history. I am really proud of being part of that; it was a great moment."
Unfortunately, the play was one of the last great ones Majkowski had a chance to be a part of in a Packers uniform.
The following season Majkowski and his teammates were looking forward to even better things, but that plan never materialized, however. In week 11 at Phoenix, Majkowski tore the rotator cuff in his right shoulder. His arm would never be the same and neither would his career. He came back the next season, but in 1992, he would play his last down as a Green Bay Packer.
That was the year Majkowski again was involved in a play that would forever change Packers history. Only this time, it didn't feature the joy and excitement Majkowski had enjoyed just three seasons before. Majkowski, who was knocked out of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals with ligament damage to his left ankle, was replaced by some guy named Brett Favre, who came in and finished the game with a last minute win of his own. Favre started the next game in week four of 1992 and hasn't missed a start since.
After six seasons with the team that originally drafted him out of Virginia in 1987, Majkowski signed with the Indianapolis Colts in 1993, where he spent two years before landing in Detroit for another two seasons. After the 1996 season, Majkowski retired from the game he loved, the game he knew so well.
Majkowski admitted he still looks back from time to time and thinks 'what if?'
"If I never would have hurt that shoulder in 1990, who knows what would have happened?" Majkowski questioned. "I had a Pro Bowl season in 1989 and I was really playing well. When I hurt my shoulder like that, it was a hard injury to come back from. In 1992 I got hurt with the ankle injury and I was pretty much on the downslide."
Majkowski Proud Of Former Teammate And Current Friend
It's natural for people to think that Majkowski would be bitter about the way his time in Green Bay ended. After all, he was the "Majik Man" and a kid just trying to find his way in the league replaced him. But when you listen to Majkowski tell the story, he has no regrets at all and you can hear the sense of pride in his voice when he talks about Favre.
"When I got hurt in '92 and he came in and played for me, I took him under my wing and mentored him as much as I could," Majkowski explained. "I pretty much saw the writing on the wall. I knew my years were up here and I had run my course. I just had too many injuries and I wasn't producing for the amount of dollars I was getting paid, and I understood that.
"Brett was a great kid and I loved his enthusiasm and I loved his passion for the game. I helped him as much as I could as a youngster and to this day we still are great friends. People expected me to cause a big stir, but I understood that was part of the game and I just wanted to be as professional as I could about it."
Still, in most paths of life, taking a job from another person usually causes hard feelings and it wouldn't be out of the question to think Majkowski and Favre share a rocky relationship. According to Majkowski, however, that couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, Majkowski's perspective speaks volumes of the teammate he was and what kind of person he still is.
"We're great friends and I'm actually really proud of him," Majkowski explained. "I kind of look at him as a little brother because he was so green when he came in and I never, ever, and he can tell you that he never thought he would have the career he's had. What a great player and to have lost my starting position to a guy of his caliber, a guaranteed Hall of Famer, wow, it was easy to accept."
Majkowski accepted that role and moved on to his new life and career. He currently lives in Atlanta where he and his wife Kelly have two children, Danielle (8) and Bo Cannon (6). He also started up a real estate investment company three and a half years ago and is happy with the progress it has made.
Majik Excited About New Career Opportunity
Now at 40, Majkowski doesn't have any intentions of playing again, but he does want to get back in the game in another way.
"I'm really getting involved in getting back into an NFL analysis role, doing a lot of media work in Green Bay and the across the state," Majkowski said. "I'm doing some TV shows, as well as some work on the radio side, too. I'm also a contributing editor to Packer Report this year."
Majkowski said getting involved in the game again was an easy decision on his part.
"As I got further away from football, I realized that I still really enjoy being part of the game," Majkowski explained. "I played quarterback 10 years in the league and I had a lot of knowledge, experiences and stories to share that made for an interesting career.
"I still want to do my real estate investment, it's my bread and butter. But I really, really enjoy being involved in football, especially this year following the Green Bay Packers and writing about them. It should be a lot of fun."
It's not uncommon for many former NFL players to get back into football in some capacity or another. In fact, during any given NFL contest, there are many recognizable commentators in the TV or radio booth who once played football. According to Majkowski, stepping away from the playing field into the booth isn't as easy as it may look.
"It's a lot harder and more difficult than I thought it was going to be," Majkowski said. "Working as a journalist and a contributing editor is difficult and I have a newfound respect for it. It's complicating and being able to do it you really have to be on top of your game. We'll see how I do; I'll give it my best shot."
Football is still vital to Majkowski's career, but when asked what's most important in his life, Majkowski doesn't hesitate.
"First of all, having a family is the most important thing," Majkowski said. "I love my wife and my children, I'm very proud of starting my family. But I am most proud of Bo Cannon and Danielle. My wife Kelly is wonderful as well."
Majkowski, who passed for 10,870 yards during his time as a Packer, has almost come full circle. He admitted that he had some great accomplishments as a player, but at 40, he's not the same person he once was.
"I'm 40 now and I don't feel that old," Majkowski said. "But I've changed. I'm a lot more mature and I'm more professional. I have to look at my career outside of football. When I was here, football was my life and I didn't know anything besides it. Now it's kind of exciting trying to set new goals and being something other than a professional athlete."
When you hear the tone in Majkowski's voice you know he's sincere in recalling his memories with the Green and Gold. He even said there's a possibility his work as an NFL analyst will get him back in town full time.
"I have to see what comes about, but I would love to come back," Majkowski said. "This place is a huge part of my life. The longer you are away from the game as a former player you realize just how special of a place this was and how lucky and fortunate I was to play here as a starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. It's an unbelievable feeling and I don't take that lightly."
The way Majkowski is welcomed back to Green Bay during the halftime of the Bears game when all the alumni members were announced, it's clear that Packers fans also don't take the "Majik" he once performed as a member of the Green and Gold lightly, either. If they're lucky, that Majik just might reappear on their radio or television set sometime soon.