GREEN BAY – It only seems a fitting a football career that began on a family farm in Central Wisconsin should end in the Packers Hall of Fame.
Mark Tauscher is Wisconsin through and through, just like his father before him. Born in Marshfield, Wis., Tauscher starred at nearby Auburndale High School before walking on at the University of Wisconsin in 1995.
Tauscher eventually became the starting right tackle for the Badgers en route to becoming a seventh-round pick for the Packers in 2000. Within a year, he’d win that starting job, too, in what marked the beginning of an 11-year stint in Green Bay.
Tauscher’s in-state ties always kept his family within arm’s reach of his successes. His dad, Denny, was a fixture at nearly every Packers home game and even made a few road trips along the way despite not being overly keen on traveling.
His older brother, Craig, lives on the other side of the Wisconsin-Minnesota border, but routinely made the five-hour trek to Lambeau Field. Win or lose, he’d debrief on the phone with his father after every Packers game.
Mark and Craig fondly reflected on those memories Friday night, as Tauscher and kicker Ryan Longwell were inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame during a ceremony inside the Lambeau Field Atrium.
“I’d be on the phone with him and my wife would come down and check on me because 30 minutes would pass by and she wouldn’t hear my voice,” Craig recalled. “She’s like, ‘Is he still on the phone? Did he leave?’ It’s because my dad was going through different plays Mark made in the game, coaching decisions or whatever it was. Just breaking down the game. He loved it. There’s nothing he loved more.”
Longwell, Tauscher reminisce at Lambeau Field
Ryan Longwell and Mark Tauscher shared memories with each other and members of the media on July 21, prior to their Packers Hall of Fame induction ceremony
Denny, who passed away in October 2013, would have been the ideal candidate to present Tauscher for induction. In his place, Mark was honored to bestow the responsibilities to Craig, his older brother by three years.
Craig and Mark had the typical rivalries you’d expect as children, but the older brother always remained supportive of the younger sibling – even when it became clear Mark’s athletic ability would take him to greater heights than Auburndale.
That meant the world to Tauscher, who had those thoughts in mind when he traveled to Minnesota to watch his niece’s basketball game and formally ask Craig to do the honors rather than just picking up the phone.
Packers Hall of Fame inducts Longwell, Tauscher
Former Packers become 160th and 161st inductees into Packers Hall of Fame
In the end, football and family are the cornerstones of the Tauscher household. Denny and Diane Tauscher made sure of that. To this day, Mark takes a great deal of pride in being a Wisconsin kid whose career never took him away from home.
“When you can play for the team you have rooted for and the way the system played, the part that’s really cool is your family and friends, everyone can really stay up to date on it,” Tauscher said. “When you really appreciate something and you can go through it, that stays with you.”
One of the secrets Tauscher feels led to his success was the friendships he forged both on and off the field in Green Bay. Together, he and two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Chad Clifton started 10 seasons together and blocked for a pair of MVP quarterbacks in Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers.
At no point did Tauscher consider his own legacy in the game. No one in the family had really taken a chance to step back and reflect until they stood inside AT&T Stadium after the Packers’ victory in Super Bowl XLV.
A journey that began in the farm fields of Wisconsin has brought Tauscher to the Packers Hall of Fame, making him one of only 161 individuals to ever receive the prestigious honor.
“I don’t think anybody plays for this. You play because you love the game and you play because you want to use your talents,” Tauscher said. “When your career is over and you start reflecting back and you get an idea of maybe where this could go and you see other guys you played with get in. It’s something I think everybody wants to be in. As your career is unfolding, I don’t think you look at it and say this is what I want to do. You say I want to play really well and this will be a byproduct of that.”