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Wolf Visits Team, Talks History


Anyone who walks through the halls of Lambeau Field as a member of the Green Bay Packers can't help but get in touch somehow with the history this team and place represent.

On Wednesday, former Packers general manager Ron Wolf tried to impress upon the current team that they should at least take a moment to pause and reflect upon it, even as the dog days of training camp are setting in.

Wolf, the Packers GM for nine seasons from 1992-2000, was the team's guest speaker at its afternoon meeting before the players' final mid-week respite from camp. As has always been his style, Wolf was straightforward and to the point, with his brief history lesson not lasting more than 15 minutes.

"When you walk into Lambeau Field and you look up there and see those names, that's pro football right there," Wolf said in a short chat with following the team meeting. "That's what made pro football so great. There they are -- Taylor, Lombardi, you could go on and on, Lambeau. It's just an incredible setting.

"The facility is a lot different than when I was here, but every time you turn around, you bump into history -- the history of the game, the tradition of the game, how the fans honor the team, how each player on the team is held in a special awe by the fans."

With the team, Wolf reflected on his own place in Packers history and what he encountered upon being hired by Bob Harlan toward the end of the 1991 season.

It had been 24 years since legendary coach Vince Lombardi last led the Packers to a championship, and in those 24 years, the team had just four winning seasons, not including the strike-shortened campaign of 1982. Wolf talked about the challenge of turning around a "culture of futility" that had crept into Green Bay.

"Players in the league were told it was a career-ender to come to Green Bay," Wolf told the players. "They were challenged - shape up or we're sending you to the Green Bay Packers."

That all changed with the hiring of Mike Holmgren as head coach, the assembling of a coaching staff that included six future NFL head coaches, the trade for quarterback Brett Favre, and the signing of free agent defensive end Reggie White, and the rest is, ... well, a significant piece of the franchise's history.

In Wolf's tenure, the Packers compiled the league's second-winningest regular-season record (92-52), recorded seven straight winning seasons, won 25 straight games at Lambeau Field, appeared in three NFC Championship contests and two Super Bowls, and won one world championship.

The point of Wolf's reflections wasn't to boast, but to impress upon the current team the opportunity they have to add their own chapter to that history.

{sportsad300}"Anybody who's ever worn this uniform or been a part of this, you're a family," Wolf said. "There's not anywhere like this, anywhere."

Wolf also touched on the importance of leadership for a successful team, and in addition to bringing up names like Favre and White, he also spoke of former safety LeRoy Butler, who had a presence about him and an influence on teammates that was undeniable.

Butler has been eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the past couple of years but has yet to make it past the preliminary stage for consideration. Wolf said he thinks he could make it someday, and have his name added to those in the stadium's ring of honor.

"I believe he should be in, but I don't know if he'll get in," Wolf said. "Just tremendous leadership. The defensive end was his locker room, the offensive end was Favre's. And that's important, so important."

As is having some appreciation for history, while focusing intently on the present.

"I am so proud to be part of the Packers operation at one time, and I'm proud of my association with the Packers," Wolf said. "It's a thrill for me to be here."

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