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June 22, 2017

The Ultimate Diss

UnknownPeople under the age of 40 don’t know how tough it was to be a Packers fan in the 1970s and 1980s. Back then, a first-round pick actually chose to play in the Canadian Football League. Yes, exactly 37 years ago today, Bruce Clark signed with Toronto instead of Green Bay. It was the first of many lowlights the 80s had to offer.

The Packers selected Clark with the 4th overall pick in the 1980 draft – even though the two-time All-American from Penn State had been telling the team for weeks that he had no desire to play nose tackle in defensive coordinator John Meyer’s newly installed 3-4 scheme. But coach and GM Bart Starr chose Clark anyway. And why not? His only other option was to go to Canada, and no player would ever willingly go to… Oops.

Clark signed with the Argonauts on May 29, 1980. He blamed having to play nose tackle as the reason, but it was more than that – something he finally admitted in 1982 when given a second chance to sign with the Packers. “I wouldn’t have gone to Toronto for two years if I wanted to go to Green Bay,” he said at the time. Starr even promised to play Clark at defensive end, but he simply wanted no part of what was then known as the “Siberia of the National Football League.” And to be completely honest, who could blame him?

The 1979 Packers were 5-11. It was the team’s ninth losing season in the past 11 years. And here were some of the starters Clark would’ve been joining in 1980: offensive linemen Tim Stokes and Derrel Gofourth, wide receiver Aundra Thompson, nose tackle Charles Johnson, linebackers Ed O’Neil and Kurt Allerman and corners Mike McCoy and Estus Hood. And while quarterback Lynn Dickey was always a bit underrated, nobody ever confused him with Joe Montana (49ers) or Dan Fouts (Chargers) or even Danny White (Cowboys).

The Packers eventually traded Clark to New Orleans on June 11, 1982 for a first-round pick (11th overall) in the 1983 draft. Starr chose University of Pittsburgh cornerback Tim Lewis. The trade might’ve been a good one, but as was the case with pretty much everything back then, it wound up going terribly wrong for Green Bay. Lewis, who flashed star potential, suffered a career-ending neck injury early in the 1986 season. Clark went on to play 7 productive seasons with the Saints, amassing 39 sacks and one trip to the Pro Bowl.


20 Responses “The Ultimate Diss”

  1. May 29, 2016 at 11:27 am

    I remember Bruce Clark and Michael’s right, it wasn’t easy being a Packers fan in the 70’s and 80’s, especialy living in Minneapolis Minnesota at the time. I was young and couldn’t really wrap my head around WHY Clark didn’t want to play for the greatest team in Football, at least IMO. I also remember when Jim Kelly wanted to play in the USFL instead of Buffalo so Green Bay wasn’t the ONLY “Siberia” in the NFL. : )

    Tim Lewis was going to be a Star for the Packers. I still remember the Monday Night Game he was injured and was never able to play again. Unless you’re a Manning, the kids today are just happy to be drafted.

  2. Archie
    May 29, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    In 1980, the Pack had two R1 picks. They used their second R1 pick on an undersized LB named George Cumby. He would later be creamed by the Refrigerator on the goal line.

    And the next year, with the 6th pick, Bart Starr picked Rich Campbell.

    GB has a long history of terrible GMs. And almost all of them were allowed to keep their jobs for a decade or more. I wonder why that is/was?

  3. Keven
    May 29, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    Just reinforces you how fortunate the Packers are to have someone as capable as Ted Thompson running things these days.

  4. Nerd
    May 29, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    That was due to Judge Parins running the franchise as a country club for his personal friends.

    Many people look at Wolf as the man who turned it around. But Bob Harlan was the man.

    Btw, the offensive staff ruined Rich Campbell. Tried to mess with his throwing motion. He’s bitter about it to this day.

  5. Thorny
    May 29, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    To add to Keven’s point… this is exactly why you go for it when you have Aaron Rodgers. It isn’t Ted Thompson that is giving us a chance to win the SB, It’s #12.

    It wasn’t Ron Wolf that gave us a chance to get to back to back SB’s. It was #4.

    The next GM will be as good and go as far as who he finds at QB for us.

    For the love of…don’t waste the end of #12’s career. Smokem if ya gottem. Now, is the time. Carpe Diem…and so on.

    We could just as easily return to the 70’s and 80’s round here. Nobody thought we were headed there after back to back SB’s. Don’t let history repeat itself unless it’s winning back to back SB’s.

  6. May 30, 2016 at 9:36 am

    Bruce Clark was a very good player and if I remember right a concert pianist.
    The Packers were a very poor example of running an NFL team. Starr was a great QB, but a terrible Coach/GM. Keven’s got it right, it’s frustrating not to have won more SBs with Rodgers as QB. The other side of the coin is it could be a lot worst. Think Cleveland !

  7. MR
    May 30, 2016 at 10:16 am

    The concert pianist was another Penn State defensive lineman. His name is Mike Reid and he played for the Bengals in the NFL.

  8. TJV
    May 30, 2016 at 10:48 am

    Poor Bart. I think he finally became a good NFL HC before he got fired, but I don’t think he ever grasped the GM role as this, and the Campbell over Lott stories display.

    Nerd is right, it was Harlan who created the position that Wolf was willing to accept: Wolf had refused to come work for the Packers previously because he wouldn’t have had complete control of football operations. Without Harlan, no Wolf. Without Wolf, no Holmgren, etc.

    And Thorny is wrong: It wasn’t Favre and it isn’t Rodgers. Obviously they need(ed) talent around them and just as obviously they need capable coaching staffs. And even if you mistakenly believe as Thorny does, Wolf was entirely responsible for bringing Favre to Green Bay. Without Wolf, Favre may have remained in Glanville’s doghouse, partying his way out of the league. And Thompson was smart enough to do what 21 GMs weren’t: Selecting the best player in the 2005 draft.

  9. Nerd
    May 30, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    Harlan and Tompson were also smart enough to get HCs who could develop their QBs into stars.

    That’s where Starr failed. (His did the opposite.)

    Part of the “Siberia” thing was also that there weren’t blacks in Green Bay back then. I think it’s much more culturally diverse nowadays.

  10. Archie
    May 30, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    Ahhh, no. Think of all the failed #1 picks. Think of the other premium picks that failed: Brian Brohm, Pat Lee and Jerel Worthy in R2, and Kyri Thornton in R3 and too many others to count.

    My point was TT fits the post-Lomabardi pattern excluding Ron Wolf. About the only difference between TT and the GMs of old that failed was that #12 fell to him in the bottom of R1. (And a couple of good picks at WR.) W/o that bit of fortune at QB, TT/MM likely would be gone by now. But it is OK with me if you pretend otherwise.

  11. PeteG
    May 30, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    The only one pretending is you. You’e pretending other GMs don’t miss on premium picks. They all do. Sure TT and MM have benefited from a having a great QB, but you can say that about almost every successful HC/GM combo.

  12. Nerd
    May 30, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    Ted drafted Jeff Janis. Got a great deal on him too. #genius. #steelyeyedassassin

  13. TJV
    May 30, 2016 at 5:08 pm

    Of course other GMs miss on premium picks. And anyone posting Thompson is like the post-Lombardi GMs (except for Wolf) is the one pretending. But it’s OK with me if they want to ignore history.

  14. Jerry Giancola
    May 30, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    We, “the guys”, at least once a year, lament the loss of Tim Lewis. He was so good, gifted and full of energy. When he tackled someone he would jump right up like a jack in the box and slap his hands together and headbob once on his way back over to his position. I hope he’s living a good life pain free. No one ever, ever doubted his injury or decision to retire. We all knew that given his style of play that he would be in serious trouble or even worse. Side note, he was not an assassin or blind side cheap shot artist. He made the play and he made it now. I’d compare his tackling to say, Reggie White, you were tackled and the play was over fast.

  15. Thorny
    May 30, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    I think all the proof anyone needs in this debate that has evolved is: Mike Sherman. Guy won a ton of games, teams in the playoffs… Why? Brett Favre.

    This chicken or egg thing isn’t that hard.

    If Eliot, Brian or John have an elite QB you’ll think they’re Ted like. If they don’t, you’ll have 70’s and 80’s flashbacks.

    History hasn’t been ignored here but it gets spun by whomever’s spinning self included.

    Bruce Clark was right not to want to play for the Packers. I wouldn’t fault anyone for not wanting to live and play in Green Bay. It’s harder to win a SB in Green Bay than anywhere else in the NFL. We’ve had a magical run with our Montana and Young. Anyone remember what happened after that run of Montana Young was over? If you don’t, there’s a very good chance you’re going to see it for yourself. Our run has lasted longer (23 years to 20) and produced much less. I hope the fortunes shift quickly or soon what will be over a quarter of a century of HOF QB’s will have produced only 3 SB appearances.

  16. Nerd
    May 30, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    The 49ers went into cap hell.

    Probably not gonna happen here. lol

  17. speakeasy
    May 31, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    Thorny wrote:
    Our run has lasted longer (23 years to 20) and produced much less. I hope the fortunes shift quickly or soon what will be over a quarter of a century of HOF QB’s will have produced only 3 SB appearances.

    To be fair, in the 80s the NFL was much more like baseball with no cap so if you had rich owners (think DeBartolo), you could grab a lot of premier players and pay much higher than a small town team like GB. Yes, there was shared TV revenue, but after that it was money flowing from owners who could and would pay more. The Niners won 4 titles in the 80s with that huge advantage. Only one in the cap era with Young.

    The only teams with more than 2 SBs in the cap era are the Pats and Broncos (who just pushed to 3 this year). A few teams with 2 (such as GB), but it goes to show how hard it is. Yes, even with two HOF QBs.

  18. Thorny
    June 1, 2016 at 11:24 am

    @Speakeasy…how many SB’s do you think we’re going to win when we don’t have an MVP HOF QB? The only time we’ve ever won a SB we had Bart, Brett or Aaron under center.

    Eli Manning has two. The Ravens with Dilfer and Wacco Flacco have 2. That tells me those two orgs built better teams than ours did because we have the distinct advantage over both of them at the QB position.

    History will show you that if you want to have a team that actually wins rings you better make hey when you have a stud under center. Yes, there are examples like I cited above but how much harder is it to build a team that can win a championship minus a star QB? I see it written here all the time about difficulty in winning a SB. Sure…and how much harder is it without the QB?

    We can be fair about the Niners era but the point remains they won a bunch of SB’s with Montana and Young. How many without?

    Lets hope we have at least one more here soon or it might be quite a long long time before we ever get close again and players like Bruce Clark start seeing Green Bay like he did all over again.

  19. May 29, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    WRONG!! It was #92!!!! REGGIE!!!!!

  20. Deepsky
    June 1, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    Parins actually tried to get Ron Wolf to Green Bay in 1987 or so. Wolf asked him who had final say in football decisions and Parins said he did. Wolf didn’t take the job, it went to Tom Braatz. The Executive Committe would then make the final decision of Mandarich vs Barry Sanders.

    Harlan tried again in 1991 and answered the question “You have full control”. Wolf joined the Packers.

    Interestingly, one candidate on the list at that time was also Charlie Armey. He was scout with the Pack in the ’80s. He stated in the ’90s he really wanted the job that Ron Wolf got. Armey ended up as GM with the Rams when they went to the Super Bowl.

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