The hidden (and not-so-hidden) Packers/Seahawks connection
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In terms of history, legacy, and pecking order, the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks franchises couldn’t be more different. The former has won 11 NFL Championships and four Super Bowls, plays its home games in the single most iconic site in all of pro sports, and boasts such gridiron gods as Curly Lambeau, Bart Starr, Vince Lombardi, Paul Hornung, Reggie White, Brett Favre, and countless others over its storied near-100-year history. The latter is a ’70s expansion team that Brian Bosworth lists among his (few) former employers, and one that has appeared in—and lost—just one Super Bowl, while switching leagues and stadiums three times apiece over its comparably brief existence.
While Monday’s meeting between the Packers and Seahawks pales in comparison to Green Bay’s longer-standing and more intense rivalries with the Bears and Vikings, it’s difficult not to at least acknowledge the strange connections, franchise-altering transactions, and notable personnel overlap the Green and Gold shares with the College Blue, Action Green, Wolf Grey, and White. Here are just some of the associations that, in addition to former Badgers QB Russell Wilson taking the snaps for Seattle, might make the upcoming non-division contest seem more like a rivalry.
Mike Holmgren’s decision to leave Title Town in favor of the Emerald City following the 1998 season isn’t exactly an underreported detail. Leaving a still-stacked organization shortly removed from two Super Bowls warrants a few headlines. But this event directly traces back to the origin of the Green Bay and Seattle football nexus. Aside from the staggering EIGHT YEAR contract the ’Hawks offered Holmgren, the ability to also serve as the team’s General Manager and Executive Vice President undoubtedly made the opportunity an especially lucrative one. The new additional titles also made it possible for the coach to assemble a team, staff, and front office of his choosing—much of which had Green Bay ties.
(The other) Mike’s migration
One such Seahawks assistant was a former Packers offensive line and tight ends coach by the name of Mike Sherman. With a promotion to offensive coordinator awaiting him in the Pacific Northwest, Sherman continued to serve under Holmgren in 1999. Meanwhile, former Holmgren assistant Ray Rhodes frowned the Packers to an 8-8 record in 1999, Green Bay’s first playoff-less campaign since 1992. When Rhodes was shown the door after his sole season at the helm, Sherman returned to Green Bay, this time as head coach, a post he had from 2000 through 2005. In 2001, Sherman also usurped the role of General Manager.
Also coming to Green Bay from Seattle in 2000 was a backup running back and kick returner named Ahman Green. After amassing little over 300 yards and one touchdown in two Seahawks seasons, Green was traded to the Packers for a song. That song was an undeniably lousy one that amounted to defensive back Fred Vinson (who made Ahmad Carroll look like Bhawoh Jue by comparison) and a sixth round pick (which became DT Tim Watson from Rowan). Meanwhile, Green added 54 TDs to his career totals while donning green and gold, was a four-time Pro Bowl selection, and is currently the all-time leading rusher in Packers history.
A year after that lopsided trade, the Packers returned the favor by trading Favre-blocked backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to Seattle for a pair of picks that amounted to Jamal Reynolds and Torrence Marshall. Who? Exactly. No longer holding a clipboard, Hasselbeck became the most prolific passer in Seahawks history, to the tune of three Pro Bowls and six team all-time passing records during his decade under center. Of course, his most famous moment of his career still came in Lambeau Field during his “We want the ball and we’re going to score!” overtime Wild Card game… which was ended by an Al Harris pick-six, a gracious gift from Hasselbeck.
Better off Ted
Sparked by trades like the Hasselbeck fleecing and poorly-thought draft selections like taking aforementioned Reynolds 10th overall, Sherman was relieved of his management duties after the 2004 season. It was only natural that the team looked to Seattle to fill the gaping front office hole. Between 2000 to 2004, Ted Thompson served under Holmgren as Seattle vice president of operations. Of course, Thompson likely earned that opportunity by way of his dutiful service in a variety of Packers personnel posts between 1992 and 1999—the entirety of Holmgren’s time in Green Bay, plus one season. It’s safe to say Thompson’s second stop in Green Bay has gone okay so far.
Today, Holmgren has assigned himself the impossible and unenviable task of rebuilding the Cleveland Browns. Green is retired. Sherman’s been fired and thrice re-located. Hasselbeck is a backup in Tennessee. Fred Vinson is probably just jazzed to have been mentioned somewhere. But the connection continues. Current Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell cut his coaching teeth in Green Bay as an assistant, and later, as quarterback coach. One of his pupils, new free agent signee Matt Flynn, was a reliable insurance policy for Aaron Rodgers since 2008. Punter Jon Ryan and tackle Breno Giacomini both have Packers ties too. It seems unlikely the connections will end there.