GREEN BAY – The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s preliminary list of modern era nominees includes a number of candidates with Green Bay Packers connections, including the two men – general manager Ron Wolf and coach Mike Holmgren – who helped turn the moribund franchise into a Super Bowl champion in the 1990s.
Also on the list are former wide receiver Sterling Sharpe, current outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene, former safety LeRoy Butler and Clay Matthews Jr., the father of current Packers linebacker Clay Matthews III, are all on the list.
This is the first year Holmgren has been nominated. Wolf, Greene and Matthews have been semifinalists before and Greene was a finalist last year but was not elected.
Wolf could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening, but when he was included on the list of nominees for the first time in 2001, he couldn’t believe he’d even made that list.
“That's unbelievable, isn't it? That really means a lot to me,” Wolf said in an interview then. “I don't have a chance, but just to be nominated, that in itself is shocking to me.''
Only two general managers, Tex Schramm and Jim Finks, have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame. That said, many around the league believe Wolf is worthy of consideration given his lengthy NFL service -- he started with the Oakland Raiders in 1963 and also worked for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Jets before coming to Green Bay -- and what he did to rebuild the Packers.
“You talk about bringing a franchise back to life … we were able to do that there. I'm really proud of that,” Wolf said in that 2001 interview. “When I took the job, everybody was telling me, ‘This is it, you don't have a chance.’ No one wanted to go there. It was considered a death knell. However, we were able to turn that around.”
Greene is the NFL’s all-time leader in sacks by a linebacker – 160, ranking behind only Hall of Fame defensive ends Bruce Smith (200) and Reggie White (198) – has been a semifinalist six times but last year was the first time he was a finalist.
Greene wasn’t available to reporters Wednesday – defensive coaches speak on Fridays – but admitted two years ago that coming up short hasn’t been easy year after year.
“I’m managing the ups and downs of the process. It’d be great if I took a step forward in the process, but more importantly, I’m knee deep in what I’m doing right now,” Greene said then. “I’m definitely focused what I’m doing now and being the best coach for my kids that I can be. It’s not dominating my thoughts like when I had nothing to do.”
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