Football is back.
It is the NFL’s Hall of Fame weekend and much media attention has been focused on Brett Favre. Known at “the Iron Man” during is tenure in the NFL with an insane 297 consecutive starts over a 20-year career. It is fitting that Favre enters the Hall of Fame along with the late-Ken Stabler.
There are numerous parallels between both quarterbacks. Both went to southern colleges. Stabler to Alabama and Farve to Southern Miss. Both has slow starts to their respective careers. Both led eventual powerhouse teams which respectively went down as dynasties in the NFL. Both won a Super Bowl championship, and experts agree each should have won a few more. Both spent the twilight of their careers with two additional teams. Stabler with the Oilers and Saints, and Favre with the Jets and Vikings.
However, it is one common connection, which is the real reason for the success each had in the NFL.
You’ve probably never heard of Wolf. He was first hired by Al Davis in 1963 as a scout and quickly grew to being Al Davis’ right hand man. It was Wolf who pulled the trigger on drafting Stabler, and had a key role in ensuring the Raiders took Marcus Allen in 1982 when Davis wanted to select Walter Ambercrombie. Insiders state that the exchanges between Wolf and Davis became so heated that many left the room. Wolf convinced Davis of the move because “Allen would sell at least 25,000 season tickets” as he was a collegiate star in the very coliseum of which the Raiders has just relocated.
Interestingly, during Wolf’s two departures from the Raider organization is precisely when the two most beloved Raiders fell out of favor with Davis and were eventually discarded. Loyal Raider fans could never come to grips of these moves, but it is clear, these players were not selections of Davis.
In 1991, Davis’ stubbornness led to a great shift in two franchises. Wolf called Davis prior to the draft and said “this kid out of Mississippi looks like the next Stabler.” Davis disagreed and had his sights on USC’s Todd Marinovich whom he selected in the first round and Favre went to the Falcons in the second round.
When Wolf was given the job of general manager of the Packers and his first order of business was to get a “Madden-like coach” with the hiring of Mike Holmgrem, his second order of business was to get a quarterback. His new coach liked David Klingler and Casey Weldon, but felt current quarterback Don Majkowski could command the offense just fine.
Wolf wasn’t convinced. His gut knew Favre had the same gunslinger style as Stabler and would be the keystone in building his young franchise around. Sending two first round picks was looked by to be suicide.
If you take a strong look at the dominate Packers teams under Favre, you will notice something very similar. It is near a carbon copy of the Raiders from the 70s and early 80s which were built by Wolf.
Now you know the real story and a full understanding that Davis didn’t “lose touch” with player evaluation late in his tenure when the Raiders were run into the ground, Davis never had “the touch”…it was Wolf.
Stabler and Favre entering the Hall together. Perfection.