On Saturday, he might as well have been No. 1 in the football world.
Wolf, the architect of the Green Bay Packers’ rags-to-riches turnaround in the 1990s, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Wolf said in his opening remarks, “as my friend Kenny Chesney so happily sings, ‘This is our moment, this is our time, this is our destiny, it’s our night to shine.’”
Wolf’s moment started when Bob Harlan handed him the keys to the on-the-field operation late in the 1991 season. At that point, the Packers had reached the playoffs just twice since winning Super Bowl II. In Wolf’s first season, the Packers went from 4-12 to 9-7. From 1993 through 1998, the Packers qualified for the playoffs all six times, including reaching three NFC Championship Games – winning two of them – and bringing the title back to Titletown by winning Super Bowl XXXI.
Suddenly, the NFL’s version of Siberia became a go-to destination.
“When I was hired by the Packers, I did not realize what a wonderful place I was moving to,” Wolf said. “The history of this magnificent franchise is unparalleled in the annals of the National Football League. Those great names that surround Lambeau Field epitomize excellence achieved on the gridiron. I was fortunate enough to be able to hire Mike Holmgren, trade for Brett Favre, sign Reggie White, and because of those three people, plus an excellent supporting cast, the Packers started to become a force once again in the NFL after over two decades of mediocrity.
“At that time, there was always a threat to players of other teams that if they didn't shape up, they would be traded to Green Bay. We worked hard to eliminate that stigma. Suddenly players wanted to come and be a part of football's most illustrious franchise and to play in pro football's most storied cathedral, Lambeau Field.
At merely six-and-a-half minutes, Wolf kept his comments short and sweet. Borrowing a line from his father, he said that the best speaker isn’t one “who is polished but one who is through.” He thanked his wife, Edie, and his five children – including Eliot, the Packers’ director of personnel who served as Wolf’s presenter. He saluted the Raiders’ legendary Al Davis, for whom he got his foot in the door and worked for 24 seasons, Bill Parcells for his friendship and “every member of the Green Bay Packers” during his decade run with the team.
For Wolf, it was the end of a long road that he thought would never find Canton. The addition of a contributors category, however, sent Wolf on his way to football immortality.
“The goddess of victory comes about only once or twice during the course of a contest,” Wolf said. “There is that moment when a play is needed to be made. These gentlemen seized that moment and exhibited that ability throughout their careers. It is truly an honor for me now to be included in their company.”
Wolf worked for the Raiders, Buccaneers and Jets before landing in Green Bay. He wrapped up his speech with a perfect green-and-gold tone.
“Thank you, thank you very much. Go Pack Go!”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.