What if the Packers hired Reid?

When Green Bay Packers fans huddle around their television for the Super Bowl this Sunday, they might want to think about what could have been.<p>

After the 1998 season, then-Packers coach Mike Holmgren left Green Bay for Seattle, and what he thought were greener pastures. Holmgren's exit left Green Bay with a coaching vacancy, but then-GM Ron Wolf didn't hesitate going after Holmgren's successor.

Sherm Lewis? No.

Andy Reid? No.

Ray Rhodes? Yes.

But Wolf should've targeted Reid. Just about the same time the Packers announced Rhodes to succeed Holmgren, Philadelphia named Reid to succeed Rhodes. To be fair to Wolf, it's easy to second guess him now. Back then, Rhodes had the coaching experience and even was named coach of the year one season. Reid was a quarterbacks coach.

"I examined everybody and I couldn't find anybody better," Wolf said at the time of Rhodes' hiring.

Said Packers president Bob Harlan: "He (Wolf) kept telling me the best guy for this job was Ray Rhodes."

Now in 2005, Reid will be coaching his first Super Bowl, when the Eagles play New England. Meanwhile, Rhodes lasted one season in Green Bay, going 8-8. Wolf quickly found out his no-brainer decision to hire Rhodes was decided without a brain. After firing Rhodes on the night of his last game, Wolf then hired Mike Sherman, who has done a solid job with the Packers. And a year late,r when Wolf retired, Sherman was named GM, a duty he lost after this past season.

While the Packers stumbled with the hiring of Rhodes, and with Sherman's run as GM, Reid has become one of the NFL's best at coaching and being a GM. Reid holds both positions and here's what he's done:

—Led the Eagles to four straight NFC title games and one Super Bowl.

—Signed free agent defensive end Jevon Kearse last year.

—Traded for wide receiver Terrell Owens last year.

—Drafted QB Donovan McNabb.

—Seeing coordinators Jim Johnson (defensive) and Brad Childress (offensive) were being underpaid for their performances, he went to management to get both raises and they did, keeping intact one of the best coaching staffs in the NFL. Meanwhile, in Green Bay, here's what has been going on:

—Green Bay has gone 2-6 in the playoffs under Sherman.

—The Packers lost two of their last three home playoff games, with the lone win being an overtime victory over Seattle. Prior to that, the Packers were undefeated at Lambeau Field in the playoffs.

—Sherman drafted punter B.J. Sander in the third round of the 2004 draft and this past season. Sander was never suited up for a game.

—The Packers have won three straight division titles.

—Sherman fired defensive coordinator Ed Donatell after a 2004 playoff loss at Philadelphia and hired Bob Slowik as his replacement. Slowik was then fired this January.

In both cases, more positive and negatives can be found, but the truth of the matter is if the Packers hired Reid to succeed Holmgren, it's likely the Packers would have enjoyed more success than they have since Holmgren's exit.

This isn't pinning the blame on Sherman, who came in after Rhodes' disaster. As a regular-season coach, his record is among the best in the NFL.

But if only Wolf would have had the foresight to see in Reid what he saw in middle-round picks like Antonio Freeman, Edgar Bennett, Robert Brooks and William Henderson, among others. Instead, Wolf's decision not to hire Reid reeks of disappointment the organization can do nothing about.

If Reid would have stayed in Green Bay, who knows, maybe Packers fans would be getting ready for another Super Bowl game.

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