In 1999, the Packers had a disappointing 8-8 season under Ray Rhodes. General Manager Ron Wolf decided a change was needed as the team lacked discipline and cohesiveness. The front-runner for the job was Marty Schottenheimer. It was at that time that Mike Sherman came out from the shadows and blew away Wolf during an interview. Sherman became the 13th Head Coach in Packer's history. Sherman made an additional sale to Wolf by persuading him to deal for running back Ahman Green, whom Sherman had coached in Seattle.
In the 2000 season, Sherman did more selling. He sold the team on being more disciplined. He had digital clocks installed at Packer headquarters to make sure no one would be late for meetings. He banned pagers and cell phones from meetings. Most importantly, he sold the players and coaches on the idea of believing in themselves. Brett Favre looked more like the 94-98 Favre, as opposed to the undisciplined, yet exciting Favre of 1999. Sherman sold Green into believing he could become a franchise RB. He convinced two rookie offensive tackles that they could start and play well. He persuaded the team to finish the 2000 season strong on a four-game winning streak to finish 9-7. The biggest sale of the 2000 season came when Sherman and the rest of the Packers' organization sold Green Bay and surrounding communities on a $295 million dollar expansion of Lambeau Field that will keep the Packers viable in the future.
In 2001, it would be time to sell Wolf again. Sherman had impressed Wolf enough with his organization and preparation to be promoted to VP/GM/HC after Wolf retired. He sold several veteran players on taking pay cuts. Sherman then sold Favre on different training habits to keep his arm strong after having elbow tendonitis in 2000. The result was Favre's best season since 1997, plus the best arm health that Favre had experienced in years. He made the team believe they were among the elite teams in the NFL, and the team had a 12-4 season. He then sold the team on the Packer's illustrious past, as the Packers defeated the 49ers 25-15 at Lambeau, to make Green Bay 13-0 in Wisconsin during the team's playoff history.
Sherman did not rest on his laurels heading into the 2002 season. He first sold himself, then WR Terry Glenn, into coming to Green Bay. He personally made a recruiting trip to New Orleans to persuade DE Joe Johnson to come to Titletown. He then sold the rest of the Packers war room into trading up in round 1 of the 2002 draft and picking WR Javon Walker of Florida State.
You can rest assured that Sherman is not done selling in 2002. He will try to persuade RB Dorsey Levens and WR Antonio Freeman to return to Green Bay. He will try to recruit some more veteran leadership at linebacker--someone like Hardy Nickerson. He will then make the Packers believe that they are Super Bowl material as they head into the 2002 season.
Mike Sherman is out to complete the ultimate in the NFL's sales cycle – the acquisition of the Lombardi Trophy. I like his chances of closing that deal.
Editor's note: Bob Fox is a freelance writer who keeps a close eye on the Green Bay Packers from his home in Tampa, Fla. You can read more of Fox's stories on www.ThaPack.com.