All-stars shining for other teams

There probably were not many reasons for Green Bay Packers fans to watch the annual Pro Bowl game Sunday, other than dreaming of being on a warm Hawaiian island. But for those who did, the game served as a strong reminder of players the Packers could have on their current roster, and perhaps representing them among the NFL's elite.

The first player that practically jumped right out of the TV as one of Mike Sherman's draft-day bloopers was Miami Dolphins wide receiver Chris Chambers, who caught the AFC's first touchdown pass of the game. As long as Robert Ferguson is around, Packers fans will never forget Chambers, who was taken by the Dolphins 11 picks after Green Bay selected Ferguson with the 41st overall selection in the second round of the 2001 draft.

While Chambers has led the Dolphins in receiving all five seasons since he was drafted, and was named to his first Pro Bowl this season, Ferguson has been injury prone and has never had more than 38 catches in a season. Chambers entered the league as a four-year letterman and one of the all-time leading receivers for the University of Wisconsin. Ferguson had one year of experience at Texas A&M and entered the draft as a junior-eligible. Sherman was in love with his "potential" and likely swayed by former coaching boss R.C. Slocum's recommendation.

When it came down to selecting a receiver, Sherman, along with out-going GM Ron Wolf, narrowed it down to Ferguson and Chambers ... and chose the wrong receiver.

It will take a while for Packers fans to think of what could have been in Green Bay with Chambers. Can you imagine him roaming the secondary with Donald Driver and Javon Walker? The Packers gambled on Ferguson's potential and lost a chance at obtaining a big-time playmaker.

Watching Matt Hasselbeck this post-season and again in the Pro Bowl also brought back another bad memory of the 2001 draft. You remember that trade, right? When Sherman (Wolf gets a little credit here, too) dealt Hasselbeck away to Seattle as the Packers moved from 17th in the first round to 10th. The Packers then went ahead and selected defensive end Jamal Reynolds, one of the team's all-time busts. In the meantime, Hasselbeck hooked up with Mike Holmgren in Seattle and advanced to the Super Bowl this year. The Packers lost an up-and-coming quarterback, and the defensive end position has yet to recover from the Reynolds disaster.

Watching Carolina Panthers guard Mike Wahle and Minnesota Vikings safety Darren Sharper soaking in the sun at Aloha Stadium probably didn't sit well with many Packers fans, either. Both were on Green Bay's roster in 2004, but both slipped away in free agency.

Packers general manager Ted Thompson's decision not to pursue Wahle is still under debate by many Packers fans. Wahle received a huge contract from Carolina, which made it difficult for the Packers to match. But he was named to his first Pro Bowl and has a bright future ahead of him. Meanwhile, the Packers are scrambling to fill the void in the interior of the offensive line left by the departure of Wahle and Marco Rivera. Retaining Wahle would have made it easier for the line to continue to open holes for the running backs last year.

Like Sharper or hate him, he does make plays - bottom line. He did on Sunday as well with an interception. Granted, he is slower than when he was first drafted by the Packers, but he makes up for it with experience. The Packers can do without Sharper, still it was tough to watch him doing well while wearing a Vikings helmet.

And then there was Josh Bidwell, the punter that many in Green Bay felt the Packers could do without after the 2003 season. Green Bay allowed Bidwell to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an unrestricted free agent, then used a third-round pick to select B.J. Sander in the 2004 NFL draft. Bidwell booted his way to Hawaii this year while Sander is on his way out in Green Bay.

There were no Packers in the Pro Bowl game Sunday, but there were a few former Packers and others who were close to coming to Green Bay. It's always fun and easy to look back. But watching a few players perform in Honolulu makes you wonder what could have been.

Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of and Packer Report. E-mail him at

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