In Super Bowl XXI against the New England Patriots, the Packers struggled on the ground early. Starting running back Edgar Bennett was having a tough day. Bennett would finish with 40 yards in 17 attempts. By the way, Bennett is the Packers second all-time rusher in playoff history with 561 yards. Anyway, it was Levens who injected success into the Packers running game as he came on to rush for 61 yards in 14 carries, a 4.4 yards per carry average.
In Super Bowl XXXII against the Denver Broncos, Levens had a huge 1st half carrying the football. Levens finished with 90 yards in 19 carries (a 4.7 yard average), with almost all of that coming in the opening half. Head coach Mike Holmgren went away from the running game in the 2nd half of that Super Bowl. I believe that decision cost the Packers their chance to be back to back Super Bowl champs. Levens was gashing the blitzing Bronco defense and keeping them honest. Plus, the Packer defense was tired and a sustained running game would have kept the defense a lot fresher in the second half.
Levens was also very good at catching the ball in money games. He was third all-time in playoff receptions with 41. He also caught at least one pass in 13 consecutive games.Levens also could find the end zone. Although he never scored a Super Bowl touchdown, Levens did find pay dirt 6 times during the playoffs.
Levens wasn't a bad regular season running back, either. He rushed for 3,937 yards, which is 5th all-time in Packer history. Levens is also 14th all-time for the Pack in receptions with 271 receptions. Levens had two 1,000+ seasons as a Packer and also scored 44 career TDs.
Levens became a Packer in 1994 as a fifth round pick out of Georgia Tech. He didn't contribute much as a rookie in the regular season, but did score a playoff TD against the Lions in a 16-12 win. Levens played mostly FB in 1995 and also caught the ball well with 48 receptions. He also scored seven touchdowns that year. In 1996, Levens started to split time with Bennett at HB and the tandem clicked. Levens rushed for 561 yards in that Super Bowl winning season and he also scored 10 TDs.
Levens became the Packers full-time halfback in 1997 as Bennett suffered an achilles tendon injury in the pre-season. Levens responded well with 1,435 rushing yards and also 53 receptions for another 370 yards. "Dorse the Horse" as he was often called, also scored 12 touchdowns. Levens was also selected for the Pro Bowl after that excellent season.
Levens held out before the 1998 season and it ended up hurting him, literally. Levens suffered a severe leg/ankle injury early in the season and had overall numbers that paled in comparison to the stellar 1997 season. Levens finished with 378 yards rushing, plus only a 3.3 yards per carry average. Levens also only found the end zone once in 1998.
Levens bounced back in fine form in the 1999 season as he rushed for 1,034 yards and also had 9 rushing TDs. He also had an incredible 71 receptions that season with an additional touchdown. The 1999 season would turn out to be Levens last big year in Green Bay.
In 2000, Levens had more injury issues as he only played in five games and finished with 224 rushing yards. In addition, that was the year that Ahman Green emerged as the Packers' main guy at halfback. Green finished with 1,175 yards rushing that year, while also scoring 13 TDs, including 10 rushing TDs. Levens played one more year for the Packers in 2001. He was the back up for Green, who had another 1,000-yard season. Levens finished with 165 rushing yards, plus 24 receptions.
Levens is a proud man with very nice production at the NFL level. But he took his demotion to back up Green with class and professionalism. When his number came up, Levens played just as hard as when he was a starter. Levens played three more years in the NFL after he left Green Bay. Levens played for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2002 and 2004, and for the New York Giants in 2003. Like in his latter years in Green Bay, Levens was a role back for those clubs, handling his duties with skill and class.
"I think the world of Dorsey Levens," Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said. "I had an opportunity to work with him in 1999. He was an outstanding football player, and more important, I always thought he is a neat person. I thought he was one of the more underrated players I've been around. He's was a big-time, first-rate running back. We're honored that he's going to be retired as a Green Bay Packer."
Levens is a pro's pro. He played a key role in the overall success of the team during the Brett Favre era. Levens only played in Green Bay eight seasons, but the Packers were in the playoffs for six of those seasons. He won one Super Bowl ring as a Packer and should have won two. He almost won another one as an Eagle in 2004. Another honor is awaiting Levens - his induction into the Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame in the near future. It's certainly well deserved!
Bob Fox is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.