Packers make exception for Wolf

Good move by team to honor ex-general manager now rather than later

The timing seems peculiar, but nonetheless the honor befitting former Packers general manager Ron Wolf is fitting. The Packers this week added Wolf's name to the team's hallowed Ring of Honor on the inside facade of Lambeau Field.

The decision to add Wolf's name to the facade seems a little hurried, but Packers Chairman/CEO Bob Harlan and others in the organization obviously felt the best time to honor Wolf is now.

"Ron Wolf is a person that is vitally important in the history of this franchise, a select few that includes Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi," said Harlan. "We wanted to honor him in such a way that allows all our fans to know we appreciate the contributions he made to the organization. His name forever will be included with the all-time greats. It's a new tradition for Lambeau Field and he deserves it."

Wolf is the first person to be added to the Ring of Honor who hasn't been inducted into Pro Football's Hall of Fame. He made a preliminary list for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this fall as a contributor, but did not make the list of 15 finalists for induction in 2007.

Wolf has had many accomplishments with the Packers and other teams in the NFL, but he may fall short in upcoming years of eventually making the final cut for enshrinement to Canton. Other well-known contributors up for nomination included Bud Adams, Jr., Gil Brandt, Ralph Wilson, Jr., Art Modell, George Young and Paul Tagliabue. However, if there is anyone to make the Ring of Honor without officially being named to the Hall of Fame it would be Wolf.

Wolf took over as GM for the woeful Packers late during the 1991 season, and turned the team into a Super Bowl champion in five seasons. He hired the up-and-coming Mike Holmgren, pulled the trigger on the trade for Brett Favre, and helped lure prized free agent Reggie White to little Green Bay in 1993.

Over Wolf's tenure, the Packers compiled the NFL's second-winningest regular-season record from 1992-2000, a 92-52 mark for a .639 percentage, recorded nine straight .500-or-above campaigns, made six consecutive playoff appearances, including three consecutive conference championship games and two Super Bowls, and captured it all with a victory in Super Bowl XXXI following the 1996 season.

Always straight-forward and humble, Wolf, who is in good health, according to the Packers, was surprised when the Packers informed him of their decision to add his name to the stadium's facade.

"I was tremendously shocked when I heard," said Wolf in a statement released today by the Packers. "To have this honor bestowed upon me is simply awesome. It's an incredible feeling for me to be placed in such company with outstanding people that made the game what it is today. When you're with those people, you're with tall cotton. It's an incredible feeling.

"This is the best thing that's happened to me in my service in the National Football League. It's not just me, but it means a lot to everyone who helped with what we did.

"To have the opportunity to work with a franchise that was one of the founding fathers of the NFL was outstanding. There aren't many jewels in the crown; Green Bay is one of those jewels."

Wolf was enshrined in the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in July 2000. The team's other impressive accomplishments under his guidance include 101 total victories, three consecutive NFC Central Division Championships (1995-97), the NFL's best regular-season record since the 1993 start of free agency, the NFL's best regular-season record since the 1994 advent of the salary cap, a 53-10 record in Lambeau Field, the NFL's second-longest home winning streak (25 games, Game 2 of 1995 through Game 4 of 1998) and the first 16-victory season in the Packers' 80-plus year history (16-3 in 1996).

When Wolf retired in 2000, he observed with satisfaction, "What people said couldn't happen here, happened here (building a winner in Green Bay ... I'm proud of that."

And the Packers are showing their pride in Wolf by adding his name to the Ring of Honor, appropriately so.

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