The Green Bay Packers have one of the richest histories of any franchise in the NFL. The Packers have been around for more than a century and have won more championships than any team in the league. The Packers have also had more than their share of Hall of Fame players from Johnny “Blood” McNally, Don Hutson, Bart Starr, Herb Adderley, Paul Hornung and James Lofton to Reggie White. LeRoy Butler will join that group next week.
But there are also some players who didn’t play for the Packers for long but they still made their mark on the history of the team. Here is a look at five such players. To be eligible for the list, players needed to play briefly for the Packers and to have made a big impact in a playoff game.
Players are listed in chronological order based on when they had an impact on Packers history.
1. FB Chuck Mercein 1967 Ice Bowl
The Packers claimed fullback Chuck Mercein on waivers midway through the 1967 season when injuries hit the team at running back. Although he never started a regular season game for the Packers and gained just 105 yards in his career with the team, Mercein came up big in the most famous game in franchise history.
In the “Ice Bowl” against the Dallas Cowboys, the Yale alum played a key role in the team’s historic final drive across the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field that led to Bart Starr’s game-winning quarterback sneak in the closing seconds. All of this was accomplished on a bitter cold day which saw the temperature at kickoff at a frigid minus-13 degrees.
Mercein’s final statistics don’t stand out. He ran the ball six times in the game for 20 yards and caught two passes for 22 more.
The game-winning drive covered 68 yards and Mercein gained 34 of them. He gained 19 yards on a short pass from Starr that helped get the Packers deep into Dallas territory. One key run gained eight yards and got the Packers to the Dallas three-yard line on a trap that fooled Hall of Fame defensive tackle Bob Lilly.
But the Packers final drive would not have been possible without Mercein’s contributions. It was Mercein who was seen raising his arms in the air after Starr scored which was done to indicate to the officials that he was not pushing Starr across the goal line which was illegal at the time.
4. FB Ben Wilson, Super Bowl II
The Packers traded for fullback Ben Wilson from the Los Angeles Rams prior to the 1967 season after Jim Taylor joined the New Orleans Saints.
Wilson started six games for the Packers that season after injuries hit starter Jim Grabowski and gained 453 yards in 103 carries.
In the playoffs, Wilson didn’t see much action. He carried the ball just once against the Rams and had only three carries for 11 yards against Dallas in the Ice Bowl.
But in Super Bowl II, Wilson was a surprise starter and led all runners with 62 yards on 17 carries. At the time, that was a Super Bowl record.
Wilson probably would have gained more yardage but he spent most of the fourth quarter on the sidelines looking for a lost contact lens. He never did find it or re-enter the game.
The Super Bowl was the last game Wilson played with the Packers. He had knee surgery in the offseason, sat out the 1968 season and failed his physical before the 1969 season and had to retire.
3. Andre Rison, Super Bowl XXXI
Most Packers fans are surprised to learn that Andre “Bad Moon” Rison only played five regular season games for the Packers in 1996 and caught 13 passes for 135 yards and one touchdown.
Rison was signed when injuries struck the Packers receiving corps in midseason and he filled in by starting four games.
The reason fans think he was a bigger part of the 1996 Packers is his 54-yard touchdown pass in Super Bowl XXXI which gave the Packers an early 7-0 lead. In fact, Rison only made one other catch in the Super Bowl against the Patriots although he was targeted seven times in the game.
Rison never played another game for the Packers and finished his career with stints in Kansas City and Oakland before ending his career after the 2000 season.
Still, the image of Rison strutting across the end zone after catching the long touchdown pass from Brett Favre and the importance of scoring first in Super Bowl XXXI make Rison a part of Packers history.
4. DL Howard Green, Super Bowl XLV
Howard Green played nine regular season games for the Packers in 2010 after they picked him up off waivers from the New York Jets. The big defensive lineman was signed when injuries struck at the position and he started three games.
Green was credited with eight total tackles in those nine games and one sack. He was seemingly just another anonymous part of the defensive line rotation.
But in Super Bowl XLV against Pittsburgh, Green pressured Ben Roesthlisberger who threw underthrew the intended receiver and the wobbly pass was intercepted by Nick Collins. Collins returned it for a touchdown which gave the Packers an early 14-0 lead.
Green’s play is one of the highlights shown every year before the Super Bowl and was a key to the Packers eventual victory.
5. TE Jared Cook, 2016 NFC Divisional Round
The Packers signed Cook to a one-year free-agent contract before the 2016 season. Unfortunately, injuries limited Cook to 10 games that season and he only managed to start five of them.
Cook had 30 catches for 377 yards and one touchdown in limited action, respectable but unspectacular numbers given the circumstances.
In the playoffs, however, Cook caught fire. He caught 18 passes in three games and became one of Aaron Rodgers’ favorite targets.
His most memorable game came in the Divisional Playoffs in Dallas when he caught six passes for 103 yards and a touchdown in the Packers dramatic 34-31 win.
The Cowboys tied the game on a 52-yard field goal with 40 seconds left in regulation when the Packers got the ball back. Facing 3rd-and-20 at their own 32 with just 12 seconds left, Rodgers scrambled and threw for Cook on the sidelines. Cook caught the ball and dragged both feet in bounds at the Dallas 32. The original ruling was that Cook didn’t get both feet down but replays showed he did and the play gained 36 yards.
Mason Crosby hit a 51-yard field goal as time expired to give the Packers a thrilling victory and send them to the NFC Championship Game.
The Packers didn’t re-sign Cook the following season and he signed with the Raiders.
Cook never played another game in green and gold but his clutch performance against the Cowboys will always make him a part of Packers history.
You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers