The Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin Badgers have both been institutions in the state of Wisconsin for more than a century. Each team has provided football fans with both exciting memories and some frustrating times.
Right now, the Packers have two former Badgers on their 90-man roster with offensive lineman Cole Van Lanen and rookie wide receiver Danny Davis presently competing for roster spots.
But who have been the best players to play for both teams? Here is a look at the five former Badgers who had the best careers with the Packers. Players are ranked only on their play with the Packers with longevity, individual success and the players’ contributions to team success all taken into consideration.
5. QB Randy Wright (1984-1988)
The Packers selected Wright in the sixth round of the 1984 NFL Draft and the former Badgers quarterback as a developmental choice behind starter Lynn Dickey.
By 1986, Wright became the full-time starting quarterback on a struggling Packers team. He led the Packers to just four wins that season, throwing for 3,247 yards, 17 touchdowns and 23 interceptions.
His most memorable game came on Thanksgiving Day that season when he led the Packers to a dramatic 44-40 win over the Lions in a game best remembered for Walter Stanley’s three touchdown performance. Wright finished the contest by going 18-of-26 for 286 yards and three touchdowns.
Wright started 14 games over the next two seasons, sharing the quarterback duties with Don Majkowski. He finished his NFL career with 31 touchdown passes in five seasons.
4. S Ken Stills (1985-1989)
Ken Stills played six seasons in the NFL with the first five being with the Packers. Forrest Gregg’s team drafted him in the 8th round in 1985. One year later, he became the team’s starting free safety. His hard-hitting style made him a fan favorite on some pretty bad Packers teams in the late 80s.
Stills was a starter in Green Bay for four seasons and intercepted seven passes while with the Pack. His first career interception came in the 1986 season finale against the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants. He picked off a Phil Simms pass and returned it 58 yards for a touchdown.
In 1990, Stills finished his career with the Vikings. His son, wide receiver Kenny Stills, has now played nine seasons in the NFL.
3. FB Ed Jankowski (1937-1941)
The Packers drafted Jankowski in the first round in 1937. He enjoyed his best season in 1939 when he earned Pro Bowl honors and helped Curly Lambeau’s team win the NFL championship that year. Like all NFL players in that era, he played both offense and defense and did a little bit of kicking when called upon.
In the 1939 title game against the New York Giants, Jankowski scored on a one-yard touchdown run to provide the final points in the Packers 27-0 win.
He played for the Packers through the 1941 season when his service in World War II ended his NFL career.
Jankowski was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1984.
2. C Ken Bowman (1964-1973)
Bowman enjoyed success with both the Badgers and the Packers. He started in the Rose Bowl in 1963, then won three straight championships with the Packers from 1965-1967.
In the Ice Bowl, it was Bowman who double teamed Cowboys defensive tackle Jethro Pugh with Jerry Kramer to help Bart Starr score the game winning points in the closing seconds that gave Vince Lombardi’s team their third straight NFL title.
Bowman was also a part of the Packers NFC Central Division team in 1972 and served as the team’s union representative.
Bowman became an attorney after retiring from football and was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1981.
1. OT Mark Tauscher (2000-2010)
Tauscher quickly went from seventh-round draft choice to starter as a rookie when Earl Dotson was injured. Tauscher started 14 games in his first season and remained a starter at right tackle for 11 seasons when healthy.
While he never made the Pro Bowl, Tauscher did a consistent job of protecting both Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers while opening holes for Ahman Green, Dorsey Levens and other talented Packers runners.
He remained with the Packers through the 2010 season. A shoulder injury suffered in Week 4 caused him to miss the rest of the year, but he did win a Super Bowl ring that year with the Pack.
Tauscher was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 2018 and now hosts the Wilde and Tausch radio show.
You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers