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The Unfortunate Downward Trajectory Of Mike Sherman

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Let’s talk about the three worst general managers in Green Bay Packers’ history. Here’s a quick and arguable list, but I will posit that Mike Sherman is among them.

  1. Dan Devine
  2. Forrest Gregg
  3. Mike Sherman

Just a quick summation here. Up until the 1990s, the coach and general manager were always the same person in Green Bay.

As for Devine, probably the single worst hiring in Packers’ history. Not only did he bail before the 1974 season was over to take the Notre Dame job, he authored maybe the worst trade in history. The history of sports.

Check this out. Devine gave up the Packers’ first, second and third-round choices in 1975 AND — AND! — their first and second-round choices in 1976 for 34-year-old quarterback John Hadl. He played not two seasons with the Packers, throwing nine touchdowns and 29 interceptions in that span.

Those picks, traded to the Los Angeles Rams, helped make them into one of the best teams of the late 70s. Dan Devine should have been burned at the stake.

Forrest Gregg further similarly drove the Packers into the ground in the 1980s. Gregg tried to bring back the Vince Lombardi mentality and that translated to his duties as GM. As you’re probably aware, Lombardi was a my-way-or-the-highway kind of guy.

That works when you perennially field one of the best teams in the league. The Packers were far from that in the 1980s, but Gregg didn’t see the logic in changing his Lombardi-like approach. No one wanted to play in Green Bay at the time, even a lot of the guys on the team. Many players around the league referred to it as Siberia. Other teams got an upper hand on their disgruntled stars by threatening to trade them to the Packers.

There were almost constant contract disputes because of Gregg’s hard-line approach, during his 1984-87 tenure. Another black mark on his record — trading for defensive back Mossy Cade in 1985. Cade is better known for sexual assault than playing football.

He played just two seasons with the Packers before going to jail.

As for Sherman, he made probably the Packers’ most disastrous free agent signing since unrestricted free agency entered the NFL — Joe Johnson.

A defensive end, Johnson notched 50.5 sacks for the New Orleans Saints from 1994 to 2001, including 12 in 2000. He played in just 11 games and recorded just two sacks with the Packers from 2002-03.

Sherman was promoted to double duty — coach and GM — when the legendary Ron Wolf retired.

He didn’t handle both roles well and was terrible at the latter.

In fairness, Sherman also made one of (arguably) the best trades in Packers’ history when he gave up a second in 2003 for a fourth and a guy I like to refer to as Al Fucking Harris!, known to most as just Al Harris.

Despite his failures as a GM, Sherman wasn’t a bad coach. He went 59-43 with the Packers, a record marred by his final season as coach. In 2005, Sherman’s team went 4-12, which was hardly his fault.

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Monty McMahon

Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.

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9 Comments

  1. Packers fan May 21, 2017

    The guy who singlehandedly wasted the careers of Ahman Green and Brett Favre.

  2. PF4L May 21, 2017

    “In those interims, the organization, and those making the calls at the top of it, mistakenly clung quite a bit to past glory. In some cases disastrously so.”

    Accuracy matters when discussing history. Good article.

    It should be noted that Sherman “reportedly received the GM job based on Wolf’s positive recommendation.
    Which if true, put’s a little blemish on Wolf. But the good Wolf did with this organizations for outweighs a couple personnel blunders.

    1. Empacador May 22, 2017

      I wonder how much the sudden death of Mark Hatley affected Sherman?

      Yes, Wolf was not God and has some warts. What I found interesting in the article was how the Packers were structured all those years without realizing it. Tom Braatz was a GM in name only, he didn’t hold any real power. It wasn’t until Wolf came along that changed.

      Wolf’s biggest blunders seemed to come at the end of his tenure as GM. Sherman the GM and followed up with his last draft with Jamal Reynolds. I remember it being reported how Wolf said Sherman blew him away during his interview. That and his 1st round picks weren’t always great either. Agree though, based on his overall body of work, he was an excellent GM.

      I think Bob Harlan deserves more credit for changing the Packers fortunes than many people (maybe not here) realize. Unlike Murphy who is hands off. Thank God McCarthy hasn’t ever been GM and coach. Too bad Holmgren thought he could do both.

      1. PF4L May 22, 2017

        I think Harlan gets credit for having the wisdom, or taking a chance (whichever the case may be) by not only hiring Wolf, but giving Wolf the full control of the team he asked for.

        Wolf did so much more than draft, or trade for players. First he went about changing the losing culture of the Packers into a winning culture, changing the atmosphere and people’s mindset, from coaches, players, and all Packer employee’s and in the end, all of Packer Nation (to this day). That sudden turn around is very rare. No small task.

        Bob Harlan hired him, Ron Wolf did the legwork.

        1. Deepsky May 23, 2017

          Wolf actually had been offered the Packers job in 1987, but Packers president Judge Parins told him “I’m in charge, not you”, and Wolf declined. Harlan told Wolf, the job is yours, you are in charge, I’ve told the Executive Committee to back off. Wolf took the job.

          1. Cheese May 23, 2017

            Judge Parins sounds like a douche, and from the Packers level of success in the 80’s he was a shitty douche at that.

            Meanwhile gap tooth Murphy doesn’t have a clue who’s in charge.

  3. Cheese May 21, 2017

    Wow, Dan Devine sounds like a complete idiot. WTF was he thinking?

    “Sherman was playing with a short deck, plain and simple.”
    “Starr’s teams were 52-76-3 — often great offensively, but usually a train wreck on defense.”

    Oh how some things never change….

    1. Empacador May 22, 2017

      In case you never heard, Packer lore says Devine had his dog shot by a disgruntled fan or fans. Not quite what happened but it was fun reading all the conspiracy theories. Those were dark days, leading to the 80s and more dark days.

  4. Deepsky May 22, 2017

    After Devine, there is a big drop before you get to Gregg and Sherman.

    Here’s some more info about the Hadl trade. Hadl was not Devine’s first choice after the failure of draft pick Jerry Tagge, his first choice fpr a trade was Archie Manning. Manning was a backup in 1974, but when New Orleans starting QB went down, the Saints pulled the trade. Manning would play for another 7 years or so. So Devine got desperate when he didn’t land Manning and took a QB he knew from his college days at Missouri. In 1960 Missouri was on the verge of winning the national championship but lost one game due to the spectacular play of Kansas’ QB John Hadl. Devine remembered Hadl from 14 years previous.

    But Hadl was very washed up at this point. Just a couple weeks before Devine made the trade, the Packers actually played the Rams and Hadl looked terrible throwing for 2 interceptions and only 59 yards against the Pack. This was the craziest thing of all, the Packers had just seen Hadl play and he looked terrible!!!

    Years ago I looked up who the Rams got for these picks. The 1975 picks the Rams got DT Mike Fanning (solid 10-year vet), DB Monte Jackson (two-time Pro Bowler), and C Geoff Reece who they traded the next year for a 2nd round pick they used to take for DB Nolan Cromwell (four-time Pro Bowler). In 1976, they got DB Pat Thomas (two-time All Pro), and traded away the first rounder for WR Ron Jessie, who also made the Pro Bowl.