The Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame has announced it's Class of 2014. A pair of very deserving Packer players who now become Packer legends. Ahman Green and Ken Ruettgers. Congratulations to both. That said, man, I'm getting old having covered both of their careers in their entirety.
Ruettgers arrived first, as a first round draft choice out of the University of Southern California where he had a decorated Trojan career. He was drafted in 1985, taken by Forrest Gregg as we was beginning his second season as head coach. The franchise was mired in mediocrity, image tarnishing off the field incidents were on the horizon, fans were getting restless. In stepped an athletic, opinionated Californian to man the left tackle position and protect Lynn Dickey in his salad days, an overmatched Randy Wright, an electrifying Don Majkowski and Brett Favre through his ascension into super stardom. Ruettgers would anchor the Green Bay offensive line for more than a decade.
Ruettgers would play in 156 games in his career, with 140 starts and while he never made the Pro Bowl, he was perennially on the cusp and was named the team's offensive MVP in 1989. He was a notorious businessman, handling his own contract negotiations and the running joke as his career forged on, was his annual holdout from training camp. The season wouldn't start until Rut arrived. Injuries plagued him at times and while he battled through bad knees to the end, they ultimately got the better of him. He was a seasoned veteran as the Ron Wolf and Mike Holmgren revival brought them closer and closer to a championship and unfortunately, he wasn't there for the payoff. Injured early in 1996, Ruettgers was on the sideline as the Packers captured the Super Bowl Championship. There's no denying his impact on the climb to the top and now he can enjoy the view from the peak of any Packers player career, the Hall of Fame.
Here's what Ken had to say about his election to the hall in a conference call with reporters today.
And then there's Batman.
Another in the long line of productive tailbacks from the University of Nebraska, Ahman Green was drafted in the second round by the Seattle Seahawks in 1998. He was asked to backup Ricky Watters and play special teams. In just his second year, he was on his second head coach, none other than Mike Holmgren who left the Packers to run the Seahawks. Green remained a part time back, and when he did get a shot, it was squandered by loose hands on the ball. When the fumbling didn't go away, Holmgren had had enough, banishing him to Green Bay for defensive back Fred Vinson, a second round pick of the Packers. What a steal. Green was the understudy to Dorsey Levens initially but it didn't take long for him to seize the starting running back job and he never stopped running. From 2000 to 2004, Ahman piled up 6,848 yards rushing, more than 9000 total yards from scrimamge, both the highest total in the NFL. In 2003, Green amassed a single season franchise record of 1883 yards rushing, scoring another club record 20 touchdowns. He was a Pro Bowl back four times. When a contract couldn't get worked out after the 2006 season, Green left as a free agent for the Houston Texans but injuries brought his career to an apparent end. But in 2009, in need of a back, Mike McCarthy called and Green returned, needing only 48 yards to break Jim Taylor's career rushing record. When all was said and done, Green had the record, 8,322 yards on the ground. The records didn't stop there. Most yards from scrimmage, 11,048, a half dozen thousand yard seasons, 33 100 yard games, all have Green's name on them. He was a contact seeking running back with breakaway speed, a tremendous compliment to an aging Brett Favre on offense and had as much to do with getting Mike Sherman coached teams into the playoffs as anyone. His election to the Hall was a no brainer. Green is a fanatic about the Batman character, complete with the film and comic book collection, even a tatoo, "Holy immortality!" Robin might say, Ahman is now a cheesehead legend.
Here's what he had to say at the press conference today.
The 44th Hall of Fame Induction Banquet will take place on Saturday, July 19 of 2014 in the Lambeau Field Atrium. Tickets are $150.00 each with tables of 10 available at $1,400.00. Get 'em while they're hot, they go pretty fast.