When former Packers general manager Ron Wolf’s name was added to the Lambeau Field facade in 2006, he became the only one of the now 23 individuals so honored in the historic stadium to not be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
That’s no longer the case.
Wolf was selected for induction into the Hall of Fame on Saturday as part of the class of 2015. He will be inducted in Canton, Ohio, this summer along with the rest of the class of ’15.
Wolf was a finalist in the new “contributor” category, which is being treated similarly to the annual senior nominees. Contributors and seniors are voted on separately from the other modern-era finalists but still need the same 80 percent of the vote from the full selection committee for induction.
Two former GMs, Wolf and Bill Polian, were this year’s inaugural contributor finalists.
Wolf held high-level personnel positions with the Raiders, Buccaneers and Jets before coming to Green Bay, but he’s best known as the architect who returned the Packers to prominence. Upon his hiring late in the 1991 season, the Packers had gone a quarter of a century with just two playoff appearances since the Vince Lombardi era.
Wolf made three key moves within his first two years on the job to get the Packers back on track. In 1992, he hired Mike Holmgren as head coach and traded a first-round draft pick to Atlanta for quarterback Brett Favre. Then, in ’93, he signed defensive end Reggie White as the biggest prize in the early days of free agency.
By ’93, the Packers were back in the playoffs and by ’95 they had reached the NFC title game. In ’96, they won the franchise’s first league championship in 29 years, beating the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI.
The Packers returned to the Super Bowl the following year but came up short against the Denver Broncos. Wolf has said many times that was the biggest regret of his tenure, that the Packers won only one Super Bowl during that time.
Following two straight Super Bowl appearances, the Packers were stunningly knocked out of the ’98 playoffs in San Francisco on a miraculous last-second TD pass from 49ers QB Steve Young to Terrell Owens.
That became Holmgren’s last game as Green Bay’s head coach, and Wolf would preside over two more seasons before retiring in early 2001.
Over Wolf’s nine-season tenure (1992-2000), the Packers compiled the NFL’s second-best regular-season record at 92-52 for a .639 winning percentage. To put that in perspective, the Packers had won a total of 92 regular-season games in the 15 years before Wolf’s arrival.
On his watch, the Packers recorded seven consecutive winning seasons and made six straight playoff appearances.
Wolf is the 23rd member of the Packers to enter the Hall of Fame. Favre is certain to become the 24th. He is first eligible for induction in 2016.