GREEN BAY—When he was a rookie, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila dreamed of making it into the Packers Hall of Fame as a face in one of the Packers’ team pictures. Saturday night, he was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame as one of the franchise’s legendary players.
KGB, as he was affectionately known, was joined by kicker Chris Jacke and former team president Emil Fischer as Hall of Fame inductees that were honored in ceremonies in “The Atrium” at Lambeau Field. KGB is the Packers’ all-time sacks leader, Jacke is one of the franchise’s third-leading scorer, and Fischer is no less important to the Packers’ success than a man who saved the franchise.
“Absolutely no question about it,” Fischer’s presenter, Mr. Bob Bush, said. “He was the master of stock sale and he was the major buyer of the stock. He realized some of the problems the Packers had. Mr. Fischer smoothed them out and put the Packers on their financial feet, and they’ve been there ever since.”
The foundation Fischer helped cement was celebrated with several awards presentations on Saturday night.
- The Bart and Cherry Starr Recognition Award was presented to Bill Brault, founder of the Packers Hall of Fame. The Starrs were on hand to make the presentation.
- Star linebacker Clay Matthews was presented the Miller Lite Most Valuable Player of the Year award.
- Cornerback Casey Hayward claimed the Ariens Company Rookie of the Year. Heyward was emotional in his acceptance of the award. “Hope I see y’all in New York,” he said in closing, referring to the site of this season’s Super Bowl.
- Packers all-time great Dave Robinson was honored by Festival Foods Memorable Moments in Packers History.
Prior to the start of Saturday’s banquet, Gbaja-Biamila met with Bart Starr in a scene that produced an embrace between the two Packers legends and an autograph for one of Gbaja-Biamila’s sons.
“I’m humbled being inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame. I love this place. It’s home. I had all six of my kids here,” Gbaja-Biamila said during an interview with reporters.
He’s the Packers’ all-time leader with 74.5 sacks and recalled having looked in the Packers’ media guide at the team’s all-time sacks record when he was a rookie in 2000.
“I said, ‘Whoa, it’s Reggie White.’ That’s what drove me,” he said.
Clay Matthews has 42.5 sacks and is a distinct threat to break Gbaja-Biamila’s record.
“He’s on track to do that. I wish there was a time we could’ve played together. Records are made to be broken. My name is going to come back again if he breaks it,” Gbaja-Biamila said.
KGB was presented for induction by his Packers position coach, Jethro Franklin, who was familiar with Gbaja-Biamila since Franklin’s days recruiting KGB to play college football.
“I’ve always had coaches that made me do what I didn’t want to do, so I could go to places I always wanted to go,” Gbaja-Biamila said. “Rarely did I get up and say look at me. I was excited to make my teammates happy.”
Jacke played on the Packers’ Super Bowl XXXI championship team and was one of the game’s best cold-weather kickers, despite having played collegiately at UTEP.
“Field goals last 1.4 seconds,” Jacke said. “I became a fan of the game. I’m going to talk about being in a town where the team meant so much.
“This will be the pinnacle of my career,” he said of his induction into the Packers Hall of Fame.
“I watched the transformation of this organization. I’ve enjoyed watching this place grow. It’s THE mecca for football,” he said. “This place is different from anywhere else in the league. They treat you as family when you come back.”
Former Packers punter Chris Hentrich was Jacke’s presenter. Hentrich was Jacke’s holder early in Hentrich’s career.
Robinson, who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in two weeks, was a special guest on Saturday night. Robinson was one of the three stars on the left side of Coach Vince Lombardi’s defense, during the team’s championships run in the 1960s. A first-round pick from Penn State in 1963, Robinson follows cornerback Herb Adderley and defensive end Willie Davis into the Pro Football Hall of Fame following a five-decades wait.
“The longer you keep a sweet bottle of wine, the finer it gets,” Robinson said in an eloquent delivery. “I love the fan base and I love what you’ve done to Lambeau Field.”
Attendees included former team president Bob Harlan, current President and CEO Mark Murphy, former General Manager Ron Wolf and current GM Ted Thompson.