Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sports Illustrated: January 15, 1996

The Packers’ eighteenth appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated came in the fourth year of the Mike Holmgren-Ron Wolf era. The event which put them there was their somewhat surprising manhandling of the 49ers 27-17 in the NFC Divisional Playoff game in San Francisco at the end of the 1995 season. Pictured on the cover is quarterback Brett Favre, with the headline: “Bring on the Cowboys... Brett Favre and the Packers Dethrone the 49ers.”

In the two-page photo spread which opens the article, SI states: “True to its word, Green Bay whipped defending champion San Francisco.” The article says, “Mike Holmgren, the Green Bay Packer coach, had spent a week assuring his players — and anyone else who would listen — that they were capable of dethroning the Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers in last Saturday’s NFC Divisional game.”

“Before the game, Holmgren told his team, ‘We can beat these guys, but it’s not about outsmarting them or having a better scheme... football is about kicking someone’s (butt), Football is about physically pounding the opponent. If you want to win this game, you have to beat the crap out of these guys.”

“While there were many logical explanations for the stunning outcome — beginning with Green Bay defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur’s ingenuity and extending to the offensive blueprint drawn up by Holmgren and his offensive coordinator, Sherman Lewis — the Pack also rode intangibles to this victory. ‘I’ve never been around a team quite like this,’ Holmgren said afterward. ‘I think this team is special because the players are so unselfish.’ ”

The win propelled the Packers into the national NFL consciousness as a potential force to be dealt with, after decades of ineptitude. They would go to Dallas the next week to play the Cowboys for the right to represent the NFC in Super Bowl XXX... however, they would fall short after leading into the fourth quarter, 38-27.