For someone so young, Matt Stephani has a profound appreciation for the Super Bowl history of the Green Bay Packers.
That knowledge helped Stephani, a 23-year-old Neenah native, win our “Ultimate Championship Super Draft” contest.
In recognition of the Super Bowl’s 50th anniversary, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin asked readers to choose their all-time Packers Super Bowl team. The idea was to pick a team based on how the Packers players and coaches performed in the four Super Bowls that were won by Green Bay: Super Bowl I, II, XXXI and XLV.
Stephani, whose grandparents had Packers season tickets, said he has been going to games at Lambeau Field since he was 2.
“I’ve been to over 50 games,” said Stephani, an accountant who recently relocated to Madison.
Although the 2010 Packers team that won Super Bowl XLV is the only one that Stephani is old enough to have followed closely, he said he took care not to be biased toward that team when making his selections.
Here’s a look at Matt’s team:
QB: Aaron Rodgers (SB XLV)
RB: Donny Anderson (SB I and II), Elijah Pitts (SB I)
WR: Max McGee (SB I and II), Jordy Nelson (SB XLV)
TE: Marv Fleming (SB I and II)
T: Earl Dotson (SB XXXI), Forrest Gregg (SB I and II)
G: Jerry Kramer (SB I and II), Fuzzy Thurston (SB I and II)
C: Frank Winters (SB XXXI)
DE: Willie Davis (SB I and II), Reggie White (SBXXXI)
DT: Santana Dotson (SB XXXI)
OLB: Clay Matthews (SB XLV), Dave Robinson (SB I and II)
ILB: Desmond Bishop (SB XLV), Ray Nitschke (SB I and II)
CB: Herb Adderley (SB I and II), Doug Evans (SB XXXI)
S: Nick Collins (SB XLV), Willie Wood (SB I and II)
K: Don Chandler (SB I and II)
P: Craig Hentrich (SB XXXI)
RET: Desmond Howard (SB XXXI)
COACH: Vince Lombardi (SB I and II)
The judges — a panel consisting of members of USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin's Packers coverage team — disagreed with Stephani at only three positions, choosing Dorsey Levens (SB XXXI) over Anderson at running back, Gale Gillingham (SB I and II) over Thurston at guard and Bruce Wilkerson (SB XXXI) over Dotson at tackle.
Choosing Rodgers at quarterback over Bart Starr and Brett Favre was the most difficult call, Stephani said.
“I ruled Favre out because his Super Bowl numbers weren’t great,” Stephani said. “Yeah, he got a ring, but really, Rodgers had great numbers (24-for-39, 304 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions in Super Bowl XLV) and Starr has got two rings.
“So it came down to Starr and Rodgers and I tried not to be too biased toward the numbers because the game’s a lot different nowadays than it was back in Super Bowls I and II. But ultimately, three touchdowns and right around 300 yards for Rodgers was I felt enough to boost him up. But Starr was a really close second, and I love Starr. I was at the Thanksgiving game and saw him come out there with Favre. So it was a tough decision.”
For having his team judged to be the best out of nearly 400 entries, Stephani receives a Packers helmet signed by running back Eddie Lacy.
Asked his thoughts on Lacy, who had a disappointing season after struggling with a weight issue, Stephani said, “He’s going to bounce back, he’s a good player. I think he sees now that you need to take the offseason seriously and I think he’s going to do that. I think he’ll come into training camp a better player — and a thinner player — and still be the hard-nosed runner.”