Hall of Fame finalist Wolf left 'speechless'
Standing at the precipice of the ultimate individual honor in football, the team builder still thought of the team.
Former Green Bay Packers general manager Ron Wolf said he never thought about being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame until executive director David Baker called him Wednesday afternoon. Baker told Wolf he is a finalist, given the chance to enter football's shrine as a contributor.
"I was speechless. I didn't know what to say," Wolf said Wednesday night. "It's one of those things you never really expect is going to happen. I wasn't really that aware of it but wham, there it is. All of a sudden, I'm being nominated with another guy to have a chance to go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
"It's just a tremendous honor, and we'll see what happens. Either you get in, or you don't."
Wolf was nominated as a finalist along with former Indianapolis Colts and Buffalo Bills general manager Bill Polian. Which is only fitting. Both men were the architect of one Super Bowl champion. Both built some of the league's defining franchises over the past couple of decades.
There's a good reason Wolf never thought the hall of fame was a possibility. Only nine contributors have been inducted in the past 47 years.
For the 2015 class, the hall of fame designed a separate category for contributors, hoping to give nonplayers and noncoaches a better chance of being inducted.
"It never entered my mind," Wolf said. "I never thought it was a possibility at all because, quite frankly, there isn't anybody of my ilk in there."
Wolf's most memorable accomplishment undoubtedly is bringing former Packers quarterback Brett Favre to Green Bay in 1992, via a trade with the Atlanta Falcons. With Mike Holmgren as head coach, the Packers beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI.
The next season, Green Bay lost to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXII.
"I think it more or less reflects positively on the organization I was with at the end of my career," Wolf said. "We had a tremendous run up there in Green Bay, and I had a lot of help from a lot of people. I look at this more or less as an organizational thing than as an individual thing, but what a great honor it is for me personally.
"I'm more or less speechless in some sense, because it's one of those things that so many people are responsible for this, yet here I am."
Wolf and Polian will be presented to the 46-member committee Jan. 31. They must receive at least 80 percent of the votes to be inducted.
Before Green Bay, Wolf worked with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as well as the Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders. He was the Packers general manager from 1991-2000. Over those 10 seasons, Green Bay was 96-64. It won double-digit games four times and never finished with a losing record after Wolf's first season.
"I can't understate the value of being a member of the Green Bay Packers, the people that enabled me to get this far in the process," Wolf said. "It's a tribute to the organization, and everybody knows who they are — Bob Harlan, Brett Favre, Mike Holmgren, you can go on. They all play a very, very important part of this. It's just a tremendous honor and reflects all they did, too."
-- firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @ByRyanWood