Five Great Packers One-Year Wonders

It isn’t easy to make it to the NFL. Only the best players survive training camp and earn a roster spot. Then only the best of those win starting positions and only a small percentage of those players become stars.

But while everybody knows Packers legends like Don Hutson, Brett Favre, Charles Woodson, Reggie White and Aaron Rodgers, there are many Packers players who weren’t stars, but had one season where they truly shined before falling back into obscurity.

Players who spent one year in Green Bay but then went on to be stars elsewhere (like Ted Hendricks, for example) are not eligible for this list.

Here are five Green Bay Packers who had one great season with the Pack but never duplicated that year:

5. OLB Kyler Fackrell

The Packers drafted Fackrell in the third round in 2016 and the edge rusher started only two games in his first two seasons, registering a total of five sacks.

But in 2018, Fackrell led the Packers with 10.5 sacks, despite starting only seven games. He shined as a situational pass rusher and had a career-high 42 tackles.

But the following season, the Packers signed Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith as free agents and drafted Rashan Gary in the first round of the draft. Fackrell’s playing time went down significantly and he made only 23 tackles and one sack.

Since then, he spent a season with the New York Giants and one with the Los Angeles Chargers but he never came close to matching that magical, 10.5 sack season he had in Green Bay in 2018.

4. RB Samkon Gado

The Packers signed Samkon Gado midway through the 2005 season when injuries hit the team at running back. Gado only played eight games with the Packers but led the team in rushing with 582 yards on 143 carries and scored six rushing touchdowns.

The native of Nigeria started five games for the Packers and topped 100 yards in a game in three of them including a career-high 171 yards against Detroit. Twice during his tenure in Green Bay, he was named NFC Rookie of the Week.

But just as quicky as Gado appeared on the scene, he was gone. The Packers tried to convert him to fullback in training camp the following season after William Henderson was injured, but that didn’t work out and the 5’10”, 227-pound former Liberty University star was traded to Houston one game into the 2006 campaign.

Gado bounced around the league, playing for the Texans, Dolphins and Rams over the next four seasons, but he never topped 217 yards rushing in any of them.

Today, Gado is a doctor helping to treat patients with Covid-19 and other conditions. For half of one season, he was the centerpiece of the Packers rushing attack.

3. S Tom Flynn

The Packers selected Tom Flynn in the fifth round of the 1984 NFL Draft and the former University of Pittsburgh star made an immediate impact. He intercepted nine passes as a rookie including three in one game as the Packers crushed the Lions 41-9 in Week 9. He also recovered three fumbles that season.

Flynn didn’t have great speed, but he anticipated well while playing deep a deep free safety. He was name NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year for his strong play.

But while he remained a starter in 1985, he intercepted only one pass and was viewed as more of a liability because of his lack of speed.

Midway through the 1986 season, head coach Forrest Gregg surprised everybody by cutting Flynn. He was picked up by the New York Giants and exceled on special teams for them. In the season finale, Flynn got revenge on the Packers when he blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown. The Giants won the Super Bowl that season and Flynn was a part of it.

He spent two more seasons with the Giants without starting another game before retiring after the 1988 season.

2. QB Don Majkowski

Don Majkowski was with the Packers for six seasons and he started games in all of them, but his best season by far came in 1989 when he started all 16 games for the Pack and earned Pro Bowl honors after leading the league with 4,318 yards passing. The Packers jumped from 4-12 the previous season to 10-6 and missed the playoffs on a tie-breaker.

“Majik” was brash and cool under pressure. His most famous moments came in the “Instant Replay Game” against the Bears which saw his last minute, 4th down touchdown pass to Sterling Sharpe confirmed by replay after the officials ruled him across the line of scrimmage and a 21-17 win over the eventual Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers in Week 11 that saw him run for two touchdowns and throw for another.

Injuries and contract disputes kept Majkowski from ever coming close to duplicating his 1989 success. He stayed in Green Bay through 1992 when he was injured in Week 3 and replaced by Favre who went on to start every game after that through the end of the 2007 season.

In his other five seasons in Green Bay, Majkowski only topped 2,000 yards passing in a season once and never exceeded 10 touchdown passes in a season. But for 1989, he electrified Packers fans by creating “Majik” for one glorious year.

1. RS Desmond Howard

Desmond Howard’s NFL career was almost over when he joined the Packers in 1996. The former Heisman Trophy winner from Michigan was unproductive as a wide receiver in the NFL and was already on his third NFL team in the last three seasons when he signed with Green Bay.

But in 1996, Howard set the league on fire as a return specialist. He led the league with 875 yards in punt returns and averaged an impressive 15.1-yards per runback which also led the league. Three of his punt returns went for touchdowns.

In the playoffs, he returned another punt for a touchdown which helped the Packers beat the 49ers in the Divisional Round of the playoffs and then returned a kick 99 yards for the game-clinching touchdown in Super Bowl XXXI.

Howard finished the game with 244 total return yards and remains the only special teams player to be named MVP of a Super Bowl.

The following year, Howard signed with the Raiders as a free agent, but he returned to Green Bay in 1999 only to be cut after eight games due to injuries and ineffective play.

Howard was a major reason the Packers won the Super Bowl in 1996 but it was his only outstanding year in Green Bay and by far the best season of his NFL career.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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Comments (42)

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Minniman's picture

March 03, 2022 at 12:27 pm

I think that the Demarious Randall and Quinton Rollins duo was the most catastrophic for the recent Packers.

Randall in the 1st and Rollins in the 2nd played well enough in their rookie seasons to allow the Packers to think that they had ready, cheap replacements for Casey Hayward and Micah Hyde (allowing them to walk in FA)...... and an eventual replacement for either Shields\Williams at corner - or Morgan Burnett and HaHa.

That miscalculation cost the Packers a 1st/2nd round draft pick in 3 drafts to fix.

IIRC, Kyler Fackerell's (3rd round pick) career year came playing along side a reasonable defensive front - Like Nick Perry's career year, when he had Matthews and Julius Peppers as positional companions. NY over-bought there, not the Packers.

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mnbadger's picture

March 03, 2022 at 12:30 pm

Great list Gil, I love the Ted Hendricks reference. I loved him, but he seemed like he didn't care while in GB. He was a perfect fit for Madden's Raiders. GPG!

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splitpea1's picture

March 03, 2022 at 12:48 pm

Good catch with Hendricks....Actually I think he had a tough time getting on the field at first with the Raiders due to a coaching/ownership dispute. But that changed by the end of his first season.
Here is a player that was a true difference-maker on special teams and defense. I'd love to be able to clone him....

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 03, 2022 at 07:38 pm

He was ALL-PRO and Bart low-balled him. Packers loss.

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GilMartin's picture

March 03, 2022 at 08:05 pm

And now he's in the HOF.

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GilMartin's picture

March 03, 2022 at 07:51 pm

He had the perfect personality for Madden's teams. Larry McCarren said Hendricks was a perfectionist and cared deeply while in Green Bay but it sure was tough to see that from the outside. Thanks for the comment, mnbadger.

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splitpea1's picture

March 03, 2022 at 12:46 pm

In regards to Fackrell, six of his sacks that season came in two games, somewhat bloating his "one-year wonder" status.

Major omission: Roell Preston's 1998 season: 1497 kick return yards, 2 TDS; 398 punt return yards, 1 TD. In addition to Howard, it's nice to reminisce about the glory days of our special teams....

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TarynsEyes's picture

March 03, 2022 at 01:19 pm

Nick Perrys' 3 sack game against Wash (insert name preference here with mine being pathetic) and other overrated performances in his contract year, IIRC, erased his prior invisible games and visible subpar games into an extension that forced many to buy as a good decision and then having to witness even more invisible games until his release and which had him visiting nary a single team for his ability to disappear. Say what you will about Fackrell, he at least is still in the league whereas Perry is closer to never should have been for the years donated to him.

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CheesyTex's picture

March 03, 2022 at 03:38 pm

'...(insert name preference here with mine being pathetic)" . LMAO

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Coldworld's picture

March 03, 2022 at 03:42 pm

Commanders was the best they could do? Pretty pathetic indeed and I wonder how much it cost. The Washington Yawn seems more apt.

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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

March 06, 2022 at 07:28 pm

Perry’s issue was health, not disappearing in games. I remember doing some research on that. He was actually pretty impactful most of his career when he could stay on the field. But his body just didn’t hold up to the challenge of the NFL.

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Tingham's picture

March 03, 2022 at 04:42 pm

Good one on Preston. You inspired me to look up Travis Williams. In 1967 he returned four kickoffs for touchdowns. But the stat that got me was that his average KO return was forty-one yards. Holy crap.

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GilMartin's picture

March 03, 2022 at 07:52 pm

Roell Preston, good call. Yeah, nice to remember when special teams could be an asset instead of a liability.

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YouAskedForThis's picture

March 03, 2022 at 01:31 pm

How bout Terdell Middleton - A season with1100 yards and the Pro Bowl....and then - NOTHING

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hesoder's picture

March 03, 2022 at 01:37 pm

Was just going say Terdell's 1978 season was worthy of inclusion.

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hesoder's picture

March 03, 2022 at 01:37 pm

Was just going say Terdell's 1978 season was worthy of inclusion.

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GilMartin's picture

March 03, 2022 at 07:56 pm

I thought about adding Middleton but he did lead the team in rushing again in 1979 (only 495 yards though). Injuries slowed him. He was so good in 1978 though. The centerpiece of the offense that year.

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

March 03, 2022 at 01:49 pm

I've been a Packer fan for many years and when I saw the title of your article, I immediately thought of one guy and one guy only and that was Tom Flynn. I thought the Packers had struck gold with that mid-round pick and was disappointed to see him fizzle.

I can also see why you picked Sam Gado who was a fine running back in that initial season. While he faded after his initial year, he became an MD who has done great work as a doctor in his native country.

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GilMartin's picture

March 03, 2022 at 07:57 pm

Flynn really burst onto the scene and then was a non-factor just as quickly. Everything he touched in 84 turned to gold. Thanks for the comment, Ferrari-Driver.

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PeteK's picture

March 03, 2022 at 05:12 pm

Majik in that great 89 season created so much excitement after so many dark years. I vividly remember watching that win over the Niners in a bar which at the time carried all NFL games before they were available at home. Then it quickly faded as fast as it came. Luckily after a few seasons Favre appeared and we haven't looked back since. Another SB win would have capped off a great era. However, it might be time for a new age. Will it be a defense dominated team, well balanced, or QB star lead?

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splitpea1's picture

March 03, 2022 at 03:18 pm

LOL, I vividly remember working behind the bar out of view of the TV sets during that game and having to get progress reports from the waitress.

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murf7777's picture

March 03, 2022 at 04:16 pm

I loved watching him play we were so thirsting for any type of savior. He was an exciting player and provided us Packer fans with a big ray of hope even thou he threw 20 INT's to go with his 27 TD's that year. He was a bit like Favre without Favre's high-end talent.

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GilMartin's picture

March 03, 2022 at 08:00 pm

We shall see PeteK. Yeah, Majik was like bright light after a long dark night. That 89 season was a thrill a minute ride. Then he held out in 90 and got injured midseason after he returned. The Packers were 6-5 and then lost their last 5 that season.

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PearlyBakerBest's picture

March 03, 2022 at 03:40 pm

What about Sanjay Beach? He had career highs in catches, yards and Tds in his lone season with the Pack.

Also, I’d bet most Packer fans uttered his name when that punt got blocked.

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jroget's picture

March 05, 2022 at 12:07 pm

Beach only had 17 receptions for 122 yards.
Not much for a career high.

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Coldworld's picture

March 03, 2022 at 03:51 pm

Does Matt Flynn count? He’s perhaps a one game wonder I know (but it was wonderful). Another good one was. CB Jerry Holmes in 90: 3 interceptions, three fumble recoveries and a sack I believe. Maybe even Javon Walker’s 1300 yard plus season in ‘04.

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Tex49's picture

March 03, 2022 at 05:25 pm

Matt Flynn had 3 solid games: Pats in the 2010 season, Lions in 2011 and the 20 point comeback against the cowboys in Dallas in 2013. Was at the last one and it was a hilariously good time.

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BirdDogUni's picture

March 03, 2022 at 08:32 pm

The only Packer game I have ever been to was in Dallas... AR was hurt, Flynn was the QB, and we had the biggest comeback in the history of the Packers that day. Eddie Lacy caught that screen pass and went 60 yards to get us started the 2nd half... The whole second half in AT&T Stadium sounded like a Packers Home Game. It was awesome... Was so hoping Rodgers would be back for the Dallas game, but it was not to be. Flynn's arm strength was poor at best. (Still a gamer though...) ; )

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Swisch's picture

March 03, 2022 at 08:30 pm

That was a wonderful comeback against the Cowboys after a woeful first half.
I remember Sam Shields had a big interception late in the game. I would guess an article could be written about big plays made by Shields for the Packers.
If memory serves, that win against Dallas made it possible for the Packers to later win the division against the Bears with the big pass from Aaron Rodgers to Randall Cobb.

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Starrbrite's picture

March 03, 2022 at 07:25 pm

Yes—I was gonna say Javon Walker too.

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aimnfires's picture

March 03, 2022 at 07:46 pm

The Green Bay Packers claimed Andre Rison off of waivers November 20, 1996. He would play five of the remaining games, where he caught 13 passes for 135 yards and one touchdown.

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aimnfires's picture

March 03, 2022 at 07:46 pm

The Green Bay Packers claimed Andre Rison off of waivers November 20, 1996. He would play five of the remaining games, where he caught 13 passes for 135 yards and one touchdown.

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GilMartin's picture

March 03, 2022 at 08:09 pm

Rison wasn't that great in those five games although he had the long touchdown pass in the Super Bowl. Thanks for commenting.

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aimnfires's picture

March 03, 2022 at 07:46 pm

The Green Bay Packers claimed Andre Rison off of waivers November 20, 1996. He would play five of the remaining games, where he caught 13 passes for 135 yards and one touchdown.

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aimnfires's picture

March 03, 2022 at 07:46 pm

The Green Bay Packers claimed Andre Rison off of waivers November 20, 1996. He would play five of the remaining games, where he caught 13 passes for 135 yards and one touchdown.

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aimnfires's picture

March 03, 2022 at 07:46 pm

The Green Bay Packers claimed Andre Rison off of waivers November 20, 1996. He would play five of the remaining games, where he caught 13 passes for 135 yards and one touchdown.

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aimnfires's picture

March 03, 2022 at 07:46 pm

The Green Bay Packers claimed Andre Rison off of waivers November 20, 1996. He would play five of the remaining games, where he caught 13 passes for 135 yards and one touchdown.

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aimnfires's picture

March 03, 2022 at 07:46 pm

The Green Bay Packers claimed Andre Rison off of waivers November 20, 1996. He would play five of the remaining games, where he caught 13 passes for 135 yards and one touchdown.

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BirdDogUni's picture

March 03, 2022 at 08:37 pm

I think we got it the first 5 times... ; P Lol

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Crockett3663's picture

March 03, 2022 at 09:34 pm

OK OK we get the point!! No need to post it SEVEN TIMES!!!

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jurp's picture

March 04, 2022 at 06:50 am

Gil, thanks for an interesting article that's NOT about the ongoing QB and roster drama!

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davekenya's picture

March 05, 2022 at 01:13 pm

Travis Williams came to my mind immediately

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