GREEN BAY, Wis. – With luminaries such as Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre and Bart Starr, not to mention big-time passers ranging from Lynn Dickey to Arnie Herber, the Green Bay Packers have had the best set of quarterbacks of any team in NFL history.
If Jordan Love replaces Rodgers as the team’s starter for this season, he’ll try to do what none of his predecessors has been able to accomplish in more than 80 years: reach the playoffs as a first-year starter.
From 1920 through 1932, the NFL’s 13 champions were determined by best regular-season record. From 1933 through 1965, the NFL held a championship game between its Eastern Conference and Western Conference champions. The first foray into a true playoff format started in 1966. The NFL and AFL held its championship games, as usual, with those winners playing in Super Bowl I.
With the NFL-AFL merger in 1970, the league went to an eight-team playoff. That expanded to 10 teams in 1978, 12 teams in 1990 and the new 14-team format last season.
Green Bay has reached the NFL playoffs 34 times, more than any team in NFL history due in large part to superior quarterbacking. Only once, however, was that team led by a first-year passer.
In 1938, the Packers reached the NFL championship game but lost 23-17 at the New York Giants. Cecil Isbell, the seventh pick of that draft, officially played running back but was the team’s leading passer. Isbell led the team to the 1939 championship, was named to the all-1930s team and paced the NFL in passing in 1941 and 1942. He led the team to the postseason three times in his five years.
The team’s first playoff-era championship came in 1936. That team featured Arnie Herber, in the seventh of his 13 NFL seasons, completing bombs to Don Hutson.
The Packers beat the Giants for the championship in 1944 with Irv Comp in his second season slinging the rock.
That would be the team’s last playoff appearance until 1960, when fifth-year quarterback Bart Starr got the Packers to an unlikely berth in the championship game, a 17-13 loss at the Philadelphia Eagles. The Packers would win NFL titles in five of the following seven seasons.
From 1968 through 1992, the Packers reached the playoffs just twice: In 1972, behind second-year starter Scott Hunter, and 1982, with Lynn Dickey in his fifth season as Green Bay’s starter.
The Packers returned to the playoffs in 1993 with Brett Favre in his second season as the starter. Green Bay made 11 appearances in a span of 15 seasons, including a Super Bowl triumph in 1996.
In Rodgers’ first season as the starter, Green Bay went 6-10 in 2008. The Packers have reached the playoffs 10 of the past 12 seasons; one exception was 2017, when Rodgers was out with a broken collarbone.