Green Bay Packers

Green Bay's Notre Dame Connection, and the Best Players To Come Out Of It

Photo Credit: Mike Dinovo (USA TODAY Sports)

The Green Bay Packers made their final roster cuts this past week, and two of the casualties were wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown and running back Dexter Williams. Both players played college at Notre Dame. Since the cuts, St. Brown has signed back onto Green Bay’s practice squad, while Williams currently remains unsigned. He has enough talent to be on a roster at some point this year, though.

So it got me thinking: It feels like it doesn’t work out most of the time when Green Bay drafts someone out of ND. In fact, has anyone worked out? It took me five seconds to realize how wrong I was. It’s hard to track down an exact number. Some places have 18, while other sites have 34. Then, you have players who weren’t drafted from the Packers but were impact players for the team like Ryan Grant. Some names are notable, like Aaron Taylor and Derrick Mayes, but it’s hard to find an actual number.

In fact, the green and gold have had some amazing players out of Notre Dame. Here are the top four:

4. Mike McCoy

Did you know that the Packers have drafted two different Mike McCoys? The cornerback McCoy was drafted from Colorado and played with the Packers from 1976 to 1983. He had 97 games under his belt with 13 career interceptions and was the team’s third-round pick that year. But that isn’t the one who made this list.

Our list’s McCoy was a defensive tackle. He was the No. 2 pick overall in the 1970 NFL Draft and played for 11 years. The Packers for six years, then the Oakland Raiders, New York Giants, and Detroit Lions.

McCoy was named Packers Rookie of the Year in 1970 and led the team in sacks in 1973 and 1976. He ended his career with 32 sacks over 132 games and had an interception and 16 fumble recoveries. Mike received plenty of accolades from his pro and college days. This includes the Harvey Forster Humanitarian Award from Notre Dame Alumni, the Bronco Nagurski Legends award as one of the best defensive players in the last 40 years, and also being inducted into the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame. I also just learned that existed.

The 72-year-old now does lectures and motivational speaking across the country as the President of the Mike McCoy Ministries and mostly does speaking in churches.

3. Dorsey Levens

Technically, Levens was drafted out of Georgia Tech. But, he played his freshman and sophomore seasons at Notre Dame, where he had three touchdowns and 185 yards. He had lots of competition there, though, including Jerome Bettis. He was set to start before hurting his knee before his junior season. After arriving at Georgia Tech, he set a school record with an average of 7.2 yards per carry and was voted First-Team All-ACC.

Levens was the Packers’ fifth-round pick in 1994. At first, he was used as a fullback and was eventually the backup to Edgar Bennett. He became a huge part of the offense during the Super Bowl-winning season in 1996. In Super Bowl XXXI, he rushed for 61 yards over 14 carries. He was the leading rusher, which reminds you how much of a passing offense Green Bay used to be with prime Favre. In 1997, Levens had more than 1,400 yards and was a Pro-Bowler that year.

He played with the team until 2001. Levens finished his career in 2004, spending two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles and one with the New York Giants. He retired as a Packer in 2006 after accumulating over almost 5,000 rushing yards, 36 rushing touchdowns, and 17 receiving touchdowns. He became part of the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 2009 and is regarded as one of the team’s best rushers.

2. Paul Hornung

I was ashamed of myself for not remembering that Hornung went to Notre Dame. He is one of my favorite players of all time. Not to mention, he is also the only player I remember being part of a smoking magazine ad.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 1957 NFL Draft played running back and kicker, retiring in 1966. He led the league in scoring for three straight years, and his point-scoring total wasn’t broken until LaDainian Tomlinson surpassed him in 2006.

Hornung was league MVP in 1961, a two-time Pro Bowler, and only one of nine players who have won both the Heisman Trophy and MVP. He only spent a little time away from the team during his career, joining the New Orleans Saints in 1967 when he was selected as part of the expansion draft, but a neck injury forced him to retire during training camp. He is part of the Packers Hall of Fame, NFL Hall of Fame, and the College Football Hall of Fame, and technically his No. 5 is unofficially officially retired with the team.

Fun Fact: Hornung did not play in Super Bowl I due to a pinched nerve when the Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10.

1.  Curly Lambeau

I mean, what can you say about the man that isn’t already known? The team’s stadium is called Lambeau Field. He was a Green Bay high school alum before heading to Notre Dame and then returning home to help kick-start the Packers.

He played with the Packers between 1919, the team’s first year, until 1929. The team legend was also the head coach for 30 years. That’s right, 30 years — between 1919-49. That means he was a player-coach for the first 10 years of his career. Vince Lombardi may be the most famous coach for the Packers, but his first year wasn’t until 1959. Curly also coached the Chicago Cardinals and Washington Redskins. His career record was 229-134-22 (.623). That’s a lot of ties.

He is also part of the Packers Hall of Fame and NFL Hall of Fame. He was also elected to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame. Obviously, he is one of the most beloved Packers players and coaches. His name will never be forgotten, and with good reason.

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