Green Bay Packers

Pardoning the Biggest Turkeys In Packers History

Photo credit: Matthew Emmons (USA TODAY Sports)

Along with stuffing our faces and gathering with family and friends, Thanksgiving is a good time to reflect and, you know, give thanks. For fans of the Green Bay Packers, there’s always plenty to be thankful for.

But, there have also been some real turkeys along the way. The players and coaches who provided endless headaches and necessitated an extra Spotted Cow or 100. Today we look back at those turkeys and decide whether to pardon them or not.

Justin Harrell

The hype surrounding Justin Harrell entering the 2007 NFL Draft was immense. Everyone had him as a shoo-in, no-doubt first-round pick who was one of the top-three defensive tackles in the class.

Green Bay selected him with the 16th overall pick. To say it never panned out would be the understatement of the year.

Harrell signed a six-year contract after being drafted by the Packers and ended up playing in just a few more games than total years he signed for.

One injury after another sidelined Harrell. He ended up playing in just 14 games for Green Bay before they opted to cut him in the summer of 2011. He was on the Super Bowl-winning team from 2010 but played sparingly. Harrell ended up finishing his career with 28 tackles and zero sacks.

If not for the injuries, who knows what his career could’ve been. A lot of it ended up being out of his hands.

VERDICT: PARDONED 

Ron Zook

For years now general wisdom states that the Packers have been carried by Aaron Rodgers and let down by the defense. What has gone mostly swept under the rug is some poor special teams play that reared its ugly head when Ron Zook took over the unit from 2015 to 2018.

Zook was bailed out by having a tremendous kicker in Mason Crosby, who has always been clutch. Outside of that, the punt team was usually a disaster, the kick return unit was a mess, and penalty flags flew when Zook’s unit was on the field.

It’s an often overlooked part of the games but was a huge eyesore on Zook’s watch.

Packers fans forgive, but they don’t forget this disaster.

VERDICT: STUFFED

Martellus Bennett

In the 2017 offseason, the Green Bay Packers had a big need at tight end after talks with Jared Cook broke off. Ted Thompson opted to sign Martellus Bennett, who was coming off a solid season with the New England Patriots.

Green Bay forked over a 3-year, $21 million contract. Bennett played a whopping seven games for the Packers before everything went to hell.

Some on the team said Bennett quit on them, while Bennett accused Green Bay of being a racist city. He constantly engaged in arguments with Packers fans and even accused the team doctor of encouraging team members to play injured. It was a statement that was rejected by plenty of Green Bay players, past and present.

The Packers released Bennett seven games into the first year of his three-year deal. Not only was he not the answer at tight end, but he also brought with him a giant cloud of negativity.

Green Bay ended up forking over a pretty penny for someone who was supposed to provide a spark on offense and instead had a bigger impact arguing on social media.

VERDICT: STUFFED

Brandon Bostick

There’s been something amiss with Green Bay’s tight ends for over a decade now. Jimmy Graham and Jermichael Finley could’ve ended up on this list as well.

For Brandon Bostick, his Packers career is remembered for one play and one play only. It was also in a game that will go down as one of the biggest collapses in Green Bay playoff history.

Green Bay led 19-7 in the 2014 NFC Championship with just three minutes to go. Two minutes later, they trailed 22-19. The Seattle Seahawks scored a touchdown with just over two minutes to go. Seattle only had one timeout left though. An onside recovery for Green Bay would almost assure a victory. Instead, Bostick went outside the box, tried to recover the onside kick when he was supposed to be a blocker, and the rest is history. Green Bay lost in overtime, 28-22.

Bostick has published articles on outlets like Sports Illustrated detailing the event and how it still haunts them.

“I was supposed to block for Jordy Nelson, who was right behind me. We had practiced this dozens if not hundreds of times before. But when the ball appeared in front of me, just floating in the air, my mind went blank. I forgot everything I was supposed to do. It’s not that CenturyLink Field was too loud, or that I crumbled under the pressure of the situation. Instinct just kicked in. The ball was in front of me and I wanted to grab it. I jumped up, I reached for it … and my life changed forever.”

This remains one of the most devastating games of all time for Packers fans. A Super Bowl appearance seemed like a lock as the game was winding down before the meltdown of all meltdowns occurred.

Bostick’s mistake wasn’t made out of laziness, wasn’t made out of not trying, it was an instinctual decision in a massive moment. Knowing he still replays the play over and over again in his head is brutal. We forgive you, Brandon Bostick.

VERDICT: PARDONED

Green Bay is 8-3 this year and getting ready to take on the Los Angeles Rams. It’s yet another year where anything less than the Super Bowl will be viewed as a disappointment. Hopefully, there aren’t any future turkeys in this bunch.

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