Ranking the Top Five Former Wisconsin Badgers to Play for the Packers

The Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin Badgers have both been institutions in the state of Wisconsin for more than a century. Each team has provided football fans with both exciting memories and some frustrating times.

Right now, the Packers have two former Badgers on their 90-man roster with offensive lineman Cole Van Lanen and rookie wide receiver Danny Davis presently competing for roster spots.

But who have been the best players to play for both teams? Here is a look at the five former Badgers who had the best careers with the Packers. Players are ranked only on their play with the Packers with longevity, individual success and the players’ contributions to team success all taken into consideration.

5. QB Randy Wright (1984-1988)

The Packers selected Wright in the sixth round of the 1984 NFL Draft and the former Badgers quarterback as a developmental choice behind starter Lynn Dickey.

By 1986, Wright became the full-time starting quarterback on a struggling Packers team. He led the Packers to just four wins that season, throwing for 3,247 yards, 17 touchdowns and 23 interceptions.

His most memorable game came on Thanksgiving Day that season when he led the Packers to a dramatic 44-40 win over the Lions in a game best remembered for Walter Stanley’s three touchdown performance. Wright finished the contest by going 18-of-26 for 286 yards and three touchdowns.

Wright started 14 games over the next two seasons, sharing the quarterback duties with Don Majkowski. He finished his NFL career with 31 touchdown passes in five seasons.

4. S Ken Stills (1985-1989)

Ken Stills played six seasons in the NFL with the first five being with the Packers. Forrest Gregg’s team drafted him in the 8th round in 1985. One year later, he became the team’s starting free safety. His hard-hitting style made him a fan favorite on some pretty bad Packers teams in the late 80s.

Stills was a starter in Green Bay for four seasons and intercepted seven passes while with the Pack. His first career interception came in the 1986 season finale against the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants. He picked off a Phil Simms pass and returned it 58 yards for a touchdown.

In 1990, Stills finished his career with the Vikings. His son, wide receiver Kenny Stills, has now played nine seasons in the NFL.

3. FB Ed Jankowski (1937-1941)

The Packers drafted Jankowski in the first round in 1937. He enjoyed his best season in 1939 when he earned Pro Bowl honors and helped Curly Lambeau’s team win the NFL championship that year. Like all NFL players in that era, he played both offense and defense and did a little bit of kicking when called upon.

In the 1939 title game against the New York Giants, Jankowski scored on a one-yard touchdown run to provide the final points in the Packers 27-0 win.

He played for the Packers through the 1941 season when his service in World War II ended his NFL career.

Jankowski was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1984.

2. C Ken Bowman (1964-1973)

Bowman enjoyed success with both the Badgers and the Packers. He started in the Rose Bowl in 1963, then won three straight championships with the Packers from 1965-1967.

In the Ice Bowl, it was Bowman who double teamed Cowboys defensive tackle Jethro Pugh with Jerry Kramer to help Bart Starr score the game winning points in the closing seconds that gave Vince Lombardi’s team their third straight NFL title.

Bowman was also a part of the Packers NFC Central Division team in 1972 and served as the team’s union representative.

Bowman became an attorney after retiring from football and was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1981.

1. OT Mark Tauscher (2000-2010)

Tauscher quickly went from seventh-round draft choice to starter as a rookie when Earl Dotson was injured. Tauscher started 14 games in his first season and remained a starter at right tackle for 11 seasons when healthy.

While he never made the Pro Bowl, Tauscher did a consistent job of protecting both Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers while opening holes for Ahman Green, Dorsey Levens and other talented Packers runners.

He remained with the Packers through the 2010 season. A shoulder injury suffered in Week 4 caused him to miss the rest of the year, but he did win a Super Bowl ring that year with the Pack.

Tauscher was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 2018 and now hosts the Wilde and Tausch radio show.

 

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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Comments (26)

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egbertsouse's picture

May 26, 2022 at 12:38 pm

I still remember Kenny Stills late hit against Matt Suhey. Latest hit I ever saw. I think Suhey was on his way back to the huddle for the next play when Stills laid him out. If there was a HOF for penalties, that woud be in on the first ballot. Ah, the days of the Forrest Gregg-coached teams! It was like watching reruns of The Longest Yard.

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Swisch's picture

May 26, 2022 at 04:34 pm

I don't remember the penalty by Kenny Stills, but do remember the infamous late hit by Charles Martin, when (as I recall) he literally picked Bears quarterback Jim McMahon off the ground and threw him down on his ailing throwing shoulder.
At this time in Packers history (again, according to my memory), the team was not only an embarrassment for its lousy play on the field, but for its lack of character (at least by a couple or more players).
Looking up Charles Martin just now, I find to my surprise that he went to the high school just down the road from where I now live in Canton, Georgia -- where he was apparently nicknamed "Too Mean" for his habit of piling on after the whistle.
Sadly, it seems Martin had a troubled life and died young at the age of 45 in 2005. So, he is only about three years older than me.
May God have mercy on him, and all of us for that matter, and lead all souls to heaven.
[Reading more at Wikipedia, it seems after McMahon had thrown an interception, Martin ambushed him with a body slam. There's a funny quote by a referee who said Martin refused to be ejected from the game until he told him (tongue-in-cheek) that otherwise Martin would be left to be mauled by the Bears on their home turf at Soldier Field. Considering that prospect, Martin said, "Let's go."]

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The_Justicar's picture

May 28, 2022 at 11:33 am

As a high school kid living in south Florida after relocating from Milwaukee I have to admit I loved Ken Stills and his play behind the whistle hard hitting attitude…mainly cause the team stunk horribly and there wasn’t much to root for. Soon came Chuck Cecil and I enjoyed these dudes taking out my pain and suffering on other nfl teams for me.

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jont's picture

May 26, 2022 at 04:08 pm

" Latest hit I ever saw. "

Hilarious!
I found on youtube. I'd forgotten Suhey was a bear, and it brought to mind the old line: no such thing as unnecessary roughness, it was all necessary.

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LLCHESTY's picture

May 26, 2022 at 11:00 pm

I don't think Suhey was heading back to the huddle but it was definitely as late a hit as I've seen. Suhey didn't see it coming and wasn't protecting himself at all. That's the first thing I think of when I hear his name, don't remember his Int for a TD at all.

https://youtu.be/nRYydp14x-I

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egbertsouse's picture

May 27, 2022 at 08:16 am

And Suhey wasn’t even part of the play, he was just standing there looking at the pile. POW! He must’ve said something about Stills sister the play before.

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HarryHodag's picture

May 26, 2022 at 03:47 pm

I would put Bowman ahead of Tauscher. Largely the level of excellence was higher during the Lombardi years.

For example, would Tauscher have replaced Forest Gregg or Ron Skoronski at tackle? Probably not. Not that Tauscher was a slouch, but Bowman had to meet the standard under a great taskmaster in Vince Lombardi.

I was told by an insider years ago that for a long time the Packers steered away from Wisconsin players because they felt it would put too much pressure on the player. That policy obviously has changed. Also, until Pat Richter hired Barry Alvarez Wisconsin didn't produce many NFL level players.

Randy Wright was a good college QB, but he wasn't much on the NFL field.

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Swisch's picture

May 26, 2022 at 04:39 pm

In fairness to Randy Wright, the Packers didn't have a lot of talent around him.
My image of him is that he was gutsy. I seem to recall him getting creamed by the Bears after throwing a touchdown pass to Sterling Sharpe.

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LLCHESTY's picture

May 26, 2022 at 11:02 pm

I just remember him being bad. Like, really really bad. Why they played him over Majkowski that one year is beyond me.

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HarryHodag's picture

May 27, 2022 at 08:06 am

My image of Randy Wright was seeing Howie Long physically pick him up and twirl him around before he was pile driven into the ground.(Few rules protecting quarterbacks back then.)

What irked me at the time is all the Packers offensive linemen held out each year to get paid more(presumably for superior play) and Wright was brutalized by most teams.

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Johnblood27's picture

May 26, 2022 at 09:19 pm

Hey Harry, the man's name is Bob Skoronski.

He was a team captain and a versatile and valuable player for VL for a lot of years.

I met Bob Skoronski on an alumni weekend when I was at Lambeau for a game. He was sitting all alone , I don't think people knew who he was. I had a great chat with him and had him autograph a shirt I had purchased. I never wore the shirt and it is now one of my autographed shirt-jersey collection.

God bless old Packers,, our new heroes are only visible because they stand on the shoulders of giants... like Big Bob Skoronski.

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greengold's picture

May 26, 2022 at 10:39 pm

Very cool, JB.

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barutanseijin's picture

May 26, 2022 at 05:19 pm

I remember playing backyard football as a kid and calling a fluttering, wobbly pass “a Randy Wright-er”. He was a little better than Rich Campbell, another young QB of that era.

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Johnblood27's picture

May 26, 2022 at 09:20 pm

I remember saying "Randy Wrong" an awful lot back then...

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lou's picture

May 27, 2022 at 12:01 pm

After the Cowboys crushed the Packers in Dallas, Skip Bayliss writing for the Dallas Morning News referred to Wright as "Randy Wrong" playing in front of the Packers "Seven Blocks of Glass" offensive line couldn't wait for the final gun to sound to end the game. The Starr/Gregg era's were painful to watch.

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BA4Packers's picture

May 26, 2022 at 05:40 pm

My vote is for Cub Buck. All American lineman for the Badgers and Greenbay Packer HOF’er.

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HarryHodag's picture

May 27, 2022 at 08:03 am

I agree! Good catch.

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chavesarlene4's picture

May 26, 2022 at 10:00 pm

Greenbay Packers is also good though

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packanimal's picture

May 27, 2022 at 07:23 am

Tauscher's charity, donating books to promote kids' reading, is really admirable, too:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6OATIupK34

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Savage57's picture

May 27, 2022 at 10:26 am

I just wish TJ Watt was on the list.

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Johnblood27's picture

May 27, 2022 at 02:27 pm

If we're gonna be wishing, let's move right to JJ Watt...

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Savage57's picture

May 29, 2022 at 07:24 am

JJ Watt wasn't there for the taking.

TJ was.

Not a Mandarich-level shitting of the bed, but when you pass on a future DPOY for a defensive liability who costs you a trip to the Super Bowl, it's close

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Bisonball's picture

May 27, 2022 at 04:02 pm

How sad that Randy Wright is on this list. Has there only been 5 Badgers that played for the Packers?

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The_Justicar's picture

May 28, 2022 at 11:31 am

Yeah, that stuck out to me to. Vince Biegel almost made the list. Lol

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mnbadger's picture

May 27, 2022 at 09:49 pm

don't be so hard on randy Wright, as stated earlier, he got pounded and always got back up. more than half his intenterceptions were the result of getting the pass off just as multiple defenders were crushing him. He was as good as fill Sims but had no support on offense and less on defense. Switch those two around and RWright has super bowl rings and simms is a retired used car salesman IMO. GPG!

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