The Camp Randall 100 honors a prestigious group of 100 people who shaped the first century of Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin Athletics will reveal a new honoree every day from May 24 until the Badgers’ 2017 opening game on Sept. 1 against Utah State.
“I am really thrilled. It’s been a project close to my heart over the years and I’m glad that all of our work has resulted in a fine attraction for Wisconsin and Green Bay Packer fans alike.”
— Former Wisconsin Athletic Director Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch
announcing in 1985 that the Green Bay Packers would play an
exhibition match at Camp Randall Stadium
For many football fans in the state of Wisconsin, a dream weekend consists of a Badgers home game at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday and a Packers home game at Lambeau Field on Sunday. Last year, in UW’s season-opener vs. LSU in Green Bay, those two worlds were combined with great fanfare. But that wasn’t the first time.
As early as 1966, the state legislature urged the UW Board of Regents to invite the Packers to play an exhibition game at Camp Randall Stadium with the proceeds going to charity. In early 1973, Wisconsin Gov. Patrick Lucey discussed the possibility of the Packers holding an exhibition game in Madison with Packers President Dominic Olejniczak, noting that Camp Randall had approximately 50 percent more seats than Lambeau Field or County Stadium in Milwaukee.
Finally, on Oct. 9, 1985, after what UW athletic director Elroy Hirsch said was 14 years’ worth of discussions, the two sides announced that the Packers would hold an exhibition game at Camp Randall Stadium in August of the next season.
“I am really thrilled,” Hirsch said at the time. “It’s been a project close to my heart over the years and I’m glad that all of our work has resulted in a fine attraction for Wisconsin and Green Bay Packer fans alike.”
That first game, a 38-14 Packers win over the Jets, had a distinct Badger feel to it. Randy Wright started at quarterback for Green Bay and running back Gary Ellerson accounted for 71 yards on 12 carries and two first-half touchdowns. On the other side, Al Toon had two catches for 19 yards for the Jets. The crowd of 73,959 was the largest to watch the Packers in the state of Wisconsin.
Over the next 14 years, the Packers played 12 exhibition games in Madison, going 9-3 at Camp Randall Stadium. The final six games featured a noted gunslinger who grew into a Packers legend.
On Aug. 16, 1992, Brett Favre made his second appearance for the Packers. Traded from the Atlanta Falcons during the offseason, he tossed the winning touchdown pass in the fourth quarter of his Green Bay debut a week earlier. Against the Jets in his Camp Randall Stadium debut, Favre started the second half and immediately led a 20-play drive. However, as the Packers lined up for a 36-yard field goal attempt, one thing was missing, the holder. It was Favre. He raced back onto the field and proceeded to fumble the snap, botching the attempt.
“I just plain forgot I was supposed to hold,” Favre said after the game.
He finished the game 19-of-28 for 181 yards with 2 interceptions as the Jets won, 24-7.
The following season, Favre started his first game at Camp Randall and saw his first pass intercepted by the Saints. He bounced back nicely, tossing a TD pass on the Packers’ next drive and leading Green Bay to a 17-0 lead after the first quarter. New Orleans rallied for a 26-17 win with Favre going 7-of-14 for 67 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Favre started the next three Packers games held at Camp Randall (1994, 1995 and 1997), seeing limited playing time in each. That was the plan in what turned out to be Green Bay’s final game in Madison, on Aug. 23, 1999, against the Denver Broncos, but the plan was cut even shorter.
The game, a Monday Night Football broadcast on ABC, drew another Wisconsin-record crowd of 78,184 fans despite a driving rainfall. Favre started once again but left after eight plays when he was knocked to the ground by John Mobley and landed awkwardly on his right hand. Favre stayed on the sideline for the first half but watched the second half from the locker room. The Packers said no X-rays were taken of Favre’s hand and the injury wasn’t serious (bruised thumb). It turned out to only be a scare as Favre started the Packers’ next game just five days later.
Favre’s Camp Randall career encapsulated six games (five starts). His numbers in Madison were 41-of-69 for 386 yards with one TD and four interceptions.
“Obviously we were not here to watch stellar football, but it was really awesome to be back with the guys.”
— Brett Favre on the NFL Legends game
Following Favre’s retirement and reconciliation with the Packers, he was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame on July 18, 2015. One day later, Favre returned to Camp Randall Stadium to host Brett Favre’s Legends Game, a charity flag football game featuring a team of former Packers against a team of NFL All-Stars, featuring UW Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne.
A crowd of more than 20,000 fans was on hand and saw Favre’s team pull out a 38-32 victory.
“Obviously we were not here to watch stellar football, but it was really awesome to be back with the guys,” Favre said after the game at midfield.
And awesome for the fans to enjoy one last game in Madison.