A Shooting Star!
In a practice dating back to 127-151 A.D., making a wish upon a shooting star makes the wish come true.
For Packers fans, it’s true! Our shooting star” was Don Majkowski!
Like a shooting star that lit up the night sky, Don Majkowski was permanently elevated to shooting star status in 1989! His Cardiac Pack momentarily brought winning back to Green Bay. Other than the strike-shortened season of 1982, the Packers hadn’t made the postseason since 1972. They also hadn’t had a winning season since 1978.
In 1989, after beating out Randy Wright in training camp, Majkowski excited fans with his arm and his moxie as well as all the Majik that would come with it! His 599 passes in 1989 set a new Packer record and led the NFL. He also led in game-winning drives (7), comebacks (5), pass completions and passing yards.
The Majik Man directed four heart-stopping, one-point wins over the Saints, the Bears, the Vikings and the Buccaneers. They also lost four games by just 11 points! The Majik Man debuted in Game 2 with the Packers producing 490 yards of offense against the New Orleans Saints. Majik’s winning touchdown pass to Sterling Sharpe with 1:26 left defeated the Saints 35-34.
After Thanksgiving, back-to-back, wins over the Vikings and Buccaneers – each by one point – had the Packers within shouting distance of the postseason!
But without doubt, the Cardiac’s Pack most memorable and enduring triumph came against the Bears in what became known as the The Instant Replay Game. On November 5, 1989, the teams met in Green Bay, and the Packers hadn’t beaten their arch rival since 1984. Chicago entered the game 5-3 and the Packers were 4-4.
In a tight battle with the Bears leading 13-7 with 4:44 remaining, Green Bay took over on their own 27-yard line and The Majik Man had one more opportunity.
The 14-play drive came down to a fourth-and-goal on the 14-yard line with 32 seconds left. After the snap, Majkowski slipped out of the pocket to his right and threw to Sterling Sharpe in the end zone. It appeared to be a touchdown. But an official ruled that Majkowski had crossed the line of scimmage before he released his pass.
In the early days of using video replays to review calls on the field, the officials in the booth took nearly five minutes before reversing the call. When they did, the touchdown and Chris Jacke’s extra point made it 14-13 Green Bay, and it set off one of the loudest and most joyous celebrations in Packer history.
“I don’t see how he made that play,” (PG, 11/6/89, McGinn, p. 15) said shocked cornerback Donnell Woolford od the Bears. Of course, we called it Majik!
In the last seven games of 1989, the Packers went 5-2. Disappointing losses to the Lions and Chiefs cost them a postseason berth.
In negotiating a new contract the following season, Majik did not report back to the team until four days before the season began. He tore his rotator cuff in Game 10 and never fully regained all the Majik. In 1991 and 1992, Don Majkowski started only 11 more games for the Packers, his last coming on September 20, 1992.
A shooting star?
In 1989, Don Majkowski was the first Green Bay quarterback since Bart Starr to make the Associated Press’ All-Pro team. While Majik was raising expectations in Green Bay, Brett Favre had what many considered to be his finest moment as a college quarterback at Southern Mississippi. On September 2, 1989, the junior quarterback led Southern Miss to an upset victory over sixth-ranked Flordia State with a winning touchdown pass with 23 seconds left.
If you followed Majkowski’s heroics in 1989, at some point, you probably hoped for or even wished that all future Packer quarterbacks would be as good as Majik. Well, your wish was granted when Favre replaced Majkowski as the starting quarterback in 1992 and the Packer winning tradition returned and reached new heights!