When Russell Wilson got to Seattle as a rookie third-round draft choice in 2012, he was initially buried on the Seahawks' depth chart behind Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson.
Two years into his regime as a first-time general manager, former Packers executive John Schneider signed Flynn, Green Bay's backup to Aaron Rodgers, to a $26 million contract with $10 million guaranteed to get his first NFL starting job for Seattle.
That lasted five months and exactly zero regular-season games. Wilson so wowed Pete Carroll and Schneider that by that season's Matt Flynn No. 15 Seahawks jerseys -- remember these? -- were already relics.
Now, three seasons later, previously undrafted Jermaine Kearse wears Flynn's old No. 15 as the trusted receiver of a Super Bowl winner and the NFL's winningest quarterback over the first three seasons of a career.
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My News Tribune colleague Don Ruiz was in Green Bay all week -- our traveling man just flew into New England today to cover tomorrow's AFC championship between the Colts and the Patriots. He caught up with Flynn for this story in today's TNT:
GREEN BAY, Wis. Aaron Rodgers sore calf has meant increased practice snaps for Matt Flynn, who is back as the No. 2 quarterback in Green Bay after failing to nail down starting spots in Seattle and Oakland.
“I think that would be a big mistake to try to be Aaron,” Flynn said. “I play the game like I play the game, and don’t plan to mimic anybody. I just go out and try to make sure the communication is there, first and foremost, because we do a lot of stuff at the line of scrimmage. … I just make sure that everybody can hear my voice, see my signals and get used to me.”
Excelling as Rodgers’ understudy was what once raised Flynn’s quarterback stock in the first place.
He came into the league in 2008 as seventh-round pick out of LSU and served four mostly quiet seasons as Rodgers’ backup.
But in 2011, he threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns in the season finale against Detroit. No Packer had ever done that; and in fact the only other NFL quarterbacks who had were Joe Namath and Y.A. Tittle. That, combined with his performance at New England the season before, also made Flynn one of three quarterbacks since 1970 to throw for at least three touchdowns in each of his first two career starts. The others were Dan Marino and Kurt Warner.
Front offices across the NFL noticed. The one that landed Flynn was Seattle.
However, that offseason also happened to the one when Seattle used a third-round draft pick on a quarterback named Russell Wilson.
Wilson’s instant emergence limited Flynn’s season to zero starts, five appearances, nine passes thrown and five competed.
The next offseason, he was traded to Oakland. He got one start there before being released and returning to Green Bay.
Though in Seattle only a season, Flynn said he remains friendly with players there.
“I still talk to a good amount of them,” he said. “There are guys I formed good relationships with there, and my wife formed good relationships with some of the players’ wives as well. We keep in touch.”
He also remembers the fans
“I don’t think you’re going to get any louder anywhere,” he said. “It’s as loud or louder than anywhere else. They have smart fans: They know when to get loud and when to get quiet. They love their Seahawks.”
Flynn isn’t the only Packer with Seattle connections.
Executive vice president Ted Thompson was Seahawks vice president of football operations from 200-04.
Assistant head coach/linebackers Winston Moss played his final three seasons (1995-97) in Seattle and began his coaching career there.
Tim Terry, Green Bay’s assistant director of pro personnel, played for the Seahawks from 2000-02.