The Most Tragic Events in Packer History

Over their 105-year history, the Packers have experienced thrilling victories and devastating defeats. Fans remember well the nail-biting 31-25 win against the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV while grumbling about the Packers being eliminated despite beating the Cowboys.

Beyond the field, though, there are many devastating deaths, accidents, and other misfortunes that have cast a pall over Lambeau Field since 1919. Today, we will look at some of the most tragic events in Packers history to better appreciate the blood, sweat, and tears that go into the game.

Disgruntled Employee Smashes Cars in Lambeau Field Parking Lot

Visiting Lambeau Field and enjoying the rich culture surrounding this iconic team is generally considered a safe activity; after all, Green Bay has a crime rate 7% lower than the national average. Unfortunately, crime is unpredictable, often due to personal vendettas that could seriously injure others.

In 2018, former employee Chay Vang drove to the Lambeau Field parking lot and began indiscriminately slamming into other vehicles before chasing down an employee with his car. The employee was cornered on the loading dock, though thankfully harmed, and police arrived quickly to detain Vang.

Vang claimed that he was angry that he was fired while others were not and came to get revenge, though he insisted that he did not intend to hurt anyone. Thankfully, there were no injuries, only property damage, but it still resulted in serious panic and confusion for those present at the scene.

Packers Draft Pick Becomes a Serial Killer

Randall Brent Woodfield, also known as the I-5 Killer, was only with the Green Bay Packers for a short period of time, but his association with the team cast a long shadow across Wisconsin for many years. Chosen by the Packers in the 17th round of the 1974 NFL draft, Woodfield was cut during training camp. While no public reason was given, many suspect that it was due to multiple indecent exposure charges.

Woodfield returned to his hometown of Portland, Oregon, at the end of 1974 and almost immediately turned to a life of serious crime. He was arrested in 1975 after a stream of sexual robberies and sexual assaults, serving only four years of a 17-year sentence.

After being released from prison, Woodfield began his infamous career as a serial killer. It’s suspected that he killed as many as 44 people from October 1980 to February 1981, though he has only been convicted of one murder. Woodfield was convicted in June 1981 and is currently serving a life sentence, plus 90 years, in the Oregon State Penitentiary.

During his brief period with the Packers, teammates remembered him as a “smooth operator” and “ladies’ man” who was a bit strange, stealing items from local stores despite having the funds to pay. It is reported that he was devastated by being cut from the Packers; in fact, when searching his apartment after the murders, police found that Woodfield had kept every single correspondence from the team. In his wallet, Woodfield had a copy of the airline ticket that the Packers had sent him in 1974 when he was drafted.

Former Super Bowl Star Dies in Car Accident

Wayne Simmons, a 1993 first-round draft pick who won the Super Bowl with the Packers in 1998, tragically passed away at the age of 32 while driving in Missouri.

Eyewitnesses reported that Simmons was driving at a high speed on Interstate 70 in his Mercedes, weaving through traffic, when he lost control and went off the highway. The vehicle rolled multiple times before coming to a stop and catching on fire. Though other drivers attempted to pull him free, they could not release his seatbelt, and he was pronounced dead at the hospital in Independence, Missouri, shortly after.

Though Simmons’ accident took place in Missouri, his death is a solemn reminder to all Packers fans that while flashy moves on the field can bring fame, they can have tragic consequences when behind the wheel. Each year there are over 500 fatal car crashes and 26,755 injury crashes in Wisconsin, many of which are entirely preventable with due caution.

A Carpenter Is Killed While Working at Lambeau Field

Sadly, a 27-year-old carpenter lost his life during renovations of Lambeau Field in June of 2023. Joshua Shaw, who was employed by Mavid Construction, was struck by a dumbwaiter as he worked inside the video scoreboards.

Shaw had leaned over the guardrail to speak to another worker about needing a table saw. He requested that it be loaded onto the dumbwaiter and sent up to him from the concourse, unaware that the dumbwaiter was descending from an upper level as he spoke to his colleague. The dumbwaiter, operated by a pendant system, struck him in the back of the head and continued descending, dragging him along with it.

The young man died in the hospital two days later, and two construction companies involved in the renovations were fined a collective $34,000 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

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