Today is the 54th birthday of Frank Winters, or “Frankie Baggadonuts” as John Madden liked to call him. He was known for his confident, belligerent attitude, and his career reflects the essence of the NFL. A 10th round afterthought draft choice of the Browns in 1987, he bounced from Cleveland to New York to Kansas City until landing in Green Bay as an unheralded Plan B free agent in 1992.
Primarily a guard and long snapper, the 6’3” 300-pound Winters took over at center when James Campen suffered a career-ending injury in week four of the 1993 season. A year later, Winters again started the season at guard before replacing free agent Jamie Dukes at center halfway through the year. He would remain the starting center until 2001 when the younger, more athletic Mike Flanagan finally beat him out. In 2002, Frank returned to the starting lineup when Flanagan was shifted to tackle to replace the injured Chad Clifton. At 39, Winters tried one last time to make the team in 2003, but was cut at the end of August.
Winters had a special bond with his quarterback and roommate, Brett Favre, and went a long way on modest talent. He was tough and crafty and very chippy. In 1998, Winters made Sports Illustrated’s list of the 12 dirtiest players in the league for his play after the whistle blew, although Frank disputed that classification. Position coach Larry Beightol considered him a coach on the field, and he was the leader of the Packers’ offensive line for a decade. In truth, he was never considered one of the top centers in the league. The one year he made the Pro Bowl, 1996, it was as an injury replacement for Ray Donaldson. However, he was a durable, constant, solid intimidator throughout his 11 years in Green Bay.
(adapted from Green Bay Gold.)
Custom cards in altered Topps, Fleer and Bowman styles.