Stepping in for a pair of legends is never easy. It helps when you get one of the most memorable season openers in history.
The Packers opened the 1999 season at home against the Oakland Raiders on a rainy, overcast September day. In many ways, it was another typical opener like the 78 ones prior to this year’s. But in the home radio booth upstairs, a seismic shift was taking place.
The familiar, folksy voice of Jim Irwin was no longer there; Irwin having announced his retirement near the end of the 1998 season. Sending shockwaves throughout the industry was Green Bay’s coup of plucking veteran announcer Wayne Larrivee from the radio booth of the archrival Chicago Bears, for whom he had called games for the past nine seasons.
So while Larrivee was new, there was one constant: Packers Hall of Fame player and longtime Green Bay television sportscaster Larry McCarren, who had teamed with Irwin and his longtime partner, Max McGee, for the last several seasons.
Perhaps as a harbinger of the classic games that this new duo would call in the two-plus decades that followed, Larrivee and McCarren saw future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre badly injure his arm after getting hit attempting a third quarter pass, only to go on to show why there is only one true “Gunslinger” in NFL history.
Early in the fourth quarter, with Favre gutting out yet another game where most mortal quarterbacks would have come out, Green Bay found itself down by double-digit points.
Engineering drives of 76 and 82 yards, capped off by a Favre to Jeff Tomlinson touchdown with just 11 seconds remaining, the Packers had their first win of the season, and the new duo of Wayne & Larry had a debut for the ages.
Check out the 1999 season opener in its entirety, Sunday at noon, on your new radio home for Packers football, 97.3 The Game!