SI Vault
Jill Lieber
June 11, 1990
Quarterback Don Majkowski has captivated Green Bay Packer fans with an on-field bravado that belies his true nature
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June 11, 1990

The Majik Touch

Quarterback Don Majkowski has captivated Green Bay Packer fans with an on-field bravado that belies his true nature

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Packer fans will tell you that Majkowski more than lived up to his nickname last season. He was indeed Majik-al in the way he rallied Green Bay to victory five times in the fourth quarter. The Pack wound up with a 10-6 record, its best showing since 1972, but lost a tiebreaker to the Minnesota Vikings for the NFC Central Division title and a playoff berth. Majik became the first Green Bay quarterback to be selected to the Pro Bowl since Bart Starr in 1966. He led the league in pass attempts (599), completions (353) and passing yards (4,318). His 27 touchdown throws ranked third.

Majkowski, 26, coined his nickname when he was a teenager because he was tired of having his last name mispronounced. "It's butchered to this day," he says. "I'm Maj-i-KOW-ski or MAJ-kow-ski. I've even been called Makowitz."

Majik can afford to be cocky; he is the most athletic quarterback in the NFL. You name the sport, Majik excels at it. Speed skating, ice hockey, racquetball, tennis, golf, bowling, table tennis, skiing, gymnastics. Gymnastics? Majik performs handsprings and backflips, and walks on his hands. He has high-jumped 6'11", and he can dunk a basketball with a variety of midair turns. An outstanding pitcher and shortstop in high school, he was offered a tryout with the Toronto Blue Jays.

His athleticism translates into a flashy and daring brand of football. The San Francisco 49ers' Joe Montana is the only quarterback who is better at escaping would-be tacklers, and few come close to Majik's play-faking ability. He shows no fear in catapulting his 6'2", 197-pound body upfield, scrambling over linebackers and running through safeties. "If it means winning, he'll dive headfirst into the end zone," says Green Bay assistant coach Joe Clark. "He doesn't care if Godzilla is waiting for him."

Majik's flamboyance does not go unnoticed by his teammates. Guard Ron Hallstrom refers to him as Majik Child. "When I came to Green Bay eight years ago, my hair was brown," he says. "It has gotten grayer and grayer. Don came with sandy hair, and it's gotten blonder and blonder. Something's not right."

Coach Lindy Infante once caught Majik blow-drying his locks in the bathroom a few minutes before a preseason game. "It was so hot that day," says Majik. "I came in from warmups and had to dry my face because I hadn't put on my eye black yet. I hadn't applied my makeup."

However, the trait that's most often discussed is his toughness. "He never yells at us in the huddle if we blow an assignment," Hallstrom says. "In fact, after he's sacked, he often says, 'Wow! Did you see the hit that guy put on me?' "

Perhaps Majik's gutsiest performance came against the Los Angeles Rams on a smoggy, 86° afternoon last year in Anaheim. In the first half he threw three interceptions and ran more than 100 yards chasing down the players who had stolen his passes. On two of the interceptions, he made the tackle to end the play. By halftime the Rams led 38-7, and Majik was exhausted. "It felt like I had smoked a pack of cigarettes," he says. In the locker room, Majik was given water and nutrients intravenously in each arm. Infante told him to sit out the second half, to which Majik agreed. "But then I got to thinking, if I go out now, it'll look like I'm quitting," Majik recalls. "I can't ever let my teammates think I've given up."

Backup quarterback Anthony Dilweg loosened up for the second half, but Majik told Infante that he wanted to go back into the game. In one of the most memorable comebacks in Packer history, within 23 minutes Majik threw for two TDs and set up three other scores. But time ran out, and Los Angeles escaped 41-38.

Starved for a winner, Green Bay fans have embraced Majkowski—body, soul and nickname. What they have failed to recognize is that Majik and Majkowski are two distinctly different personalities: extrovert and introvert, perfect as opposed to ordinary. Majkowski says he feels as though he is supposed to be Majik all the time.

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