Thompson Pays Belated Tribute

GM Ted Thompson publicly thanked Mark Tauscher, Nick Barnett and others for their contributions and asked the fans to "hang with us" during a troubling free agent period.

Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson held his pre-training camp news conference on Saturday evening, about an hour-and-a-half before the first practice of camp. He led it off by mentioning each of the veterans he had cut loose earlier in the week. Later, he apologized and took the blame for the team's one-paragraph statement thanking those players for their contributions to the team. Here's what he said to lead off his news conference:

I've got a couple of remarks I'd like to make before we get started. Just talk about things. This is a transition period into a new league year. It's been hectic at times, like we all anticipated. There's still a lot of uncertainty out there. We understand the fans may be uncertain and feeling a little bit nervous about the way things are going, and it can be unsettling. It's just a question of the pace. Like take, for instance, free agency. It's sort of working like it always does, it's just at an accelerated pace. Free agency usually has these huge, frenetic contracts done early on and then it tapers off by days and weeks and things like that. Now it's more like in hours. So hang with us on that. Everything is still very fluid. There are some people that warrant some special mention, some guys we let go this week, guys that have been with the Packers for a number of years. Start out with Mark Tauscher. I spoke with him, he is a true professional, always has been. He's a great Badger and a great Packer. I told him when we were talking, ‘You're probably a first-ballot Packer Hall of Fame guy.' All these guys played a long time, done a great job. Mark was great in the locker room, great leader, great personality. I'm sure he was really good with all you guys.

Nick Barnett — I think he had eight years here and played outstanding. Again, another guy I had a long talk with. He really appreciated his time here, I think he's even leaving messages through tweets, or something to that affect. Very standup guy and did a lot for the Packers.

Brandon Chillar — Brandon and I talked about when I played, I was sort of that nickel backer and when I was playing I knew how hard that was. And when I watched Brandon both in college and in the pros, I told him he was the player I wanted to be in terms of versatility and athletic ability. We had a great conversation and he was very appreciative of his time here.

Brady Poppinga, as you guys know, a real hard-nosed, tough guy. He's very confident in his rehab where he is and he thinks he's in the best shape of his life and we wish him well. Played a lot of football for us.

Justin Harrell — a guy that never really got it going. He had some injuries that held him back, things like that. He received some public criticism and I think that's unwarranted. He did everything we asked him to do and he worked hard and he played hard, it just didn't work out. Sometimes that happens and if there's blame to be had, it should be pointed toward me instead of Justin because he didn't do anything wrong.

I did speak with all these guys and it was good to see ‘em and to say goodbye. ... The seed of this is sort of a reflection of the NFL itself and it's the same way with the transactions. It's just reality. Those things are going to happen. They're not comfortable that we have to make hard decisions. But that's our job is to do that. I'm not the kind of person that enjoys that. As many of you know, I'm more of a builder than a guy that says goodbye. So, this has been a tough time, especially with guys that have been with us and helped the Packers win and be successful. There's always going to be turnover, though, and change is inevitable. Again, I think that this year's pace is such that it's probably a little more alarming to your readers and listeners and people that watch the television.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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