Instead, Thompson feels a tug from the franchise, which has entrusted him to run the football show for 10 seasons.
“I have people that I’m responsible for here, too – people that I’ve hired that have taken up this position because of my insistence or encouragement -- so there’s a certain amount of responsibility that you have for the people you work with,” Thompson said during a Wednesday news conference.
In all, Thompson is entering his 17th season with the team. The scouting department at one time featured an almost unparalleled depth chart that included John Dorsey, John Schneider and Reggie McKenzie. Those three are running the shows in Kansas City, Seattle and Oakland, respectively, so Thompson is guiding the next generation of personnel gurus.
That next generation includes director of pro personnel Eliot Wolf, senior personnel executive Alonzo Highsmith and director of college scouting Brian Gutekunst. Those three have spent a combined 40 years with the Packers, so it’s not as if the cupboard will be bare whenever Thompson decides enough is enough. Still, you got the feeling Thompson wanted to ensure the franchise was in the best possible condition and that, whenever he decides to step away from the game, that his successor will be ready to keep the ship pointed in the right direction.
Reading between the lines, perhaps Thompson is ready to step back – if only a little bit. Not only would be it good for keeping his batteries charged, but it would entrust more responsibilities on others in the personnel department and help cultivate the staff's growth.
“I was asked that question a lot, how long I was going to go, but I’ve felt good,” Thompson said. “You always self-evaluate as you go along in life. ‘How much longer do you want to do this?’ I have family back home in Texas and I’ve not done a good job of this but I’m going to make a more concerted effort to go back home and see them from time to time. It won’t be months at a time but I want to go back and be more connected to my family.”
“I think you just manage your time a little bit better,” he said later. “During the course of the season, you can have a Friday or a Saturday that you don’t really have to be in the office but you’re not out scouting at that particular time, you just zip home and maybe see my nephew play ball or something on a Friday night in Texas.”
What keeps Thompson going hasn’t changed. There’s the perpetual pursuit for that undiscovered in diamond in scouting and the hope of one-upping one of his peers. More than that, it’s the thrill of victory that never gets old.
“You go into a winning locker room after all we do, and all the sacrifices that these young men make, their families make and the coaching staff, everybody in the organization, all you guys,” he said. “And then you go into a winning locker room where you’ve actually won a game, to be a former player, maybe that’s the reason it is, but I don’t think it gets any better than that. And it makes a lot of things that are not comfortable more comfortable and more palatable.”
Given the state of the team, with so many key players locked up to long-term contract extensions and a healthy salary cap, Thompson should enjoy that winning feeling a lot more in the coming years.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com, and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.