Thompson gets to work

Ted Thompson was introduced as the Green Bay Packers' new general manager on Saturday morning at Lambeau Field. The questions everyone wanted answers to, specifically the future of Mike Sherman and the roster, were the answers Thompson was not prepared to answer.

"I've just gotten here," Thompson reminded reporters. "Two days ago I was spending all my waking hours trying to make the Seattle Seahawks a better team. I'm not ducking the questions but I don't think it's approrpriate for me to answer questions when I've only had about 24 hours to focus on this and no time to actually consider the nuts and bolts about the football operation."

Thompson hinted Sherman would coach the team next season. Sherman's contract expires at the end of the 2005 season and his agent, Bob LaMonte, would like to begin working out an extension. Thompson wouldn't look that far ahead, though, without face-to-face discussions — they played phone tag throughout Friday before finally connecting Saturday morning. In fact, Thompson said he was unaware of Sherman's contract status at the time of his hiring. They planned on meeting Saturday afternoon.

"Mike Sherman is an outstanding coach and his record speaks for itself," Thompson said. "Nobody needs to make apologies because everything that's happened here has been outstanding."

Asked specifically about Sherman's long-term prospects, Thompson said: "You missed that part about I just got here. Like I said, Mike Sherman's record here speaks for itself.

"I don't know what he's thinking and nobody here can anticipate what Mike Sherman is thinking," Thompson continued. "I anticipate him Mike Sherman being our coach and us going forward and doing some positive things."

Ego certainly won't be an issue, on either end. When the decision was announced Friday, Packers president Bob Harlan said Sherman's reaction was: "The first thing Mike said at that point was ‘I like Ted very much. I can work with him.'"

Same goes for Thompson. Thompson said he has no intentions of imposing his will on Sherman. He said Sherman will pick his assistant coaches. And while Thompson will run the personnel department, he says he won't use a "sledgehammer" to force Sherman to have players he doesn't like.

"It's not about individuals. It's not about Ted Thompson. It's not about Mike Sherman. It's not even about Bob Harlan. It's about what's best for the Packers," Thompson said.

Thompson wouldn't detail his plans for the roster, other than to say he wouldn't be blowing things up and starting from scratch. While the situation looked bleak at times last season, especially on defense and with quarterback Brett Favre nearing retirement, Thompson said things aren't as bad as they seem.

"This is the National Football League. There are challengs every day," Thompson said. "There are greater challenges elsewhere than there are specifically here. Obviously when it's your team your focused on, those problems and concerns seem to be a little more dynamic than maybe they are."

Thompson said he has a lot of film to study and a lot of meetings with Sherman and the other coaches before choosing a direction for the roster.

"A bunch. A whole bunch," when asked if Thompson would be seeking Sherman's input on the makeup of the current roster. "I'm going to pick everybody's brain that I can find. Reggie McKenzie, John Dorsey, John Schneider, all those guys upstairs, the guys out on the road who are college scouting, all the coaches here, all the people who have been around, the weight coaches. I'll even talk to the trainers because maybe they'll give me a different picture of the personality of the players. I've got to get a lot of help from a lot of people."

The direction of the franchise will play a role in whether Favre returns for next season. Thompson said he hasn't called Favre but will be contacting him and several other players.

For now, Thompson, who worked under Ron Wolf from 1992-99, is happy to be back in Green Bay.

"Ron told me that this is the best job in the National Football League. He told me that here eight or 10 years ago and I never forgot that. I'm humbled to be in this position."

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