I've known Ted Thompson since 1992 when I played in Green Bay under Mike Holmgren and Ron Wolf. Thompson's knowledge of football is unbelievable. I think he's a great fit for the Packers because of his familiarity with everyone involved from Bob Harlan to Mike Sherman including Wolf.
I remember many discussions we had when he was trying to understand what type of athlete the West Coast offense needed for it to be successful. In his early days he didn't understand that just because a guy ran fast or did well on a test at the NFL Combine made him a good football player. Ted's a disciple of Wolf, who believed that the test scores meant everything - up to the hand size and length of his arms. They wouldn't consider most players unless their test scores were good. And speed was everything. Look at the draft this year. Everything was about speed. Heck, we drafted Nick Collins from Bethune-Cookman simple because of speed, and the same with Mike Hawkins, who hasn't played for a real for a while. Even Brady Poppinga was about speed and good testing. Nothing to do about whether they can play with the big boys.
Ted will not show his hand. He is very deliberate, like with Sherman's contract situation. He won't show his hand or even tip it. Ted believes in what he is doing and has his reasons for doing them even though others may not. He listens to the guys who surround him, maybe even too much, and he is loyal to a fault.
In most places when a new GM is hired, there is movement within the scouting department because of the differences in philosophies, but nothing happened with the Packers' scouting department even though the drafts haven't been too great lately. Did you ask yourself, ‘Why is everyone waiting to see how things will unfold?' Let's go back to the draft. Was it a smart move to select Aaron Rodgers, or a scared safe move because the Packers didn't want to be the team that passed up on a future great quarterback, supposedly? The excuse that Rodgers was the best available first rounder was and still is a joke. The other 21 teams that selected ahead of the Packers had other immediate needs, so they passed on Rodgers because they need to WIN NOW. Safe move or scared move? What if Brett Favre decides to play for 2 or 3 more years? What will they do with Rodgers? Just when it's time for him to play, his contract will be up and it will cost them an arm and a leg to keep him, not really knowing what he can do. But then again they have first round insurance just in case.
We don't know what kind of negotiations are happening between the Packers and Sherman. However, if I were a free agent and trying to decide on where I'm going to play, and I wanted some stability for my future, would I go to a place where the head coach hasn't gotten a contract extension and is coaching in his last year after a new general manager arrived? Are the Packers rebuilding? What do you think? With the hiring of Jim Bates, how much does that have to do with Mike Sherman's future? WELCOME BACK, TED!
Scouts are usually a bunch of guys that know football and who can play the game. A lot of them are former athletes that understand the game because they have played it and know what it takes. But some have played football and left too soon, or have never made it, so they play God and decide on players, out of frustration, who can fulfill the dream they never could. Then there's those who never played football, but their dad was involved and they loved the game so much that they learned what they could to be part of the scouting department.
Here's the deal: Football is about watching tapes to see who can play and who can't. Scouts spend hours and hours watching tape to convince themselves that what they see on the film matches what they think they see on film. Film is the only thing that matters. The old saying the "Eye in the sky don't lie" is all that matters. You can test for speed, hand size, etc., but you can't test for heart. If you don't believe me, look back at Jamal Reynolds, the Packers' former first rounder. What a joke, but he tested well. Antuan Edwards? Another bust. The Packers have an incredible scouting department, but what does it really mean? It's always a CRAP SHOOT!
Editor's note: Harry Sydney's column appears each Tuesday on PackerReport.com. The former Packer fullback and assistant coach answers questions from fans each Friday on PackerReport.com. If you have a question for Harry, e-mail it to PackerReport.com managing editor Todd Korth at email@example.com.