Some people also believe that Thompson is trying to drive legendary QB Brett Favre out of Green Bay. Otherwise he would have hired Steve Mariucci. Or Jim Bates. But Mike McCarthy? These same fans feel that Favre had no chance for success this year because he was playing at times with what Ron Wolf called "NFL Europe-type players". All of these things are Thompson's fault according to some of the Packer faithful. They think that he is trying to rebuild the Packers in his image. That's why he jettisoned Sherman. That's why he isn't making much of an effort to bring back Favre. The criticism of Thompson isn't restricted to some Packer fans.
Former NFL scout Chris Landry was on FOX GameTime Saturday Warm-Up with Steve "Big Dog" Duemig. Landry didn't exactly endorse Thompson as he spoke on Duemig's show. Among the highlights (or lowlights if you are Thompson) of Landry's comments were that Thompson didn't do a great job while he was in Seattle and that he wasn't Wolf's top assistant, and that there were others that Wolf favored over Thompson. Ouch! So what to make of all this?
Thompson doesn't help himself at times because of his soft spoken manner. He doesn't have what they call a "presence" when he walks into a press conference. But Thompson had to have shown something to Bob Harlan. Otherwise Harlan wouldn't have named him Executive Vice President, General Manager & Director of Football Operations for the Green Bay Packers in January of 2005. Harlan thought Thompson had the qualifications to be a great leader in Green Bay. It was Harlan who had hired Ron Wolf in 1991. That move catapulted the Packer franchise back to greatness. Harlan saw a lot of Wolf in Thompson.
"I feel Ted is a perfect fit for the Packers," Harlan said at the time of Thompson's hiring. "He is a respected , 13 year National football League veteran who is a proven talent evaluator and an efficient administrator. He knows the people in our personnel department and he is familiar with how we run our football operation. He embraces the Packers' championship tradition, and he was very anxious to have the opportunity to return to Green Bay."
Thompson seemed excited about his big opportunity. "The history and tradition of this place is unrivaled in professional sports," Thompson said. I understand the passion the people here have for their team. Ron (Wolf) told me this was the best job in the National Football League. He told me that probably eight or ten years ago. I never forgot that." Thompson was optimistic then as he spoke about the future in Packerland. Yes, Thompson is soft spoken. But do his actions speak louder than his words?
Thompson has been in the NFL for 24 years. His first ten were as a LB with the Houston Oilers from 1975-1984. Although Thompson was not a regular most of the time, he was very durable, missing only one game in 147 games as a player. Thompson got his chance in the front office of the Packers in 1992 when Ron Wolf hired him in the personnel department. One of the first players Thompson ever evaluated was a 1st year QB with the Atlanta Falcons. Wolf asked Thompson to look at some game tape of a guy by the name of Favre. Shortly afterward, the Packers traded a 1st round pick to the Falcons for Favre. That's a pretty good way to start one's career in personnel.
While Thompson was in Green Bay from 1992-99, the Packers had a record of 83-45, 6 straight playoff berths, two Super Bowl appearances and the 1996 world championship. With Thompson in the personnel department, the Packers acquired free agent players like Reggie White, Sean Jones, Don Beebe, Santana Dotson and Desmond Howard. Not a bad list. Thompson concentrated on scouting pro talent through 1996. From 1997-99, Thompson oversaw all of the Packers college and pro scouting operations. Players drafted under Thompson's watch include S Darren Sharper, DE Vonnie Holliday, CB Mike McKenzie and WR Donald Driver.
Thompson then went to Seattle in 2000 to be Vice President of Football Operations of the Seahawks. Players drafted under Thompson include current NFL MVP RB Shaun Alexander, G Steve Hutchinson, WR Darrell Jackson, DB Michael Boulware and K Josh Brown. Thompson also helped orchestrate the trade for QB Matt Hasselbeck and acquired free agent DE Grant Wistrom. The Seahawks are one game away from the Super Bowl because of these players. Yet Thompson still is questioned about the job he did in Seattle.
Thompson's return to Green Bay wasn't exactly a big success due to the Packers' record in 2005. But his draft in 2005 did yield some solid results. Second round pick S Nick Collins made the NFL all-rookie team. Seventh round pick G William Whitticker started most of the season at RG. Fourth round pick LB Brady Poppinga was a special teams demon and was just getting a chance as a starter at LB when he suffered a knee injury. First round pick QB Aaron Rodgers looks to have a bright future in Green Bay when the Favre era ends. Rodgers was a steal at No. 24 when the Packers took him with Thompson's first ever pick as Packers GM. Second round pick WR Terrence Murphy looked to have a very promising career in front of him when he injured his neck early in the season. Murphy's career status is still in doubt. Others in the draft look to have intriguing potential like S Marviel Underwood, OL Junius Coston, CB Mike Hawkins and DE Mike Montgomery.
So why no respect? Why all the doubters? Why all the criticism? The answer is simple. The Packers have not had success yet under Thompson's leadership. Is success far away or right around the corner? That will be answered in the 2006 NFL season. Until then, a lot of questions remain. Was Mike McCarthy the best choice Thompson could have made for the head coaching position? Will Brett Favre return? Will Thompson be active in free agency? Who will Thompson take with the 5th overall pick in the first round of the 2006 NFL draft?
Lots of questions. Lots of doubt. Not much respect. If memory serves me correctly, Rodney Dangerfield had a very long and successful career in comedy. Will the Rodney Dangerfield of the NFL have the same prosperous fate? Judging by Thompson's track record, I don't see why not. Ted Thompson has a Super Bowl ring. The team he helped build in Seattle might be getting some rings soon. Thompson doesn't care about his perceived lack of respect. He would much rather receive a trophy with Vince Lombardi's name on it. That will DEFINITELY bring respect.
Bob Fox is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at email@example.com.