It didn't work between Ted and Mike, so what did Ted do? He fired Sherman, even after giving him a contract extension that we all knew, or hoped, didn't mean anything. The extension eliminated any other distraction that this team didn't need because it had more than its share of soap operas, didn't it?
I take my hat off to Ted Thompson as he has had to handle many different situations that could have really changed the face of the organization. Let's take a look at some of the issues he has had to deal with, and not in any order:
We have to start with some of the dead weight that was holding this organization back, which started with Mike Sherman. He might be considered a very good coach because of his winning percentage during the regular season, but regular season wins really don't mean anything nowadays. Not only did he fire Mike Sherman but he went out and hired Mike McCarthy and most of the Packer Nation said, ‘Who and why?' because there was Jim Bates that everyone loved and respected and expected him to be the next in line. Ted didn't blink. He said that Mike was his guy, end of discussion.
Also, Ted didn't like the direction this team was going and some of the players on the team, so he got rid of some of the dead weight. He saw that Cletidus Hunt wasn't getting it done, and really hadn't since he got the big pay day, so he said bye-bye. Then there was the Ahmad Carroll saga where this guy was killing the team in every way possible. If he wasn't getting penalties for holding, he was getting burned for touchdowns. Again, Ted did what he had to do and that's pull the trigger and get rid of him for everyone's sake.
Don't get me wrong, Thompson made some mistakes as well, like drafting a guy as a punt returner that couldn't catch, but what did he do? He cut him. He didn't make excuses or try to prove to the world that he was smarter than everyone else. By cutting Cory Rodgers he signaled that it was a mistake.
Then he had to deal with the Javon Walker situations where Javon thought because he had a good year and got to go to the Pro Bowl and hang out with the big boys he deserved more money. He let Terrell Owens get in his head and became a royal pain in the backside for the Green Bay Packers. Javon wanted money from this organization, and even though they could have given it to him just to make him happy, they didn't because they didn't want any player to believe they had that much power. Not only that, but there is a better way to go about things. You don't negotiate in the papers and on television. You do it behind closed doors and Walker chose to put his business in the street.
Ted didn't have to make a stand, but he did and now look at what happened. Since that time he has given Donald Driver and Al Harris well-deserved extensions. Donald's happened right after getting rid of Walker and, yes, Ted's not stupid. He knew Walker is one heck of a talent and he really didn't want to part ways, but he had to for the sake of the team. The situation between Walker and Favre was never settled because lines were crossed. Then just this week Al Harris received a well-deserved extension. Yes, he moaned a little in the paper earlier this year but it didn't interrupt his excellent play. And as you look at it what he got from the organization is a small price to pay for what he brings to the defense. To me it's more than just a contract. What it signals to me is that Ted Thompson is paying attention to what he needs to do to help this organization win, and he is willing to pay those that deserve it.
Nothing is carved in stone. The Packers look at every situation differently and they don't just say ‘This is how we are going to do things – period, end of story with no exceptions.' I'm even impressed at how they have handled the Brett Favre situation over the last couple of years. Even though I thought they should have put a time table on Brett's retirement situation because of the circus it created, Ted Thompson held his ground and showed just how strong of a leader he is. He went about his business by building a strong foundation for future years.
It's been talked about time and time again by me and others at how the youth movement has put this team in prime position to really compete in the NFC, because no one has a strangle hold on this conference. Now if he can sprinkle some key talent in the holes they need filled by the draft, or through free agency – and I have no reason to believe he won't - I'd have to say he has a METHOD TO HIS MADNESS!!!!!!
Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.