Talking but saying nothing

Nobody keeps a secret like an NFL general manager or coach, and Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy have it down to a science,'s Steve Lawrence says in hopes of explaining why there's hardly any news to report.

If the White House had been run by NFL coaches and general managers, the Watergate scandal never would have ruined Richard Nixon's presidency.

Last week, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) asked for a classified plan on Iraq, with only the White House and Congress knowing the withdrawal date. Congress keep a secret? Please! Not that group of media whores. Now, if President Bush were to propose a withdrawal date, and only tell NFL GMs, you'd have a better chance of finding Atlantis in your swimming pool than having Ted Thompson spill the beans.

No bunch of people on earth — with the exception of those pesky Egyptian mummies, who refuse to tell anyone how the pyramids were built — can keep as tight-lipped as your average NFL coach or front-office executive. The KGB — the Russian organization, not the defensive end — has nothing on Thompson and his brethren.

William from Washington e-mailed me the other day, saying he appreciated the humor in my March 14 column on Thompson and his thrifty ways, but advised me to not quit my day job and perhaps come up with some real Packers news.

Sorry, William, but unless you contact an agent who really feels like flapping his gums, there is no news to report.

If you asked Thompson if it were sunny or cloudy outside, he probably wouldn't tell you. If you asked Thompson if he likes sausage or pepperoni, he'd probably say both, but he's also a big fan of Canadian bacon. If you asked Thompson if he likes chocolate or vanilla ice cream, he'd probably say both, or even mixed together.

And when you do get Thompson or coach Mike McCarthy to say something, well, let's just be thankful they aren't Pinocchio.

Thompson and McCarthy are like every other general manager and coach in the league. They don't say anything, and even when they talk, they still aren't saying anything.

I suppose there's nothing new in this, but I think the success of coach Bill Belichick in New England has made silence the NFL's golden rule. Tom Brady's arm could literally fall off in front of millions of fans on national TV, and he'd list his quarterback with a vague upper-body injury on the injury report.

You can't blame the hush-hush mentality. This is a multimillion-dollar business, and they are paid to win games, not satisfy the appetites of Packers fans hungry for news. Saying anything that could make winning more difficult would be foolish. Sure, it often borders on paranoia, but from their perspective, it's better to say too little than too much.

At the same time, they do have to say something to the media. It's part of the job requirement. What's not part of the job requirement is being completely truthful.

Which is why there's no reason to get worked into a tizzy when McCarthy says Vernand Morency could rush for 1,000 yards and be an "every-down back for us."

Which is why there's no reason to pull your hair out when McCarthy says he looks for Robert Ferguson "to compete to be the (No.) 2 or (No.) 3 (receiver)."

Which is why when Thompson says trading Aaron Rodgers has "never been discussed inside the building or outside the building," that doesn't mean Thompson hasn't been talking to Raiders owner Al Davis every day for the last two months about trading Rodgers for Randy Moss.

Maybe Morency can be a 1,000-yard back, and he in fact will take over Ahman Green's role in the offense. Maybe the Packers plan to make a blockbuster deal for San Diego's Michael Turner. Maybe Thompson goes to bed every night praying that Marshawn Lynch will be available in the first round. Either way, sounding desperate for a top-flight running back only would make acquiring one more difficult.

Maybe Ferguson is in the Packers' plans for next season. Then again, if you say he's not in the plans, then you can't trade him.

Maybe Rodgers' place on the Packers' roster is as secure as Brett Favre's. Either way, there's no point in ruffling the kid's feathers.

All of this is frustrating to me and you. All I can tell you is when you read a quote from McCarthy or Thompson, believe what they say. Then believe the opposite. One or the other, or somewhere in between, will be the truth.


Lawrence is a regular contributor to Send comments to

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