Wolf-Thompson comparison isn't fair

The state of Wolf's Packers early in his regime and the state of Thompson's Packers today are vastly different. Thus, says PackerReport.com's Steve Lawrence, comparing their styles is an apples-to-oranges premise.

I enjoy reading PackerReport.com's Letters to the Editor. The passion of Packers fans is second to none.

Sometimes, though, it's misguided.

Take, for instance, the usual criticism directed toward Ted Thompson. Poor Ted could deliver world peace and buy everyone 100 gallons of gas, but he'd still be ripped for not doing enough to help Brett Favre.

Finally, I realized why.

Thompson's problem is he's not Ron Wolf.

Sorry, folks, but Wolf has retired. Not only is he not coming back to "rescue" the franchise, but there aren't any Ron Wolfs waiting in the wings.

Wolf was a one-in-a-million general manager. Replacing someone like him is akin to being Aaron Rodgers once Favre retires. It's like being Phil Bengston to Vince Lombardi.

People like Wolf, Favre and Lombardi set the bar so high, that those who follow them have practically no chance of being "good enough" in the eyes of the fans.

 This isn't to say Thompson doesn't deserve criticism. No doubt, he does. He sat on a big salary-cap nest egg all offseason, and the thinking was he had something big planned. Instead, the nest egg remains in the incubator, with no signs of it hatching anytime this millennium.

With that said, comparing Wolf to Thompson is pointless because their situations at the same juncture of their Packers tenures are so different.

Wolf wasn't afraid to make a big splash in free agency, with Reggie White being the obvious example.

Thompson made a few moves last year, but generally speaking, he's only timidly dipped his toes into the free-agent market.

However, the state of Wolf's Packers early in his regime and the state of Thompson's Packers today are vastly different.

Wolf had a young Favre at quarterback, and while most experts and fans didn't see it after his first two years in Green Bay, Wolf saw something special in the wild gunslinger.

By contrast, Thompson has an aging Favre at quarterback who has thrown 38 touchdowns compared to 47 interceptions the last two seasons.

Wolf had an enviable backfield to take the pressure off Favre, with Edgar Bennett running behind a young sledgehammer named William Henderson. Later, he drafted Dorsey Levens to add to the mix.

By contrast, Thompson — who had to erase Mike Sherman's mess before he could even have his nameplate screwed to his office door — wisely this offseason let a past-his-prime Ahman Green sign a mega-bucks contract with Houston and parted ways with a way-past-his-prime Henderson. That leaves the Packers with a giant question mark in the backfield.

Add those facts together, and Wolf had a budding juggernaut on his hands while Thompson is still laying the foundation.

In Wolf's case, his blossoming roster made signing talented free agents not only wise, but easier.

Once Wolf had Favre and Reggie White in place, Green Bay became a popular locale for free agents to sign. White was at the height of his powers and a beloved figure, and Favre threw 33 touchdown passes against 14 interceptions in his third season with the Packers.

What does Thompson have to lure free agents to Green Bay? Outside of money, not much. Playing for Favre would be fun, but how long will that fun last? If you're a veteran player who values winning over riches, why would you choose the Packers when you don't know if Rodgers is the answer?

Not only is it hard for Thompson to lure free agents to Green Bay, but at this point, he's deemed it not worth the risk. Thompson has a young team in place, and he wants to see it grow. When those young and potential-filled players become experienced and proven players, the Packers will rise from pretenders to contenders.

Perhaps then, Thompson will deem it wise to make a splash in free agency to fill the remaining holes. At that point, perhaps the Thompson-Wolf comparisons will be worthwhile.

Until then, the comparisons are unfair.

Steve Lawrence is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. Send comments to steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com.

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