Trade puts Thompson's legacy at stake

Either the GM will become a legend or he will become a punch line after dealing the legendary Favre,'s Tyler Dunne says.

Nobody cares that Ted Thompson drafted three straight home run wide receivers who could be the foundation of the passing game for the next decade.

Nobody cares that it was Thompson who shrewdly cherry-picked Ryan Grant at the end of training camp last season.

Nobody cares to remember the $52 million risk he took in giving Charles Woodson — broken leg and all — the big payday no other team would.

Joe Packer Fan could not care less about Thompson's forward-thinking contracts to Aaron Kampman, Al Harris, Nick Barnett, Cullen Jenkins and Donald Lee — all wise pre-free agent contracts. Joe doesn't care that Thompson's three-year emphasis on special teams glued the team together.

All that matters is that Ted Thompson is the man who traded Brett Favre.

Despite all of the general manager's savvy personnel decisions, his legacy forever will be tied to this decision. Not many general managers deal a three-time MVP fresh off a 4,155-yard, 28-touchdown season. It was more than that, too.

Through the monthlong impasse, it became painfully obvious Thompson would've traded Favre to the Toronto Argonauts for 200 barrels of Canada's finest oil if he had the chance.

Fair or unfair, Thompson is the guy who drove a Hall of Famer out of town. He can slither beneath mundane verbiage, but that's the bottom line. Favre isn't like Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas or Joe Namath, either. He was playing his best football on a team loaded with weapons.

"This is a high-risk business," Thompson said Wednesday. "This is the National Football League. We understand that when we sign on. Yeah, does that put us at risk? But there's all kinds of risks in the NFL. There's all kinds of risks in life."

But not like this risk.

Once the dust settles in five to 10 years, Thompson could emerge as the next Bill Polian — an absolute mastermind.

He traded Favre as close as he could to Siberia. And, who knows, Aaron Rodgers may erupt this season — which is more likely than people may realize given his Oscar-winning supporting cast. It's not like he's playing in the AFC South. The division title is Green Bay's to lose. With Favre's shadow safely in another conference, Rodgers could have a banner year, earn a multiyear contract and imprint himself as the centerpiece of the franchise.

And the president would have no choice but to hire Thompson to his Cabinet.

Thompson would go down as the man who hired a quarterback genius, who in turn molded a raw rookie into a Pro Bowler. Rodgers' success could signal a new standard for quarterback development in GM circles: draft a quarterback early (regardless of who your starter is) and let him grow slowly for multiple seasons with year-round, hands-on training from the head coach. When he's ready to lead, start him, even if it's at the expense of someone who was just the MVP runner-up.

This scenario is more hunky-dory than those overzealous NFL Team Yearbook 30-minute drooling sessions.

Still, it could happen. Ted Thompson and Aaron Rodgers could go down as heroes, co-author a novel of faith and stick it to anyone who doubted them by hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

Or the decision could blow up in Thompson's face.

The Jets could start 6-3, the Packers could start 3-6, Thompson would hear "Favre!!!" in his left ear and "Brohm!!!" in his right ear, and his job would be in jeopardy.

Fifty years from now, Lambeau Field tour guides might be slipping Thompson's name into their daily spiel as a go-to punch line. You know, that silly GM who dumped the team's greatest player ever and ruined a wide-open shot at a Super Bowl.

Ha ha ha. Oh, poor Teddy. What was he thinking? And here folks, is the Lambeau Atrium…

Every exhausted minute of airtime that the Favre-Thompson saga ate up in the last month is justified. It's one of the most controversial, riskiest decisions in sports history — let alone team history.

Quarterbacks win and lose games. Even after dozens of his brilliant decisions built a rock-solid nucleus, Thompson's one decision last week will shout forever above the rest.

For better or worse.

Tyler Dunne is a regular contributor to and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at

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