Ted Thompson had his foibles, quirks, and negative traits, to be sure. But during his time as general manager, the Green Bay Packers were enormously and consistently successful, due in large part to Thompson’s personnel strategy.
Now that Thompson is in a new role in Green Bay, we asked the Acme Packing Company writers what their favorite Ted Thompson memories were. Share yours in the comments!
Evan “Tex” Western — “Gronk!”
The scene is Lucas Oil Stadium, late February in 2016. Ted Thompson has just come up to the podium to begin his annual press conference at the Scouting Combine. This is the final year that players, coaches, and GMs might all be holding pressers simultaneously -- this is something that was changed for 2017.
A few minutes into Thompson’s presser, an announcement comes over the PA system: Glenn Gronkowski (a fullback from Kansas State and the younger brother of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski) is coming to podium C.
Thompson first mutters under his breath “Well that’s just rude!” before processing the name. With an odd smirk on his face, he laughs and blurts out “Gronk!” Everyone in the pool of reporters, myself included, burst out laughing. It was a perfect example of Thompson’s dry humor and timing, which we did not get to see nearly enough as he only spoke to the media a few times each year.
Click here and go to the 3:45 mark to see this exchange. Honorable mention goes to this quote, from years earlier: “I know for a fact that they don’t have any inside information because sometimes I’m the only inside information and I’m not telling anybody.”
Paul Noonan — Ted Thompson’s Very Exciting Draft Simulator
I’m usually working on a game or two at any given time, and I’m bummed that Ted is gone both because I love Ted, and because he was the subject of my next game. I always viewed Ted as an immensely intriguing draft guru and an almost mythical figure, and since I’ll almost certainly never finish this, you may as well play through the intro. Ted’s awesome and replacing him will be very difficult.
Jon Meerdink — His Refusal to Talk to the Media
I know treating press conferences like they’re about as pleasant as root canals is a weakness in a lot of ways. It allows other people to shape the narrative around your decisions and it often leaves other people to pick up the pieces when your actions affect them in a negative way. Mike McCarthy’s life was made immeasurably more difficult this season when he had to defend the Packers’ personnel decisions, and Ted Thompson could have taken a lot of the heat off his head coach by taking a few of those questions instead.
But despite myself, I still love Thompson’s steadfast refusal to talk, if only because of the way certain members of the Packers media worked themselves into a fury over it. There’s a prevailing attitude of entitlement throughout the world of the Packers, and in the media world it manifests as rage over Thompson denying reporters their easy reactionary stories by refusing to offer up sound bites for them to parse. The undying frustration over it still makes me giggle.
Bob Fitch — His General Mysticism
The structure of the Green Bay Packers organization has always been unique, due simply to the fact that it’s publicly owned and run by appointed board members. How many commenters can name more than 1 board member? Adding to this unique structure is Thompson, who is the only Green Bay General Manager I’ve ever known since I was old enough to have the mental capacity to understand what a General Manager actually does. His lack of engagement with any media combined with his looming “man upstairs” job presence makes him appear as if he always has a scouting report in one hand and a smoke bomb in the other, preparing himself for a quick escape if anybody unwelcome gets too close.
Not to mention he was a linebacker and and emergency kicker that made four extra point attempts in 1980 - everybody loves a utility man.
Peter Bukowski — The Brett Favre trade
I’ll never understand why this moment isn’t credited as his the seminal touchstone of his career. Drafting Aaron Rodgers in the first place took serious intestinal fortitude. Then to say “We’re good without you Brett,” to roll with a player who had looked half competent in literally less than one regular season game in his career was not just gutsy, but a huge gamble.
Sure, Favre came back to beat the Packers twice in 2009 as a Viking, but the Packers got Rodgers, a two-time MVP, Super Bowl MVP, and the most skilled quarterback we’ve ever seen. And not just that, but Thompson signed Rodgers nearly sight unseen with a franchise QB deal in the fall of his first season as the starter.
We only know Aaron Rodgers the virtuoso QB, the future Hall of Famer, because Ted Thompson pushed all his chips into the middle of a skinny kid from Cal with spiky hair and a quick release, standing up to the most beloved man in Wisconsin in the process.