There are certain events and people that have a tendency to standout in your memory and I would like to share a person that I have followed for years. It was my 1971 football season at Hooks High School on a Friday night lining up to play the Atlanta Rabbits. The Rabbits were dressed in their home colors of maroon and white that made them look extremely huge. Entering the field for pre-game warm up was a stocky built fellow that was warming up kicking field goals. He was one of those kickers that kicked with the toe of his shoe instead of the side winder soccer style. He was a high energy player starting at fullback as well as linebacker on defense. The night started with a bang with us receiving the kickoff and moving the ball down the field to score early. I was playing quarterback and my wide receiver was Ronald Larry. We were throwing almost every down because it was mighty tough trying to run up the middle. It seemed that every time we did try to run the middle that stocky boy would stuff us for a loss. I could tell early that we were in for a long night. Needless to say we suffered defeat that night at the hands of the Atlanta Rabbits and this is were the story advances.
After the 1971 season I was being recruited to play quarterback for the SMU Mustangs. The head coach at that time was Hayden Fry and his East Texas recruiter and assistant coach was Jerry Moore. Coach Moore was also recruiting Ted Thompson from Atlanta, the stocky gentleman I have been writing about. It was after my visit to the SMU campus that I received a call from Ted suggesting that we become roommates should I decide to follow him to Dallas. I decided to attend Louisiana Tech in Ruston, Louisiana to join my brother there. That was the last time I saw Ted in person. Ted played his college career at Southern Methodist University starting three years at linebacker intercepting seven passes. During his senior year he served as captain of the team and was also the place kicker. As an un-drafted free agent in 1975, Ted was signed by the Houston Oilers. The Oilers’ GM and head coach was Bum Phillips, who had briefly coached Ted at SMU, Thompson won a spot as a back-up linebacker and special teams player with the Oilers. He held this position for 10 years. Although he only started eight games during is career, he provided durable play in 146 of 147 games. In a 1980 game against th New York Jets, Thompson successfully converted four extra-point attempts as the emergency kicker. In 1992 Ted was hired by Ron Wolf as a scout for the Green Bay Packers. Thompson scouted for the Packers through the 1999 season when former Packers’ head coach Mike Holmgren recruited Thompson to join the Seattle Seahawks. During his time with the Packers as a scout, The Packers advanced to the playoffs six times, participating in tow Super Bowls and winning Super Bowl XXXI. Ted worked for the Seahawks as Vice President of Football operations, also heading Seattle’s scouting department and running the draft boards. He worked alongside former Packers and Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren, who was Seattle’s GM at the time.
Thompson replaced Mike Sherman as general manager of the Packers in 2005. When Thompson was hired the Packers were over the salary cap for the upcoming 2005 season. Some of Thompson’s first decisions included declining to re-sign starting guard Marco Rivera and releasing starting guard Mike Wahle and starting safety Darren Sharper, three key components of the team’s three-time NFC North division championship team. Thompson’s first draft netted a quarterback in first round pick Aaron Rodgers, as well as defensive starters in safety Nick Collins and linebacker Brady Poppinga. The drafting of Rodgers was especially notable in that he had been expected to be selected much earlier in the draft but wound up falling to the late first round. In free agency following the draft, Thompson signed low-priced players, picking up guards Matt O’Dwyer and Adrian Klemm to make up for the losses of Wahle and Rivera. However, O’Dwyer was cut during training camp, and Klemm was benched towards the end of the season. Thompson acquired several free agents during the season that proved more successful, including running back Samkon Gado, tight end Donald Lee and wide receiver Rod Gardner. Still, the team struggled to overcome injuries at numerous offensive skill positions, most notably season-ending injuries to #1 running back Ahman Green, #2 RB Najeh Davenport and #1 wide receiver Javon Walker, and Green Bay finished the season with a 4-12 record, the worst record for the franchise since 1991.
Thompson’s first action during the 2006 offseason was the firing of head coach Mike Sherman, stating “This was more thinking in terms of where we are and where we need to get to.” Sherman was replaced on January 12, 2006 by Mike McCarthy, who came to the Packers after previously serving in the role of offensive coordinator for both the San Francisco 49ers’ 32nd-ranked offense and New Orleans Saints. McCarthy also served as quarterback coach for the Packers in 1999, giving him hands-on experience with franchise quarterback Brett Favre and some familiarity with Thompson. The hiring was considered a surprise to many in NFL circles, as McCarthy was not considered a prime head coaching candidate despite the number of head coaching vacancies.
For you that have followed Ted Thompson’s career you know that he has become a well respected manager of talent in the National Football League. His decisions and ideas have lead to a very successful franchise. The Green Bay Packers Board of Directors is the organization that serves as the owner of record for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (NFL). The Packers have been a publicly owned, non-profit corporation since August 18, 1923. The corporation currently has 360,584 stockholders, who collectively own 5,011,557 shares of stock after the last stock sale of 2011–2012. There have been five stock sales, in 1923, 1935, 1950, 1997, and 2011. Shares in 1923 sold for $5 apiece, while in 1997 they were sold at $200 each and in 2011, $250 each. Judging by the inflation of stock prices you would consider the Packers a pretty good investment. It is very pleasing watching a home town boy direct such a successful organization and will probably go down in history as the most competitive ever. I often look back and wonder how my life would have changed had I decided to follow this unique man to SMU. That thought only lasted a very short time because I feel that my life has been well served. Good luck to Ted Thompson in his continued life and I am proud to know that I was a very small part of his life.