Milwaukee Talks: Packers GM Ted Thompson
GREEN BAY -- Ted Thompson is well aware of how Packers fans feel about him in the aftermath of the Brett Favre saga.
While the Packers' fourth-year general manager doesn't bother to read the Internet postings or listen to the sports-talk radio airwaves, he knows that there's a portion of the fan base that will never forgive him for not accepting unretiring quarterback Brett Favre back to the team with open arms and subsequently trading him to the New York Jets.
Perhaps that's why Thompson was so looking forward to tonight's regular-season opener against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field.
"It was certainly a hectic summer," Thompson said in his typically understated way. "And we got to where we got to."
And now, Thompson-bashers wonder where they're headed with new starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers at the controls. Thompson answered that question and others in a sit-down interview in his Lambeau Field office late last week for this edition of Milwaukee Talks.
OnMilwaukee.com: Do you guys know what you're doing? Because there is a troubling number of so-called Packers fans that don't think you do after the way the Favre saga played out.
Ted Thompson: It was certainly a hectic summer, and we got to where we got to. I can understand the questions people have. But the answer to your question is yes, we do. We know what we're doing. We're trying to put together the best team we can.
OMC: You talk about appreciating their passion and you talk about how you understand when they boo a draft pick, but you also want people to believe the Packers are in good hands.
TT: I do. I think that's really important. Something as sensitive as what we went through, I can understand that. I wish people didn't have to go through it. I wish none of us had to go through it. But I do want them to think the Packers are in good hands. That is important.
And like I've said before, when people question a personnel decision, that's OK. But I do want them to know we're good people and we're doing the best we can. If they know that, at least that's something.
OMC: So then it bothers you that people think you're a raging egomaniac? Does that get to you? Because that's personal, not professional.
TT: The personal part I'm OK with, even. But the big picture, macro view, if they think there's some mad scientist here that doesn't care about anybody else and is only out for his own ego, then they're misinformed.
We literally get up every day and pray that we do a good job that day. Because we know how important it is to people. Again, that doesn't mean everybody's going to agree with us. It'd be nice if everybody knew that that's the way we approach our jobs.
OMC: Was there a point where you sat there and thought, "How on earth has it come to this?"
TT: All the time. I never imagined it (happening). I think the whole thing was unfortunate.
OMC: You've been adamant that it's about the team stepping up, not Aaron replacing Brett. But the bottom line is that your success and failure this season is predicated on how well Rodgers plays, isn't it? If he plays well and stays healthy, you'll win; if he plays poorly or gets hurt, you'll be in trouble, right?
TT: It's a reflection of the team, though. I do think this is the ultimate team sport. We were 13-3 last year in the regular season, 14-4 overall, because we had a remarkably good team. They liked each other, they were accountable to each other, they depended on each other. If we have that kind of relationship amongst our team this year, I think we'll be a good team.
I think we'll have a chance to win. Does that mean we'll win as many games, or we'll win more? I don't know. But it is the ultimate team sport, and if there is a weak link, the NFL will find it. If there's dissention, the NFL will find it. I was very proud of the team last year.
OMC: You've talked before about how when you watch practice, you're not necessarily looking at footwork or fundamentals at practice. What else are you looking at?
TT: I look at athleticism and movement and plays. I do look at the football part. But there are often times when you might think that's what I'm looking at but I'm watching a guy come back from just going through a tough period and seeing how his teammates respond to him and how he responds to them.
The reason I go down on the sidelines in preseason some is to get that interaction. I think from having been a player, it's not that I get any special insight, but you see the real people in those situations. Sometimes stressful, sometimes complete elation, sometimes depression. I've watched guys interact and I watch the team very closely.
OMC: You were asked many times this off-season whether Favre or Rodgers gave you a better chance to win in 2008, and you never really answered the question. Why are you so sure that this 24-year-old kid with 59 regular-season pass attempts can do the job? Is there one personality trait that makes you think he's better prepared for the challenge of following a legend than others who've tried and failed?
TT: I think he's physically talented enough to play the position. I think, and I've said this before, I think him watching for three years is going to be a benefit to him. It doesn't replace experience, but I do think it's a benefit in the long run. I think he is a good teammate and I think his teammates respect him and respect his work. He wants to be a good player, and that is sometimes overlooked. And we'll see.
Now, he has to play. And we've talked about all these different things -- leadership, being the face of the franchise -- but none of that really matters. As Mike has said several times, his job is to play quarterback. And that's what we're going to ask him to do.
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God Jason...I love you! Balls the size of church bells!!
Yeah, wow, wonderful. 'Do you know what you are doing?' Yeah, great question, because the only reason the Packers were 13-3 last year was becasue of Favre, not the coach, not the GM that found Ryan Grant. Yeah, wow. Jason, do you know what your doing?
Fan | Sept. 8, 2008 at 10:29 a.m. (report)
Great interview, Jason! This is pure gold (green and gold, too!): So then it bothers you that people think you're a raging egomaniac? Does that get to you? Because that's personal, not professional. WOW!
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