Ted Thompson, Green Bay Packers GM who picked Aaron Rodgers in NFL draft, won Super Bowl XLV, dies at 68

GREEN BAGS, Wise Guy. — Former Packers general manager Ted Thompson, who recruited Aaron Rodgers, traded Brett Favre and created the team that won Super Bowl XLV, died Wednesday, the team announced. He was 68 years old.

Thompson died at home in Texas, the team said in a statement.

Ted was a man of great character and integrity who cared deeply about his family and friends, says Packers’ current executive director Brian Gutekunst. He was honest and hardworking. He valued his scouts and always did what he thought was right for the Packers organization.

I learned a lot from Ted and I will always be grateful for this opportunity. He was a footballer and a scout, but above all a very special person who will be sorely missed.

In addition to more than 10 seasons as an NFL player with the Houston Oilers (1975-1984), Thompson served as general manager of the Packers from 2005 to 2017. The Packers appointed him as a consultant for the 2018 season in part because of his declining health.

In May 2019, after being inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame, Thompson announced that he suffers from autonomic dysfunction, a condition that leads to weakness and cognitive problems. Packers president Mark Murphy did not use Thompson’s health as a reason for the decision to remove him as general manager immediately after the 2017 season.

Thompson testified that his doctors do not believe his condition fits the profile of a person with chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Our condolences go out to his family, Packers coach Matt LaFleur said Thursday. Of course, he’s very popular in this building, and I think that’s only natural. It has had a huge impact not only on the people in this building and of course on [Gutekunst] and many of our staff, but also on people in other departments. His influence is still felt if you look at our list, but I think he has had a big influence on a lot of people in the league if you look at the other GMs who have taught under him.

So, of course, it’s with a heavy heart that we sit here today. I’ve only had a few opportunities to meet him over the years, but I know how important he was to many people in this building.

Ted Thompson, who died at age 68, was the Packers general manager who oversaw the franchise’s transition from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers as quarterback. Brian Spurlock/USA Today Sports

Thompson’s first choice as general manager of the Packers was Rodgers, who came to Green Bay as No. 24.

Prior to the 2020 draft, Gutekunst, who was a scout under Thompson, called the decision a bold one because the Packers still had Favre playing at a high level.

I had the courage to do that then, and what that decision meant to the organization, as it did many years later, was very important to me, Gutekunst said. It would have been very easy to do something else. He thought it was the right thing to do, and he did it. It’s always stuck in my head.

A few weeks later, Gutekunst selected Jordan Love in the first round as quarterback.

Thompson oversaw Rogers’ transition to Favre and traded Favre to the New York Jets in August 2008. Though he has drawn the ire of some fans for his selection and development plan – largely ignoring top-level free agents – he and coach Mike McCarthy, who hired Thompson in 2006, have built a team that has reached four NFC games (2007, 2010, 2014, 2016) and played in the playoffs eight times in a row (2009-2016).

One of Thompson’s first duties as a scout for the Packers in 1992 was to review film on Favre and give an evaluation to then-General Manager Ron Wolf, who was considering a trade for the quarterback.

I left myself in a dark room, and I looked at him, and he came back and said: What do you think? Thompson told ESPN in 2016. And I asked: What is your opinion? And he says: I like her. I think I’ll trade number one for him. I said: I think you should.

He didn’t need any help, but I’ve already said it: Brett, the short time he had to play in Atlanta was not pretty. But it was nice when he came to the Green Bay Packers.

Thompson worked for the Packers as a scout until 1999, when he joined Mike Holmgren with the Seattle Seahawks. In 2005, Bob Harlan, then Packers president, lured him back to Green Bay and appointed him CEO for the first time.

I saw him come to us when he was very inexperienced and working for Ron Wolfe, who is a demanding boss, and he was so good that Ron promoted him twice, Harlan said at Thompson’s induction into the Packers Hall of Fame. The first person Mike Holmgren wanted to bring to Seattle was Ted Thompson. Ted went to Seattle, he put together a team for the Super Bowl, and I thought if it was time to find someone, this was the guy I wanted.

Silent Thompson often avoided the limelight, but sometimes hinted at his ironic sense of humor. He was complacent about his playing career, which consisted mostly of special teams, and was highly respected by his players.

He’s not a man of many words, but he always has a positive attitude, former Packers guard T.J. Gill told ESPN in 2017. Lang. He always has a smile on his face. You can really tell that every time the guy at the top, the team leader, thinks that way about his team, he takes it out on the guys.

Thompson’s picks still on the list are Rodgers, kicker Mason Crosby, offensive lineman David Bakhtiari, center Corey Linsley, receiver Davante Adams, defender Aaron Jones and tackler Kenny Clark.

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