Brett Favre put the Packers in a bad situation and the Packers handled it badly. Ted Thompson has demonstrated his ability to evaluate college talent (Justin Harrell is an asterisk) and manage the finances of the team. He is an awful, awful communicator and his ego, it seems, has badly affected his decisionmaking.
The roots of this entire dispute lie in Thompson’s unwillingness to indulge a need star quarterback due, in my view, to Thompson’s eagerness to have a team shaped almost entirely in his image. So long as Brett Favre was the quarterback of the Packers, they were Favre’s team. If they went to the playoffs, it was because of a resurgent Brett Favre. If they won a Super Bowl, it was Favre’s Super Bowl. And on and on.
This pissed Thompson off. He has done a remarkable — that’s an overused word, but it’s true here — a remarkable job in turning around the franchise. In 2005, the Packer had an aging roster and a shitty coach. They finished with a record of 4-12.
By 2007, they were among the youngest teams in the league, their new coach was winning awards (2007 Motorola NFL Coach of the Year) and the team finished 13-3. Thompson himself was honored as the 2007 NFL Executive of the year.
By any objective measure — and I emphasize this for those Packer fans who insist, against overwhelming evidence to the contrary that Thompson is a moron — this is one of the most remarkable franchise transformations in recent sports history.
But the final piece of this turnaround would be a Super Bowl. And Ted Thompson’s first draft pick as Green Bay’s GM, a first-rounder at the team’s most important position, was on the bench. This team would never be Ted Thompson’s team until Brett Favre was gone.
For two years Thompson endured Favre’s will-he-or-won’t-he retirement dramatics. But this year seemed different. It seemed obvious, even to outside observers, that Thompson did not want Favre back. When he said that it wasn’t his role to try to persuade Favre to return, that was a pretty good sign.
Thanks to Favre, we now know just how much of Favre’s nonsense and pouting Thompson had to put up with over the years — his insistence that we re-sign players or pursue free agents or interview coaching candidates — so the fact that he was weary of such silliness is understandable.
But he’s a Hall of Fame quarterback. He was Sports Illustrated’s “Sportsman of the Year” last year. He was statistically a Top 5 quarterback. And he would have been the NFL MVP if Tom Brady hadn’t had the best season ever as an NFL quarterback. Was it too much to indulge him one last time?
In the end, it was, because the Packers, despite all of Ted Thompson’s wisdom and the remarkable turnaround he’s effected, would have remained Brett Favre’s team.
It’s Thompson’s team now.