Did you see it? This morning, Green Bay Packers GM Ted Thompson, in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine, spoke to the local and national media for the first time since the start of last season. His performance was underwhelming.
If you can handle 11 minutes and 20 seconds of extreme discomfort, here’s the video.
I previously wrote about Thompson in January. Instead of starting off with how well he has done with his draft picks, I pointed out his that he seemed to be lacking “the mental sharpness, the energy, or the rigorous mind needed to make complex analyses of player talent.”
Today’s performance bears this out.
I don’t blame Thompson for who he is or for his decline, which is an inevitable part of the aging process. I do, however, urge him to do what’s best for our team – his team – and tender his resignation.
This unfortunate situation didn’t just unavoidably happen.
Though Mark Murphy was named Green Bay Packers President and CEO in 2007, it was Bob Harlan who hired Thompson in 2005. Before that, coach Mike Sherman was both head coach and general manager – like Belichick, Lombardi, etc.
Clearly the GM job isn’t even a full-time gig.
Murphy, however, has steadfastly been a big supporter of Thompson. In 2014, Thompson’s 10th season with the team, Murphy declared that a new contract for Thompson was “a top priority” for the franchise. At the time, Thompson was believed to have been contracted through the 2016 draft. Murphy said he wanted to secure a new contract for Thompson before coach Mike McCarthy’s contract ran out after the 2015 season.
On July 30, 2014, the Packers announced that Thompson had signed a new, multi-year contract with the team, which apparently runs through the 2018 draft.
Thompson said at the time:
“Mark Murphy and I have had ongoing conversations. I felt very appreciated by the organization and honored to work with such fine people. The more you think about it the more you wonder how nuts are you to walk away from something like this?”
When asked at that time how long he would continue at the job, Thompson replied:
“I think I’ll just let it play itself out. It seems to me a lot of people can be very productive late in life. I feel pretty energized to keep going.”
Ted Thompson, energized? I went back and found a video from three years ago, when Thompson made his annual appearance at the 2014 NFL Combine:
This was five months before Murphy extended Thompson’s contract. Based on the clip from 2014, can anyone deny that Thompson was “slowing down” even then?
As an aside, I submit that coaching and GM changes should be made shortly after a season’s end. I understand the argument for the GM and scouting personnel to maintain continuity, but it’s still a lousy idea to have an outgoing GM preside over a draft and then hand the baton off to a new GM. I wonder how other teams time such transitions.
Wasn’t it utterly likely when Murphy worked up Thompson’s new contract that Thompson’s acuity four years down the road would become marginal or unacceptable for such a demanding and high-pressure job? What was the need for an almost four-year extension? A two- or even three-year extension, maybe.
What was to be gained by tying up the team for four years – by which time Thompson will be 65 years old? Does anyone think Thompson was being lured with other offers or that he was threatening to leave if he wasn’t contracted into 2018?
Mark Murphy did a ludicrous thing. It’s up to him to do what he can to minimize the damage. He needs to try to negotiate an early out of this contract. Though we don’t know how much Thompson is being paid, if Thompson won’t agree to depart early, then Murphy should replace him anyway.
The Packers have at least two possible replacements waiting in the wings and are likely to lose those candidates by 2018. Thompson should do the gracious and unselfish thing by making way for the next GM.
If the Packers must absorb the cost of continuing to pay Thompson and paying a new general manager, Murphy should voluntarily have his annual pay halved for the next year.
Man up Murphy and assume accountability for your colossal and irrational business decision.
Or are the bank accounts of these two wealthy men more important than the best interests of the team they each profess to love?