Day January 12, 2008
In a year when New England Patriots executives are being hailed as football geniuses for engineering an undefeated season, Ted Thompson, the reclusive general manager of the Green Bay Packers, has achieved something equally remarkable.
Before this season, fans were calling for Mr. Thompson’s head. While the Packers had won just 12 of their last 32 games, he did not seem to care. No matter how loudly the fans complained, Mr. Thompson, who avoids publicity and rarely explains himself, continued sending away popular veterans and replacing them with untested college players, some of whom weren’t highly regarded by other NFL teams.
This year, led by a core of players that helped make Mr. Thompson a pariah, the Packers won 13 games and made the playoffs. What’s more, the players he’s brought into the league during his career are having an exceptional year — as the playoffs resume Saturday, nearly 10% of the active players on the remaining eight teams were signed out of college by Mr. Thompson.