As the Green Bay Packers prepare to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC title game, they do so with a heavy heart. Ted Thompson, a stalwart in the team's front office, died this week at the age of 68. Thompson joined the organization as assistant director of player personnel in 1992 and, save for stint with the Seattle Seahawks at the turn of the century, spent most of his post-player career in some capacity with the Packers -- from director of player personnel to general manager to senior advisor of football operations.
Having spent 13 seasons in Green Bay as head coach and, prior to that, as a quarterbacks coach for the Packers in 1999, current Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy spent a lot of years with Thompson building the team into a winner. McCarthy issued an official statement after hearing news of Thompson's passing.
"You will hear from a lot of people who will tell you great things about Ted Thompson and what he meant to them and every word will be true," McCarthy said, via the team's website. "But when I think about Ted, who he was as a man, will always carry more weight than what he did professionally. There has never been a finer human being to walk the playing fields or have a presence in the scouting rooms. Ted gave me an opportunity of a lifetime.
"As a young first-time head coach, who thought he had all the answers, I couldn't have been matched with a more perfect leader. He taught me patience. I will forever remember all of the times he would simply smile at me and say, 'Slow down young man.' He always protected and reinforced the importance of the tradition and history of the Green Bay Packers.
"It wasn't enough just to win -- it was equally important to win the right way. He exuded those qualities in everything he approached in football and in life. Ted was very private, and few got to see the things I will miss most about him -- his sense of humor, his story telling and the kindness of such a good man. I have tremendous gratitude and appreciation for the opportunities he provided for me and my family.
"Ted was a man of extreme faith which gives me peace in knowing he is in a better place, but I also know, for those whose lives he touched, we are all better because of the time we were able to be with him. Slow down, my friend. What a life you led and an example you exemplified."
Thompson not only gave McCarthy the nod to lead the Packers in 2006, but also a roster that helped propel them to a victory in Super Bowl XLV -- held at the very same AT&T Stadium that McCarthy now calls home. It wasn't the only championship Thompson won in Green Bay, and as Aaron Rodgers and Co. take the field to try and bring another Lombardi Trophy to Wisconsin, there can be no doubt who they'll have in mind going forward.