Ted Thompson's impact on others in the football world was renowned. Former vice president of player personnel for the Cowboys, Gil Brandt, tweeted on Thursday, "I'm saddened by the news of Ted Thompson's death. No one worked harder at scouting. He was a scout's scout. Admired how he made the call to draft Aaron Rodgers. Don't know of another GM who would have had the guts to do that."
Others such as Packers head coach Matt Lafleur realized his influence on the current state of his team, stating, "His impact is still felt to this day when you look at our roster ... I just know how important he was to many people in this building."
That isn't a legacy built on football. It's a legacy built on making lasting relationships with the people he was associated with, and most importantly, it's about Thompson as a man. His work ethic and people skills were just a small part of his lasting impact on the football community.
Thompson started his football career at SMU, where he played linebacker. He was voted team captain in his senior season, just one of the many honors set to come his way. Thompson was also a member of the SMU baseball team and earned Academic All-Southwest Conference honors.
After his college career, Thompson went undrafted to the Oilers, where the then coach and general manager, Bum Phillips, saw something in Thompson that no one else did. He would be a player in the NFL for ten years, which is extremely impressive for someone who wasn't drafted. As a backup linebacker and special teams contributor, Thompson was able to play in 146 of 147 games, which showed his durability and toughness as a player.
After serving as a scout for the Packers from 1992-1999, Seattle GM Mike Holmgren was impressed with his ability to evaluate and hired him as Vice President of Football Operations. He was in charge of the scouting department. By the time he went back to the Packers in 2005, Thompson's scouting success had started to show in Seattle, with players he had drafted taking Seattle to the Super Bowl in 2006.
Thompson would serve as the Packers' General Manager from 2005-2017 when he retired due to health issues. In that time, Thompson drafted some all-time greats, like Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Mason Crosby, Jordy Nelson, Clay Matthews, T.J. Lang, and David Bakhtiari. All four of the Packers all-pro players in 2020 were drafted by Thompson, including Rodgers, Davante Adams, David Bakhtiari and Corey Linsley.
In particular, the Rodgers pick was his first one as general manager. It was controversial at the time, with hall of fame quarterback Brett Favre serving as the team's quarterback. Rodgers would go on to have a world-class career setting records and winning a Super Bowl. When Thompson was inducted into the Packers hall of fame in 2019, Rodgers said in a statement, "I'm always
going to be grateful for the time that I got to spend with you... and for the fact that you took a chance on a young kid from California when you didn't really need a quarterback." Thompson set a precedent in the scouting world never to overlook future needs and trust your evaluation.
Although it's a somber time in the football community, it's vital to remember Thompson's legacy. He was a grinder up until the year he retired and loved the game of football. In a position of constant scrutiny and ridicule, Thompson never wavered on the man he was. He should be a model for young and aspiring scouts, as his passion for the game was admirable, and he will never be forgotten.
Thompson was 68 years old.