GREEN BAY, Wis. – After Aaron Rodgers’ first meeting with Ted Thompson, he was fairly certain there wouldn’t be a second.
“I remember going to the (Scouting) Combine in 2005 and coming back and talking to George Cortez, my offensive coordinator at Cal, (and) he was asking how the process went,” Rodgers said of Thompson, who died on Wednesday at age 68. “I said, ‘It was a lot of fun, but that Green Bay interview was pretty tough, though. The general manager Ted Thompson and Mike (Sherman), they were grilling me on a bunch of stuff and there was a camera in my face. I don’t know, man, I’m glad they’re picking 24th because I won’t be there.’ Of course, famous last words.”
You know the story. Rodgers, seen as a potential No. 1 overall pick by the Kansas City Chiefs, went free-falling through the first round. Thompson, even with Brett Favre at quarterback, grabbed Rodgers.
And the rest is history.
Rodgers led the Packers to a Super Bowl championship in 2010 and won MVP awards in 2011 and 2014. He’s the presumptive favorite to win the MVP again this year, and he’ll be playing for a trip to the Super Bowl when the Packers host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game.
Thompson didn’t let many people in his inner circle but he and Rodgers developed what Rodgers called a “special relationship” over the years.
“I saw him a couple of times last year, and that was when it really hit me that we were kind of losing him – not losing him passing at that point, but just losing like the essence of what Ted was, that kind of wry sense of humor, that inner strength, just that life force that he had that was kind of hidden down in there,” Rodgers said.
“But you knew it was there and every now and then he’d really show it to you. And that made me really sad, so I knew I had to say everything I wanted to say to him at that point because I didn’t know when I’d see him again. I’m glad I got to have those lunchtime conversations with him last year and definitely miss his presence.”