I’m not going to recap the events of training camp in 2008. They’ve been well documented a thousand times over. Instead, let’s look in depth at the leader of the Green Bay Packers football operations, general manager Ted Thompson and his transformation from a reviled figure to a revered one.
Heading into the 2008 offseason, Thompson was still not really well liked by a large amount of the Packers fan base despite the team being an ill-fated pass away from a trip to Super Bowl XLII. Cheesehead Nation had not yet embraced his “draft and develop” method of building a roster and implored Thompson to jump into free agency to bring some “instant talent” to the franchise. Thompson refused to budge.
Throw in the tumultuous training camp of 2008 where Thompson jettisoned a certain three-time NFL MVP and Thompson’s approval rating amongst Packer fans was at an all-time low. Throw in a dismal 6-10 season and it was getting close to the pitchforks and torches being brought out and used at 1265 Lombardi Avenue.
Websites and blogs went up on the internet with the sole purpose of leading to Thompson’s ouster. Some extremists even said they’d refuse to cheer for the Packers until Thompson was terminated.
Entering the 2009, the stakes got even higher for Thompson. In addition to trying to rebound from the 2008 campaign, Thompson was faced with the prospect of having to face his former quarterback that he traded away twice a season as Brett Favre joined the Minnesota Vikings.
The funny thing is that despite arguably Favre’s best year of his career and his Vikings beating the Packers out for the NFC North title and coming within a hair of the Super Bowl, the tide slowly was beginning to turn in Thompson’s favor.
One key factor was the emergence of Aaron Rodgers as the Packers starting quarterback. Rodgers put up good numbers in his first season as a starter, but he was overshadowed by a putrid defense that led to the Packers adopting the 3-4 in 2009 under Dom Capers. In 2009, Rodgers had numbers that nearly equaled Favre’s but the Packers were ousted in the first round by the Cardinals.