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Ted Thompson, Packers GM who drafted Aaron Rodgers, dies at 68

Liz Roscher
·3 min read
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Ted Thompson, the former Green Bay Packers general manager who drafted Aaron Rodgers, died Wednesday at age 68.

Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported the news and Packers head coach Matt LaFleur later confirmed it.

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A cause of death wasn’t given, but Thompson revealed in 2019 that he had been diagnosed with an autonomic disorder.

Thompson was the GM of the Packers for 13 seasons, and is responsible for the team’s last great run of success, its most recent Lombardi Trophy, and its star quarterback.

The Packers honored Thompson with a video tribute Thursday. Rodgers responded to that post by thanking “Cowboy Ted.”

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He started his career as a linebacker, playing for Southern Methodist University before signing with the Houston Oilers in 1975 as an undrafted free agent. His football career ended a decade later and his Packers career began not long afterward. Green Bay hired him as a scout in 1992, and by the time he left for a job with the Seattle Seahawks in 1999, the Packers had been to the playoffs six times, to the Super Bowl twice, and they won it all in the 1996 season.

ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06:  General Manager Ted Thompson of the Green Bay Packers celebrates after the Packers won 31-25 against the Pittsburgh Steelers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Former Packers GM Ted Thompson, who built the 2011 Super Bowl championship team, died on Wednesday at 68. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Ted Thompson’s Packers legacy

Thompson spent six years with the Seahawks as their vice president of football operations before rejoining the Packers as GM in 2005. In his first draft, with his very first pick, he chose a franchise-altering player: Aaron Rodgers.

It was a daring choice since the Packers already had Brett Favre installed at quarterback, but Thompson was committed to the future.

“I just think when you look back five years from now,” Thompson said via Packers News, “you’ll say, ‘This was a hell of a pick.’”

It took less than five years for Thompson to be proven right. Rodgers took over in 2008 after Favre left town, and in 2009 they started a run of eight straight playoff appearances, including a Super Bowl championship in 2011.

Thompson, a former scout, would continue to show himself as a smart evaluator and draft manager. He selected nine players over his first six years who would make at least one Pro Bowl. His picks helped build the team that would win the Super Bowl in 2011, and so did his decision to hire Mike McCarthy as the team’s head coach in 2006.

Thompson’s legacy extends beyond Rodgers and the 2011 Super Bowl. His draft picks, signings and trades helped build the current team, which is just one win away from making another Super Bowl.

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The Packers inducted Thompson into their Hall of Fame in 2019, becoming just the second person to be inducted exclusively as a general manager. He didn’t attend the ceremony in person, instead sending pre-recorded remarks. That’s when he revealed that he’d been diagnosed with an autonomic disorder, which is what caused him to step down as general manager in 2017. Thompson said that his medical specialists did not believe that he was suffering from CTE.

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