GREEN BAY—All of the particulars have been executed. The financials have been revealed. The shareholders have been dutifully updated on the state of the franchise.
It's time to play.
Today's shareholders meeting looked much as last year's did, and the one before that, too. The fans that filled the east side of Lambeau Field were bathed in sunshine, again. Want beautiful weather for an outing? Get the date for next summer's shareholders meeting. It's become Green Bay's best weather day of the year.
This shareholders meeting, however, had a different feel to it. The faces were the same and the Lambeau Field grass was its usual summer shade of deep green, but there was something in the eyes of those in attendance that might've prompted Ted Thompson to say: "We don't predict at this event ever, but we do expect to win and we do expect to win this year."
Expectations for this team have never been higher. That's what was in the eyes and etched in the faces of the Packers' shareholders on Thursday. Maybe Thompson felt it, too. It was the look and feel of unmistakable great expectations.
The Packers General Manager was introduced thusly by team President and CEO Mark Murphy: "What's the key? Ted Thompson. He is really outstanding. He's tireless. No question in my mind, he's the best personnel man in the NFL. He's the reason we'll be Super Bowl competitors for many years to come."
Murphy must've felt it, too.
Thompson has built a team in pursuit of becoming a modern-day dynasty, which is not to be confused with an old-fashioned dynasty. There's a difference. The Lombardi Packers won five titles. The Thompson Packers have been in the postseason five consecutive years – the Patriots are the only other team in the league to have matched that run.
In one of those five years the Packers won it all. Should it happen again, say, this season, the Packers will officially be on the verge of becoming a dynasty.
Maybe that's what this reporter felt as he sat in the sunshine on Thursday. These are very good times in Green Bay.
"This is a special place and it's a great day to be a Packer," Thompson said.
Thompson is this team's creator. He's the guy that assembled all of this young talent. Most importantly, Thompson had the courage to draft Aaron Rodgers, at a time when the Packers already had a good quarterback. Thompson had the vision to see a time when Brett Favre would be retired and Rodgers would be 30 years old, at the peak of his game and the best quarterback in all of football.
Who didn't or couldn't feel the high expectations that oozed from the hearts of the Packers faithful on Thursday?
There's no denying it. This team is expected to win. It won't sneak up on the Seahawks. Neither the media nor Packers fans will allow it.
"He's really good," Thompson deadpanned as Rodgers' picture appeared on the Lambeau Field video boards.
A kind of polite chuckle came from the stands.
Thompson then clicked through the draft class.
"We're hoping these guys can help us. We understand they're rookies, but this is a big boy league," he said. "We're always building. We never stay the same."
He finished strong.
"When you have a team that believes in each other … it's impressive to see. We want to win with class and dignity. We want to win. We want people to say those Packers are OK," Thompson said.
They are words that would've fit in just about any shareholders meeting through the Thompson years, but this year was different. You could feel it in the air. In what has become a lengthy run of success, the Packers might be at their peak in 2014. Additional shareholders meeting coverage: