Opening another chapter in the storied history of the Green Bay Packers franchise, club President and CEO Bob Harlan announced Friday that Ted Thompson had been hired as the Packers' 10th football general manager in team history.
The team held a press conference Friday afternoon where Harlan discussed his reasons for asking Head Coach Mike Sherman to relinquish the general manager position that he had held in addition to his on-field duties since Ron Wolf's retirement in 2001.
Harlan - a long-time proponent of having two men fill the two separate jobs - revealed that the decision was one that he had begun thinking about three months ago, informing the Packers' Executive Committee of his intentions in an October meeting.
He made clear at many points throughout the press conference that the decision to hire Thompson was no way a criticism of Sherman's performance, and looks forward to great success with the two of them at the helm of the organization's football operation.
"In today's salary cap world of professional football, where rosters are overhauled every offseason, both the job of a general manager and the job of a head coach are extremely demanding and require an inordinate amount of time and effort," said Harlan.
"I have felt for sometime that I would prefer to have two people - rather than just one - handling these vitally important positions. We have accomplished that goal with Ted and Mike, and I am quite pleased to know the Packers will be moving into the future with these two highly regarded men at the top of our football operation."
Harlan said the Green Bay Packers will benefit from having Sherman solely focused on arguably the most important job in the organization - his job as the head coach.
"I told him basically the same things I've told you - that I'm doing this because I feel it's the best move for the future of the future of the franchise," Harlan explained. "It's going to free him up to spend more time coaching, not worrying about general manager obligations."
During the press conference, Harlan recounted the whirlwind couple of days that brought Thompson back to Green Bay, the place he began his NFL front office career in 1992 as Wolf's assistant director of pro personnel.
Harlan said that after consulting with some trusted sources from around the NFL - most notably Wolf - that he was sure Thompson was alone at the top of his list of potential candidates for the general manager position.
After returning to Green Bay from league meetings in New York Wednesday afternoon, Harlan requested permission to speak with Thompson from the Seattle Seahawks, where he had been vice president of football operations since leaving Green Bay in 2000, and began the courting process of his new general manager.
Harlan contacted Thompson Wednesday afternoon as the personnel man was scouting at a college all-star game practice and made an initial proposal before spending much of Thursday in negotiation between the two parties. Harlan said he got his answer early Friday morning.
"He called me this morning at about 10 minutes 'til eight - 10 minutes 'til six (Seattle) time," Harlan recounted. "And his word to me - and I should tell you this too - when I first called him at the East-West Game, he said, 'I'm honored to be considered.' And he has told me that two more times since our negotiations began.
"When he called this morning, he said, 'If the offer is still on the table, I'm ready to accept it.' And I said, 'We're delighted to have you.' And he said, 'I'm honored to be coming there.'"
While Harlan stated that the decision to split the head coach/general manager duties was his alone, he did say many times that Wolf helped him decide just who the next general manager would be. Harlan gave an anecdote that served as the former general manager's seal of approval.
"Somebody had told me one time that Ron had said, 'If I was ever starting a scouting department from scratch today, my first hire would be Ted Thompson.' And as you know, I rely a great deal (on Ron). He's still my consultant."
Toward the end of his press conference, Harlan said that he felt his new general manager/head coach tandem will work extremely well together, if only because they have such a great passion for the organization and city they represent.
"Ted has told me is that he's very comfortable with the Green Bay situation," said Harlan. "He said this is a special place and it's an honor to come back.
"Somebody told me that Mike Sherman loves Green Bay, and Ted Thompson may love it just as much.'"