'He gave me a shot when nobody else would'

Ted Thompson's tenure as GM opened doors for Packers' locker room


GREEN BAY – Ted Thompson, the architect of the Packers' Super Bowl XLV championship team, will transition from general manager into a new role as the senior advisor to football operations, President/CEO Mark Murphy announced Tuesday.

While capturing the fourth Super Bowl in franchise history headlines Thompson's legacy as general manager, his draft-and-develop mindset built the foundation for the Packers winning six NFC North titles under his watch and establishing a new franchise record with eight consecutive playoff berths from 2009-16.

A two-time NFL Executive of the Year, Thompson set the course for the franchise during his first 12 months on the job by hiring Head Coach Mike McCarthy and drafting two-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Since 2005, Thompson's draft classes have produced 14 players who have made at least one Pro Bowl. Combining the drafts he ran as a personnel executive in Seattle and Green Bay, 30 of Thompson's selections earned Pro Bowl, All-Pro or All-Rookie honors.

His stewardship of the franchise also impacted players like kicker Mason Crosby, a sixth-round pick in 2007 who has spent the past 11 seasons in Green Bay. That run hasn't come without its setbacks, though.

Crosby's job status came under scrutiny in 2012 when he made only 21-of-33 field goals (63.6 percent). Yet, Thompson and McCarthy stood by Crosby and he rebounded the following year with what stands as his best season in 2013 (33-of-37, 89.2 percent).

"He's diligent. He's always working," Crosby said. "He's always looking to find guys that fit in this culture, in this locker room. He brought Coach McCarthy in, they came in together and made this thing what it is. So that groundwork and kind of the foundation he laid for these last 10, 11, 12 years now for him, that's why we've been so successful. It's a lot of credit to him and what he does in that front office."

Thompson and his front office also enjoyed success drafting receivers, specifically in the second round. That's where the Packers unearthed Jordy Nelson (2008), Randall Cobb (2011), Davante Adams (2014) and Greg Jennings (2006) in addition to finding James Jones in the third round in 2007.

"I have a lot of respect for Ted, he's one of the main reasons I'm here," said Adams, who signed an extension with the Packers last week. "He believed in me and kept me here throughout some bumps in the road. Lot of respect for him and however he takes care of his situation."

Perhaps more than the acquisition of perennial Pro Bowl players such as Rodgers, Charles Woodson, Clay Matthews and Nick Collins was the opportunity Thompson's front office has provided to unheralded players.

The organization had 24 undrafted rookies make the Packers' opening-day roster since 2010, including starting left guard Lane Taylor. Taylor, who signed a contract extension in September, was one of several players who spoke about Thompson's impact during Tuesday's final media availability of the season.

Taylor, a four-year starter at Oklahoma State, watched as 41 other offensive linemen were drafted ahead of him in 2013. Once it was over, Taylor had the choice of signing with either Green Bay or Cincinnati.

He chose Green Bay based on Thompson's track record for giving undrafted players an opportunity.

"I appreciate what Ted has done," Taylor said. "I wouldn't be here without him. He did some good things for us. I'm glad he's still sticking around."

Justin McCray started eight games on the Packers' offensive line this year, playing 526 snaps at both tackle and guard positions over the course of the season. A year earlier, McCray was working as a bellman at the Westgate Resort in Orlando on New Year's Eve, doing everything he could to keep his NFL dreams alive.

After playing a season with the Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League, McCray and his twin brother, Jordan, convinced the coaching staff at their alma mater at UCF to allow them to participate in the pro day.

An undrafted free agent in 2014, Justin had been out of the NFL for a full year before the Packers offered him a contract on March 29.

"He gave me a shot when nobody else would," McCray said. "I didn't hear a call for two years, and Ted and the guys upstairs gave me a shot to play. I can't thank him enough for it. I can't say enough good things about him. I was just a kid wanting to play football and he gave me a chance to do that."

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