Thompson Begins Search For Packers Head Coach

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The 'Green and Gold' will have a new head coach for the 14th time in team history as General Manager Ted Thompson relieved Head Coach Mike Sherman of his duties on Monday morning.

"While Mike has done a good job, it was not the right fit," Thompson said. "At the end of the day, it's time for a new face."

Thompson, who said he reached the decision three days ago, met with Sherman between 7 and 7:30 a.m. Monday morning. He then informed the team of his decision in the team meeting room.

"It was a very quiet and somber room," Thompson said.

Thompson will begin the process of interviewing coaches this week. That process could include flying candidates in to Green Bay or traveling to meet them. He said he would be open to both college and pro coaches and offensive and defensive-minded coaches of varying philosophies. The new coach may or may not run the West Coast offense, which the team has used since Mike Holmgren came aboard in 1992.

"I don't think you can pigeonhole yourself," Thompson said. "We won't limit ourselves to any one group. There are good people coaching around the country. My job and my role are to find the guy that fits here."

As of 11 a.m., Thompson had not spoken to any of the assistant coaches but planned to speak to them individually. Promoting defensive coordinator Jim Bates is one head coaching option being floated around by several media outlets.

"Jim Bates is a fine coach," Thompson said. "He did a fine job this year. I'm sure I'm going to have a private conversation with him -- whether that leads to an interview or not remains to be seen."

Brett Favre was the only player who did not attend the team meeting. He left Sunday night to return to his Hattiesburg, Miss. home. Favre did not sway Thompson's decision, and the general manager hopes the future Hall of Famer returns for his 16th NFL season. He emphasized that Favre has not suffered a major injury during his professional career and remains a franchise quarterback.

"From a physical standpoint, I don't think I saw any less of a player than I've seen in the past," Thompson said. "There were some games where he made some decisions that I'm sure he wishes he could have back."

The decision to let Sherman go became difficult for Thompson. He said he enjoyed a good relationship with the former head coach. Sherman worked effectively with Thompson even though Thompson assumed his former duties as general manager.

"He was very gracious about me coming in and becoming the general manager. That's a difficult thing," Thompson said. "This is not an easy thing for anyone to do. Mike Sherman is a good man."

Impressed with Sherman's 53-27 record entering the season, Thompson does not regret extending Sherman's contract at the beginning of the season.

"I did what I thought was best at the time," he said. "Based on his record in the past, I think he deserved that vote of confidence."

This coaching change could serve as the first step of an interesting offseason as the Packers look to return to the success that has become the franchise's trademark. They have the fifth overall pick in the draft and plan to use the draft and free agency to upgrade the roster while maintaining a pragmatic approach.

"We'll try to sign most of our unrestricted free agents if possible," Thompson said. "I still believe that the best way to build your core players is through the draft, but I also believe, -- and I've never said anything differently -- while free agency is dangerous waters, it's certainly a tool to help you improve your team."

With Sherman's dismissal Thompson began the first step in what he feels will improve the Packers and return them to the playoffs in 2006.

"In the long run, this is what's best for the Green Bay Packers," he said. "It's my job and my role as a leader here to make this decision and try to do it in the best interest of the Packers."

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