Having overseen a turnaround from a 4-12 record in 2005 to a 13-3 mark in 2007 and an appearance in the NFC Championship Game, Packers General Manager Ted Thompson on Tuesday was named 'George Young NFL Executive of the Year' by The Sporting News.
"I'm honored to receive this award on behalf of the Green Bay Packers," Thompson said. "We view this as a team honor and feel the coaches, players and staff should all be very proud of the job they've done in helping this franchise succeed. This award is a credit to their dedication and is particularly special because it's named for George Young, who was a tremendous champion for the NFL and a person I greatly admired."
Thompson becomes the second member in the history of the organization to receive the honor, joining former GM Ron Wolf, who was recognized following the 1992 season and who, coincidentally, hired Thompson that year as the former linebacker entered an NFL front office for the first time.
Wolf's award came on the heels of a recovery from a 4-12 record in 1991. He hired Mike Holmgren as a new head coach, and the team improved to 9-7, staying in the NFC Central Division race until the season's final game.
Thompson has helped orchestrate a similar resurgence. He took over a veteran team in 2005 that was beset by injuries and salary cap concerns and struggled to a 4-12 mark. With the hiring of Mike McCarthy as the new head coach in 2006, the team improved to 8-8, staying in the Wild Card playoff hunt until the final week of the season, and then won its first NFC North title in three years with the 13-3 showing in 2007.
A home playoff victory over Seattle - where Thompson spent five seasons (2000-04) as vice president of football operations and helped acquire several players who became part of the Seahawks' Super Bowl team in 2005 - was the Packers' first win in the Divisional round of the playoffs in 10 years and put them in the NFC Championship, where they lost in overtime to the eventual league champion, the New York Giants.
Following a philosophy of building through the draft and picking his spots in free agency, Thompson has assembled a perennial contender with one of the youngest rosters in the league.
Of the 45 players on the active gameday roster for the NFC Championship last January, 32 were acquired by Thompson since taking over as GM in 2005 - 17 via the draft and 15 others via free agency, trades or the waiver wire.
Thompson's current tenure as GM is his second front-office stint with the Packers, having served eight years in the personnel department from 1992-99, before going to Seattle. Thompson's career in personnel began eight years after the end of a 10-year playing career as a linebacker with the Houston Oilers.
The 'George Young NFL Executive of the Year' award appears in the March 31 issue of The Sporting News, on newsstands March 26.