Ted Thompson, a former NFL linebacker and longtime Green Bay Packers executive, died Wednesday night. He was 68 years old.
Following a 10-year playing career with the Houston Oilers — that included consecutive trips to the AFC Championship Game — Thompson served as an NFL executive for nearly 30 years. He served as the Packers’ general manager from 2005-17 before being named the team’s senior adviser to football operations in 2018. Thompson continued to hold that position through the 2020 season. He was inducted into the Packers’ Hall of Fame in 2019.
“Ted was a man of great character and integrity who cared deeply for his family and friends,” said current Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst via the team’s official website. “He was honest and hard-working. He valued his scouts and always did what he felt was right for the Packers organization.
“I learned a great deal from Ted and will always be appreciative for the opportunity he gave me. He was a football man and a scout’s scout, but more importantly, he was a very special person who will be greatly missed.”
Thompson was named the Packers’ assistant director of pro personnel in 1992, the same year Hall of Fame general manager Ron Wolf hired coach Mike Holmgren and traded for quarterback Brett Favre. Thompson was quickly promoted to director of pro personnel. During his time in that role, the Packers appeared in consecutive Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl XXXI after defeating the Patriots 35-21. He spent an additional three years as the team’s director of player personnel before reuniting with Holmgren in Seattle in 2000.
After five seasons as the Seahawks‘ vice president of football operations, Thompson returned to Green Bay in 2005. Thompson’s first draft pick as the Packers general manager was Aaron Rodgers, who five years later would deliver an MVP performance in Green Bay’s 31-25 win over Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLV.
Thompson recalled the scenario that led to the acquisition of Rodgers during a 2014 interview with Sports Illustrated:
“Three or four days before the  draft, we’re doing our research, going down the board, and I’m looking, and I think, ‘None of these teams are taking a quarterback.’ I couldn’t find one, after San Francisco. We hadn’t really paid attention to Rodgers because we just figured he’d be gone. Plus, we didn’t have that big a need there, obviously. So I just buried myself and went to look at all the Rodgers tape—from games, from the combine, from his pro day. After a couple of days I just felt he was too good to pass. So I said, ‘If he falls to us, we’re taking him.'”
During Thompson’s time as general manager, the Packers went 125-81-1. They won six division titles and appeared in four conference championship games. The 2011 team joined the 1984 49ers, 1985 Bears, 1998 Vikings, 2004 Steelers, 2007 Patriots and 2015 Panthers as the only teams in NFL history to win at least 15 games during the regular season.
With Thompson in his role as senior advisor, the Packers have advanced to consecutive NFC title games. On Sunday, Green Bay will look to win its first NFC title since defeating the Bears in January 2011.
“He’s a guy that’s held in the highest regard in this building and I think just around the league,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said on Thursday. “His impact is still felt to this day when you look at our roster. I think he’s had a tremendous impact amongst many people across the league when you look at all the other GMs that have learned under him.”