Ted Thompson to Packers Hall of Fame gathering: 'I'm just a scout'

Richard Ryman
Green Bay Press Gazette
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GREEN BAY – Ted Thompson is the second general manager-only to be inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, joining Ron Wolf with that rare honor.

Thompson said Saturday during the Hall of Fame induction banquet at Lambeau Field that he was honored, but suggested he might be out of place among the ranks of the 161 previous inductees.

"You look at all the great players who've come through here, they are idols," Thompson said during a video that played during the banquet. "I'm not one of those people. I'm just a scout."

Former Green Bay Packers general managers Ted Thompson, left, and Ron Wolf talk during the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame Inc. banquet Saturday, May 4, 2019, at Lambeau Field. Thompson was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame.

More than a few of Thompson's friends and colleagues would challenge him on that point.

"I think people have been tough on him," said Mike Reinfeldt, Thompson friend, former Packers executive and former NFL general manager. "I think history will be kind to Ted Thompson. He's a humble, intelligent guy that always put the team first. He always kept a steady hand, never panicked."

No less an authority than Wolf, revered by Packers fans for bringing Brett Favre and a Super Bowl to Green Bay, said Thompson's record stands for itself.

"What he's accomplished is remarkable," Wolf said.

That record includes a Super Bowl victory, teams that made the playoffs eight consecutive years — a Packers record — and once won 19 consecutive games. He also drafted Aaron Rodgers and Nick Collins with his first two picks in the NFL draft as a general manager, and followed that with 16 other players who were named to at least one Pro Bowl.

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"What to me stands out is the consistency," Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy said of Thompson's 13 years as general manager. "It is hard to win one year in the NFL. Everything is designed to make it that way.

"You couldn't ask for a more ethical person. He was a tireless worker. It was never about him. It was about what was best for the Packers organization."

Thompson, who has been notable all his life for saying little at the best of times, gave what for him amounted to a speech Saturday. 

"This is a great honor. I appreciate it more than you can ever know," he said from the stage. "This means a lot to me, and I can say, 'Go Pack Go.'"

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Also at the 49th annual banquet, former Packers security chief Jerry Parins received the Bob Harlan Leadership Award, and Packers historian and former Press-Gazette and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel sports reporter Cliff Christl received the Bart and Cherry Starr Recognition Award.

Rodgers paid tribute to Thompson in a video and Favre phoned in his congratulations from his home in Mississippi, saying, "I couldn't be happier for both you guys (Parins and Thompson, who were with the Packers when Favre played)."

Former Packers quarterback Bart Starr, who suffered a heart attack, two strokes and multiple seizures in September 2014, might make a return trip to Green Bay during the home opener against Minnesota in September, Bart Starr Jr. said while presenting his parents' award.

Starr's recovery has been long and difficult. He said a few words during a video and tossed a football, something he would have had trouble doing even a year ago.

"Bart has made remarkable progress this year and we hope to return to Green Bay for a game this year," Cherry Starr said in a video.

The Hall of Fame named the Packers' Dec. 1, 1985, 21-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the infamous Snow Globe game, as a Most Memorable Moment in Packers History. Packers quarterback Lynn Dickey managed to throw for 299 yards in a blizzard that dropped 10.7 inches of snow on Green Bay, while Eddie Lee Ivery and Gerry Ellis each ran for more than 100 yards. Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young threw for 53 yards for Tampa Bay.

As to Thompson, friends and former teammates Reinfeldt and Mike Renfro said he took them under his wing when they joined the Houston Oilers in the 1970s. 

Long-time friends, from left, Mike Reinfeldt, Ted Thompson and Mike Renfro get their picture taken during the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame induction banquet on May 4, 2019, at Lambeau Field.

"We traveled together and hung out together. He is a great guy to have as a friend. He would do anything for you," Reinfeldt said.   

Thompson was best man at Reinfeldt's wedding and is godfather to his children, so they are close, but it was a friendship that started in what might be considered typical Thompson fashion.

Reinfeldt began his career in Oakland, but the Raiders waived him after a couple of games. Houston picked him up and coach Bum Phillips took him into the locker room and introduced him to Thompson, asking him to get Reinfeldt squared away.

"Ted looked at me and said, 'You'll be OK.' Then Ted walked away," Reinfeld said. 

Reinfeldt evened the score when Wolf hired Thompson to work for the Packers in 1992 and asked Reinfeldt to get him set up. "I said, 'you'll be OK.'"

He praised Thompson's knowledge of the game. Thompson knew all linebacker positions, was the backup kicker and backup punter and special teams captain during his decade with the Oilers, the only team he played for.

"Ted played 10 years in the league, which is a testament to anybody," Reinfeldt said. "Ted knew assignments of all 22 guys on the field, better than some of the guys playing the positions."

Renfro said Thompson always was a private person and never much of a talker, but he wasn't a recluse, either.

""He was a man of few words," Renfro said of Thompson, who was already on the Oilers when Reinfeldt and later Renfro joined the team. "But a few words meant a lot. Some people babble a lot."

Thompson had a reputation in Green Bay of being all football, all the time, but Renfro said he could leave work at work like everyone else.

"He was serious at work. We went out and had fun at night," Renfro said. "We were all bachelors. We did the things most 20-year-olds did."

Randy Brice, treasurer of Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame Inc., said when former Packers president Emil Fischer, who died in 1958, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013, Thompson made an unscheduled visit backstage to meet Fischer's family.

"Ted went around to every member of the family, shook their hand, told them who he was, how proud he was to be part of the Packers organization and how thankful he was that Fischer led Packers through some tough times," Brice said.

Thompson now lives in his hometown of Atlanta, Texas. He and Reinfeldt talk a couple of times a week. 

"He's very intelligent, very analytical. He enjoys reading and enjoys new things," Reinfeldt said. "He has a very dry sense of humor, but you have to get close to him to really see it." 

Contact Richard Ryman at (920) 431-8342 or rryman@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter at @RichRymanPG, on Instagram at  @rrymanPG or  on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RichardRymanPG/


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