Rodgers, on the precipice of likely his third NFL MVP, has the Packers – a team still featuring 17 players with ties to Thompson’s tenure as GM – vying for a return engagement this Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I’m really thankful for Ted. The fact that I was his first draft pick will always link us together,” Rodgers said in a statement. “He always preached to put the team first, to not be a distraction, to be a good teammate, to be a good professional, and I always appreciated those comments.
“He would always start the season and address the team for a few minutes and he would always finish with, ‘Godspeed.’ As he passes on, I want to thank him for what he meant to myself, the team and the organization, and wish him Godspeed.'”
There was an outpouring from former colleagues and players throughout the NFL on Thursday, tweets and statements to voice their gratitude for the opportunity Thompson provided them.
Perhaps there was no one more appreciative than former Packers coach Mike McCarthy, the first and only head coach Thompson would hire in Green Bay.
McCarthy, now the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, thanked Thompson in a statement for giving him the “opportunity of a lifetime” in 2006 while adding, “There has never been a finer human being to walk the playing fields or have a presence in the scouting rooms.
“He taught me patience. I will forever remember all of the times he would simply smile at me and say, ‘Slow down young man.’ He always protected and reinforced the importance of the tradition and history of the Green Bay Packers. It wasn’t enough just to win – it was equally important to win the right way. He exuded those qualities in everything he approached in football and in life.
“Slow down, my friend. What a life you led and an example you exemplified.”