It’s another reason why I want to go out and buy another beer for Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy. If they don’t drink (which I don’t think Thompson does) then I’ll buy a soda. I don’t really care.
Why you might ask? Well, it’s not for the Super Bowl XLV title or a stellar 15-1 season to follow that up (disappointing playoff exit aside). We’ve all sung the praises of what the two men have built as far as a roster. The Packers are set to be one of the best teams in the NFL for the next several years. This we knew already.
Today instead, in the wake of the embarrassing “Bountygate” scandal as it is beginning to be dubbed that has already engulfed one team and could swallow up more, I raise a glass to toast Thompson and McCarthy for the work they are putting together in the locker room which translates to on field behavior. Thompson and McCarthy have arguably put together the best group of men in the league. Forget about on field talent. I’m talking about character, ethics, morality and the like.
It’s a bland approach in the eyes of some people. The Packers largely ignore free agency (i.e. the “big name” players) and choose to build through the draft. Thompson’s stubborn refusal to largely forego the free agent process has earned the ire of some fans still today despite the Packers’ recent Super Bowl championship which was won with a depleted roster. This approach means the Packers won’t even sniff around names like Randy Moss or Terrell Owens among others.
Would players like Moss and Owens flourish in the Packers offense with either Aaron Rodgers on in past years Brett Favre under center? There’s no question. However, both Moss and Owens earned reputations with multiple teams as locker room cancers. Self-serving players like them have never had a place in Green Bay going all the way back to the time of Vince Lombardi and perhaps even earlier.
Fans may have crowed in 2007 about missing out on Moss, but do any of them now still insist that would have been a good move? I didn’t think so.
Sure, a few prima donnas have come through Titletown (Sterling Sharpe for example) but Green Bay has largely avoided the locker room dramas that have at one point or another destroyed the seasons of many an NFL franchise.
This could all have changed under Thompson and McCarthy. Mark Murphy very well could have directed them that the team needs to win now at all costs and sacrifice character in the hunt for the best possible player. Thankfully, Murphy gets it and lets his general manager and head coach do their jobs.
That’s why Thompson and McCarthy as well as Murphy deserve a ton of praise. In a game that has continued to evolve into being nothing about the biggest ego and a rise in players doing foolish things off the field, the triumvirate leadership of the Packers continue to be a moral compass for the rest of the league.
To go back to the Bountygate scandal, imagine this nightmare scenario. Substitute Gregg Williams’ name for Dom Capers (not realistic at all, but let’s ignore common sense for a moment). Would Thompson have covered this up if someone brought this to his attention? Hell no. Neither would have McCarthy. If either men found out about this, I’d bet my Packer stock Capers would have been thrown out of town faster than Rodgers can rocket a throw. It wouldn’t be tolerated. If McCarthy didn’t act but knew about it, chances are he’d be toast too.
They do not tolerate bad locker room influences. You act like a cancer and you are gone. It doesn’t matter who you are. Look what they did with a three –time NFL MVP who also just so happened to be the face of a franchise. Does anyone doubt the Packers are in better shape because of what Thompson did in 2008?
This is why after this bounty stuff broke that I just wanted to shake Thompson, McCarthy and Murphy’s hands and tell them thank you. Regardless of what I think of their roster moves, at least I can say thank you for doing things the right way.
The Packers are the last of its kind in regards to its ownership structure. It’s something the organization and the fan base takes great pride in. They also take pride in that the team does things the right way and stays out of trouble.
Let’s hope for the sake of the game of football that we all love that they aren’t a dying breed in this regard as well.——————
Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke