Pope Ted the Assassin
I think it’s safe to say that Packers fans found the team’s Super Bowl victory over the Steelers last February to be satisfying. For me, there remains a warm glow to this day. But in the wake of the sweet victory there emerged another level of satisfaction for those of us who were patient with Packers General Manager Ted Thompson, who gave him the benefit of the doubt when his personnel moves seemed shaky (or, sometimes, downright puzzling). I cannot say that I always agreed with everything TT did in building the team, but I recognized that my view of things was distant and far less refined that his.
As Ted went about recasting the team with draft choices almost to the exclusion of any free agents, I willingly suspended my disbelief, characterizing Ted’s bland and somewhat distant public persona not as that of a nonplussed doofus, but rather glossed him a “steely-eyed assassin.” Whether or not I really believed that is less important than the fun Dave and I had with it on the Packers Therapy podcast. The point is, I always believed that Ted, as a professional personnel guy had a much better viewpoint of these matters than any fan, regardless of how engaged and passionate that fan might be about the team. I wanted to introduce the possibility that the way Ted might appear in front of a camera or microphone wasn’t necessarily a sign that he was asleep at the switch, and so the “Steely-eyed Assassin” was born.
However, now that Ted and his methods have been vindicated with a Lombardi Trophy, I am seeing a different bias about Thompson emerging among some bloggers and a number of the Twitterati: the notion that the championship won last season puts Thompson above criticism. Ted has been doing what Ted does during the first days of the new league season–coolly cutting vets, clearing cap space, not signing free agents and eschewing all but a select few of is own team’s free agents. Now, I will be the first to say that Ted is probably making most of the right moves; his track record would suggest that he knows what he’s doing. However, I don’t believe Ted has donned a papal mitre and is speaking ex cathedra on these matters (to the extent he speaks at all, of course). He’s earned a good deal of grace, but not to the extent of infallibility.
Besides, just as Ted is doing what Ted does, it should be remembered that fans are just doing what fans do: Second guessing the management of one’s favorite teams is our lingua franca. Certainly, it is the mother’s milk of bloggers, podcasters and tweeters. How much fun would it be to be a fan if the judgement of the people who ran our teams was deemed so sacred that we couldn’t debate the value of resigning Nick Barnett or James Jones?
So it would be nice if those people who are dismissing commentators who dare to question moves TT has made (or suggest hopes for moves unmade) would stop with their “Don’t question Ted because he’s been proven right” takes. Thompson might have a Super Bowl ring, but the Steely-eyed Assassin does not wear the Ring of the Fisherman.