Brett vs. Ted: Quality Management is Vital Everywhere, Including Sports

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Wisconsin has a new summer ritual. Call it the Brett versus Ted donnybrook. That would be the increasingly tarnished legend, Brett Lorenzo Favre, and the decreasingly tarnished Ted Thompson, who calls the shots for Wisconsin’s most iconic outfit, the Green Bay Packers.

Thanks to Favre’s retirement/unretirement/departure last summer, and his flirtation/rejection/tentative relationship with the dreaded/hated Minnesota Vikings, the state is now divided into several camps, the two most prominent being: Get Ted and Get Lost Brett.

In all honesty, I fall with the “Atta boy, Ted” camp, primarily because he has built one heck of a roster, but secondarily because he had the guts to call Favre on his diva behavior and move on. For that, he has endured scorn and derision from Favre fans that apparently missed the fact that he’s old, his arm is falling off, he can no longer function in the cold, and the Packers ran the risk of losing a talented young quarterback prospect if they continued to put up with Favre’s nonsense. That prospect, Aaron Rodgers, is a Thompson draft pick that gives the Packers a chance to keep winning for years to come.

Someday, the behind-the-scenes dysfunction that caused all this heartburn will be fully explained in a book, probably two books, and the truth will probably lie somewhere in between the two versions. Something tells me that Favre will be further tarnished, but that’s beside the point. The point is that Ted Thompson is the general manager of the team, and he has shrewdly rebuilt it through the draft, and an occasional free agent coup (Charles Woodson, Brandon Chillar).

Thompson gets ripped for not doing enough of the latter, but that fails to take into account the free agents he has pursued but chose to go elsewhere, and the fact that free agency is not the cure-all some fans think. For every Reggie White, there are two or three high-priced duds that were not re-signed by their former team — usually, for some very good reasons.

Meanwhile, Thompson has restocked the roster with quality draft picks like the aforementioned Rodgers, wide receiver Greg Jennings, who helped Favre have one of his best years in 2007, safety Nick Collins, center Jason Spitz, and an emerging gem in tight end Jermichael Finley. Yes, there have been some busts (Justin Harrell), but the esteemed Ron Wolf, the man who brought glory back to Green Bay, had a few of those, too. Like Thompson, he was right much more often than not, a trait of quality executives in any field.

As for Favre’s messy departure, well look at it this way: Green Bay fans got to see him in his prime, MVP-winning years, while Minnesota gets the temperamental fat Elvis version. I can’t think of a better pairing.