Two years ago, in April of 2011, I lost my Uncle to life's great inevitable. He was one of my best friends and my sports buddy. What I mean is he was the only person who knew what in the world, and, for that matter, who in the world I was talking about most of the time. Of course, we all knew it was coming, as personal choices he made throughout his life led him to this. In late October of 2010 he ended up in the hospital for several months. Not only was he in there, but he was basically unconscious and unaware of anything for nearly three months until mid-January 2011. I really enjoyed getting to tell him everything that had happened in sports over the last few months and he enjoyed it just as much.
As I was thinking about that experience I began to wonder, what if I got to do that for someone who hasn't been aware of anything for, say, 10 years? I will never get to do that but what I could? How would the conversation go? Well, something like the following. Playing the role of the man who comes back after 10 years is my good friend and personal trainer Jon Schwartz.
Me: Hey Jon, so what what is your most recent knowledge of anything Green Bay Packer related?
Jon: Well, last time I knew anything, Mike Sherman was the head coach and GM of the Packers and they ran the ball for like 7500 yards a game.
Me: Well, um, that's not the case anymore.
Jon: What do you mean?
Me: None of that is true.
Jon: What happened?
Me: In 2005 Ted Thompson replaced Mike Sherman as GM.
Jon: They fired Sherman? But he's the one of the best coaches in team history!
Me: Well, not exactly. He was just removed from his GM duties. He remained as head coach.
Jon: And what did Thompson do as GM?
Me: Well, he released Mike Whale and Darren Sharper, then he chose not to re-sign Marco Rivera.
Jon: What? Three pro bowlers out the door in one offseason? Hope he made some great moves in the draft.
Me: He did. He spent the first round draft choice on QB Aaron Rodgers.
Jon: All of those wholes to fill, and he draft's the one position they don't need. And how did the Packers do in 2005?
Me: They finished 4-12.
Jon: And I'm guessing they fired Thompson, right?
Me: Well, they fired someone, but it was Mike Sherman they fired, not Ted Thompson.
Jon: WHAT? Well screw them!
Me: Calm down bud, it got better.
Jon: It better have.
Me: Thompson replaced Sherman with San Francisco offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy. The 49ers offense had just finished dead last in all categories the season before.
Jon: Is Thompson trying to ruin this team?
Me: Many thought so at the time. Thompson actually made a move in the 2006 free agent market. Signing former Oakland Raider Charles Woodson to a massive seven year contract.
Jon: Is this guy stupid or something? Charles Woodson is one of the biggest busts in NFL history! And how exactly did it work out?
Me: Charles Woodson is now one of the greatest cornerbacks in NFL history and is a first ballot hall of famer. Something else to note as well. Woodson will be the last free agent with any sort of name at all that Thompson signs for six years.
Jon: Really? Um, okay. Well, even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then. So then what happened?
Me: The Packers went 8-8 in McCarthy's first season. Year two however, was a different story. The Packers finished the season 13-3, and were a Brett Favre interception away from the Super Bowl.
Jon: Oh that stupid Brett! Always throwing games away! Bet they won it the next season and Brett rode off into retirement a hero forever.
Me: Oh boy, not this again. I'm still having nightmares.
Jon what do you mean?
Me: Well if you hated Thompson before, you’re gonna’ really hate him now.
Jon: Huh? So Brett retired?
Me: Well, that's one way to look at it. Brett “retired” then wanted to play again. Thompson told him the starting job belonged to Aaron Rodgers and told him to take a hike.
Jon: FIRE TED THOMPSON NOW!
Me: Not really. Ted Thompson is still the GM of the Packers to this day.
Jon: Okay, I'll calm down and let you finish the story. But it better be good.
Me: Trust me, it is. Thompson traded Brett Favre to the New York Jets for a 2009 third round draft choice. The Packers finished the season 6-10.
Jon: Serves them right, dumping a legendary QB like that.
Me: They used the third round draft choice on outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who is the only player in NFL history to make the pro bowl in each of his first four seasons.
Jon: Small consolation prize.
Me: Wait, there's more. Brett “retired” again, but then came out of retirement to play for the Minnesota Vikings.
Jon: And did every Packers fan set fire Ted Thompson's office at that point?
Me: No, but they burned all Brett Favre memorabilia.
Jon: Please tell me that worked out bad for the Vikings?
Me: The exact opposite. The Minnesota Vikings found themselves with the ball on the right side of mid field in a tie game in the final minute of the NFC Championship game in New Orleans.
Jon: I think I’m gonna’ cry now.
Me: I was to, until Brett Favre rolled out to his right, threw back across his body, and Saints DB Tracy Porter stepped in front of it and almost took it back the other way for a Saints victory.
Jon: Well, that just proves the football gods hate the Minnesota Vikings.
Me: Yes it does, and even though he didn't score, the Saints took the ball and won in overtime.
Jon: Thank goodness.
Me: I know, that's what I said.
Jon: Well, back to the Packers, what’s going on there?
Me: Well, they finished the season 11-5, but they lost in the first round of the playoffs in Arizona.
Jon: How bad do you have to be to lose to Arizona?
Me: Not as bad as you think. The Cardinals won the NFC the year before.
Jon: The Cardinals won the NFC? Well, I'm guessing hell froze over at that moment.
Me: Probably did.
Jon: So what happened next?
Me: Well, the Vikings pretty much embarrassed themselves through the 2010 season, finishing the year 6-10 with Brett Favre standing on the sidelines in street clothes the last few games.
Jon: Guess some things never change.
Me: Want to know what happened to the Packers?
Me: They won the Super Bowl, with an NFL record 14 players on injured reserve.
Jon: I guess God is a Packers fan after all. 14 players on injured reserve though, how did they manage all of that.
Me: Two words: Ted Thompson. His careful management of the Packers roster gave them the depth they needed to pull it off.
Jon: Awesome. Did Aaron Rodgers have anything to do with it or did he just come along for the ride so many QB's have done in the past?
Me: Um, he way more then came along for the ride. He drove the car, practically by himself.
Me: Aaron Rodgers was the Super Bowl MVP. He was also the 2011 MVP, is the best player in the game right now, and is considered to be the most perfect QB in NFL history.
Jon: Well then, in Ted we trust.
Me: Hey man, don't steal my line!
Jon: So what is the case now?
Me: Well, the Packers are about to hand Rodgers a 25 million dollar a year contract.
Jon: Um, okay, wait a minute, are you drunk?