Former Packers GM Ted Thompson reveals ‘autonomic disorder,’ explains why he stepped down

May 8, 2019

GREEN BAY — Former Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson revealed Wednesday that he has been suffering from what he called “an autonomic disorder” in a statement released by the team.

Thompson, 66, was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame on Saturday night after a 13-year tenure as GM, which ended when he transitioned into an advisory role in January 2018. Thompson said in the statement that he and team president/CEO Mark Murphy discussed his health and agreed near the end of the 2017 NFL season that he needed to step away from his GM position because of his illness.

“Late in the 2017 season, Mark Murphy and I had a conversation about my health and future with the Packers. At that time, we mutually agreed that it was in the best interests of myself and the organization to step away from my role as general manager,” Thompson said in the statement. “In consultation with team physician Dr. John Gray, I began a complete health evaluation that has included second opinions over the last year from the Medical College of Wisconsin, the Mayo Clinic and the UT Southwestern Medical Center.

“I have been diagnosed with an autonomic disorder. I feel that it’s important to mention that based on the test results and opinions of medical specialists, they feel that I do not fit the profile of someone suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

“I want to thank Dr. Gray, the medical professionals, the Green Bay Packers and my family for all that they have done and continue to do for me. It was a tremendous honor to be inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame this past weekend. The Green Bay community and the fans of the Packers have always been and will continue to be very special to me. It is my hope and belief that I will be able to overcome this disorder.

“Finally, I’d like to ask that you respect the privacy of myself and my family as we move forward.”

Thompson’s 13-year tenure as general manager was largely defined by three events: Using his very first draft selection as GM on University of California quarterback Aaron Rodgers during the 2005 NFL Draft, even though the team still had future Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Favre as its starter; trading Favre to the New York Jets in August 2008, after Favre decided to unretire and the Packers had moved on with Rodgers as their starter; and Rodgers leading the 2010 team to the Super Bowl XLV title in his third season as the starter.

Thompson took over for coach/GM Mike Sherman in January 2005, after then-team president/CEO Bob Harlan stripped Sherman of his GM duties. Thompson kept him as head coach but after the Packers went 4-12 in 2005, Thompson fired Sherman and hired Mike McCarthy as his replacement. In 2007, McCarthy led the Packers a 13-3 record and a berth in the NFC Championship Game, which the Packers lost at Lambeau Field to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants when Favre threw an interception in overtime. It would be Favre’s final pass as a Packer.

Overall, the team compiled a 125-82-1 regular-season record on Thompson’s watch and made the playoffs nine times in 13 years, including a franchise-best eight straight season from 2009 through 2016. Green Bay was 10-8 in postseason play during that time, reaching four NFC Championship Games (2007, 2010, 2014, 2016).

On Saturday night at Lambeau Field, Thompson was enshrined in the Packers Hall of Fame, roughly 16 months after transitioning to a senior advisory role when current GM Brian Gutekunst was named as his successor.

In addition, Rodgers, former all-pro defensive back Charles Woodson, whose free-agent arrival in 2006 was vital to the Super Bowl XLV team, former head coach Mike Holmgren and Seattle Seahawks GM John Schneider recorded video tributes.

“I’ll never forget your loyalty,” Rodgers told Thompson in his video message. “I’m going to always be thankful for the time I had to spend with you, and the fact that you took a chance on a young kid from California. Thank you for your vision, thank you for believing in me year after year, thank you for representing the Green Bay Packers so well. And I’ll see you down the road.”

Thompson was presented for induction by longtime friend and former Houston Oilers teammate Mike Reinfeldt, who said in part, “I think history is going to be kind to Ted Thompson. When they look back and see what he accomplished, it’s a pretty golden era for the Packers.”

Thompson, meanwhile, limited his brief acceptance speech — which he began by acknowledging that he has always been “a man of few words” — to a simple thank-you after a video was played that included an extended interview with Thompson and clips of the many players he brought to Green Bay.

“This is a great honor. I appreciate it more than you could ever know,” Thompson said in his brief remarks. “This means a lot to me.”