Rodgers, now in his 13th year as the Packers’ starting quarterback and a future Pro Football Hall of Famer, will lead the team into that game, one of a host of key players who remain on the Green Bay roster after being acquired by Thompson.
“I knew he wasn’t doing great,” Rodgers said in a phone interview late Thursday afternoon. “That was really hard, to see him like that — for sure.
“I still got to spend a couple lunch times with him, and I hugged him, and I told him I loved him. I wasn’t sure either time that I saw him last year if it was going to be the last time that I saw him. So, I wanted to make sure I got a chance to tell him how much I appreciated him. I really wanted to let him know how much I appreciated him and how thankful I was for him taking me, and believing in me, and giving me an opportunity.”
This season, the Packers had four players voted as first-team All-Pro selections by The Associated Press: Rodgers, wide receiver Davante Adams, left tackle David Bakhtiari and center Corey Linsley. All four players have one thing in common: They were all Thompson draft picks. Kicker Mason Crosby, running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, defensive linemen Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry, cornerback Kevin King, right guard Lucas Patrick and tight end Robert Tonyan were all originally acquired by Thompson.
“He’s had a tremendous impact,” LaFleur said. “Not only on people in this building — obviously ‘Gutey’ and a lot of our personnel people — but people in other departments as well. His impact is still felt to this day when you look at our roster, but I think he’s had a tremendous impact amongst many people across the league when you look at all the other GMs that have learned under him. Certainly, we’re sitting here with heavy hearts today.”