As Green Bay Packers fans belly up to the Thanksgiving buffet with a 7-3 team riding a four-game winning streak, they have a lot to be thankful for.
There's quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his 64.1 completion percentage. There's linebacker Clay Matthews and his league-leading 11.5 sacks. There's receiver Greg Jennings and his emergence as the go-to guy in the wake of tight end Jermichael Finley's season-ending injury.
But between forks-full of mashed potatoes and glances at the woeful Cowboys or Lions, Packers fans should also whisper a gracias for Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson, the guy most responsible for assembling what is arguably the league's hottest team.
Thompson is by now famous/notorious for building his team via the draft instead of with free agents. The result is a group that appears to have developed a rare chemistry in a league where players often suit up for three or four teams in a career (or, in the case of Randy Moss, a season).
Thompson's reluctance to mess with that chemistry by acquiring high-profile players from other teams was most evident in September, when an injury sidelined running back Ryan Grant for the season. Fans urged a trade with Buffalo for Marshawn Lynch, but Thompson stuck with Brandon Jackson, the team's backup. Jackson has been reliable if unspectacular, while Lynch landed in Seattle, where he was benched Sunday for coughing up two fumbles.
And while Thompson was widely cursed around these parts a few years ago for letting Brett Favre leave, is anyone disputing the wisdom of that decision today?