The Green Bay Packers didn’t have to go far to find a new general manager, as they hired their former director of player personnel, Brian Gutekunst, to replace the incumbent Ted Thompson back in January.
But even though Gutekunst inherited Thompson’s title, he didn’t receive every responsibility his predecessor enjoyed while running the show. While appearing on Aaron Nagler’s podcast at PackersNews.com, Gutekunst shared that he was a bit surprised to learn that he didn’t have the power to fire or hire the team’s head coach. Which, what?!
Here’s more: “It was certainly different than what I’ve been exposed to here in Green Bay,” Gutekunst said on the podcast, via NFL.com’s Jason B. Hirschhorn. “I needed some time to kind of process it. I think the thing to me that made it OK with me was the people. The relationships I already had with Mark [Murphy] and Mike McCarthy and Russ Ball. I think that’s what made it OK and made it easier for me. But it was certainly something I hadn’t seen or been a part of in my professional career.”
So, here’s what makes this situation odd (other than the obvious, of course). Gutekunst has spent his entire career with the Packers, and that dates back to 1998 when he was a scout. He took over as the team’s Director of College Scouting in 2012, was promoted to Director of Player Personnel in 2016 before taking over as GM starting this season. It’s fair to say he is quite familiar with the power structure and organizational philosophy in Green Bay. So … how or why Gutekunst was he surprised by the change in policy?
Well, as it turns out, Packers President Mark Murphy possesses the authority over the team’s head coaching position – even though he initially was going to give those responsibilities to his new general manager. It’s not how things usually go when it comes to general power structures, but Murphy is the highest-ranking authority figure in the franchise and has been with the team in his executive role since 2007. So I suppose it makes some sense that he wields a higher power than someone below him on the organizational flow chart. But it’s still weird.
Indeed, it could make for some awkward moments down the line if the two most powerful decision makers in Green Bay have different evaluations of what’s happening with the coach, but I guess they’ll get there when they get there.