During Ted Thompson’s tenure as the Green Bay Packers general manager, faithful and loyal fans unearthed the hope-giving mantra, “In Ted, We Trust”.
Rookie general manager Brian Gutekunst has burst onto the scene. The former Director of Player Personnel has taken the team by storm.
After fans pleaded for change upon Gutekunst’s appointment as general manager, “Gutey” promised change. He promised a more aggressive and thorough approach to player acquisition. This decree was calming to the ears of Packers fans. The Packers were notorious for being relatively inactive in methods of player acquisition other than the NFL Draft. This is something that Thompson had come under heavy scrutiny for. Fans feared nothing would change.
Gutekunst immediately held true to his word. By signing free agents tight end Jimmy Graham and defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, Packers fans rejoiced in Gutey’s name. The new GM then gave an offer sheet to cornerback Kyle Fuller, forcing the division rival Chicago Bears to match the sheet in order to retain the player.
Prior to these events, the team had shipped out former first-round pick and starting cornerback Damarious Randall to the Cleveland Browns. Gutekunst really was exploring “all avenues” of player acquisition. He was giving the people what they wanted; Gutekunst was being more aggressive in all facets of player acquisition.
Then the 2018 NFL Draft came and went.
Uncertainty and excitement waned as the Packers’ turn on the clock came this past Thursday night. Then the announcement. “The Green Bay Packers have traded the 14th overall pick to the New Orleans Saints”. Roger Goodell had taken Gutekunst’s actions and lit a fire full of anger and disdain fueled by Packers fan themselves.
Social media erupted with posts claiming that this team was the same old regime and nothing has changed. Trading down was a staple of the former Packers GM, Thompson, hence the reason why the move was received with such angst. Fans wanted change and this was not a move that exemplified that idea. Green Bay had acquired a first-round pick in 2019 from the Saints and the Saints’ 27th overall selection in this draft.
Then Green Bay traded up. They moved up to 18 from 27 and Packers fans looked on in awe. Just like that, fans full of rage had turned the corner and were now full of excitement. The Packers then selected cornerback Jaire Alexander with that 18th pick. With just as much passion and fortitude as minutes prior, fans took to social media praising the pick and the general manager. Gutekunst had waived his magic wand and selected a top player in the draft while turning a third-round draft pick into a first-rounder. Packers fans were gleeful.
On day two of the draft, fans were not yet convinced that Gutekunst was any different from his predecessor, Thompson. Fans pined for Gutekunst to trade up and acquire more premium talent. He ignored the cries and sat pat with his 45th overall selection. Another top cornerback prospect, Josh Jackson, fell right into his lap. Following the pick, Gutekunst is hailed as a mastermind on social media; adored and beloved by all Packers fans. Outsiders, too, looked on in awe as Green Bay masterfully worked the top of the draft.
Fast forward to the end of day three and the completion of the draft in its entirety. Packers fans worldwide were excited, satisfied, and at the mercy of Gutekunst. This had been the first draft in recent memory where Packers fans were truly unable to find a flaw in the draft class. The class had addressed positional needs and provided tremendous entertainment value. There was a certain amount of flair associated with Gutekunst’s first draft class.
In the span of a few short months, Gutekunst had earned the loyalty of some of the NFL’s most loyal fans. With that loyalty comes harsh criticism. Gutekunst had operated his first NFL offseason like a wily veteran. With cunning and showmanship, Gutekunst entertained and satisfied his “shareholders”.
Fan by fan Gutey was earning their devotion. As I mindlessly scrolled through Twitter post-draft, I scoured random Packers fans responses to the spectacle that Gutekunst had just put on. I couldn’t help but notice the praise and the excitement that the rookie GM had manufactured.
Packers fans are some of the most critical around. Sometimes it appears as though nothing will please them. However, with one swift wave of his magic wand, it appeared that Gutey was well on his way. It may only be one or two more “flashy” moves before fans start crying “In Gutey, We Trust” from their snow covered rooftops.