Earlier this week, the Green Bay Packers announced two promotions in their front office. General manager Ted Thompson promoted both Eliot Wolf and Brian Gutekunst. Wolf’s new title is director of football operations, while Gutekunst is changing his title from director of college scouting to director of player personnel.
Wolf was promoted for the fourth time since Thompson took over in 2005 and as director of football operations, now has the same title John Schneider, John Dorsey and Reggie McKenzie held before they became NFL general managers.
Eliot is the son of Ron Wolf. It was Ron that resurrected the Green Bay franchise in 1991 when he took over as general manager of the team. From 1992-2000, the Packers had a 92-52 record (a .639 winning percentage), won three NFC Central titles, seven straight winning seasons, six straight playoff appearances, participated in three consecutive NFC Championship games (winning two of them) and were also in two consecutive Super Bowls—with the Packers winning Super Bowl XXXI.
Before his time with the Packers, Ron Wolf started out in the then AFL under Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders in 1963 at age 25, first as a scout and then as a key member of the front office of the Raiders. Wolf helped bring Oakland a number of talented players in the draft, including Jack Tatum, Gene Upshaw, Art Shell and Ken Stabler.
All of those players had key roles for the Raiders as Oakland won Super Bowl XI in 1976.
Wolf left Oakland in 1975 and moved on to Florida to head football operations of the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Wolf brought in some very talented athletes, drafting players like Lee Roy Selman, Doug Williams and Ricky Bell. That group led the Bucs to the NFC title game in 1979.
However, Wolf was not around to see what developed that year, as he resigned from the Bucs in 1978 and returned to work with his mentor Davis. Wolf stayed on with the Raiders until 1990. Once again, Wolf was able to bring in talents such as Marcus Allen, Howie Long and Matt Millen, and the Raiders won two more Super Bowl titles in that time frame.
Wolf then spent a year with the New York Jets front office, before taking the reins in Green Bay.
All of that great work led to Wolf being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015.
Wolf’s first move with the Packers was to fire then head coach Lindy Infante and to hire Mike Holmgren as his new head coach.
Wolf also brought on a guy to help out in the scouting department for the Packers. The guy’s name was Ted Thompson. One of Thompson’s first jobs was to review tape of a player the Packers were thinking about acquiring via a trade. Thompson looked at the tape of the player and gave his endorsement to Wolf about trading for him. The player’s name was Brett Favre.
Wolf was a mentor to Thompson. When Thompson was hired by Wolf, his first job was assistant director of pro personnel in 1992.
When Eliot Wolf first joined the Packers in 2004 at age 22, he worked in the same department Thompson did when he was first hired. But even before then, Eliot had accumulated quite a resume.
Eliot first started working with his dad Ron unofficially at age 10, watching film. He then started working the NFL draft and has now been part of 23 consecutive drafts for the Packers. Eliot has also been to 24 consecutive NFL Scouting Combines.
In addition to that, Eliot had nine NFL scouting internships—five with the Packers, three with the Atlanta Falcons and one with the Seattle Seahawks. Wolf basically grew up in Green Bay, as he was nine years old when his dad joined the Packers. Eliot graduated from Notre Dame Academy in Green Bay, before going to Miami (Fla.) for college, where he graduated in just three-and-a-half years.
After being pro personnel assistant with the Packers from 2004-2008, Wolf was then promoted to assistant director of pro personnel for three years, before he was promoted to assistant director of player personnel in 2011. He then was named director of pro personnel in 2012, a position he held until his most recent promotion.
Is the latest promotion of Wolf setting him up to be the heir apparent to Thompson as general manager of the Packers? Or will this lead to Wolf leaving the team to become the general manager for another NFL team like Schneider (Seattle Seahawks), Dorsey (Kansas City Chiefs) and McKenzie (Oakland Raiders) did?
Thompson denies that there is a succession plan in place with the promotions.
“It has nothing to do with it,” Thompson said of succession. “It’s just part of our organization and this part of the organization, the personnel part, fluctuates from time to time. As it’s gone forward the 10 or 11 years I’ve been here, there’s been times when you’re a little bit top heavy in your personnel department and there’s times when it lessens a little bit.
“And like I’ve said, we’ve been using these two guys in an advanced role for some time and now it’s time we kind of acknowledged it.”
“I don’t know,” Landry said. “Ted still loves doing this. He’s a lifer. He’s not married and lives in a hotel. I don’t know for how much longer. I think these moves and this position has been the stepping stone for guys that have moved on.
“You mentioned Schneider. You mentioned Dorsey. Brian Gutekunst has really grown in that system as a scout. He moves up as well. Eliot, as you mentioned, grew up around his dad. He’s a bright young guy.
“I think this step could mean moving on somewhere else, or maybe [staying] with the Packers. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I mean, I don’t know for example, when Ted retires, that maybe John Schneider might come from Seattle and run it. John is from Green Bay and went to high school right in Green Bay.
“I think when that time happens, I think that’s going to be a very coveted job, with a lot of guys that would maybe want to go home. Ted obviously has a fondness for Ron Wolf, because Ron gave him his chance. Ted was a Houston Oiler and is from Texas. We were close because he always thought of himself as an Oiler. So when I was with the Oilers, we would always have great conversations.
“But he’s a Packer through and through now. I don’t know what the future is, but obviously it’s bright for Eliot and I think the Packers’ future is bright beyond Ted. They’ll have a lot of options with a lot of good people who are going to want that job.”