Murphy Takes 5 is a monthly column written by Green Bay Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy
On the first Saturday of every month, Mark will write about a topic of interest to Packers fans and the organization, and then answer five fan questions. Fans are encouraged to email Mark with their name and hometown at:MurphyTakes5@packers.com.
Shortly after the death of George Floyd, Matt LaFleur called a meeting of our players' leadership council. He knew this was an emotional, significant issue for all our players and wanted to make sure that the players were heard. He also wanted to see what we could do as an organization to help make a difference on the issues of racism and police brutality. I met with the leadership council on Monday, and it was clear to me how passionate they were about these issues. We talked about a variety of different things that we could do to affect change. The players thought that a video mashup with all the members of the leadership council speaking about these issues would be very impactful. They were adamant that they wanted to do something that was very different than the typical statement that clubs are putting out. I'm very proud of our players and think that the video has had the intended impact. It is very powerful and sends an important message to all of us. Aaron Rodgers particularly has taken a strong leadership position on these issues. I think it sends a clear message to the entire team when a white player of Aaron's stature in the league is willing to speak so openly about issues of racial inequality. Shortly after the video was released, I put out a statement regarding these important issues. I didn't want to take away in any way from the video, but wanted to let our fans know how supportive I was of our players and the video. I also wanted to announce that the organization will make a $250,000 grant to support social justice efforts across the state. We will work with our leadership council and the players coalition to identify grassroot organizations that are making a difference on these issues. This is a challenging time for our country (with both the pandemic and racial issues), and it has never been more important for us to come together. I'm proud that our players have taken steps to start this process.
Now, on to your questions...
A question from Joshua
We met in Dallas last year, where you took a couple extra minutes at the end of the Packers Everywhere meet-and-greet to answer my question about Clay Matthews' shift to inside linebacker. Thank you! To address the drop in the onside kick conversion rate that occurred after the safety changes to the kickoff rules, a reader of the Packers website suggested that the kicking team line up two yards downfield of the ball on kickoffs, at the 37. This would increase success of onside kicks while preserving the easy-to-see 45-yard line as the restraining line. It would also improve safety on regular kickoffs: lower-velocity collisions because the players are closer together, and decreased frequency of returns because the coverage team is closer to the returner. Has a variation on this idea been discussed by the NFL rules committee?
Very interesting proposal, Joshua. The fourth-and-15 (from the 25-yard line) proposal as an alternative to the onside kick was heavily debated at a recent league meeting. With the new kickoff rules, the percentage of onside kicks recovered has gone from 16% to 10%. I think the sense is that we do need to do something to keep fan interest in games, but this wasn't the right solution. The proposal will go back to the competition committee for further discussion. I think the proposal you suggest has some merit, but people might not like the fact that you would have two different kickoff formations.
Dave from Madison, WI
Hello Mr. Murphy, I was wondering with so many actions still unanswered, with the loss of ticket sales and game-day revenue along with possible drop in merchandise sales, would the Packers consider doing another public stock offering to make up revenue loss? Thank you.
Great question, David. I have a couple of thoughts. First, as I mentioned in last month's Murphy Takes Five, we have a corporate reserve fund (which is now back over $400 million) for situations like this, so we are in good shape financially. Second, the league really controls and limits our stock sales, since other clubs can't have similar sales. The stock sales are limited to capital projects, such as the south end zone addition.
Matt from Chicago, IL
Hello Mark, I have a couple layers to my question(s), which might be moot given the schedule is already released. Do you think college football will be played this year? Then somewhat separately, I'd be interested to hear the potential scheduling alternatives the league is considering. If there is no college football, would the league look at Saturday and Sunday games throughout the year to maximize ratings? Or even further, if there is no NBA, MLB, or NHL games to compete with, could the league utilize a full seven-day week as game days?
I'm glad you brought this issue up, Matt. There was a report last week that erroneously stated that the Wisconsin-Notre Dame game this year would be played in South Bend rather than Lambeau Field. We have talked to representatives from both Notre Dame and Wisconsin, and they've confirmed that they are still planning to play the game at Lambeau Field. I do think that college football will be played this year. Like the NFL, the colleges have three months before the football season will start, and we will both be able to learn from the other sports over the next few months to see what works and doesn't work in terms of holding games. The colleges also have the issue of whether their campuses will be open to students, which may impact the decision of whether to play games. Obviously, the key factor here will be the status of the virus and how our efforts at slowing the spread have worked.
Kyle from Sioux Falls, SD
Hello Mr. Murphy,
Obviously as we know already the Green Bay Packers have never played an international regular-season game, which now we are the only team in the league not to do so. Just have two quick questions. Would you rather have the Packers play a game in Mexico City or London? And are we looking at any international games in the near future? GO PACK GO!
Yes, you're correct Kyle, we are the only NFL team that has not played an international regular-season game (the Packers did play exhibition games in Toronto, Ontario, in 1997; in Tokyo, Japan, in 1998; and in Winnipeg, Manitoba, last year). As we've discussed here, the reason is that we will not give up a home game (it means too much to the local economy) and our fans travel so well that teams are reluctant to move a home game against the Packers to London or Mexico City. We would be willing to play in either Mexico City or London, but my preference would be London since it would give our players an international experience for a longer period of time (most teams just fly into Mexico City the day before the game, making it like a typical road trip). As a result of the pandemic, the league announced that no international games would be played this year (four were scheduled to played in London and one in Mexico City). We would love to play an international game, but not so much that we would be willing to give up a home game.
A question from Randy
Hello Mark, I am a longtime season ticketholder and lifelong Packer fan. My question is to the upcoming season. I have an underlying condition, that has been advised by the CDC to avoid large crowds. As we all know a vaccine will not be available for at least a year, if then. I would like to retain my tickets, but not at the cost of my health. I will not be attending any games until there is a vaccine available. I would like the opportunity to suspend my account until conditions improve. As we all know the Packers are committed to the health of our community and will accommodate the needs of our community. I do not wish to lose my privilege to my season tickets as I am sure you can appreciate. Please advise as to a solution to our well-being. Thank you.
Thanks for your question, Randy. We've received similar questions from other season ticketholders. As mentioned above, we still have some time before we have to make a decision regarding whether to hold games at the regularly scheduled time and whether fans will be in the stands. First and foremost, if games are not played or played without fans, refunds will be made. If games are played with fans, they'd only be done so under the advice of medical experts and in compliance with government regulations so as to not put our season ticketholders in a situation that presents any risk to them. If we do play games with fans, and you are not comfortable attending the game, I think the best thing for you to do would be to sell your tickets on Ticketmaster. Our ticket office will work with you to explain how easy it is to sell your tickets in this manner.