Murphy Takes 5 is a monthly column written by 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
Tonight at 5:30 p.m., we will hold our 14th annual Packers Family Night event. To me, the event really highlights the unique nature of the Packers and the special connection we have with our fan base. We always have great crowds for the event. This year, the event sold out in two days, even though the format was changed from a scrimmage to a full practice. We expect a crowd of over 70,000, a much larger crowd than most teams will draw for their home preseason games. Family Night also highlights the unique relationship we have with our younger fans. Most of the activities during the evening are geared toward kids. Also, we’ve kept the price reasonable ($10 since 2009) to encourage families with younger children to come to Lambeau Field for the evening.
Although Family Night is now a practice, I don’t think it will seem very different to our fans. The players will be on the field as long as they have been in the past, and the practice will include 11-on11 sessions with live contact. The evening will still feature a game-like atmosphere with use of video boards and game day music.
In addition to the practice, there are activities planned for fans throughout the entire day. Things will get started at 11 a.m., when the Atrium and American Family Insurance DreamZone will open. The DreamZone has a number of activities for kids. The Appleton Rock School will perform outside the Tundra Tailgate Zone starting at noon. The Fan Walkway area in front of the Oneida Nation Gate steps will include numerous activities, including sidewalk drawing, airbrush tattoos and a display of animals from the Wildlife Sanctuary. Also, the Copps-Pick ‘N Save picnic will take place from 1-6 p.m. in the east parking lot.
There will also be many on-field activities. The popular Chili’s “Jersey Off Our Backs” will return. There will also be an NFL Flag Football game, as well as performances by the Green Bay Elite Dance team and a BMX Bike group. The evening will conclude with a new attraction, a laser light show, and the spectacular Copps-Pick ’N Save fireworks display.
It should be a fun day for our fans, and it will be a great chance for many to get a first look at this year’s team. Most importantly, it will be a great opportunity for families with young kids to experience Lambeau Field.
Now, on to your questions:
Gavin from McFarland, WI
Who is your favorite Packers player of all time?
I don’t think any team has had as many great players over the years as the Packers, so this is a tough question to answer. Even if I limit it to players that have played in the years that I’ve worked here, it is still difficult to pick one. If pushed, though, I would have to go with Charles Woodson. As a former defensive back, I am a little biased toward defensive backs, and I loved to watch Charles play. He played with great intelligence and tremendous instincts. He was always around the ball and was a true playmaker. Finally, he was old school and played the game the way we were taught to play when I played.
A question from Dan
With a lot of the front office personal leaving for other teams, are we still strong for next year’s draft? Is there an endless supply of quality draft personnel?
Excellent point, Dan. In the last four years, we’ve lost some very talented people from our player personnel department. John Schneider, Reggie McKenzie and John Dorsey have all left to become general managers. While this is obviously a tribute to Ted Thompson and our entire football operations in terms of how we are viewed throughout the League, it is difficult to replace this type of talent. I think Ted has done an excellent job, though, by developing depth in our front office, and has promoted and hired talented young people to replace our losses. I have not seen any drop-off in our draft preparation.
Stacey from Seymour, WI
Is massage therapy being utilized for the players and, if not, why?
Yes, Stacey, we absolutely use massage therapy for our players. It is one of many options we provide to our players to help them stay flexible and healthy. The massages are typically provided on off days. During the first week of training camp, the players were given the day off on Tuesday and we had several massage therapists in our facility to work with the players. Yoga is also very popular with our players. In addition, you may have read that we recently hired a nutritionist, Adam Korzun, to insure our players are eating healthy. We also have a chiropractor, Dr. Michael Zoelle, who comes to Lambeau Field regularly to work with many of our players.
Pat from New Jersey
I was just wondering if when making a large decision such as reconstructing the stadium or things of that sort, do the locals get involved at all in helping to make or carry out that decision?
Thanks, Pat. I’m not really sure what you mean by “the locals,” but we do work closely with local elected officials and other civic leaders on any projects in or around the stadium. Since the 2003 renovation was funded primarily through a sales tax, the local municipalities (Green Bay, Ashwaubenon and Brown County) were actively involved in the planning and construction of the renovation, and they remain involved through the Green Bay/Brown County Professional Football Stadium District. While the more recent projects were all funded without any public money, we have still worked closely with the local authorities. We have also held several meetings with people who live in houses around Lambeau Field to update them on the projects. We realize Lambeau Field is unique in that it is set in a residential neighborhood, and we want to be good neighbors. We also try to ensure projects and improvements we’re making to Lambeau Field and the surrounding areas are beneficial to everyone and complement the local municipalities’ plans. We’re very proud of the positive economic impact these projects have had on the local economy, both during construction of the South End project (3,000 jobs and $130 million in wages) and in an on-going basis ($14 million per home game).
Question from Michael
Mark, with last year’s emergency work on Tower Drive Bridge, as well as the new construction on Hwy. 41, how does that affect the game day preparation for the team and organization?
Great question, Michael. Traffic around the stadium is obviously a major topic with our fans. By adding 7,000 seats last year, we added to the incoming traffic on game day. I’ve always been impressed, though, with how well the process of people leaving the stadium works, and did not notice a big change last year. Road construction is a matter all fans should be aware of from game to game, particularly with the Hwy. 41 project you referenced. That work will be ongoing through 2015. We and the Wisconsin DOT will be using more signage and traffic officers to help direct fans on game day. After games, fans heading south on Hwy. 41 are asked to use Ashland Avenue through the roundabout in De Pere as a way to reach Hwy. 41 south. That route will avoid the Hwy. 172 interchange, a major congestion point. Generally speaking before each game, we recommend fans check the latest road construction conditions on the Wisconsin DOT’s website at www.511wi.gov/Web or by dialing 511. Additionally, fans coming from the Oshkosh area tonight should allow for extra time due to the EAA AirVenture.