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
I’m really excited for tonight’s playoff game against the Vikings. The atmosphere at Lambeau Field will be electric. Anyone who’s ever attended or played in an NFL playoff game knows there’s a big difference between regular season and postseason play. Also, unlike playoff series in Major League Baseball, the NBA or the NHL, there is a sense of urgency in NFL playoff games that raises the intensity level dramatically. Add in the fact that we are playing a division rival that we will be playing for the third time in five weeks, and this has the making of a special game. I’m excited for both our fans and players to be able to be a part of tonight’s game. It is also a great benefit to our local community. The economic impact of a home playoff game is estimated to be $10-12 million.
Although we are disappointed that we did not win last week to secure the No. 2 seed and the bye that comes with it, our players are extremely excited about the opportunity ahead of them. We are one of 12 teams in the NFL playoffs and will host a game. While we would always prefer the bye, I’m not sure the bye provides the same advantage that it did years ago. So much of the NFL game is now based on timing and passing, and having a week off can take a team out of its rhythm. Our run to the Super Bowl in 2010 and the Giants’ performance in the playoffs last year are good examples of how teams can advance to the Super Bowl by gaining momentum in the playoffs.
With the increased intensity level for tonight’s game, our fans can have a great impact on the game. I encourage our fans to be as loud as possible to increase our home field advantage. Also, although the new South End Zone seats will not be ready until next season, the new structure is helping us already by keeping more of the crowd noise in the stadium. Another advantage we have is that we are used to practicing and playing in the cold weather. In 2009, when we built the Ray Nitschke training camp facility, we decided to heat a portion of the field. This has allowed our team to practice outside late in the season, and to practice on the same type of field and conditions that we will play in at Lambeau Field. Our team has performed tremendously at Lambeau Field in recent years (we are 15-1 over the last two years in regular season games at home). We need to carry that success over to the postseason.
Let‘s get it started tonight!
Now, on to your questions:
Ethan from Midlothian, VA
I am a student at Virginia Tech. I was just curious what kind of education is necessary to get involved with sports management.
Great question, Ethan. I have noticed a big change over the years in terms of the education background of athletics administrators. Years ago, most athletics administrators had degrees in physical education and were typically former coaches. As college and professional sports have become bigger businesses, though, more administrators have business degrees or MBAs. I’ve also noticed that more people with legal backgrounds are working in sports management now. A more recent trend is the increase in the number of schools offering master’s degrees in sports administration. More and more people in sports management have these undergraduate or master’s degrees. Bottom line, though, Ethan, is that there is no one degree or specialty that will guarantee you a job in sports management. The best advice I can give you is to get experience working in the athletic department while you finish your degree.
Bailey from Green Bay, WI
I heard the Packers recently set the clock on the Bellin Health Gate to “Lombardi Time.” Why did the Packers decide to do this?
Thanks, Bailey. I think this is a really interesting story. When we added the Bellin Health Gate to Lambeau Field last summer, we decided to put a clock on the tower. As we discussed the clock, we thought it would be a good idea to set it ahead 15 minutes (“Lombardi Time”) as a way to honor Vince Lombardi. The clock was set to Lombardi time on July 20. We decided not to publicize that it was set ahead. We thought people would notice within a week or two, and the media would report the story during training camp. We were extremely surprised as we went through the season that the story never came out publicly. We had a few fans call and tell us that the clock was fast, but it never got to the media. Bailey, were you one of the few perceptive people who noticed the clock was on “Lombardi Time?” Our hope is the clock will become something that people talk about when they come to Lambeau Field, and that a new generation of fans learn about “Lombardi Time” and the importance of being on time for meetings.
Chris from Green Bay, WI
What was the most difficult part of transitioning from playing in the NFL to an executive role in the NFL?
The transition from playing in the NFL to the next phase of your career is very difficult. It was the most difficult task I’ve faced in my professional career. I was very upset with the way my career ended, and it’s hard to match the excitement, camaraderie and money of an NFL playing career. I was very fortunate that I had something to turn to when my career ended. I had a job offer from the NFLPA and I’d been accepted to law school. I buried myself in work and school, stopped feeling sorry for myself and eventually made the transition. Twenty-three years after I left the NFL as a player, I accepted my current position with the Packers. I gained experience as a union executive, a lawyer and an athletic director, and learned a lot of life lessons along the way.
Alexandre from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
What decisions have you made in your career that you look back on feel were mistakes? What have you learned from them?
I’ve made a lot of mistakes during my career, Alexandre. The key is to learn from them, and not repeat them. For any executive, I believe the most important part of your job is hiring good people. Early in my career as an athletic director at Colgate, I made a big hiring mistake. I offered a head coaching position to a coach, and he turned me down. Rather than move on, I went back to him and convinced him to change his mind. He was miserable at Colgate, had little success and I had to let him go after three years. Now, when someone turns down a job offer, I move on to the next candidate. I look for people who are excited about the job opportunity and are a good fit for the position.
John from Temple, TX
Hello, Sir! I am proud to be a Green Bay fan since the days of Brett Favre and the play I'll never live down (4th-and-26) in the playoffs. That was a sad day, indeed. I don’t get coverage down in Texas of the Green Bay games. Is there an Internet radio station somewhere I could tune into the games on?
First, John, I think it’s time to get over that playoff loss to the Eagles. We beat the Eagles in the playoffs in 2010 and scored a TD against the Bears this year on 4th-and-26! With regard to your question, I have a few suggestions. The Sunday Ticket on DirecTV is a great way to watch all Packers games. Also, if you go to Packerseverywhere.com, you can find a Packers bar in your area where you can watch the game with other Packers fans. Finally, you can listen to the game on the Internet through the NFL’s Audio Pass program for a fee.