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Judge Parins brought Packers into modern era of NFL

Murphy Takes 5 is a monthly column written by President and CEO Mark Murphy


On the first Saturday of every month (this month's was delayed one week), 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: ***.*

Two weeks ago, Judge Robert Parins, former Packers president, died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 98. He had a remarkable professional career, achieving great success as a lawyer and a judge before being named the Packers president in 1982 (which was a challenging year for the NFL, with a strike-shortened season). He served as president until 1989. He worked as a mediator and arbitrator until he was 88. He also served on the Packers Board of Directors for a total of 51 years, 28 as an active member and 23 as an emeritus member. During his nine years as president, Judge Parins had a tremendous impact on the organization. He was the Packers' first full-time president, and was able to focus on the business side of the organization more than his predecessors. He established the committee structure that largely remains in place today. He also strengthened the organization's finances with the construction of the first luxury boxes at Lambeau Field. On the football side, he decided to split the authority between the general manager and the head coach, rather than having all of the authority rest with one person. This structure remains in place today and the change has allowed the team to enjoy great success over the years.

In my mind, though, Judge Parins' lasting legacy will be his decision to establish the Green Bay Packers Foundation. He was very community-focused and wanted to ensure that the Packers would be able to support the local community well into the future. This decision has proven to be tremendously successful. The Foundation now gives out over $1.5 million a year in grants to charitable organizations across the state.

Judge Parins had a very fulfilling and successful life. All Packers fans owe him a debt of gratitude for his work in successfully bringing the Packers into the modern era of the NFL.

Now, on to your questions….

Chip from Hudson, WI

Why does the NFL schedule games heavy at noon and only a few games at 3 p.m. or 3:30 p.m.? Wouldn't it be more beneficial to spread the games out over the day on Sunday and have an equal number played early as late?

You raise a very interesting issue, Chip. I think there are a couple of explanations for the fact that there are more noon games. First, the networks (FOX and CBS) like having fewer 3:30 p.m. games because they can then reach close to a national audience with these games. Actually, in recent years, more people are watching the 3:30 p.m. game (4:30 on the East Coast) than prime-time games on Sunday and Monday nights. Also, from a fan-in-the-stadium perspective, the noon games are preferable as fans are able to get home before it is too late.

Franklin from Minneapolis

Good morning, Mr. Murphy. Thank you for your time. What is your favorite Keanu Reeves movie?

Our first Keanu Reeves question. In the spirit of meeting our readers' wishes, and to provide some variety in our subjects, I will answer this question. I preferred his earlier movies, and would give "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" a slight edge over "Speed." I also liked "The Replacements," but I think that had more to do with the subject matter (I worked for the NFLPA in 1987 when the NFL used replacement players during the players' strike) than Keanu's acting ability. Is Keanu a Packers fan?

Andrew from Streator, IL

Hello, Mr. Murphy. I plan on attending one Packers home game this year. If you had to pick one to go to, which one would it be?

Tough question, Andrew. It's like asking a parent who their favorite child is – every game at Lambeau Field is great, and you never know how the season is going to play out. That said, I think the Seattle game to open the season could be special. We've established a good rivalry with them, it will be the first time in five years that we will open the season at home and we have a number of special events (to be announced soon) planned for the weekend. The Vikings game on Dec. 23 should have playoff implications and it is always fun to attend games at Lambeau Field around the holidays.  

Brett from Green Bay

Mr. Murphy, since so many injuries occur on the kickoff, the NFL has been trying to limit returns, without eliminating the play, which would also eliminate the onside kick. They've tried moving the kickoff up to the 35-yard line, and moving a touchback to the 25-yard line. Both have helped, but the kicking team many times tries to place the ball around the goal line, forcing a return, hoping to tackle the returner before the 25.

What if the kicking team got rewarded for kicking the ball through the end zone? This change should cut down on returns and injuries, keep the onside kick alive, and put some more importance and excitement into the play.

Thanks for the suggestion regarding the kickoff, Brett. As you note, we've looked at ways in recent years to limit the number of returns. Although the kickoff can be one of the most exciting plays in football, it is also the most dangerous. Last year, we moved the touchback to the 25-yard line to encourage teams to take the touchback. Overall, the new rule had the effect we had hoped, but we decided to have the rule for one more year to get more information before making the rule permanent. There was actually a proposed rule this year similar to your suggestion – if the ball went through the uprights on a kickoff, the receiving team would get the ball on the 20-yard line rather than the 25 (it was also suggested that the kicking team should get one point for putting a ball through the uprights). There was not a lot of support for the proposal. I thought it was gimmicky, the kind of rule the XFL would have adopted.

Bill from Wilmette, IL

I noticed that the owners recently voted to reduce overtime in preseason and regular-season games from 15 minutes to 10 minutes. Isn't this going to result in more ties?

Great question, Bill. Recently, at our meeting in your neck of the woods in Chicago, we did vote to reduce the length of overtime. It was a safety-related rule proposal. Last year, there were two games that went the full 15 minutes and ended in ties. The coaches of those games found it was difficult to have a normal practice schedule the following week since the players were so worn down from the previous game. A major concern would be if a team had a Thursday night game after playing a five-quarter game – it would present safety issues for the players as well as competitive equity concerns. In terms of the change resulting in more ties, I don't think this will happen because the teams will play with more urgency than in a 15-minute overtime. Also, the rules relating to clock stoppages in overtime will allow for more stoppages, which should give teams more chances to win the game. Lastly, I don't think it would necessarily be bad to have more ties. At the end of the year when determining what teams will win the division or earn a playoff spot, a tie is the ultimate tiebreaker.

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