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.
The Packers will hold their annual Family Night practice tonight at 7 p.m. Ticket sales have been brisk, and we expect about 70,000 in attendance. Over the years, thanks to great sponsors like Bellin Health, Family Night has become a day-long event. Activities leading up to Family Night will begin in Titletown at 1:30 with Titletown Family Fest. At Lambeau Field, activities begin in the parking lot at 3:30 p.m., including musical entertainment and games. The fan walkway from Oneida Street to the Oneida Nation Gate will also open at 3:30 p.m. with a variety of giveaways, games and activities for families and kids to enjoy. UW-Green Bay will have various sign-making stations in the area, and alumni will be signing autographs in the fan walkway. Food and beverages will be available starting at 3:30 p.m. in the Johnsonville Tailgate Village.
Family Night has become a great tradition in Green Bay. This year's practice is the 22nd Family Night (we skipped 2020 due to Covid). I know other teams have tried to have similar events, but it is difficult without the great fan base we have. I've always thought Family Night highlights the special connection we have with our fans – especially the young ones. Speaking of young ones, we have a very young team this year and Family Night will be fun for our players and the fans. It will be the first chance for many of our fans to see Jordan Love throwing to our young wide receivers and tight ends.
The gates will open at 5:30 p.m. and there will be several on-field activities including flag football games and a performance by the Green Bay Elite Dance Team prior to the practice. All fans are encouraged to wear white for a Lambeau Field white-out. Following practice, fans are encouraged to stay in their seats for a spectacular fireworks show.
Now, on to your questions.
Kent from Homosassa, FL
Mr. Murphy, I just got off the phone with WGBA after being informed that the Packers will not allow the station to stream Family Night so that the many fans around the country (world) can view the event. Please educate us as to why you do not want us to be able to view Family Night. Thank you for your time.
Thanks for raising this issue, Kent. We decided not to stream Family Night for competitive reasons. We will be making some adjustments with the scheme this year with a new starting quarterback and several young players at skill positions. If the practice was streamed, it would be easy for opposing teams to be able to watch the practice and gain a competitive advantage.
A question from Bill
Hi Mark, I have some questions about football practices. You've practiced 1000s of times and watched practices 1000s of times. I've only watched the games.
Is there anything about practice that would surprise me? How do defensive players win jobs showing their thumping toughness without hurting their teammates? Aside from two-a-days, how is a day and night at training camp different from when you were a player?
Great question, Bill. Training camp practices have changed dramatically over the years, mostly for the better. I think what might surprise you is the amount of time studying and meeting the players put in each day. When I was a player, we had two practices during the day and a walk-through at night. When we weren't practicing, we were so tired we were in our dorm rooms taking naps and resting. Today, players only have one practice but are at the facility most of the day watching film and meeting. I'm glad you raised the question about tackling. It is really hard to become a good tackler without actually tackling – but tackling runners to the ground in practices is not worth the risk (and this was true even when I played). The best thing to do is to make sure the defenders are in a good position and then tag or thump the runner. The one thing that hasn't changed (at least in Green Bay) is the great crowds that we have for our training camp practices.
Ralph from Ellison Bay, WI
Dear Mark, I met you on the Fox River Trail once and we talked briefly. Just want to go on record. The Packers are back to the 1958 season all over again. I don't see one game on the schedule they can win. Maybe Tampa Bay if they have a new quarterback by then, or they get lucky in a game, or two. Love is a total bust. LaFleur is a candy baby nothing like Dan Campbell. The first pick in the draft I hope there's a quarterback out there. You need to make changes quick if you don't want a long drought. I've seen it all before.
Ralph, you are definitely a "glass is completely empty" type person. I think one of the things that makes this year so exciting for many of our fans is that there is a lot of uncertainty, given how many young players we have in key positions. Talking to a number of our players, though, they like the fact that the expectations for the team are low, and they want to prove people wrong. In recent years, the expectations were so high that anything short of a Super Bowl was disappointing. I'm confident that we will have a competitive team this year.
Derek from Eau Claire, WI
Hi Mark! I'm looking forward to another successful Packers season. I have heard that nonprofit organizations run many of the Lambeau concession stands on game day. Can you explain how that process works? How much do they get paid? Go Pack Go!
Thanks, Derek. Yes, nonprofit organizations have run most of our concession stands for many years. Each nonprofit gets a percentage of the revenue that they bring in and gets to keep all their tips (tips have gone up since we moved to cashless). This past season, approximately $1.25 million was collectively earned by the nonprofits.
A question from Jeff
Hello Mark, thank you for the column. We've often enjoyed when Packers players embrace GB and life in Wisconsin. I'm wondering if you could comment on how upper management views a player like AJ Dillon and how he's embraced the community, his philanthropic efforts, and now a children's book. How do the Packers support him in these efforts?
We strongly encourage our players to be actively involved in the community, Jeff. Cathy Dworak and Nathanael Washington in our community outreach department work closely with our players in making them aware of opportunities. AJ Dillon (aka the Mayor of Door County) is a good example of a player who has embraced life in Green Bay and Wisconsin. AJ's wife, Gabrielle, is from Green Bay and I would anticipate that they will make Green Bay their home after AJ's career ends. I know Cathy and Nathaniel regularly meet with players to determine what particular nonprofits might be of interest to them. Our players are well known in the community and are very recognizable – especially to young fans and can make a difference in the community. One of the ways that we try to recognize the players who are most involved in the community is through the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year program. Past honorees include Aaron Jones, Kenny Clark, Aaron Rodgers and Corey Linsley.