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 loss to the 49ers in the divisional round of the playoffs was extremely disappointing. For the second year in a row, we were the No. 1 seed in the NFC and looked to be in a great position to get to the Super Bowl. Unlike last year, we would have a packed Lambeau Field for all home playoff games this year. We were 8-0 at home this year in the regular season and went into the postseason with a lot of confidence. Unfortunately, we picked a bad time to play our worst game of the year (okay, maybe we played worse in our loss to the Saints in Jacksonville to open the season) and wasted a great opportunity.
It takes time to get over a loss like that, but, in the NFL, nobody feels sorry for you, and we have a lot of work to do to get ready for next year. We've had a number of coaching changes, and Matt LaFleur has been very busy putting together his coaching staff. Brian Gutekunst and his staff are attending the college all-star games and getting ready for the NFL Combine at the end of the month. Also, we are significantly over the salary cap for next year, and will have to make many difficult decisions in order to get under the cap. A key factor will be whether Aaron Rodgers comes back for the 2022 season. Matt, Brian, executive vice president/director of football operations Russ Ball and I are all in agreement that we want Aaron to come back. He is likely to win his fourth league MVP, is the unquestioned leader of our team and is still playing at a high level at 38. Although we will face many challenges this offseason, I have tremendous confidence in Matt, Brian and Russ. I don't think anyone in the league knows the rules regarding the salary cap better than Russ. He will be our most valuable employee this offseason.
Now, on to your questions.
A question from Rick
Hello Mr. Murphy, a disappointing end to another wonderful Packers season! I attended the Packers-Jets preseason game this year, with my brother. We got our first up-close and in-depth look at Titletown. We were very impressed with the layout and the businesses throughout. My question, is there any plan to build a walking bridge, either over or under S. Ridge Rd.? I thought it would be nice to have better flow between the parking lot and Titletown. Instead of having police officers starting and stopping traffic the whole day of a game. Anyway, just a thought. Now let the potential crazy offseason begin.
I appreciate your kind comments (about the season and Titletown), Rick. We've been very pleased with the success of Titletown. It's been great to see how people in the community (as well as fans on game weekends) have taken advantage of the amenities at Titletown. Unfortunately, both options you suggest are extremely costly, and we aren't sure that either would be that effective. We will continue to monitor the situation to determine if changes are needed. On game days, we currently close down the portion of Oneida Street in front of Lambeau Field. We are only allowed to close one street. If we determine that more people are entering the stadium from Titletown rather than from the east, it may make sense to close down Ridge Road rather than Oneida Street.
From Eric in The Netherlands
Good day Mr. Murphy. It's great to see GB coaches taking the next step in their careers. I sincerely hope they succeed. I know there's pride in developing talent and seeing them flourish (in my job, too). Being in such a dynamic business, if you would, I'd like to hear your perspective on people moving outside the organization and/or seeing internal promotions. Complex game in its own right, I presume?
When a team has success in the NFL, especially the kind of success we've had over the last three years, it is only a matter of time before other teams will try to hire coaches from their staff. As you note, Eric, the NFL is a very dynamic business with dramatic changes from year to year. As much as you'd like to keep your staff intact, you don't want to stand in the way of great opportunities for your coaches. In fact, I think it creates a very positive culture when coaches are able to leave for better opportunities or are promoted from within. Matt LaFleur mentioned the importance of this during a recent press conference. Under league policies, you cannot block a coach from leaving for promotions to either a head coach or a coordinator (offensive, defensive, or special teams) position. Our experience has been that when you block someone from leaving (or interviewing for other positions), they are often bitter and it has a negative impact on the culture within the organization.
Derek from Eau Claire, WI
Hi Mark, thanks for another wonderful and memorable Packers season. It didn't end the way any of us wanted, but it was a great ride. I am wondering what your take is on the current state of "sports journalism"? National media outlets are reporting stories before anything is actually finalized or in many cases even verified. It stirs up drama and garners interest from fans as they hypothesize wildly and when it turns out not to be not true they just shrug their shoulders and move on to the next 24-hour news cycle. I am very thankful that packers.com doesn't fall into this trap. While some fans are frustrated that packers.com is often the last one to report on a new signing or hire, I find a lot of satisfaction in the fact that if I read it on packers.com I know it is actually the verified truth. I wish you all the best as you and your team prepare for the upcoming season! GPG
You raise a great issue, Derek. I've been very concerned about the state of "sports journalism" for many years now. Anyone can be a sports journalist now with so many blogs and websites, and there don't seem to be any editorial rules or policies. It's all about getting clicks with sensational headlines and stories. I appreciate your comments regarding packers.com. As you mention, we may not be the first to report a story, but you know it will be true. Another pet peeve of mine is the use of anonymous sources. I realize that sources need to be anonymous to break stories such as Watergate, but do we really need anonymous sources to comment on the status of our team? Also, who are these people? Who has the time or interest to comment on another team's players?
A question from Shareholder Cory
I am a new shareholder of the Green Bay Packers, in fact I just bought a second share to have one to give to my currently 5-year-old daughter when she comes of age. Attached is her in her Aaron Rodgers Jersey (I guess I should have ordered youth medium instead or large, hopefully we keep Rodgers and she can wear it next year…). This is the first time the Packers have accepted new shareholders since 2011, they won the Super Bowl in 2010, and allowed 2011 shareholders to buy shareholder Super Bowl rings. There are a lot of sad new shareholders including me and we would all greatly appreciate if you give us a chance to purchase 2010 Super Bowl champion shareholder rings as you did for 2011 investors.
First, thank you for purchasing two shares of stock. We appreciate your investment in the organization, and it helps ensure that your daughter will be a lifetime Packers fan. With regard to the shareholder Super Bowl rings, our policy has been that you must be a shareholder at the time we won the Super Bowl in order to purchase a ring. We did make an exception in 2011 (going back one year), but I don't think it makes sense to do the same this year since the Super Bowl was so many years ago. We will do everything in our power, though, to win a Super Bowl soon.
A question from Peter
Mr. Murphy: Now that the Broncos have named Coach Hackett as their new head coach, does that mean that the Packers are due compensation draft picks, this year, and if yes, do you know how many the Packers will receive? I am looking forward to your response.
I wish the Broncos would be required to provide us with draft picks for making Nathaniel Hackett their head coach. Unfortunately, there is no compensation in this situation. There is not a compensation system for coaches changing teams as there is when teams sign free agents. There have been situations, though, where a team signs a head coach who is under contract as a head coach with another team and the acquiring team provides a draft pick to the old team as part of a trade. The best example of this is when the Patriots gave up three draft picks (a first, a fourth and a fifth) to the Jets for the right to sign Bill Belichick in 2000. They gave up a lot, but it sure turned out to be a great trade for the Patriots. I'm really excited for Nathaniel and think he has a chance to be an outstanding head coach. I was very pleased to see the comments he made in his press conference in Denver about how much he enjoyed his time in Green Bay and the great respect that he has for our organization.