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
On Monday, the NFL announced the five designated teams that would play international games this year, including the Packers. The Packers will play in London's Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. We are very excited to play a game in London. We have a great fan base in Europe (and in the UK in particular) and I know that many of our fans in the United States will travel to London. Our opponent and information on how to purchase tickets will be released at a later date.
The Packers are the last NFL team to play an international game for two main reasons. First, given the size of the Green Bay market (by far the smallest market in the league), our home games have a tremendous impact on the local economy. As a result over the years, we have decided not to give up home games to play international games. Second, since our fans travel so well, teams have been very reluctant to give up home games against the Packers. This is especially true since teams have moved to variable pricing (the Packers games are usually in the home teams' most expensive tier). I have a vivid memory of talking to Jaguars owner Shad Khan several years ago on the field prior to the game in Jacksonville. I asked him if he had considered moving our game to London. He looked up at the huge throng of Packers fans in the stadium and stated there was no way in hell he was going to move our game.
With the advent of the 17-game season, though, in the years where a team is scheduled to have nine home games, the league can require a team to play an international game. We will still have eight home games as normal, but only one preseason home game.
We are extremely excited to finally be part of the league's international games, and I know our fans are looking forward to seeing us play in London. Now, on to your questions.
Joan from Howard, WI
I was pleased to see that the Packers are going to play in London's Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this year. I read that executives from the Tottenham Hotspurs visited Lambeau Field several years ago. Were you part of those meetings?
Thanks, Joan. Yes, we met with several Tottenham executives in 2016 as they were constructing their new stadium, which opened in 2019. As I recall, they were very interested in our plans for development around Lambeau Field, as well as the different things that we did to engage fans on game days. They were particularly interested in the Johnsonville Tailgate Village. It will be great to reconnect with them, as well as to see the stadium and how it operates.
Steven from Ellison Bay, WI
Dear Mark, thank you for this forum. Among my favorite memories of the 2021 season was a play where Davante Adams bumped into Dr. McKenzie on the Packer sideline, knocked him over and the two shared a moment when Davante replaced his stocking cap before returning to the field. My immediate concern for Dr. McKenzie's safety quickly gave way to sharing that. I soon realized it told me all I needed to know about the current players' relationships with the team medical staff, and how far that has come over the years. Can you tell us a little bit about that department and how the various professionals work together with the players? Also, please ask Dr. McKenzie to stay well behind the line of scrimmage instead of out in front of it. Thanks, Steve.
You're right, Steve, that was truly a special moment of this season. It also said a lot about both Davante and Pat, and how they feel about each other. I have great respect for both men, and I think the exchange shows that Davante has a strong relationship with Pat. The relations between the medical staff (both doctors and athletic trainers) and players can often be strained, as there are many difficult (and emotional) decisions that have to be made. I'm very proud of how our doctors (Pat, Dr. James Ebben and Dr. Bob Anderson, primarily) and athletic trainers (headed by Bryan Engel) handle their jobs. They treat our players as they would their own sons. As a result, the players trust them.
A question from Jim
I really appreciate that you take these questions. How did we get in the salary cap situation that we are in? (That is $50 million over the cap.)
Great question, Jim. I would say there are two main reasons for our current salary cap situation. First, the pandemic and the fact that the league had almost no gate revenue in the 2020 season caused the salary cap to go down. Also, we have an elite franchise quarterback we are paying a market-rate salary. This, as well as the salaries we've paid to some of our key players has caused us to be over the cap (especially since in the past we've pushed money into 2022). Although we will have to make some difficult decisions to get under the cap by March 16, the situation is not as dire as some in the media have portrayed. First, we are very fortunate to have one of the very best (and experienced) people managing the salary cap in Russ Ball. Also, we have already started the process of restructuring several player contracts by pushing money into future years. Given the new media deals the NFL recently signed, our salary cap should increase significantly in the coming years.
A question from John
I am a Wisconsin resident, retired, educated professional, and lifelong Packer fan. I have purchased stock shares for each of my daughters, Anna and Carly. I am an independent politically and probably have voted 60% Republican in my lifetime. I am writing to you to object to Peter Navarro using our Green Bay Sweep term in his attempt to help Donald Trump overturn a legitimate election and contribute to the insane political environment we are all experiencing. Whether we like it or not, his use of the Green Bay Sweep suggests that our beloved Packers agree the election was stolen and condone using the Green Bay Sweep in their efforts to overturn the election. I am asking that the Green Bay Packers make a statement that they do not support Navarro's use of the Green Bay Sweep term nor do the Packers agree that the election was awarded to Joe Biden unfairly. Thanks much.
Thanks for bringing this to our attention, John. I must admit that when I saw Navarro's statement, I did not think that it suggested that we supported him or Trump. Also, you are the first person that has raised this with me. We will use MT5, though, to make a statement. The Green Bay Packers do not believe the election was stolen.
Tim from Manitowoc, WI
I read an article last week about the Packers' new football facility at Lambeau Field. It sounded really interesting. Can you provide us with some of the details of the project?
Sure, Tim. The new football facility is something that we've been working on for a couple of years and think it will be a huge benefit for our team. It really should set us up for the next 10 to 20 years in terms of our facilities. A main motivation for the new facility is to bring our players and coaches closer together. The coaches are currently on the third floor while all of the players' facilities are on the first floor. In the new facility, the players' facilities and coaches' offices will both be on the first floor. Players will be much more likely to walk into a coach's office in the new facility. The new facility will also add a second conditioning, rehabilitation, and instruction center (CRIC). This will allow our offense and defense to have meetings in the CRIC at the same time. Also, given that parking around Lambeau Field is limited, a big part of the project will be creating underground parking for the players (so we don't lose many parking spots). In addition, technology has changed dramatically in the years since the last major change to our facilities, and this new facility will have the best and latest technology. If you've been to Lambeau Field recently, you've probably noticed that there is a lot of construction activity in the parking lot. The project will take approximately 18 months to complete – with the players and coaches scheduled to move into the new facility just prior to the 2023 training camp.