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MT5: Packers heading into key portion of schedule

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

LBs Rashan Gary, Preston Smith & DL Kenny Clark
LBs Rashan Gary, Preston Smith & DL Kenny Clark

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:

After a disappointing loss to the Vikings to open the season, the Packers have bounced back with wins over the Bears and the Bucs. The win over the Bucs was particularly impressive, given the strength of the Bucs team (with Tom Brady and arguably the best defense in the league) and also the heat and humidity in Tampa. We now head into a key portion of the schedule with three straight home games (the middle one is actually a neutral-site game against the Giants in London), followed by three straight road games.

It starts tomorrow with the game against the Patriots. With Bill Belichick as their head coach, they are always a difficult team to play. In my mind, he remains the best coach in the league. With all the time and attention we have put into the planning for our London game, we must ensure that our players are focused on the task at hand – beating the Patriots. The trip to London will be a very different experience for our players. Many teams going to London have decided to spend the entire week in London to acclimate to the time change. More recently, though, teams have left later in the week to try to make it more like a normal away game. Our team will leave on Thursday night, sleep on the plane and arrive in London on Friday morning. We will then have a fairly light practice on Friday.

With this three-game stretch, we have a chance to build some momentum as we head into a challenging portion of the schedule – a three-game road trip. The next six weeks will be exciting for Packers fans.

Now, on to your questions.

A question from Roger

As difficult as a loss to Tampa Bay would have been, I am very displeased that I was unable to listen to the game, via the internet, on the Packers' new radio affiliate. For years I could listen the pre- and post-game shows on WTMJ via the internet, and then the games themselves when that became possible a few years ago. After a year of concern about whether that would be possible with the new station, I was very pleased to be able to hear all eight hours of coverage for the preseason games and the opener vs Minnesota. I was at the Bears game, so that was not an issue. I live in the Twin Cities area, and all that happened for the Bucs game was that I was getting a message to the effect of, "You are outside our transmission area to listen on your mobile device." I have always used a laptop, which to me is not a mobile device, to listen. As we are all aware, there have to be countless tens of thousands of loyal Packer fans throughout the world that depend on Wayne, Larry, and the others to provide us with their insight, expertise, and perspective for those gameday broadcasts. Is this permanent? A team decision? A league mandate? Something the radio station is doing? I have the Sunday Ticket to watch the games that are not televised in our market, but most do not, but it's not the same without also following the local broadcast. I've been listening to most games since before you were born (really), growing up in Green Bay, and would dearly miss doing so in the future. Thank you for doing this monthly Q&A, it's always interesting and informative.

Thanks for raising this issue, Roger. I have heard from other fans with similar complaints. There have been some changes to the league policies over the years on how teams can stream their radio game calls. I'm pleased to let you know, though, that you can now listen to our radio broadcasts on a desktop or laptop computer through our website – The broadcast will start with the pregame show two hours prior to kickoff, with 3:25 games actually starting at 1 p.m., including this Sunday's game vs. the Patriots. Go to for a link to the broadcast each gameday when the broadcast window opens. Again, this is for only desktop or laptop computers as mobile devices are not able to be used for this feature, per league policy, if you are outside the team's home market. If you are in a team's home market, however, you may use a mobile device to access a stream of the radio broadcast.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

There has been a lot of talk about synthetic vs. natural surfaces recently. What do you think the direction of the league is in terms of standardizing field conditions? Go Pack Go!

Thanks, Derek. You raise a very interesting issue. We are very proud of our surface (natural grass with an artificial base), but realize that this type of surface is not possible for every stadium. Most players and the NFL Players Association would prefer that all stadiums were natural grass. The thought is that natural grass is safer than artificial turf, and that natural grass results in less wear and tear on a player's legs. Currently, roughly half of the stadiums in the league have natural grass. For teams that play in domes or have multiple teams playing in the stadium, natural grass is not possible or practical. What the league does now, though, is require teams to properly maintain their fields whether they be natural grass or an artificial surface. In fact, there is an NFL/NFLPA joint field surface committee chaired by the league's chief medical officer, Allen Sills, that monitors the condition of all the stadium's surfaces.

Bill from Lenoir City, TN

Congrats on the early start and the big win over the Bucs. I had a thought during the Bills-Dolphins game while at the local Bills Backers bar here in Knoxville. Seeing that the Packers had a game in Tampa Bay and that you were an NFLPA exec and rep in your career, I'd like to pose this to you and maybe ultimately to the NFL.

Why are the players subjected to games like the Bills and Packers played in…temps in the 90s, heat index over 100 degrees, high humidity and the sun beating down on the players? Many players succumbed to the heat exhaustion, dehydration, cramps and I think many were very lucky it wasn't worse. I understand the players train for this and trainers do their best to get the players hydrated and take electrolytes as part of their preparation. Do they still take salt pills like we did back in the good old Clarence football days?

Could the NFL not schedule games in extreme heat locations such as Florida as night games during the months of September/October? For dome stadiums, it would not matter. I thought Miami had an unfair advantage being on the sideline where shade was abundant for most of the game while the visiting team had to suffer in the sunlight. I think the Bills had some tents up but unsure if that was something supplied by Miami or the Bills brought the tents themselves.

The counter to this is the winter months in open stadiums such as The Ralph but I don't think the extreme temps are as often as the heat, and the cold wouldn't have as devastating results as heat stroke.

Anyway, I think it's something that could be looked into as a safety issue and I'm sure the NFLPA would certainly support it.

BTW, I think you should give Rodgers a veteran's day off on Oct 30…he was looking a bit flushed during the Bucs game!

Be good, stay safe and GO BILLS!

Thanks, Bill, it's great to hear from you. Bill and I were teammates on the Clarence Central High School Red Devils football team many years ago. I have to admit, though, that I never knew that your real first name was Reinhardt. I do remember taking salt tablets. Even back then I knew they couldn't be good for you, and they tasted awful. You raise a good question regarding early-season games in outdoor stadiums in the South. I don't think the league would decide to not schedule early-season games in the south, but I do think they could schedule more late-afternoon and night games in the South. Kickoff for our game in Tampa was 4:25 and most of the field was in the shade for a good portion of the game which made a big difference.

For teams like the Packers and the Bills, the key is to stay hydrated during the week prior to a game in the South. We do bring tents to games in the South to provide shade over the benches during the game. Teams will also bring misters and fans to help keep the players cool. Some teams will travel early in the week to games in the South to try to get acclimated to the heat and humidity. The Patriots travelled early to Miami for the season opener this year, and I don't think that helped them much. The other tactic I have heard is teams turning the heat on in their indoor facilities and practicing inside. The hottest game I played in during my career was in St. Louis in a season opener on an old AstroTurf field. You could see the steam coming up from the turf. Let's not forget that the Packers and Bills have advantages in late-season home games. I would hate to see us have more September home games and fewer late-season home games – especially since these games have more meaning.

Hannes from Glendale, WI

Thank you for taking your time to field questions every month and your impressive stewardship of this organization.

It appears to me that increasing revenue from international marketing and the new TV contracts is boosting the value of NFL teams. With that, I would think the pool of individuals being able to afford to acquire a team via purchase or even inheritance shrinks. Do you foresee a change in the traditional ownership structure of teams other than the Packers? Could this potentially result in other teams being publicly traded at some point? 

Excellent question, Hannes. You are certainly right regarding the increasing value of NFL teams. The Broncos selling recently for a record $4.65B is proof of this. Legalized sports betting has also been a positive factor, as well as the long-term collective bargaining agreement. I do not see the league changing the permitted ownership structure in the immediate future. In recent years, though, the league has tweaked the ownership rules to allow controlling owners to own a smaller percentage of the team. Changes have also been made to make it more financially feasible for the children of owners to inherit the teams.

Mike F. from Oconto

Hi Mark, my name is Mike Feldt from Oconto, WI. My question is, why wasn't "Jump Around" played at the Bears? It is certainly a big part of of the fan experience and was a big disappointment for me personally. Thank you.

No need to worry, Mike – "Jump Around" will be back. It is typically played between the third and fourth quarters. Due to the pace of the game and certain requirements tied into our sponsorships, however, we were unable to squeeze in "Jump Around." We had a similar issue with "Go Pack Go" during the Bears game. We realize that our fans love our gameday traditions.

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