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MT5: Packers ready for regular season

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

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Packers huddle

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:

I know that many of our fans are concerned about the team after our 0-3 preseason. While you always would prefer a win over a loss, I do think we have to keep things in perspective. In recent years, teams have viewed preseason games much differently than in the past. Years ago, teams used the preseason games to get their starters ready for the regular season. Over time, though, as salaries increased, teams became much more concerned with ensuring that starters didn't get hurt in the preseason games and used the games to develop and evaluate younger players.

The advent of joint practices has also led to more teams holding starters out of preseason games (we held out almost all of our starters for all three preseason games). Coaches view the joint practices as a better, more controlled way to get starters ready for regular-season games. Our practices against the Jets this year were a good example of this and they also helped break up the monotony of training camp. In addition, Head Coach Matt LaFleur has built a lot of competitive, starters-versus-starters periods into our practices.

Now, not all coaches view preseason games the same. So, during portions of all three preseason games, our backups were going against starters. This was a great experience for them, and a huge help in evaluating our players, especially our younger ones.

The first game is always a big adjustment for players, but I'm confident that our team will be ready to play the Saints in Jacksonville.

Now, on to your questions.

John from Ft Worth, TX

Why did the NFL decide to move the Saints game to Jacksonville? With the Saints practicing in Dallas, I thought for sure the game would be played in Dallas.

That's what we thought, John. I think the league really tried to have the game in Dallas, but AT&T Stadium has a Los Bukis concert scheduled on Wednesday, Sept. 15. Los Bukis is described as the Mexican equivalent of the Eagles – with a huge stage requiring multiple days for set up. So, Dallas was not a realistic option. Also, they are expecting 60,000 people for the concert and they didn't want to risk not having the stadium ready for the concert. The Jaguars are away on Sept. 12, so their stadium was available. The only concern with Jacksonville is the potential for a very warm game, although it will help that kickoff is 4:25 p.m. there. We will get word out to our fans regarding tickets as soon as that information is made available. I anticipate that a portion of the ticket revenue will go to hurricane relief efforts in New Orleans.

A question from Randy

First part of the question is two really cool ex-NFL players, John Riggins and Pat Fisher were really great to watch. I know Pat was ending his career as you were coming in, but as a teammate were they really impressive as they appeared?

When you look back at the Redskins, I am of the opinion that not a single Redskin Super Bowl team had a "franchise" quarterback. Joe Gibbs and George Allen were obviously Hall of Fame coaches, but it seems those Redskin Super Bowl teams had unbeatable offensive lines, strong running games because of it, and strong defenses.

Can a modern NFL team have a tough-as-steel defense and a massive offensive line, great coaching and a good-but-not-great QB and win it all? I always watched teams where the QB superstar had such an exorbitant salary, that other parts of the team are bound to be barely adequate. I always thought Manning was truly great, but the Colt defenses were really weak and I never thought they would get to the Super Bowl. For sure, cream puff defenses don't get you to the Super Bowl.

I always thought Chuck Knox was a great coach and he didn't have superstar QBs but his teams could run and were tough. Is an elite QB a must in the NFL? Along those lines, the Seahawks were loaded when Russell Wilson was playing elite football getting paid very low rookie salary money and when he hit the big contract, the talent pool dramatically fell apart.

I think a B-plus QB on a manageable salary allows a deeply stacked team and that concept would have as good a chance to win a Super Bowl as the elite QB route.

Also as a lifelong Packer fan (we named our son Pack after the Packers and he is the next generation diehard), I have a total appreciation that my team is so well run from top to bottom. Love Gutey. His staff knows talent for sure. I suffered through the '70s and '80s so what you and Bob Harlan have put together is great and we are thankful.

You make an excellent point, Randy. Over the years, the league has really become a quarterback-driven league. Washington won three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks – Joe Theismann, Doug Williams, and Mark Rypien. All very good, but not Hall of Fame quarterbacks. In my mind, things were different in the 1980s and 1990s, but it is also a great tribute to Joe Gibbs. I don't think you can win a Super Bowl now without an elite quarterback. The other issue is whether you can win with an elite quarterback getting paid a full-market salary. Tom Brady has been paid less than full market throughout most of his career, and Patrick Mahomes won the Super Bowl while on a rookie contract.

A question from Scott – NE9U

Will the team be boycotting the National Anthem again this year?

Our entire team was on the field for the national anthem, with all players standing, for all three preseason games. Unless something changes with regard to social justice issues over the next week, I anticipate that our team will come out for the anthem in Jacksonville.

A question from Justin

I'm emailing you in regards of asking is there a way I can send something to get signed by a player on the Packers?

I'm glad you raised this issue, Justin. I am often asked this question by fans. We discourage fans from sending items to players to be signed. We will typically just send back items that are sent to us. Most of the items we receive are from collectors and we do not want to support them, as they are often trying to make money. Our players, however, do sign numerous items throughout the season that we donate to charitable organizations for them to auction off. I would encourage you to contact one of these organizations. Also, both former and current players will often do signings in the Green Bay area.

Anthony from Racine, WI

I wanted to start by saying I really appreciate that you do this and I really enjoy reading it every month. My question is related to the rising COVID-19 cases from the Delta variant. If the cases continue to rise would you and the organization consider a vaccine requirement/negative COVID test result? I know at least two teams have done so in the Saints and Raiders because of local ordinances, but I feel this would help ease some concern when coming to Lambeau, particularly for folks who are more at risk than others. I am 24 and vaccinated, so I believe I would be fine regardless, but I thought this would be a question worth asking. The team did a really great job of following the science last year, and I'm just curious to see the thought process on this here in 2021. Once again thank you for taking the time. Take care and Go Pack Go.

Thanks, Anthony. We are also very concerned with the Delta variant, and are tracking it carefully. We are very fortunate that we have an outdoor stadium. The two teams you mention that are requiring fans to either be vaccinated or have a negative COVID test – the Saints and Raiders – both play in domes. We are following the status of the pandemic in our region and are in constant contact with local health officials. We are requiring all of our employees in indoor public spaces to wear masks and strongly encourage all fans to wear masks in these areas (as recommended by the CDC). We are also putting up signs regarding this strong recommendation in all indoor public spaces.

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