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.
From a player's perspective, NFL training camps have changed dramatically over the years. Vince Lombardi put his team through grueling two-a-day practices (with seemingly endless up-downs) and the team played six preseason games each year. In my rookie year with Washington in 1977, our head coach George Allen held two practices during the day and a walk-through at night. He also didn't allow the players to have water breaks because he thought they weakened you. For our current players, training camp is much shorter (three preseason games), and we only have one practice a day. From a fan's perspective, though, training camp remains a truly special time of year. Although we have fewer practices, the fans still line up to get the best seats at Nitschke Field. We will have 13 practices open to the public this year, including Family Night. One other constant is the bicycle tradition (which dates back to 1958), where players ride the bikes of local kids from the locker room to the practice field, and then back after practice. It is a special tradition and highlights the connection between our players and younger fans.
For the players and coaches, the month before the start of training camp is a time to take vacations, relax, and get ready for a long, tough season. For many of our employees, it is a very busy time as they get our facilities and fields ready for the start of camp. This July is especially busy as we have many projects that need to be completed by the start of training camp, including the new football facility, new and wider videoboards and the conversion of the concession stands on the upper concourse to grab-and-go stands. We are very excited about the impact the new videoboards will have on the experience for our fans. Sadly, Joshua Shaw, a carpenter with Mavid Construction, recently lost his life in an incident in the north end zone scoreboard. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and fellow workers.
Now, on to your questions.
Mark from Missoula, MT
Mr. Murphy, thank you much for this column and all you do for the Packers. My question is about the NFL International Player Pathway program. I'd love to hear more about this program. The recent article on packers.com said Kenneth Odumegwu was allocated to us. Does this mean it was sort of random, the player chose their preference, or was it kind of like a waiver claim, the Packers picked those who they'd like to see more of? What more can you tell us about the program? I love the Packers and their international appeal!
As I've mentioned here in the past, growth of the game internationally has been a top priority for the league for years. The International Player Pathway (IPP) program, which was established in 2017, is a key component of this strategy. This year, the eight teams from the NFC North and the AFC West were randomly chosen by a drawing to each be allocated one player from the IPP program. Although allocated by the league, the clubs do have some say in the person they are allocated (e.g., requesting a player from a certain position). Under the program, we will be able to keep a 91-person roster during training camp, and have 17 players on our practice squad. Kenneth Odumegwu is an impressive young man – and physically imposing at 6-6, 259. However, his football experience is limited, so he has a lot to learn. Kenneth should be on the team all year and will learn a lot about the game and will hopefully have a future in the league.
A question from Chuck R.
While voting my proxy, I was surprised to see that we have 43 or so members of the board of directors. I would like to know what the purpose is of having so many on the board. Most corporations have around 10 or maybe 12 at most. Does the board actually operate as a normal corporate board, for example, setting compensation for you and other officers and reviewing strategy for the business side of the Packers? Or are they just ceremonial positions? I would like to know more about how our board operates. Thank you for your leadership and Go Pack Go!
Great question, Chuck. As you note, our board is very large – much more like a university's board of trustees than a corporate board. We can have up to 45 board members (and no more than 30 can be Brown County citizens) and all must have a primary residence in Wisconsin. We also have about 30 emeritus members who can attend the meetings.
To answer your question, the board is definitely not a ceremonial board. We have a very active committee structure, with eight committees, including the executive committee, which would be most analogous to a corporate board. The seven-member committee oversees both the football and business sides of the organization and meets monthly.
A question from Tom
I don't have a question today, just a comment. No "Hard Knocks" … ever, never, ever. Fight it tooth and nail, I don't want to see this travesty in Green Bay. If asked, it's a hard "no." No compromise. No, "Yes we'll do it in exchange for … " Never, ever, never.
Let me get this straight, Tom, you don't think we should ever appear on "Hard Knocks"? "Hard Knocks" is a great show and gives fans an inside look at a team's training camp. It also provides good publicity for the team. The downside is that it can be a distraction and teams are concerned that other teams can learn information from the show. The best thing to do if you don't want to be on "Hard Knocks" is to make the playoffs every year. The league (and HBO) can only require a team to appear on "Hard Knocks" if they have failed to make the playoffs two years in a row. I'm anxious to see the Jets and the many ex-Packers on "Hard Knocks" this summer – should be very entertaining.
A question from Joe
For the 2025 draft I enthusiastically encourage you to emulate the annual Pulaski Polka Days parade; with live polka bands playing on 53-foot semi-flatbeds. So please have Packer alumni riding along with polka bands down Lombardi Ave. As for lodging, any thought of collaborating with Oshkosh EAA grounds to rent space to RVs? For a "Visitors Tour" committee, I nominate Molly Crosby and AJ Dillon, who already have lists of local "must-see" places. Thanks.
Thanks for the suggestions, Joe. That would be quite a sight, seeing the 53-foot semi-flatbeds going down Lombardi Ave. with former Packers players and polka bands on board. We could even throw in our own Joan Malcheski, who hails from Pulaski. I also like the idea of involving Molly Crosby and AJ Dillon. Although the draft will be held in Green Bay and we will have some input, it is an NFL event, and the league will have final say on decisions regarding the draft. Not sure how they feel about polka bands.
Stephen V. from Palos Park, IL
What are your thoughts on the Packers' schedule for this season? The Packers begin and end the season with the Chicago Bears, and it looks weird to not see one of the games to be listed as a night game in primetime, as Week 18 will not be announced until at best New Year's Eve. As Week 17 will fall on New Year's Eve, the Packers play the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday Night Football. For the first time in three seasons, the Packers will not be playing on Christmas Day, but instead on Christmas Eve, and the Packers are scheduled to play the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving, so what are your plans for Thanksgiving? Are you someone that likes to watch the coverage of New York's Thanksgiving Parade on CBS, any or all of it? And the Packers have their bye in Week 6, which means after the bye week they have 12 games to play.
Overall, Steve, I was pleased with the schedule. I thought the league might not give us as many primetime games with Aaron Rodgers moving on to the Jets. The fact that we have five primetime games (and six national games), shows that the league still views us as a great draw and that there is a lot of interest in how the team will do with Jordan Love as QB. We are playing a lot on holidays, which is not great for spending time with family, but those games provide great exposure for the team and the organization (and this is what we signed up for by playing and working in the NFL). With regard to the bye, I would rather have it closer to the midpoint of the season. However, two Thursday games (in Week 4 and on Thanksgiving, both against Detroit) help offset this as they serve as mini-byes. I've always thought annually hosting the Thanksgiving Day games is a big advantage for the Lions and Cowboys – they get a short-week home game late in the season and then get an extra break as they head into the final stretch of the season.