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'm always amazed at the tremendous atmosphere that we have here for our training camp practices. Since the pandemic impacted our last two training camps, I now have a much greater appreciation for the special nature of our camp. In my mind, the most unique aspect of training camp is the bicycle tradition. As I write this column, it is an hour before practice, and the kids are already lined up with their bikes waiting and hoping that players will ride their bike. The tradition highlights the special relationship that the community has with our team and players. The stands at Nitschke Field are packed with fans for most practices (and the fans are also jammed into the bleachers at each end of the field). The fans bring great energy that is appreciated by the players.
Fans will notice a couple changes in training camp this year that were made for safety purposes. The initial practices were shorter and with no pads. This is part of the league's ramp-up period. Injury statistics showed that a high percentage of injuries (especially hamstring and groin injuries) occurred in the first week of camp. The ramp-up period is designed to help the players transition smoothly into football shape. The other noticeable change is that a number of players are wearing caps on their helmets. This is another league initiative – all linemen, tight ends and linebackers are required to wear guardian caps in all practices through the second preseason game. The studies show that players in these positions absorb a significant number of blows to the head during this time period. The guardian caps reduce the head impact by 10% for the player wearing the cap, and by 20% if both players are wearing the caps. The studies show that the accumulation of head impacts during preseason can also lead to a greater likelihood of concussions later on.
Our annual Family Night practice was held last night. It is always a fan favorite, especially the fireworks display after the practice. Our players love watching the fireworks from the field with their families. Finally, I know that our fans are looking forward to the joint practices with the New Orleans Saints on Aug. 16 and 17 prior to our preseason game against the Saints on Friday, Aug. 19, our only home preseason game this year. It should be a fun week.
Now, on to your questions.
A question from Eric.
The large stadium clock facing Lombardi Ave. is 16 minutes off…at least it is running fast…still, clocks that prominently display the incorrect time just don't look right. Positively love what the Packers have done in the offseason to prepare for the 2022 season. Am excited for the entire organization.
Thanks for the question, Eric. Actually, the clock is 15 minutes fast – it is set to Lombardi time. It's our tribute to Vince.
A question from Ronald.
Hi Mr. Murphy and thanks for taking time each month to answer our questions. I was somewhat perplexed reading about Mark Murphy playing for the Packers until I learned he is someone else. At 68 years old you were the only Mark Murphy I knew in the NFL and I knew you played for the Redskins. I have wondered for years so now will ask you. Do you remember playing in Washington with an offense lineman named Jim Harlan? We had classes together in high school but not sure where he went to college. His NFL career was cut short by knee injury. Thank you.
What a small world, Ronald. Yes, I do remember Jim Harlan. In fact, we lived together in an apartment in Reston, Va., for a short period of time. He played at Howard Payne University and was drafted in 1977 by the 49ers in the sixth round. The Redskins ended up picking him up off of waivers. As I remember, he was very talented, but injuries did end up impacting his career. He played the 1978 season for the Redskins.
Dave (stockholder since '95/fan since '60) from Lake Zurich, IL
The radio coverage of Packers games switching to the FM station, after 90-plus years on WTMJ, is actually terrible news for us Chicago-area Packers fans. For many decades I've listened to the pregame show on a transistor radio, had the radio handy during the TV broadcast of the game, listened to the halftime show on the radio, and the postgame show. There's no way the Milwaukee FM signal can be picked up where I live and there is no station located in the Chicago area in the Packers Radio Network. I have no idea why the switch in stations was made but, as they say, all good things must come to an end. It's a very unfortunate situation.
Thanks for raising this issue, Dave. The move from WTMJ was not something we made lightly. We've had our games broadcast on WTMJ since 1929. 97.3FM The Game will replace WTMJ as the Milwaukee station in the Packers Radio Network. We think we will see benefits as 97.3FM The Game is an all-sports station. With regard to your question, I'm optimistic that you will be able to listen to our broadcasts from the stations in Racine, Kenosha and Janesville (NFL rules prevent us from having a station in Illinois, the Bears' market, broadcast our games). Also, you can listen to our broadcasts on the internet.
Dan from Tallahassee, FL
The players' and coaches' work cycle follows the season, with lulls after the playoffs and between OTAs and training camp. What about your job and the rest of the front office? What are the peaks and valleys over the course of the year, particularly as it pertains to work volume, task types, but most importantly, overall intensity of your workday?
Great question, Dan. In some ways my schedule does mimic that of the players and coaches, especially since the season is the busiest time of the year for me. However, the schedule in the offseason is much different. February and March are very busy times for those of us in the front office because we are busy putting together our budgets, travelling to Indianapolis for the combine and preparing for and attending the annual league meeting. Board responsibilities also keep us busy with committee meetings throughout the year, and full board meetings in August, October, December and May. Mid-June to mid-July is the time of year when most parts of the league shut down as people take vacations and rest up before the start of a long, grinding season.
A question from Tony
Mark, first of all, thanks for all that you have done for the Packers. You have led the team with dignity and class that will be hard to follow. While many Packers fans are excited about the team's trip to London this year I'm curious about the impact of marketing rights. In January, the NFL announced international marketing rights for 18 teams, including some in the UK, but the Packers were not one of them. Is there a reason the team didn't get marketing rights? How does this impact the Packers' international revenues or marketing opportunities?
I'm also very excited about our trip to London, Tony. We will be the last NFL team to play in an international series game. With regard to the international marketing rights, this has been a key initiative for the league for several years now. Teams can sign up for access to international home marketing areas in eight different countries. We decided to wait a year before signing up for these marketing rights. It wasn't that we didn't see the merit in this program, but we thought that we could learn from other teams' experiences, as well as from our own experience in London for the game. I anticipate that we will sign up for these rights soon.