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.
Training camp has always been an important part of building a football team. With the offseason programs teams have now (and with no more two-a-day practices), though, training camp is much different than it was years ago. In my rookie year with the Redskins, we had six preseason games. Training camp lasted two months and was brutal. We had two practices every day, plus a walkthrough. With no offseason program, training camp was used to get the players in shape as well as to get ready for the regular season. The thought at the time was that if you were tough enough to make it through training camp, you would hold up under the pressure of regular season games. Our camp was held at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., and the heat and humidity were unbearable. It didn't help that our head coach, George Allen, didn't believe in water breaks (he thought they weakened you).
Although times are different now, training camp is still very important. With a new head coach and a whole new offensive system this year, training camp will be crucial in the development of our team. This year, for the first time since 2005, we will hold joint practices with another team. The practices will be held with the Houston Texans Aug. 5 and 6 before we play them in the preseason opener Aug. 8. The practices will be a great opportunity for our team and players to test themselves against another team, as well as to provide a break from the monotony of training camp. I also think it will be a special treat for our fans. I know people are excited to see J.J. Watt. The shareholders meeting will be held July 24 at 11 a.m., the day before the first training camp practice. Also, we will again have the Packers Experience here for the first three days of training camp. Training camp is always a special time of year in Green Bay, and should be particularly exciting this year.
Now, on to your questions…
Don from Marathon, WI
Dear Mark, I am older than you, so I am going to take the liberty to be informal. I wrote to you before during the transition from Coach McCarthy to Coach LaFleur. I believe the right decision was reached in both instances, and am happy to see players such as Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams responding positively to the new coaching philosophy and leadership.
I was scrolling through the list of employees and was impressed with the number and variety of employees and positions within the Packers organization. I would also commend you and the leadership with the Titletown project, and specifically the association with Microsoft Corporation. As a Packer fan and season ticket holder, as well as a retired pastor with deep Wisconsin roots, good job. If I have a caution to you it is this: take time to renew your own inner self. Next weekend I will take part in a Spirituality Retreat at St. Anthony's in Marathon, for a similar purpose. In your own belief system I hope you find times of renewal as well.
Thanks for the advice, Don. I couldn't agree more. In fact, I took a yoga class this morning. Namaste.
A question from Andrew
Mr. Murphy, Hope all is well with you. Thank you for taking my question. I was wondering if any thought and consideration has gone into Sunday night flex schedule being expanded to the entire season instead of just the final few weeks.
Television, and television ratings, are obviously very important to the league. Over the years, the league has adopted policies to create the best match ups on national TV games to help ensure strong ratings. You mention flex scheduling, but there is also the cross flex (taking a game from FOX to CBS and vice versa), and this year we approved changes to the 'singleheader' rule (to allow games on CBS (or FOX) in the early window on Sunday against a home team's game on FOX (or CBS). Although the ratings are important, I don't see flex scheduling being expanded to the entire season for a couple of reasons. First, the league wants all teams to have at least one primetime game, and this policy may make it tough to have all teams play in primetime. Also, early in the season you don't really know which teams will be strong that year.
Richard from Lake Geneva, WI
Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. One thing I always had a tremendous respect for Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy was their rule on no hazing. I understand the new head coach brings in a new vision and culture in the locker room, however, I am concerned for the players' sake. Will the Green Bay Packers still enforce the no hazing rule? Thank you!
Great question, Richard. When I was the AD at Northwestern, we had a hazing situation with our mascots (Willie the Wildcat – it's a long story), so I am aware of the issues involved with hazing. Even with the coaching changes, I'm confident that our overall culture is such that we will not have any hazing. Also, I know that Matt LaFleur respects all players and would not tolerate hazing.
Joan from Ashland, WI
I have heard about Packers Everywhere. What can you tell me about it?
Sure, Joan. We started Packers Everywhere about 10 years ago. The concept is that Packers fans are everywhere, and we wanted to create something that would allow them to connect with each other. Packerseverywhere.com is the website, and it also is available on Facebook and Twitter. You've probably heard about all the Packers bars across the world, and if you go to packerseverywhere.com, click on "Find a Bar" and put in your zip code, it will give you the Packers bars in your area. It is really helpful if you are traveling and want to watch a Packers game with Packers fans. Packers Everywhere also hosts pep rallies at our away games, with rallies set this year on the days before games at Chicago, Los Angeles and Dallas (as well as at a home game). I had my Packers Everywhere moment last week. My wife Laurie and I were on a cruise in Alaska for our 40th wedding anniversary. We took a float plane to the Taku Glacier Lodge in Juneau. It was on an island that was only reachable by plane or boat (and the only people living on the island were the 11 employees of the Lodge). While eating lunch, we met Jackie Beach, an employee at the Lodge, who happens to be from Forest Junction, Wis., and is a huge Packers fan. Jackie is our Packers Fan of the Week. Hole-in-the-Wall Glacier in the background is one mile wide.
Luke from Kenosha, WI
Mark, Thank you for giving us a perspective of the Packers organization that we would never get. When it comes to perspective, what is your take on Cole Madison? I love the fact you all gave him the time he needed to get himself better.
Thanks, Luke. We are very pleased to have Cole Madison back on the team. I have to give credit to Brian Gutekunst for the way he handled Cole's situation. He put Cole's health first, and, as you note, gave him the time he needed to get better. Although Cole has missed a year, it is great to have him back. It's like having an extra draft pick this year.