Competition Committee talks equipment, Pro Bowl
Murphy Takes 5 is a monthly column written by President and CEO, Mark Murphy. 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*
The NFL's Spring Meeting recently completed in Atlanta, and much of our work was finalizing the discussion and voting on proposals from the Competition Committee (the committee that studies all aspects of the game and recommends rules and policy changes to NFL clubs).
I've had the privilege of serving on the Committee for just over three months now. It's been a great experience for me, and a benefit to the Packers. I've been impressed with the work of the Committee (and the NFL staff), mainly with how much time is invested in examining and researching the issues each year. We watch a considerable amount of film, and also have a lot of interaction with the NCAA rules officials. The process starts in February when we review recommended rules changes from coaches and general managers across the League. We have numerous meetings and conference calls leading up to the League meetings in March and May. In recent years, a key focus of the Committee has been on improving the safety of the game.
We voted to have thigh and knee pads become mandatory equipment, beginning in 2013. This is a safety initiative. Interestingly, players used to be required to wear these pads in the NFL. I was very surprised when I came to the Packers in 2007 to see how few players wore thigh and knee pads. Also, they are required in high school and college. We will work with Nike and Under Armor to develop pads specifically for our players.
In another safety measure, we also voted to increase the roster size from 80 to 90 during training camp. It will also help teams develop younger players, which is especially important with fewer practices under the new CBA.
We also had a lengthy discussion regarding the Pro Bowl. There is real concern that the quality of play in the game has deteriorated over the years. We will work with the NFLPA on ways to improve the quality of play and competitiveness of the game in Honolulu next January.
As far as the Packers' input on these matters, generally speaking, Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy and I discuss each issue so I'm familiar with their thoughts as to what's important in our eyes, and then we collaborate on the vote.
Now, on to your questions:
A question from Jon
Do you see another large change in the overtime rules occurring in the next few years, or do you believe that the owners/players are happy with the rules implemented in the playoffs this past year?
No, I don't see any changes in the overtime rules in the coming years. People feel the current rule is fair and an improvement. Also in recent years, fewer games were decided with only one possession. In my time on the Competition Committee, I've learned that the Committee does not make snap decisions and wants to see the impact of rules changes over a number of years before making further changes.
A question from Rudy
It seems like more and more athletes today go into either coaching or management after their playing career is over. Some are obviously very successful with the shift over (i.e Jeff Fisher, Ted Thompson, etc.) and others not so much. Did playing safety in the NFL for eight years help you at all with the job you hold today? If so, how?
Yes, I think it has been very helpful to me. I believe I have an understanding of the issues that the players face during their careers. My experience with the NFLPA as both a player rep and an executive has also been very helpful to me. Ultimately, though, whether a former player is successful depends more on his work ethic, and ability to develop the skills needed for the new position than the fact that he played the game.
Dan from San Diego
I would imagine that as CEO of the Packers, I am curious how often you must weigh in the history of the Packers and the market with current NFL concerns? When you make these considerations, what things do you reflect on the most and ask your steering committee, advisers, or similar to keep in mind?
Our history and tradition is probably our strongest asset and it factors into every decision we make. With our ownership structure, I think we are less likely to make impulsive decisions as most major decisions are made through our Board and Committee structure. Also, I think the Packers Hall of Fame is the best in the League, which keeps the team's history and tradition in the forefront.
Bill from West Covina, CA
I don't suppose you'd do a webcast of the shareholders meeting?
For the first time in our history, we are planning a webcast of the Annual Meeting, exclusively for shareholders. The meeting will take place on Tuesday, July 24, at 9:30 a.m., Central Time. Information on the webcast will be included with meeting information being sent this month.
Chris from Eau Claire, WI
When I first heard of the renovation with the new seats I was worried about Lambeau losing its legendary and signature look. I was also worried because Lambeau Field is one of the few stadiums that honestly don't have a bad seat in it. The new seats seem to be pretty far up. Can you shine some light onto this?
Since Lambeau Field is such an iconic stadium, we wanted to make sure that the expansion was consistent with the look and feel of Lambeau Field, and didn't detract from it in any way. We decided to use Hammes Company, the company that spearheaded the 2003 renovations. Also, the stadium was designed in 2003 with the thought that we could expand in the south end zone. With regard to the seats, although they are higher than other seats in the stadium bowl, they are similar to upper-level seats in other NFL stadiums. Also, upper level end zone seats offer a great perspective (this is from where teams record coaches' video) to see plays develop. I think fans will love the new seats – they are outside with chair backs and many of them will be covered.
Have a question for Mark Murphy? Email it with your name and hometown here: MurphyTakes5@Packers.com