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
Yes, that's right, this year's Tailgate Tour, the 8th Annual, will stop in Iowa for the first time. The Tour will begin on May 14 and wrap up on the 18th. I'm really looking forward to the Tour, especially our stop in Dubuque, Iowa. I've often heard about how many fans we have in Iowa, and it will be good to see the passion of our Iowa fans firsthand. Our preseason television network has included Iowa for a couple of years now, and the response in Iowa has been very positive.
In addition to Dubuque, we will also stop in Wisconsin in Oshkosh, Beloit, Tomah and Wisconsin Rapids. We're the only team in the NFL that has a Tour like this, and I think it really highlights the special nature of the Packers organization. There are two reasons we conduct the Tour. First, we want to thank our fans for their great support. Every team in the League talks about how great their fans are, but as we travel across the state (and Iowa) and see our fans, I realize how strong the bond is between our fans and the team. The other reason for the Tour is to raise money for a charity in each of the five towns where we stop. Over the previous seven years of the Tour, we've raised over $800,000.
The players on the Tour this year are Jarrett Bush, Randall Cobb and Alex Green. The players really have a great time on the Tour. Players who've gone on the Tour in the past talk so openly about how much they enjoyed the Tour that other players now ask if they can go on the Tour. For the past few years, we've also brought former Packers players on the Tour. This year's alumni are Santana Dotson, Aaron Taylor and Frank Winters. Our fans love to see the alumni and it is great to see the interaction between current and former players.
We look forward to seeing many of our fans on the Tour, and hope to have a chance to thank them for their tremendous support.
Now, on to your questions:
Steve from De Pere, WI
Congratulations on signing Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews to long-term contracts. With the size of their contracts, though, will the Packers have enough money left under the salary cap in the coming years to field a competitive team?
One of the very best things about the NFL is that we have a hard salary cap. It is a main reason that there is so much competitive parity in the League. For the individual teams, though, it forces them to make tough decisions, and manage their rosters and the cap well. The Packers, through Ted Thompson and Russ Ball, do an excellent job of managing the salary cap. They structured these two contracts in a way that will leave us room to sign contracts with other key players. For instance, even with the two new contracts (and with a minimal increase in the 2013 salary cap), we still have approximately $13 million in cap room at this time. Also, while the salary cap has been flat in recent years, it should increase starting in 2015 when the new national TV contracts begin.
Nathan from Pulaski, WI
What is the most stressful part of your job?
I believe in the old saying that stress is self-induced. It is really important to keep things in perspective and not stress out over various parts of your job. That said, though, each game means so much and tight games can by very stressful, especially since I have no influence over the outcome.
Kel from Middleton, WI
What is your favorite Packers tradition?
We have so many great traditions; it is difficult to pick out just one. At the start of training camp, I get misty-eyed as I see the kids from the community lined up with their bicycles waiting for the players to come out to ride them to the practice field. If I'm forced to pick one, though, I would have to go with the Lambeau Leap. To me, the best part of the Leap is that it highlights the connection between our players and fans.
A question from Elaine
Thank you for all your great work for the world's greatest team! Can we get the date for the shareholders meeting earlier each year – like March or so? It would greatly help as we plan our summer trips.
Thanks, Elaine. I'm often asked this question. As much as we would like to set the date of the shareholders meeting in March, we really can't set the date until both the preseason and regular-season schedules come out. We typically tie the shareholders meeting into the start of training camp. For instance, if we were selected to play in the Hall of Fame preseason game, we would start training camp one week earlier in July. This year, the shareholders meeting will be held on Wednesday, July 24, at 11 a.m.
Timmy from Milwaukee
I'm just curious, if the Packers make it to the Super Bowl pretty soon, do you think there would be any talk of opening up Lambeau Field to host a big Super Bowl Packers viewing party on the new gorgeous HD screens?
I love your optimism, Timmy. You raise an interesting issue. Under current NFL policy, teams are not permitted to host viewing parties in their stadiums. The concern is that if too many teams did this, it would lower TV ratings. The League, though, is considering whether it would make sense to have some exceptions to the policy. I can't think of a better place to watch the Super Bowl than at Lambeau Field in February.