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
For many years, Super Bowl week has been a great week for the NFL. Many members of the media travel to the Super Bowl site and the coverage continues to build throughout the week. The game itself has become a major spectacle and is typically the most-watched television show of the year. Thirty-second commercials during the Super Bowl now cost $2.8 million. The competition on the field is outstanding, highlighting the strength of the NFL. It is really the best the NFL has to offer.
The Pro Bowl, on the other hand, is another story. It has always been an honor for players to be selected to play in the annual all-star game. In the 1970s, though, the NFL had trouble convincing players to play in the game, so they moved the game to Hawaii in 1980. The lure of a week's vacation in Hawaii was enough to improve the player participation. As players' salaries grew over the years, however, more players declined to play (due to fear of injury) and those that did play often gave a halfhearted effort. When I attended the Pro Bowl after the 2009 season, I was shocked at the poor quality of play. It was much worse than I remembered as a player. The quality of play has gotten even worse since then, with last year's game serving as the low point. On the first play of the game, the running back took the handoff and walked up to the line of scrimmage. He stood there for several seconds as he and the defensive players tried to decide what to do. It was an embarrassing moment for the League, and the fans in the stadium rightly started booing. Commissioner Roger Goodell has said that he is not pleased with the quality of play in the Pro Bowl, and that he would cancel the game if the quality of play doesn't improve. I have to give the players credit, the quality of play in this year's game was much improved – but it is still well below the quality of play in a regular-season game.
Until the 2009 season, the Pro Bowl was held after the Super Bowl. In 2009, the game was moved to the Sunday before the Super Bowl. The idea was to make the Pro Bowl part of the Super Bowl week (the kickoff of the week), and the game that year was held in Miami, the Super Bowl site. From a TV perspective, the move has been positive. The ratings for the Pro Bowl have been better, and the broadcast serves as a three-hour vehicle to promote the upcoming Super Bowl, but the players on the Super Bowl teams are no longer able to play in the game. For instance, this year 15 players from the 49ers and Ravens were unable to play in the game. The game has been played in Hawaii for the last three years. Attendance at the game has declined, though, and combined with the poor quality of play, has caused the League to take a critical look at the game.
So, in a one-week period, you'll see the good and the bad of the NFL. We can do better with the Pro Bowl, and should look at ways we can improve the game, including moving the game back to the week after the Super Bowl. The NFL takes great pride in running first-class, well-run events – including the Super Bowl, the draft and the combine. The Pro Bowl presently stands in stark contrast to these events. I'm hopeful we can make the changes necessary to improve the Pro Bowl.
Now, on to your questions:
Shaun from Green Bay
Why do the lights on the south end zone score board blink red sometimes and white other times?* *
You're very observant, Shaun. The flashing lights are required by the Federal Aviation Administration for safety purposes because the South End Zone is high and close to the airport. The lights are white during the day and red at night. I think the red lights are used at night because the white lights would be too bright for our neighbors. Interestingly, the lights stay white during night games because of the brightness of the stadium lights.
Rick from O' Fallon, MO
Where does the Packers organization sit with regard to HGH testing for all of its players?
We are very much in favor of the HGH testing. I believe it's a safety issue – for both those players who might be injured by players using HGH and for those using HGH. The long-term effects of HGH are not known now. Also, it is an integrity-of-the-game issue, and we don't want players who cheat to be given an advantage. At the end of the negotiations for the new CBA, we thought we reached agreement with the NFLPA on HGH testing. Thus far, though, we've been unable to finalize the details of the testing program.
Ashley and Eli from Endeavor, WI
My son is turning one on March 7 and he's always excited when the Green Bay Packers play. What kind of activities and events are there for kids to get connected with the Packers?
Thanks, Ashley, great question. Happy birthday to Eli, too. We have a number of ways for children to connect with the team. Many parents and grandparents sign up their children and grandchildren on the season-ticket waiting list at birth.
Our fan club for kids is the Junior Power Pack. Although it's intended for kids ages 5-14, we have many fans signed up younger than that. Members receive mailings throughout the year. Additionally, there are collectible items such as the personalized membership card and welcome letter, a team photo, trading cards and player photos.
And when the Junior Power Packer member turns five, he or she is able to attend the club's event in the early spring, which features football drills and player appearances.
We appreciate all of our young fans and enjoy that their parents and grandparents want them growing up as Packers fans.
Kevin from Lubbock, TX
My question is on the development around Lambeau Field. From what I understand, the Packers organization owns a large amount of land directly west of the stadium that is going to become a large area for businesses – restaurant and retail. I'm curious if the plans are looking to be like a strip mall or will it be a multi-level mall where stores, restaurants, a movie theater and bars can be accessed from an indoor area?
Great question, Kevin. We do own land west of Lambeau Field and have spent a lot of time over the past few years planning how best to use the property. Last year, we reached agreement with Cabela's, the hunting and fishing superstore, on a lease for a new store at the intersection of Lombardi Avenue and US Highway 41. The store is scheduled to open next July. We're excited about the impact Cabela's will have on the community. It should bring a high number of visitors each year to the area, and will help jumpstart further development. In terms of the land west of Lambeau, we don't want to compete with stores and restaurants already in the area, but hope to bring businesses here that are presently not in the community. For instance, creating a family entertainment area would tie in well with Lambeau Field and the plans for a youth sports complex. Also, national, family-oriented restaurants would tie in well with this and be new to the area. We're excited about the possibilities around Lambeau Field, but want to make sure that we plan properly and enhance the Green Bay community for the long term.
Cam from Australia
I am visiting Green Bay from Australia this coming June. Apart from Lambeau what are other holy sites I need to see as a Packers fan, and where is good to eat?
Good day, mate. We look forward to hosting you in June. As you mention, Lambeau Field should be your first stop. You should plan on taking a stadium tour. By June, you should be able to tour the new areas in the South End Zone. You should also visit the Hall of Fame and take time to stop in the Pro Shop. Also, since you'll be here in June, check out Packers.com for our practice schedule; you may be able to watch an offseason practice. I would also suggest that you visit the Packers Heritage Trail in downtown Green Bay. It's a walking tour that details the history of the Packers with 17 stops. In terms of restaurants, Curly's Pub in the Atrium has good family food with a Packers theme. Kroll's is next to the stadium and is famous for its butter burgers and cheese curds. For dinner, I would recommend Hinterland downtown.