Murphy To Focus On CBA, Long-Range Planning


In his first month at 1265 Lombardi Ave., new Green Bay Packers' President and CEO Mark Murphy got a thorough introduction to both the loyalty and intensity of the team's fans, and it surpassed everything he had heard and read prior to coming to Green Bay.

"Having been involved with the NFL, I knew about the fan base here, how loyal they were, what a strong fan base it was," said Murphy, who played for the Washington Redskins. "Being here for those two home playoff games, the magnitude of the passion that the fans have here was surprising to me, in a real positive way.

"The Redskins fans are great, but this is just really at another level. It really is more like what you see in a collegiate environment, and I think that's something pretty special for the Packers, and whatever we do, we want to make sure we don't lose that."

Murphy doesn't have to worry too much about that in his first "offseason" on the job, which officially began Monday with Bob Harlan's coinciding retirement. With the team coming off its best season in 10 years, a 13-3 regular-season record and appearance in the NFC Championship, the football operations are not in need of major attention from Murphy, no matter how heartbreaking that final loss was.

That will allow Murphy to focus on two other issues he considers his biggest priorities during his first full year.

One is the possibility of either the owners or players' association re-opening the collective bargaining agreement this fall. Having worked with the players' association in the past, Murphy is on the other side of the aisle now, but he's continually getting himself up to speed on the issues from the league's and the Packers' perspectives.

"The biggest concern would be a possibility that the salary cap could go away and revenue sharing would change, and those would be really detrimental to the Packers," Murphy said.

"You need to become familiar with the collective bargaining agreement, but also become familiar with the issues that both sides see. I've talked with people from the league office and gotten a sense of what they see as issues, as well as the players' association, and I know there's going to be a lot of discussion. There will probably be some back-and-forth between the players and owners over next few months."

Some of those discussions will take center stage at the upcoming owners' meetings, which Murphy will attend with Harlan accompanying him to introduce him to some of the owners and league officials he doesn't already know.

Murphy said Harlan will be a great resource for him that way, both in league and local circles as he continues to settle in.

"Overlapping with Bob for close to a month has really been helpful to me," said Murphy, who came in as President- and CEO-elect in early January, while Harlan finished out the football season. "I had an opportunity to learn an awful lot about the organization. I had a lot of questions, and to have Bob there was really invaluable. I think it's really helped me get off to a positive start."

{sportsad300}Murphy's other priority will be to begin some long-range planning for the organization. He'd like to begin putting together a strategic plan for the next three to five years that looks at potential new revenue streams and long-term ideas for some of the organization's recent land acquisitions.

But that's something that will take some time, and Murphy isn't interested in tackling long-range projects until he gets more familiar with the here and now at 1265.

"Whenever you come into a new position, and I faced this when I started (as athletic director) at Colgate and also Northwestern, is you have to resist the temptation to want to come in right away and make a big splash and make changes," Murphy said. "I think you're really better served by making sure you understand the organization and understand what issues are facing the organization."

To that end, he'll continue to utilize Harlan and meet with the current staff, which he's been doing since he arrived. And there are always viewpoints offered by the fans, whom Murphy got to know better than most would in just three weeks on the job, having enjoyed a stirring triumph and a stunning defeat in a week's time.

"As difficult a loss as that was, I was very impressed with the way our fans, and the entire organization really, but especially our fans, handled that," Murphy said. "That's a difficult situation, and oftentimes when you have a tough loss like that, you'll see some problems associated with it. I thought everybody associated with the organization handled it very well.

"I was especially disappointed for Bob, because I thought for him, if he could have gone out with a Super Bowl win or a Super Bowl appearance, it really would have been a nice way for him to end his career."

And a fantastic way for Murphy to begin his tenure here. But it's off to a pretty strong start nonetheless.

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