President and CEO Mark Murphy met with reporters following the shareholders meeting on Thursday, and the questions centered on the same topic that was on the minds of many fans: how the Brett Favre situation will be resolved.
Murphy, presiding over his first meeting with the team's shareholders, expressed confidence in General Manager Ted Thompson and Head Coach Mike McCarthy and how they have dealt with the sensitive matter.
"I've been actively involved and have really followed it from the beginning," Murphy said. "I've been very supportive of both Ted and Mike and the way they have handled a very delicate situation.
"I think we're all trying to do what's right. We want to be fair to Brett, number one, for what he has meant to the organization, but we also are looking out for the long-term best interests of the organization. I think that is the balancing act."
Murphy said that he is aware of the magnitude of the issue, and appreciates the interest and passion displayed by Packers fans.
"This is very important to fans on both sides, and that's something that you don't see in every organization," Murphy said. "I think that's one of the things that really makes us unique."
Thompson, who received a standing ovation from some of the shareholders before giving his annual football report on Thursday, also said the Packers will focus on what is best for the franchise.
"We are a family here," Thompson said. "Families sometimes disagree, but they remain family. Through it all we are guided by the overriding goal of doing what is right, what is right for the organization, and what is right for this team. This is a team, and we're very excited about this team coming forward."
Murphy said he could sense enthusiasm and excitement from fans for the upcoming season as he stood up on stage, which the team shares.
"We have a lot of confidence in Aaron (Rodgers)," Murphy said. "He was drafted in the first round and he spent three years learning from Brett and watching him. I think the other thing that gives us a lot of confidence is Mike McCarthy and his track record with developing quarterbacks. We think he's going to be a very good quarterback, but we realize there is a learning curve.
"I think the other thing that Mike and Ted have talked about is it's going to be the team. We're going to get better around him and that's really been the plan since March."
Murphy expressed confidence that however the matter concludes, Favre's place in team history will not be affected. At this point, the team still plans to retire Favre's No. 4 jersey on Sept. 8.
"He's always going to be a Packer and we want to have a long-term, good relationship with Brett," Murphy said. "That's one of the things that I am looking at is, 'What can we do to make sure that years from now he is coming back and still a part of the Packer family?' I think we'll be able to accomplish that."
In the fold
Thompson announced during his football report that fourth-year linebacker Brady Poppinga has agreed to a new contract. It's a four-year extension to the original four-year deal Poppinga signed as a fourth-round draft choice in 2005.
Poppinga enters training camp competing with the Packers' lone unrestricted free-agent signing this year, Brandon Chillar, for the starting strong-side linebacker spot. Poppinga has started full-time the past two years and welcomed the competition from the start.
"I give credit to Ted Thompson and his staff for building a strong team from the ground up and building it on sound principles," Poppinga said. "Nothing is given to you, which I appreciate. Everything is earned."
That philosophy makes Poppinga feel like he's in the right place and contributed to his decision to re-sign long-term.
"It's a great fit," Poppinga said. "I'm a Packer. I'm their kind of guy, a guy who loves to play in cold weather, a guy who loves to be around high-integrity guys.
"Obviously I think the Packer organization is special or else I would have looked at my options in free agency. My family is comfortable here, and I've always been impressed with the family-oriented organization and community. I wanted to continue to be in an environment that's not only a fit for my family, but a fit for me."
Thompson said the team continues to work toward a contract agreement with running back Ryan Grant, an exclusive-rights free agent who has not signed his one-year tender.
"We are working through it and we're speaking to his representatives," Thompson said. "Good people are working on it and we would not anticipate a long-term problem."
Thompson noted a change in the size of NFL rosters during training camp this year, as teams will be limited to 80 players with no exemptions for NFL Europe players as they had in the past.
Thompson said the new roster limit provided more of a challenge during the team's offseason work and will continue to do so during camp, and that it will be incumbent on the personnel staff to be prepared to replace players if injuries occur.
"Mike has promised to not have any injuries during training camp this year," Thompson joked.
Looking to improve
Packers vice president of administration/general counsel Jason Wied said the team is exploring the possibility of moving training camp practices next year from the field on the west side of the Don Hutson Center to the field on the other side of the indoor facility.
Wied said this would alleviate the safety concerns of people walking onto a busy Oneida Street following practice, and would enable the team to build an improved bleacher system to provide more seating and a better all-around experience for fans.
Wied also said the Packers have taken a close look at the current parking situation on the east side of the stadium where the players' lot is, and are considering plans to build a decking system that would run from the Oneida entrance to Harlan Plaza.
"We think that would create a very safe, convenient, fun and exciting opportunity for our fans on game days and non-game days alike," Wied said. "We think it would be very helpful from a safety standpoint, so that is one thing we are strongly considering moving into the next year."
Murphy thanked former President/CEO and current Chairman Emeritus Bob Harlan on Thursday for all of his assistance during Murphy's transition into his new role. Harlan was greeted with a loud ovation from shareholders.
"He just has been so gracious with his time," Murphy said. "The Executive Committee had the foresight to have us overlap for a month and that was really invaluable to me."
One of the door prizes that the Packers awarded to selected shareholders following the meeting was a lunch with Murphy and Wied in one of the suites overlooking Lambeau Field.
Dan Watry, of Appleton, Wis., who was attending the shareholders meeting for the first time, was one of the lucky fans chosen to dine with the Packers' executives.
"It was a great experience and very informative," Watry said. "We were laughing beforehand because we were trying to decide where we were going to go and have lunch, and I joked, 'I'm going to have lunch with Mark Murphy and those guys,' and it happened."