*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 the first time since the 2008 season, we are not getting ready for a playoff game in January. Despite this, there is no lack of activity at Lambeau Field. The biggest change is Ted Thompson's transition to a senior advisor role. Ted served with distinction as our general manager for 13 years. His record speaks for itself (nine playoff appearances, four NFC Championship Game appearances and one Super Bowl championship). It was an honor to work with Ted. He was a tireless worker and always put the organization first – it was never about Ted. He will continue to help us strive for championships in his new role.
Mike McCarthy decided to make big changes to his coaching staff in relieving Dom Capers and Edgar Bennett of their duties as coordinators. Both have been a big part of our success over the years, but Mike determined that these changes were needed for us to improve in the future. I have tremendous respect for Dom. He is one of the finest people I've ever met in the business. He's had a long and distinguished career and his nine-year run here in Green Bay is the longest of his career. Edgar has also done much for the Packers over the years, going back to the 1990s as a player and then in several different coaching roles.
This season was obviously very disappointing for the organization. It did, though, force us to take a critical look at all aspects of the organization and make the changes we feel are necessary to win a Super Bowl championship. We are now in the middle of several key searches for the organization. It is up to us to put the right people in place to move the team forward.
Now, on to your questions…
Scotty from Lombard, IL
Tough week for you. Easy question. Any update regarding the NFL having a team in England?
Thanks, Scotty. It is always difficult to make changes involving people that you've worked with for many years. But, as stewards of the organization, we have an obligation to always try to improve the team. Challenging, difficult times also present great opportunities. In terms of a team in London, I do not see it happening any time soon. There are many logistical, as well as competitive, issues to work out. The NBA and NHL are more popular in Europe than the NFL, and haven't yet placed a team there.
Bill from Williamsville, NY
Mark, I know you are from Buffalo. What do you think about the Bills making the playoffs this year for the first time since 1999?
I'm really excited for the Bills and their fans. The fan support in Buffalo reminds me a lot of what we have here in Green Bay. I have a long history as a Bills fan. I remember watching O.J. Simpson play in the old War Memorial Stadium in the early 1970s. My father became a season ticket holder when the Bills moved into Rich Stadium. I went to the first game ever played in Rich Stadium (ironically against the Washington Redskins). The traffic was so bad that we didn't arrive until the second quarter. I also used to work security when concerts were held at Rich Stadium. I've followed the Bills closely over the years. When I worked at Colgate, I was able to attend a couple of Bills' home games a year. I enjoyed the great run they had in the 1990s and suffered through the four straight Super Bowl losses (including one to the Redskins). I vividly remember the last time they were in the playoffs. For some reason, they benched Doug Flutie for the game, and started Rob Johnson. Johnson didn't play great, but they were in position to win until the Titans pulled off the Music City Miracle. Bills fans deserve a win on Sunday!
Kurt from Frisco, TX
Hi Mark: Supporting the organization for their long-term health well beyond my days above ground is important to me. For my kids and theirs, I am comforted by the strategic planning the organization has done to ensure there will always be the Packers in Green Bay. My suggestion is this: Build a mausoleum within the grounds of Lambeau Field for fans and supporters to have their ashes placed "forever". The initial revenue from selling the spots would be incredible, income from day of "burial" would be a constant income stream, and family and friend visitation would produce additional income from a stop at the Pro Shop. Go see grandpa, then have lunch and grab a jersey. Please let me know your thoughts? I would buy a "plot" tomorrow if offered.
Thanks for the out-of-the-box suggestion, Kurt. I've had fans ask if they can spread the ashes of a loved one at Lambeau Field, but a mausoleum would take it to a whole different level. As much as I appreciate your creativity, I'm not sure I'd be comfortable with a mausoleum at Lambeau Field, or using it as a source of revenue. I think we'll pass on the Lambeau mausoleum.
Jay from Green Bay
Mark, I sat behind you at church a few months ago and had the pleasure of shaking hands with you as we exchanged greetings. I have often wondered how players, coaches, and NFL management deal with their faith during the NFL season, when it must be impossible to attend traditional Sunday services. How do you do it?
It was a pleasure to meet you, Jay, and great question. With a job that requires us to work most Sundays, it is hard to attend church on a regular basis during the season. We have both Chapel and Mass services available for players, coaches and staff at both home and away games.
Dennis from Burlington, WI
Good luck on your search for the team's next G.M. I saw your comments about it being an attractive job. What makes it different from a similar position at the other 31 clubs? I would think any G.M. position in the NFL would be attractive… there's only so many.
You're right, Dennis, in that there are a limited number of opportunities available, but people do want to take jobs where there is a good chance for success. I think there are a number of factors that make our position one of the more attractive jobs: our recent success, history and tradition, facilities, ownership structure, culture, resources and an elite, franchise quarterback.