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.*
With our win over the Rams on Thursday night, we officially wrapped up training camp and the preseason. Now, to paraphrase Bill Belichick, we are on to Seattle and the start of the regular season.
Labor Day weekend is always a busy weekend in the NFL. The final cut-down is typically on the Saturday before Labor Day. This year, there is only one cut-down, and the weekend will be especially busy as teams reduce their rosters from 90 to 53, and then sign 10 players to their practice squads. On top of all this, teams are putting together their game plans and getting ready for the season opener. As a player, I remember this as always a stressful time, with friends being cut and then having to refocus and get ready for the season opener.
Opening weekend should be very exciting in Green Bay. It will be the first time we've opened the season at home in five years, and we've developed a strong rivalry with the Seahawks over the last few years. We will have a kickoff concert featuring Blues Traveler on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Season openers are always special for players and fans, and I think this one has a chance to be memorable. Although all 16 games are important, the first one has extra importance because it sets the tone for the season.
Now, on to your questions….
A question from Eric
Mr. Murphy. Thank you for the opportunity to reach out to you. I am a proud Packers fan and a season-ticket holder since 2013. I am excited for the upcoming Super Bowl championship year for the Green and Gold! I also thank you for bringing outstanding summer music concerts to the best venue in the country, Lambeau Field!
Here is my idea/ask – Please bring Coldplay to Lambeau Field! As you know, they were the group of choice for Super Bowl 50. I have seen them perform in the last year at Soldier Field and US Bank Stadium. Best concert and show ever seen, hands down. With these recent experiences in our competitor's backyard, my thoughts went to having the opportunity along with 80,000 others to see arguably the best band in the world at the greatest venue in the world, Lambeau Field! Thank you for your time Mr. Murphy. I hope an idea was stirred.
Thanks Eric. I love your enthusiasm, and I hope your prediction of a Super Bowl championship is correct. Thanks for your suggestion regarding Coldplay. We realize that holding large events in our stadium bowl is very beneficial to our community, and have pledged to hold one such event a year. I thought the Billy Joel concert in June was very successful. The Badger game against LSU had a large impact on the entire state (and the win helped propel the Badgers to a great season). We also recently announced that we will host the Notre Dame-Wisconsin football game in 2020. We will not have an event next summer, though, because we are replacing the field. Looking ahead, we plan to continue to have concerts and college football games. For concerts, our window is roughly mid-May to mid-June to ensure that we can have the field ready by the start of training camp and Family Night, so it really depends whether Coldplay will be touring during that time of year.
A question from Mick
Would it be possible to set up a live webcam inside Lambeau Field overlooking the ongoing construction of the new Titletown District? I'm sure it would be of global interest to avid Packer fans everywhere and likely serve as a splendid promotional vehicle as well. Thanks for your consideration and Go Pack.
Thanks for the suggestion, Mick. We don't have a webcam available for public viewing, but we will put photos up on packers.com of the progress of Titletown over the next few months. The first part of the public park and plaza will open in mid-September. We will have an announcement soon regarding this opening. In mid-November, we will open the tubing hill and skating pond and trail.
Marc from the Washington, D.C. area
With regard to the salaries players get these days and the all-too-frequent stories as to how those resources are seemingly mismanaged during a player's playing years, what does the Packers organization do to help the players make smarter and better decisions with their money? I believe that the NFL has some seminars for rookies and there are a variety of agents willing to "help," but does the organization provide any kind of help/assistance/resources to protect their investment and the long-term goodwill/perception of the franchise?
You have raised a very important issue for our players, Mark. Professional athletes are very unique in that they make a lot of money at a very young age. As a result, the leagues and teams have many different programs available to help players manage their finances. A key person in the NFL is the team's director of player engagement. He/she helps players with many different issues, but financial planning is a key one. Rob Davis did a great job for us for almost 10 years, and we just hired Grey Ruegamer. We bring in financial planners to talk to players about ways in which to effectively manage their finances. Also, through the collective bargaining agreement, there are many benefits available to help the players financially, both during their careers and in retirement. The NFLPA is also very helpful regarding this issue. When I was playing, many agents mishandled players' finances and caused serious problems for players. Now, the NFLPA certifies all agents as well as financial planners, which has been a great help to players.
Blake from Sheboygan, WI
Which player has impacted you the most personally in your tenure with the team? In what ways did they change you? Thanks for your time!
I feel very fortunate, Blake, that we've had so many outstanding players during my tenure with the Packers. I would say that a couple stand out, though. First, Charles Woodson – primarily for his leadership, but also for the way he played the game. As a former defensive back, I had great respect for the way Charles played with tremendous instinct and courage. I was so happy for him that he was able to cap off his career with a Super Bowl championship in 2010. Aaron Rodgers would be the other player who has stood out. My first year with the Packers was his first year as a starter, and it has really been remarkable to watch him develop as a player and a person during this time period. He might have the best football mind of any player I've ever been around – he's extremely intelligent and can remember defenses and plays from his first seasons. He's also a great competitor who is always working to improve himself. It has also been gratifying to see how he has matured over the years and has been able to use his status to make a difference in the community.
Jim from Antigo, WI
I read recently where Commissioner Goodell said that the NFL should shorten the preseason. Do you think this would be good for the league?
The quality of play in the preseason has been an issue for the league for a number of years now, Jim. As you may recall, in the last round of collective bargaining in 2010, a proposal to move to two preseason games (and increase the regular season to 18 games) was given serious consideration. Ultimately, we decided to stay at four preseason games (primarily due to safety concerns with adding two regular-season games). I believe the quality of play in preseason games has continued to decline since then. The reality is that our coaches and players do not need four games to get ready for the regular season. The preseason games are valuable, though, in evaluating and developing players, especially younger ones. I anticipate that the number of preseason games will be an issue in the next round of collective bargaining. One option would be to play three preseason games, give every team a bye, and then play 16 regular-season games. The loss of revenue from eliminating the fourth game will be an issue for both owners and players. Also, if teams decide to rest all their starters in the third game (like they do in the fourth game now), it would defeat the purpose of only playing three games. Another idea would be to move to three preseason games and 17 regular-season games, with every team playing an international game. This is a very important issue for the league, involving money and the quality of the product on the field, so I do not expect a quick resolution.