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MT5: Packers have put themselves back 'in the hunt' for playoffs

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:

After starting the season 2-1, the Packers lost four games in a row, including division losses to Minnesota and Detroit (both at home). Although things looked bleak then, Matt LaFleur and the team continued to work hard, and have won three of the last four games. The win over the Lions in Detroit on Thanksgiving was particularly impressive. The Lions were 8-2 and heavily favored to beat us. We were also missing several key players due to injuries. We played our best game of the year – with our offense, defense and special teams all contributing big plays. As we head into the final third of the season, we are currently tied for eighth in the NFC, just outside playoff position. Hopefully the performance in Detroit will give us confidence that we can play with the best teams in the league.

Speaking of the best teams in the league, we host the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs tomorrow night. It will be a great test for us. I know our players are excited, and it is great to be playing meaningful games in December. The key is to take it one game at a time and strive to get better as the season unfolds.

Now, on to your questions.

Hugh from Hoboken

The Packers are scheduled to play the Giants on Monday night, Dec. 11. I have tickets for the game. Is there any chance that the game will be flexed to Sunday?

Great question, Hugh, and I can certainly understand why you would like to know if the game will be played on Monday night or Sunday afternoon. The league can flex (move) games in Weeks 12-17 with 12 days' notice. All games in Week 18 are to be determined. The league did consider flexing our game to Sunday (the Jets host the Texans on Sunday, Dec. 10, and they would have flipped the two games at MetLife Stadium). With our win over the Lions (and a couple of Jets losses), though, the league decided to keep the games as scheduled.

A question from Tom B

I am a 60-plus year Packer fan. Something that puzzles me with the abundance of knee injuries to NFL linemen, why don't these very important players wear the knee brace appliance like the college linemen? It would save key players and the team a lot of lost time and money.

The answer is simple, Tom. The linemen feel that the knee brace slows them down. In college, most schools require linemen to wear knee braces. A number of linemen in the league wear braces, but they are not required to do so. You would think, though, that more linemen in the NFL would wear braces since they got used to wearing them in college.

A question from Jack S

I wanted to reach out 40 years later and say thanks. In the spring of 1983, you came to our high school at 19 Eye Street and gave a great lecture on how to play and study the right way. You also took questions from our team and inspired us all as a Super Bowl champion. It was a day I will never forget honoring your team and Coach Joe Gibbs and his staff and my teammates and coaches. We all looked up to you and Monte Coleman and your fellow defenders and Riggo and Russ Grimm and the efficiency of a concerted, full team effort.

We gather in a week for our 40th reunion with some golf and maybe a local drop in at the Dancing Crab if still open and host Our Lady of Good Counsel on Saturday for a tough football matchup. I live in Chicago now yet remain a Packers fan for a number of reasons, be it the Ray Nitschke practice field or the way you run a professional organization.

My father was able to arrange that day somehow and it remains a most special afternoon, especially as many of my classmates continue to teach and coach following your all lead. A true gift. May continued success be yours and thanks for showing us what a true student athlete is and how to conduct yourself as a man for others and your community and city and state.

Thanks so much, Jack. I have very fond memories of my visit to Gonzaga High School. As I recall, it was in February of 1983, a few days after the Redskins won Super Bowl XVII, so the atmosphere at Gonzaga was electric. I was very fortunate to play in the NFL, and I enjoyed visiting schools to share the lessons that I learned through my participation in athletics. I know that many of our current players make similar visits. They are in a privileged position and can really make a difference in young people's lives.

Aaron Jones is a great example of a player who is committed to helping others and was our NFL Man of the Year nominee two years in a row. I hope that the Dancing Crab is still open. It was my favorite restaurant in D.C.

A question from Izzy B

I hope you are enjoying this 2023 season. I have some input about the Packers uniforms that would benefit viewers and players greatly. As a Packers fan and the girlfriend of a Packers fan, I think that if the Green Bay Packers' pants were yellow and sparkly it would improve the experience of football as a whole. It would make a more exciting game for fans and improve the confidence of the players. It would be great if this could be implemented before I attend the game against the Giants on Dec. 11. Thank you for your time.

Thanks so much for the unique suggestion, Izzy. I'm not so sure, though, that yellow, sparkly pants would improve the players' confidence. I'm also quite sure that we wouldn't have the pants ready by the Giants game. Changes like that are typically done in the offseason, to give teams time to properly plan. Thanks again and I hope you enjoy the game against the Giants in MetLife Stadium. There should be quite a few Packers fans there.

Dave R. from Grayslake, IL

What plan does the league have for handling players who repeatedly take cheap shots like Denver's Jackson did on Sunday? This is the third concussion his cheap shots have caused this year! Or is the league waiting for him to cause another Darryl Stingley?

You raise an important issue for the league, Dave. For players like Kareem Jackson, who has had numerous dangerous hits on players over his 14-year career, the best way to change behavior is to take the player off the field. Kareem was suspended four games for his hit on Luke Musgrave in our game (he appealed, and it was reduced to two games). A few weeks later, he was suspended four games for his hit on Vikings QB Joshua Dobbs. Between the two suspensions, Kareem will lose over $700,000 in salary. He has also been fined over $80,000 this year for four unnecessary roughness penalties. You would think that losing that kind of money would cause you to change your behavior. Some people have suggested that ejections from the game can have a more direct impact on behavior (and harms the team more). You see this more often in college games. Also, I think NFL officials are reluctant to eject a player during a game, especially if they know that the league office will review the plays of the game, and fine or suspend players if warranted. Importantly, the rules are in place to protect not only the player being hit, but also the hitter.

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