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Packers in good shape at halfway point of very strange season

Murphy Takes 5 is a monthly column written by President and CEO Mark Murphy

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur

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:

Last year after eight games, the Packers sat at 7-1. This year, in spite of numerous injuries, three players missing the 49ers game as a result of COVID-19 and some up-and-down play, we aren't that far off of last year. We're 6-2 and in a good position to accomplish all of our goals. The pandemic has made this season challenging for all teams – with a virtual offseason and no preseason games, not to mention all the players who are missing time due to the virus. The league and the NFL Players Association have agreed on a number of changes (e.g. more practice squad players, making it easier to bring practice squad players up to the active roster) to the collective bargaining agreement to give teams more flexibility to deal with COVID-related issues. These changes have proven to be invaluable to teams. At times on Thursday, the 49ers game felt like a preseason game with so many backups playing for both teams. In a strange year like this, the best teams will be the ones with depth that are flexible enough to adapt to all the different challenges they will face this year. With 10 days off (a mini-bye) before we start the second half of the season, we are well-positioned to finish the season strong.

Now, on to your questions…

Roman from IA

Dear Mr. Murphy, my name is Roman and I'm 23 years old. I am also an owner and my question to you is when you guys did the renovation on the South End Zone, how come you guys never put any ribbon scoreboards on? Because I think it would be a great idea. My hope is that some time we can have those put on.

Good question, Roman. We considered putting in ribbon scoreboards as part of the South End Zone renovation but decided against it. In my mind, one of the best things about Lambeau Field is that it is not cluttered with multiple scoreboards and videoboards. Some of the newer stadiums have so many scoreboards that it is very distracting. Also, a ribbon scoreboard in the South End Zone would only be visible by a percentage of the stadium. We do want to have enough of the modern amenities that fans expect at stadiums to allow them to follow the game, but we don't want to take away from the charm that makes Lambeau Field special. We plan to replace the videoboards within the next few years.

A question from Jon

Hey Mark, I keep hearing rumors about trying to pick up a WR before the trade deadline. Thoughts? I'm not sure if it's needed. If we get healthy, EQ starts catching better, and others get healthy on O we might be OK. What about our D? Can't stop anyone running. Is Z OK? Haven't seen him do anything lately. I hear crap about Pettine, but the guys on the field are too complacent. Hope we can fix things quickly, so we are legit in playoffs.

Thanks for raising this issue, Jon. There was a lot of media speculation about potential trades over the last week, and I've heard from many fans. We had discussions with a number of teams over the last couple of weeks, but internally we all agreed that there were not any trades that made sense for us. This is obviously a unique year with the pandemic (and the impact it will have on next year's salary cap) and it was uncertain how it would affect the trade market. Ultimately, I think many teams were reluctant to trade for high-salary players knowing that the salary cap will go down almost $25 million next year. For us, a key factor was that we wanted to be able to enter into contract extensions with some of our core veteran players.

A question from Tom

Mr. Murphy, you made the comment that, "We respect that process, but we also are concerned with a person being shot seven times in the back. That is an outcome we do not accept. We feel it is an example of excessive force of which we've seen way too much recently. Black people face this at disproportionate levels when it comes to interactions with law enforcement."

Do you think for a moment that Jacob would have been shot if he simply listened to the officer's commands? I doubt it! Jacob resisted arrest and did not comply with officers' commands. He went for something in his truck. The officers have a split second to make a decision that could affect whether they come home or not. Jacob had a knife. "He's got my kid. He's got my keys," Sheskey heard a woman say, according to attorney Brendan Matthews, who is representing the officer. If Sheskey had allowed Blake to drive away and something happened to the child, "the question would have been 'why didn't you do something?'" Matthews said.

Your column makes it sound like he was shot in the back seven times for nothing. WHEN DOES THE IGNORANCE AND DISOBEDIENCE OF JACOB BLAKE MATTER? You disobey police who already have a gun on you, you deserve what happened.

Your column is disingenuous and like most entirely takes the blame off the perpetrator. Most of the incidents I have seen are from people disobeying the police. I mean how hard is it really to 1) NOT BE A CRIMINAL and 2) OBEY THE POLICE? Or is that a bar too high for them to attain? You should be talking about personal responsibility instead of blaming the police. Oh, and those organizations that the Packers just donated to like LIT are Marxist socialist democratic organizations (and they want to defund the police). The NFL is losing many fans.

Mr. Murphy, I am disgusted by you.

Thanks for sharing your opinion on this important issue, Tom. At the time, we said that we didn't know all the facts, but that we believed that seven shots in the back was excessive. We realize that police officers have a very difficult job and have tremendous respect for them. We also know that police officers are often put in situations that require difficult, split-second decisions. That said, though, we still believe seven shots represent excessive force. We have provided significant support to police departments across the state over the years. In fact, we are currently working with our local police departments to purchase body cams to help eliminate some of the situations like the Jacob Blake shooting that we've seen in recent months.

A question from Tony

Mark, it's a question of training for a hot humid environment. You don't turn the heat up; you turn it down to build your body strength up. I live in Phoenix, the Cardinals used to practice in Flagstaff when they played outdoors in Phoenix. The Packers went from lethargic to burned out between the first and second quarter. They were lethargic coming in. How hot did you make it in the Hutson Center? Build your strength up, don't tear it down to play in a hot humid environment.

The loss to the Bucs was very disappointing, Tony. The heat and humidity are always factors for early-season games in Florida, and it is certainly very different weather than what we are used to in Wisconsin. I believe we practiced outside most of the week leading up to the game. A key priority for the team was to make sure that we stayed hydrated throughout the week to avoid heat-related issues in the game. You're right, the game turned quickly in the second quarter, but I think it was due more to the two interceptions than the heat and humidity.

A question from John

Do you get informed about how the GM and head coach will deal with team issues in the offseason? Examples: run defense, roster, team future?

Yes, John, I stay in consistent contact with both General Manager Brian Gutekunst and Head Coach Matt LaFleur. Brian, Matt, Russ Ball (executive vice president and director of football operations) and I also meet on a regular basis, typically every other week, to make sure that we are all up to speed on what's happening within the organization. Over the years, my management philosophy has always been to hire good people and let them do their jobs. It's important to provide them with the resources and support they need to be successful, but they need to have the freedom to make the decisions that they think are needed.

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