*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.
Head Coach Mike McCarthy likes to break the schedule down into quarters. We obviously always focus on the next game, but I do think it is helpful to view the season in quarters. With three home games in the first quarter, we knew it was an opportunity to get off to a good start. The Seattle win was a good jump-start to the season. The loss to Atlanta was disappointing (although we knew it would be very tough opening their new stadium). I was pleased to see us bounce back with wins against Cincinnati and Chicago. The comeback against the Bengals was the type of game that can give a team confidence and momentum, and the Thursday game gives us a mini-bye heading into the second quarter of the season.
The next four games will tell us a lot about our team. In recent years, we have played well on the road, and we will be tested with the two straight away games in Dallas and Minnesota. With two divisional games in the next quarter, these games could be very important at the end of the season. Interestingly, we only have one home game in October, against the Drew Brees-led Saints. The bye comes in the second quarter (after the seventh game), and will give us an extra week to prepare for a crucial Monday night game against the Lions in Week 9. The Lions are off to a good start and, in two of the last three years, the NFC North title has come down to a game between the Lions and Packers in Week 17.
It should be exciting as we head into the second quarter of the season.
Now, on to your questions…
Joan from Milwaukee, WI
I was very disappointed to see that you issued a statement regarding the protests by players during the national anthem. It just doesn't make sense to mix football with politics. People come to Packers games to watch football, not watch players kneel or raise their fists. Why on earth did you decide to make a statement? Would it have been better to just say, "No comment"?
I would normally agree with you, Joan, regarding mixing sports and politics. These are extraordinary times, however. When President Trump implored NFL owners to fire the "son of a b…." who protests, and encouraged NFL fans to get up and walk out of the stadiums, he was attacking the NFL and our players. Our players (and everyone else associated with the NFL) were very upset with the President's comments. I thought it was important to issue a statement in support of our players. We were one of the first teams to issue a statement, but eventually every team issued a statement in support of their players (and the last few teams that issued statements were criticized by the media for taking so long). The issue of protests during the national anthem is obviously very emotional for many of our fans, and I believe it has divided our fan base. Following our Cincinnati game (where we had three players kneel), our players held a team meeting to decide what to do regarding this issue. After lengthy discussion, the players decided to all stand and lock arms during the national anthem. I was very proud of our players. In my mind, they were able to take a negative situation and turn it into a positive by deciding to stand together and lock arms for the rest of the season. I do not view standing and locking arms as a form of protest, but rather a show of unity. I understand some of our fans may disagree, and I respect that. During the playing of the national anthem before the Bears game, I stood and locked arms with our players. Ideally, as a league, we can use this issue to bring attention to and make progress on the underlying issues of importance to our players.
Don from Stevens Point
I've had questions answered by Cliff, Vic, Mike and Wes, so I need you to answer my question to hit for the cycle. I'm concerned that the Titletown District will take away from the "neighborhood feel" that is so much of what Lambeau Field is and has always been. Fenway Park and Wrigley Field seem to have lost it. Is there any consideration to that sort of ambience when making future plans?
You have now officially hit for the packers.com cycle, Don. Congratulations. We have the same concern as you regarding losing the neighborhood feel. It is part of what makes Lambeau Field special. Although we have added the three anchors (Lodge Kohler, Hinterland Restaurant and Brewery, and Bellin Health Titletown Sports Medicine and Orthopedics Clinic) and will add other buildings in the future, Lambeau Field is still surrounded by houses. Also, we have plans for 70-80 townhouses as well as an apartment building for Titletown, and we want the development to be residential. Finally, I think the public park and plaza aspects of Titletown will help give it a neighborhood feel. If you haven't seen these areas yet, I would encourage you to visit Titletown. The playground, football field and activity strip all have a neighborhood feel to them and were designed to be amenities for the local neighbors.
Robert from Saginaw, MI
Mark, with the opening of Lodge Kohler, could the Packers bid to host an NFL owners meeting?
There is no question, Robert, that Titletown and Lodge Kohler will help us hold more meetings and conferences here. With regard to NFL owners meetings, since people fly in from all parts of the country, the meetings are normally held in cities that are more easily accessible by plane. I do think that we have a good chance to have an NFL committee meet here, though. In December, the USA Football board of directors will hold a meeting here after our game against Tampa Bay.
Stu from Beaver Dam, WI
I thought the hit on Davante Adams was one of the most vicious hits I have ever seen. What can the league do to take hits like this out of the game?
I feel the same way about the hit, Stu. We definitely need to take hits like that out of the game, and, needless to say, it is bad for the game whenever a player is taken off the field on a stretcher. There is so much concern now about the safety of the game (especially among parents), and hits like the one on Davante raise peoples' concerns about the safety of the game. This play is an example of a tactic that has become very dangerous in recent years – namely what is called a "scrum" or "pile." One or more players have a ball carrier held up, and both defensive and offensive players fly into the scrum to try to move the pile forward or backward, often leading with their helmet. We are looking at what steps we can take to make this play safer, including encouraging officials to blow the whistle sooner. The league has taken many steps in recent years to make the game safer, including adopting over 50 safety-related rules changes. I was pleased to see that the Bears player, Danny Trevathan, was suspended for two games (it was reduced to one on appeal). By all accounts, Trevathan is a solid citizen and I don't think he intended to hurt Davante. Also, he was a first-time offender. Typically, the league would not suspend a first-time offender, so the suspension sent a strong message to players across the league. Many have argued that the league should adopt the college "targeting rule" where players can be immediately expelled from a game. The targeting rule has definitely had an impact on the behavior of college players. In the NFL, we have used fines and suspensions to encourage players to hit differently. Also, officials do have the authority to expel a player for egregious hits, but this tends to be for fighting or touching an official (non-football acts). Given the importance of this issue for the future of the game, this is something that will have to be closely monitored.
A question from Chad
Is there art that represents the Green Bay Packers? Obviously, there are statutes, the architectural beauty of the stadium, and the weird circumstances of playing right next to houses, but what about paintings? Have you or other executives ever thought that investing in neoclassical paintings could be a good idea? Save threat of art being stolen by Bears fans, Lions fans, Viking fans, and most of all, Patriots fans?
As I mentioned in August, Chad, art was a big part of our suite renovation. We partnered with a company named Sports and the Arts, and the outcome is spectacular. We really now have an art gallery in Lambeau Field. There are over 550 paintings, photos and graphics in our suite and club-seat areas. The painting and photos are all of either Packers players, fans, or our various stadiums. We also have plans for public art in our new Titletown District.