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: MurphyTakes5@packers.com
Our loss to Seattle in the NFC Championship game was as tough a loss as I've ever experienced. It was a game we really should have won, and the fact that a trip to the Super Bowl was on the line makes it especially difficult to get over. I'm sure many of our fans feel the same way. As a team (and an organization), though, we must move beyond the loss. I thought Mike McCarthy set the right tone in his post-season press conference when he said that next year's team wouldn't bear the burden of the loss to Seattle.
It is often said that time heals all wounds. This is especially true in the NFL, as there is always the next game to focus on and prepare for. In this situation, I think the Super Bowl, particularly the way the game ended, served as a good example of how cruel the game can be. One week the breaks go your way, and the next, they go against you. In fact, this year's NFC playoffs serve as a great illustration of this – Dallas beat Detroit, thanks to a controversial non-call, and then lost to us on Dez Bryant's non-catch, and, of course, Seattle beat us with a miraculous finish, and then lost to the Patriots with a miraculous finish.
I do think the Super Bowl will help us get over the Seattle loss, because it puts the loss in perspective. I also think we're a talented and resilient team, and are positioned very well for the future.
Now, on to your questions:
Jack from New York City
Mr. Murphy, congrats on a great year! This 2014 season provided a lot of excitement and entertainment for Packer nation and shareholders such as myself. Do you have any advice on how we can get over that NFC championship game in Seattle? I don't even want to watch the Super Bowl. Do you have any encouraging words for Packer nation?
Thanks, Jack. As I mentioned above, it was a very tough loss, but we have started the process of moving forward. Also, I would remind our fans of all that we accomplished this year, as well as in recent years. We finished the season 12-4, including 8-0 at home, to earn the second seed. We had exciting home wins to clinch the NFC North (for our fourth consecutive division title – a franchise record) and beat the Cowboys in the playoffs. We also beat the Super Bowl champion Patriots in one of the best games played at Lambeau Field in recent years. Finally, we gave the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks all they could handle in the toughest venue in the NFL. So, we have a lot to build on, and the future is very bright. We have a solid core of players returning, including the best quarterback in the NFL, and great coaching and leadership, and continuity, with Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson. Many teams would love to be in our position.
Dan from Golden Valley, MN
Mark, what is your opinion of the mindset of the current 31 owners in the NFL – do they view the Green Bay Packers as a critical heritage to preserve via continued revenue sharing and salary cap programs, or is there a significant risk of small-market teams like Green Bay being left behind in the future? New owners have over $1 billion invested in their teams – I could understand them not having the same view of Green Bay as the previous ownership generation, who chose to foster the model of supporting small-market teams.
I'm often asked this question, Dan, and with a number of new owners in the NFL in recent years, it is important to monitor how the Packers are viewed within the league. I do think the Packers continue to be respected within the league, both for the success we've enjoyed on the field, as well as the fact that we are one of the top revenue generating teams (ninth last year). I also was very encouraged that the league office and owners were so strongly committed to keeping the Bills in Buffalo (Buffalo is the smallest market next to Green Bay).
Jeffrey from Brown Deer, WI
I don't have a question, but I do have an idea I hope you would pass on to the Competition Committee. Let's eliminate the coin flip: It makes the NFL game fairer and fixes overtime. Currently, the visiting team calls the coin flip to choose to make the offense/defense decision at the start of the game or to defer to the second half. Just eliminate the coin flip and let the visiting team make the decision. Each team plays eight home and away games, so every team will have the same number of times to choose. Every team has a home-field advantage. Some teams have more of an advantage than others but there still is a home-field advantage. So, if at the end of regulation, the game is tied, the visiting team would get to choose offense/defense for the overtime period. This might not solve the overtime problem completely, but does make it fairer. The only time there would be a coin flip would be games at a neutral site (Super Bowl, etc.). I hope you agree. Thank you.
Very interesting idea, Jeffrey. Although your suggestion has some merit, I think it is unlikely that the coin flip would be eliminated. It is such a tradition in football, and does bring some drama to the beginning of the game. Also, over a number of years, the coin flips should even out so they are fair to all teams. With regard to overtime, we recently changed the rule so that a team could not win the game with a field goal on the first possession. There may be some discussion this offseason about giving both teams at least one possession in overtime, as is the case in college football. This would be fair to both teams, and would minimize the advantage of winning the coin flip. The rule (can't win on a field goal) is fairly new, though, and I think people would want to see the impact of the rule for more time before changing it. Also, guaranteeing both teams one possession in overtime would increase the number of plays in the game, which raises safety concerns and would require discussions with the NFLPA.
Reid from New York City
I am a big Packers fan; however, I am very frustrated with all the injuries in recent years: Why can't the Packers figure out a way to reduce injuries?
Unfortunately, injuries are a fact of life in the NFL. The league (and each team) does as much as it can to minimize injuries. The Collective Bargaining Agreement signed in 2011 made player health and safety a top priority, and instituted a number of safety-related changes, including limits on the number of padded practices and the number of practices in training camp. As you indicated in your question, we've been hit especially hard by injuries in recent years. As a result, Mike McCarthy instituted a number of changes this year in an effort to limit the number of injuries. He changed the practice schedule, both during training camp and the regular season, to give the players more time to recover. In the regular season, the team doesn't practice on Fridays, but has a recovery day with soft tissue activities. We then have a fast-paced practice on Saturday. We also hired Adam Korzun as our first ever nutritionist, and he implemented a number of helpful changes. I also think the new CRIC (Conditioning, Rehabilitation, and Instructional Center) has been helpful in getting players back on the field. So far, these changes seem to have had a positive effect, as our injuries were down significantly this year. I have to give McCarthy credit for being willing to make these changes. Coaches are typically creatures of habit, especially as it pertains to getting the team ready for big games. You can never eliminate all injuries, as many are just the result of bad luck, but you can try to minimize the number of injuries that are a result of fatigue. Hopefully we will continue to see a downward trend in injuries and look for ways to improve the safety of our players. This offseason, we are constructing a new hydrotherapy and recovery area to help players stay healthy.
John from Medford, NY
I've been a Packers fan for my entire 33 years of existence on this planet. I've seen the Majkowski years to the present. One player that had always struck a chord with me was No. 92, the minister of defense himself, Reggie White. I figure the Curly and Vince statues outside the Atrium would like a little company. Any way that could or would ever happen? Reggie in his three-point stance would be amazing.
There is no question that Reggie White was one of the finest players in the history of the Packers. When he decided to come to Green Bay as a free agent, it helped change how players and others in the league viewed the Packers. When I played with the Redskins in the 1980s, our defensive coordinator would tell players that he would ship them off to Green Bay if their performance didn't improve. It is amazing the impact that Reggie had on the Packers in a relatively short time period. That said, though, I don't think we should put a statue of Reggie outside the stadium. We have two statues in the Harlan Plaza in front of the Atrium - Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi – the two people who have had the biggest impact on the Packers over the years. They served as both coaches and executives (and founder and player in Curly's case). We did add a smaller statue, the Lambeau Leap, to the front of the stadium, but that is a tribute to our fans. Moreover, I think it is fitting that we honor our great players – Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees and players whose numbers have been retired – inside the stadium.