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.*
On Thursday, we held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the ice skating pond and trail in Titletown. Along with the Ariens Hill (which will open for tubing when it is cold enough to make snow), these skating areas will be the most unique aspect of Titletown, and will hopefully have a big positive impact on our local community. During the planning process for Titletown, we held meetings with focus groups made up of community members. People kept saying that they wanted something to bring them outside and together with others in the winter. Those comments provided the impetus for the skating areas and the tubing hill. We will rent skates for the ice skaters and provide tubes for those riding down Ariens Hill.
We also opened 46 Below, the café at the base of Ariens Hill, and Rockwood Terrace on Thursday. Rockwood Terrace is a spectacular space (with views of Titletown and Lambeau Field) on the second floor of the hill building, and will be available to rent out for sledding parties and other events.
I look forward to seeing many of you skating and tubing this winter. It should make the long, cold winters here in Green Bay go by a little faster.
Now, on to your questions….
Lori from Fort Atkinson, WI
I was surprised to see the fight break out between Michael Crabtree and Aqib Talib this weekend. What can the league do to eliminate fights like this?
Actually, Lori, I was not surprised to see the fight break out. We have seen an increasing number of fights in recent years. The league has made it a point of emphasis for officials to break up scuffles as soon as possible before they become full-scale fights involving multiple players from both teams, and to immediately eject players for fighting. The league suspended both Crabtree and Talib for two games (which were both reduced to one game on appeal). I also think coaches can play an important role in controlling the behavior of their players (by stressing discipline and the harm to the team of possible ejections and suspensions). Also, not much good can happen when you punch someone in the helmet with your bare fists. We don't want the NFL to become the NHL of the '70s and '80s. Fights were so prevalent in the NHL then that the joke used to be that, "I went to a fight last night and a hockey game broke out."
Jim from Denver, CO
What did you think of Russell Wilson's quick return after an official pulled him out of the game to be checked for a possible concussion?
I was very disappointed to see this, Jim. Concussions are the biggest issue facing the league (and football generally), and it is not good when it appears that the league and teams are not taking concussions seriously or following the required procedures. I also understand that players are competitive and will almost always want to continue playing. For this reason, players cannot be allowed to make the decision as to whether they return to play, especially with an injury like a concussion. We really need to protect the players from themselves (for their own good) in these situations. Russell was literally in the medical tent for one second before exiting and appeared to be indicating to people as he exited that he was fine. The league has announced that it will investigate this situation. I anticipate the club will be punished if it is determined that they didn't follow the procedures.
Nan from Whitewater, WI
How does the compensatory draft system work? I hear commentators mention it often, and I've always wondered what it is.
You are not alone regarding the compensatory draft pick system, Nan. It is a fairly complicated system, and heck, some people in the league don't understand it, let alone the fans. The basic concept is that you look at the number of unrestricted free agents you signed versus the number that you lost. If you lost more than you signed, you are eligible to receive compensatory picks. Where it gets complicated is in determining what round the picks will be in. This is determined based on factors such as the contract, play time and league honors of the free agents who left. The maximum amount a club can be awarded is four compensatory picks. We will find out exactly what picks we will have following the season, but we think we will have three to four compensatory picks. The compensatory picks come at the end of each round, and can be third-, fourth-, fifth-, sixth- or seventh-round picks.
John from Neenah, WI
Hi Mark! What happened with Martellus Bennett? I was so excited when we signed him in the offseason.
Good question, John, I really can't talk about this matter, other than to say that we waived him with a failure to disclose a physical condition designation. I would say, though, that I was very pleased that so many of our current and former players spoke up in support of Dr. Pat McKenzie. My perception of Pat has been that the health of the player is always his first priority.
A question from Chad
Mr. Murphy, I would ask this of any Packer president, but I find it especially fun and intriguing to ask you this question because you played in the NFL and know what it takes to play day in and day out and endure the grind. My question is are there any NFL players you think deserve a Presidential Medal of Freedom? George Bush and Barack Obama gave many to MLB players and Obama gave some to NBA players, but I find it astounding that an NFL player has never won an award considering other entertainers and athletes have won awards. Why do you think this is? I think Favre and Manning deserve one, but they are too young. It's a weird sport. Coaches and quarterbacks are often the face of the sport.
It is very interesting that no NFL player has ever been awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Chad. It may be due to the fact that football is such a team sport and individuals do not have as big an impact as they do in other sports. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian award of the United States. It recognizes those people who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interest of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." I think there are many current or former NFL players who would be deserving of this award, but it is hard to imagine a stronger candidate than Bart Starr. Given the impact that Bart had on the game and the popularity of the NFL, as well as the tremendous charitable work that he and Cherry did in Wisconsin and Alabama, Bart is very deserving of this award.