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.*
Thursday was the first day of training camp. It was also one of my favorite days of the year, and not just because it was the start of training camp. It also marked the start of the bicycle tradition – where players ride the bikes of local kids from the player parking lot to Nitschke Field. The tradition goes back to the Lombardi era and is one of the finest traditions in the NFL. There is nothing more heartwarming than to see the look on a child's face when a player decides to ride his or her bike.
Throughout the next month, we will host a number of activities to complement the training camp practices.
Tonight we will host our annual 5K Run. At all public practices from July 30 to Aug. 31, American Family Insurance (AFI) will provide five "tricked out" bikes for players and kids from the Boys and Girls Club to ride to practice. AFI will also sponsor the DreamZone in the Tundra Tailgate Zone. The DreamZone features a number of football-related activities for kids (including a Lambeau Leap), as well as "Chalk Talks" with people such as Coach Mike McCarthy, Mark Tauscher and John Kuhn. Bellin Health has been a great partner and serves as our Training Camp sponsor, hosting an autograph signing by players after every practice for kids 12 and under. We will hold our 15th Family Night practice on Saturday, Aug. 8. And, of course, we'll host two preseason games – against the Eagles on Aug. 29 and the Saints on Sept. 3.
All in all, it should be a great month for Packers fans. The experience at Nitschke Field is really special, and I encourage all Packers fans to come to Green Bay for a training camp practice. Most importantly, we hope it will be a productive month for our team as we get ready for the opening game at Chicago.
Now, on to your questions:
John from Mequon, WI
As President of the Packers, what did you think about the Brett Favre induction ceremony and number retirement?
Great question, John. I thought it was a great evening for the Packers organization, Brett and our fans to have Brett back in the Packers family. For me, the highlight of the evening was when Brett walked out onto the field. The reception that he received from our fans was really amazing. I know that Brett was touched by it. I thought the plans for the evening with the dinner in the Atrium and the viewing in the stadium bowl worked well. I also have to give Bob Harlan credit for coming up with the idea to induct Brett and retire his number in the same evening. We are also very excited for the unveiling of his number on Thanksgiving night.
Bob from Allouez, WI
How do you think Commissioner Roger Goodell has handled "Deflategate"? It seems to me to be much ado about nothing. They just took a little air out of the ball.
First, I don't think it is a trivial matter. The ball is central to the game, and anything that gives a team a competitive advantage has to be taken seriously, as it affects the integrity of the game. I think Roger has handled a very difficult situation well. One of the most important responsibilities of a Commissioner is to uphold the integrity of the game, and to ensure that the public is confident that the competition on the field is fair. The challenge in this situation is that it involves one of the NFL's premier franchises and clearly one of the top players. Roger has sent a strong message to everyone involved with the NFL that no team or player is bigger than the game.
Chris from Green Bay
I saw this on Facebook and wanted to know, what is your (and your darling wife's) favorite restaurant in Green Bay?
Silly question, Chris. Of course, it's 1919 Kitchen & Tap, our new restaurant in the Atrium. Although this is a shameless promotion of the new restaurant, we really do like it, the food is very good, and the atmosphere is great. Among our other favorite restaurants are Hinterland and A Taste of India.
Jane from Ames, Iowa
I came to Lambeau Field last month for the Kenny Chesney concert, and loved it. Will the Packers hold other concerts in the future?
Thanks, Jane. I'm glad you enjoyed the concert. The main reason we hosted the concert was for the economic benefit it brought to the local community. Close to 54,000 people attended the concert, and the estimated economic impact was over $5 million. I thought the atmosphere in the stadium was great, and it provided an opportunity for many people to see Lambeau Field for the first time. The one negative was the number of alcohol-related incidents at the concert. It was a long concert and there was a lot of drinking before and during the concert. In the future, we will consider options that might help reduce the drinking. Going forward, we've told community leaders that we will try to host one non-Packers event in the stadium a year. We're hosting the LSU-Wisconsin football game next year, so we will be looking at 2017 for our next concert.
Ken from Green Bay
What is the status after this year regarding the Brown County residents' ticket lottery? I heard recently that with the sales tax ending with the payment complete the Packers will do away with the lottery. Is this true?
Good question, Ken, and timely, with the sales tax expiring in September. The random drawing for Brown County residents will continue this year, but it is something that we will evaluate. The interest in the program has declined in recent years with many registered residents opting to not purchase tickets. We've had to hold two drawings consistently to get enough residents to purchase tickets. Even with two drawings, all 4,000 of the tickets to each game (40,000 for the whole season) have not been used. I anticipate that we will keep the program, but with some changes.