Training camps in the NFL have certainly evolved over the years. The Packers’ training camps during the Lombardi era were legendary for their grueling, exhausting practices. Camps also lasted much longer years ago and teams held two practices a day. In my rookie year with the Redskins in 1977, we played six preseason games and held training camp in Carlisle, Pa., at Dickinson College for almost two months. The coaches made the practices as difficult as possible with the thought that if you could make it through training camp, you would be able to handle the challenges of the regular season. My first head coach with the Redskins, Hall of Famer George Allen, did not let us drink water during practices, as he thought it weakened us. I know our trainers were not fans of that policy, as they snuck ice cubes onto the practice fields for the players. Training camp also presented a great opportunity for players to bond together while staying in college dorm rooms.
With our nine-week offseason programs now, training camps take on a much different role. Players come into camp in shape and the coaches have already installed most of our offense and defense. In addition, we only have one practice a day and the players spend much more time in meetings.
Training camp is still a special time for our players, coaches and fans in Green Bay. It presents a great opportunity for our team and players to improve, and our fans love to get an up-close look at our players. This year’s training camp will be the first normal camp since 2019 as the last two camps had restrictions due to COVID. Our bicycle tradition will be back after a two-year hiatus. I love seeing how our players bond with their riders – it is one of the most special traditions in the NFL.
I look forward to seeing many of you at training camp this summer. We will have 12 practices open to the public (including Family Night on Friday, Aug. 5). Hopefully our players will use training camp to lay the groundwork for a championship season.
Now, on to your questions.
I am curious if there are any plans in the works to have another concert at Lambeau? I thought prior to the pandemic there was talk of having concerts every other year.
I’m often asked about future concerts at Lambeau Field, Mitch. We’ve had several over the last 10 to 15 years and they have all been well received. As you know, the pandemic threw a wrench in our plans over the last two years. Our goal is to have one large, non-Packers event in Lambeau Field every year. This year we were fortunate to be able to host the soccer friendly between Manchester City and Bayern Munich on short notice. I anticipate that we will have concerts in the future. The challenge is finding the acts that are available in the month of June (so that the weather is good, and we have enough time to get the field ready for preseason games) and that can fill a stadium the size of Lambeau Field. Please know that I am pushing hard for a Bruce Springsteen concert. Also, we recently held two smaller concerts at Titletown and will have another one as part of kickoff weekend.
I have no doubt some people will confuse the Mark Murphy who played for the Packers that Cliff Christl wrote about with you. I’m guessing you will get a whole lot of, “Hey, I didn’t know…”
Absolutely, Jake. Mark and I get confused for each other all the time. I often receive letters from Packers fans congratulating me for my great playing career with the Packers and asking for my autograph. We just forward them on to Mark in Akron, Ohio. I thought Cliff Christl’s article on Mark was excellent. He really had a remarkable career – going from an undrafted rookie out of West Liberty State to one of the finest safeties in Packers history. He played 12 years with the Packers – 147 games played at the time, more than any other safety other than Pro Football Hall of Famer Willie Wood. Mark has had a long career as a teacher and football coach at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in the Akron area. One of his best players was a young wide receiver named LeBron James who decided to focus on basketball after playing football and basketball in his junior year.
How is the revenue for international games divided up?
Excellent question, Bruce. For years, the international games were considered home games for the host teams. With the move to 17 games and with the requirement that each team will have to give up a home game to play internationally over the next eight years, the games are now considered neutral-site games. This means that all of the revenue is considered league (or national) revenue and is split 32 ways. The league reimburses the clubs for all their expenses, though. The thought is that over eight years, this will all even out for the teams.
As a new stockholder, I noticed board members are forced to resign or retire once they hit 70. As President and CEO of the Packers, does this pertain to your position too? Do you have a date in mind for your retirement? (BTW – did you know you have a doppelganger on the PGA tour? Padraig Harrington)
Thanks for the question, Mark, and thanks as well for purchasing a share of stock in the Packers. I hope to see you at the shareholders meeting on Monday, July 25. You are right regarding our board members – they go to emeritus status when they turn 70. Since I am a member of the board, the policy applies to me and I will retire on July 13, 2025, when I turn 70. The organization’s executive committee has started to make plans for the process and timeline to find my successor. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as the Packers president. I plan on making the last three years as successful as possible, with multiple Super Bowl championships! I have heard from others that I look like U.S. Senior Open champion Padraig Harrington. Unfortunately, my golf game does not resemble his.
As you contemplate the next couple of decades, what do you think are the potential risks to the viability of the Packers as an NFL franchise based in Green Bay? I don’t ask this frivolously. As you know (but many younger fans may not) Green Bay has historically had some risk to continuation of its association to the NFL. Given the stadium upgrade, the competitiveness of the franchise over the last 30 years, revenue-sharing…is there anything on the horizon that is of concern? Thanks as always for answering, as you have taken a few of my questions in the past. And thanks for continuing this column monthly.
Great question, Dan. I agree with you regarding our younger fans – all they have seen is success on the field and Lambeau Field packed with fans. In the early years of the Packers, though, the survival of the franchise was often at risk. Of our six stock sales, the first three (in 1923, 1935 and 1950) were to ensure that the team survived and stayed in Green Bay. As I look to the future, I think the biggest risks would be if the collective bargaining agreement and league revenue sharing change dramatically. Fortunately, we have a long-term agreement in place with our players (through 2031) as well as long-term agreements with the broadcast networks. Also, I think the vast majority of owners believe that the league’s revenue-sharing policy works well for all teams. Another risk would be if Lambeau Field starts to deteriorate. Fortunately, though, this risk is low because of the annual maintenance work (on average $15 million a year) we do at the stadium, as well as the major renovations we have done at Lambeau over the years.