Training camp remains a special moment in Green Bay

Training camps in the NFL have certainly evolved over the years. The Packers’ training camps during the Lombardi era were legendary for their grueling and exhausting practices. Camps were also much longer years ago and teams held two practices a day. During my first year with the Redskins in 1977, we played six preseason games and held a training camp in Carlisle, Pennsylvania at Dickinson College for almost two months. The coaches made practices as difficult as possible thinking that if you could get 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, wouldn’t let us drink water in practices because he thought it weakened us. I know our coaches weren’t fans of this policy, as they slipped ice cubes on the training grounds for the players. Training camp was also a great opportunity for players to bond while staying in college dorms.

With our nine-week off-season programs now, training camps play a much different role. The players come to camp in good shape and the coaches have already set up most of our attack and defense. Also, we only have one training a day and the players spend a lot more time in meetings.

Training camp is always a special time for our players, coaches and fans in Green Bay. It’s a great opportunity for our team and our players to improve, and our fans love seeing our players up close. This year’s training camp will be the first normal camp since 2019, as the last two camps had restrictions due to COVID. Our cycling tradition will be back after a two-year hiatus. I love seeing how our players bond with their runners – it’s one of the NFL’s most special traditions.

I look forward to seeing many of you at training camp this summer. We will have 12 practices open to the public (including family home evening on Friday, August 5). Hopefully our players will use training camp to lay the groundwork for a championship season.

Now let’s get to your questions.

I’m curious if there are any plans in the works to have another gig in Lambeau? I thought before the pandemic, we were talking about having concerts every two years.

I often get asked about future gigs at Lambeau Field, Mitch. We have had several over the past 10-15 years and they have all been well received. As you know, the pandemic has disrupted our plans over the past two years. Our goal is to have a large non-Packers event at Lambeau Field every year. This year we were lucky enough to be able to host the friendly football match between Manchester City and Bayern Munich on short notice. I foresee that we will have concerts in the future. The challenge is to find the numbers that are available in June (so that the weather is good and we have enough time to prepare the ground for the pre-season games) and that can fill a stadium the size of Lambeau Field. Know that I’m pushing hard for a Bruce Springsteen concert. Additionally, we recently hosted two smaller gigs at Titletown and will be hosting another as part of the launch weekend.

I’m sure some people will confuse the Mark Murphy who played for the Packers that Cliff Christl talked to you about. I guess you’ll get a lot of “Hey, I didn’t know…”

Absolutely, Jack. Mark and I are confused for each other all the time. I often get letters from Packers fans congratulating me on my great playing career with the Packers and asking for my autograph. We just pass them on to Mark in Akron, Ohio. I found Cliff Christl’s article on Mark excellent. He truly had a remarkable career — going from an undrafted West Liberty State rookie to one of the best 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 had a long career teaching and coaching football at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in the Akron area. One of his best players was a young receiver named LeBron James who decided to focus on basketball after playing football and basketball in his freshman year.

How are revenues from international games distributed?

Great question, Bruce. For years, international games have been considered home games for host teams. With the increase to 17 games and with the requirement that each team must give up one home game to play at international level for the next eight years, the games are now considered neutral site games. This means that all revenue is considered league (or national) revenue and is split 32 ways. The league, however, reimburses the clubs for all their expenses. The idea is that over eight years, it will all balance out for the teams.

As a new shareholder, I have noticed that board members are forced to resign or retire once they reach 70. As President and CEO of the Packers, does this apply to your position as well? Do you have a date in mind for your retirement? (BTW – did you know you had a lookalike on the PGA tour? Padraig Harrington)

Thanks for the question, Mark, and thanks for buying some stock in the Packers. I hope to see you at the shareholders’ meeting on Monday July 25th. You’re right about our board members – they achieve emeritus status at age 70. Since I am a board member, the policy applies to me and I will be retiring on July 13, 2025, when I turn 70. The organization’s executive committee began planning the process and timeline to find my successor. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as President of the Packers. I intend to make the last three years as successful as possible, with multiple Super Bowl championships! I’ve heard from others that I look like US Senior Open champion Padraig Harrington. Unfortunately, my golf game does not resemble his.

As you look ahead to the next two decades, what do you see as the potential risks to the Packers’ viability as a Green Bay-based NFL franchise? I do not ask this lightly. As you know (but many younger fans might not know), Green Bay has always taken some risk in continuing its association with the NFL. Given the modernization of the stadium, the competitiveness of the franchise over the last 30 years, the sharing of revenues… is there anything worrying on the horizon? Thanks as always for responding, as you have already answered a few of my questions. And thank you for continuing this monthly column.

Great question, Dan. I agree with you about our young fans – all they have seen is success on the pitch and Lambeau Field filled with fans. In the early years of the Packers, however, the survival of the franchise was often threatened. Of our six stock sales, the first three (in 1923, 1935, and 1950) were to ensure the team’s survival and stay in Green Bay. Looking to the future, I think the biggest risks would be if the league’s collective bargaining agreement and revenue sharing changes drastically. Fortunately, we have a long-term agreement in place with our players (until 2031) as well as long-term agreements with broadcast networks. Also, I think the vast majority of owners think the league’s revenue sharing policy works well for all teams. Another risk would be if Lambeau Field starts to deteriorate. Fortunately, however, this risk is low due to the annual maintenance work (averaging $15 million per year) we do at the stadium, as well as the major renovations we have done at Lambeau over the years.

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