Murphy Takes 5 is a monthly column written by President and CEO Mark MurphyMark 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:
Green Bay is on a hot streak. A couple of weeks ago, the U.S. News and World Report named Green Bay the best city in the United States to live in. Green Bay has also received a lot of publicity due to Simone Biles (who's married to Jonathan Owens, a safety we recently signed as a free agent). More recently, the NFL announced that the 2025 draft would be held in Green Bay.
The NFL Draft has long been a major media event and has quickly become a must-attend event for spectators. It wasn't that long ago that the Draft was held before a few thousand people in the Radio City Music Hall in New York. Interestingly, the 2025 draft will be the second draft held in Wisconsin as the draft was held in Milwaukee in 1940. Needless to say, it was a very different event then. In 2015, the league decided to move the draft to other NFL cities (much like the Super Bowl), and it is now the biggest offseason league event.
In 2016, we first let the league know that Green Bay would like to host the draft. Since then, we have been very persistent in letting the league know all that Green Bay has to offer. Gabrielle Dow, vice president of marketing and fan engagement and Aaron Popkey, director of public affairs, have played key roles for us, and Brad Toll from Discover Green Bay has been instrumental in the effort. They have made trips to several NFL drafts to see all that is involved with hosting the draft. Other key factors in securing the draft were Titletown and the Resch Expo. Neither of these existed in 2016, and they will host events before and during the draft.
We're both excited and honored to be selected to host the 2025 NFL Draft. It will be the largest event ever held in Green Bay. We are very pleased and grateful that the State Joint Finance Committee has pledged $2 million to help support this effort. We anticipate that over 240,000 people will attend the draft, and the statewide economic impact will be an estimated $94 million. Hosting an event of this magnitude takes a lot of planning and work, as well as the cooperation of the Packers, Discover Green Bay, the league office and all the local municipalities. We have only 23 months remaining before the draft, but I'm confident that we are up to the task. The league office will be sending executives to Green Bay this month to start detailed planning. It will be a once-in-a-generation event that will leave a lasting legacy that will benefit Green Bay and the entire state for years to come.
Now, on to your questions.
A question from Howie R.
I had an idea for the 2025 draft. When Jacksonville hosted the Super Bowl they brought in cruise ships for extra hotel space. When the Packers host the draft the Great Lakes cruise season has not started yet. What would the possibility of bringing in some of their cruise ships for extra hotel space? It would be a money-maker for them that they would not normally have plus they could promote their cruises. It would give Green Bay some extra rooms that we could definitely use for those three days. I am guessing your team has already considered this but I thought I would send it in case you had not.
Thanks for the suggestion, Howie. One of the biggest challenges we faced in securing the draft was the relatively small number of hotel rooms (approximately 4,800) we have in Green Bay. We anticipate that people will stay in all parts of the state (Appleton, Kohler, Milwaukee, Madison and Door County) for the draft. We have considered cruise ships, and Brad Toll has already reached out to the cruise ship companies (hopefully all the ice on the bay will be melted by late April). I'm also sure that many people in the area will rent out their homes through Airbnb. We've also asked Amtrak if they can run trains from Milwaukee during the Draft to Green Bay.
A question from Kevin
Mark, thank you for your no vote on flexing Thursday night games. What are the other owners thinking about? Do you get extra for moving to Thursday? This is a complete slap in the face to ticket-buying fans. My first thought was my inconvenience, as a season ticket holder (gold package) and my travel from Florida, but I soon realized that there are four sets of ticket-buying customers affected. The NFL doesn't care about the fans in the seats. I know it won't happen but I truly hope the first time they flex the game no one shows up at the stadium. I know the owners won't care because they have already received the ticket sales money. Thank you for letting me vent.
You're welcome, Kevin. I agree with the points you raise regarding the Thursday night flex and think it will be especially tough for our fans since so many of them travel a long distance to attend games at Lambeau Field (and stay in hotels for several nights). I do see, however, why the league wants to have the flexibility to change Thursday night games. The Thursday night package with Amazon Prime is a high priority for the league. It is our first venture into digital streaming and is very important for the league's future. The ratings for Thursday night games in Amazon's first year were down from the other networks in the previous years, and the league wants Amazon to be successful. Another factor that was considered is that 7% of our fans attend games, and the league realizes that the majority of its revenue comes from broadcasting games and accordingly used that perspective when proposing the change.
A question from Mike
I can't believe you voted for the fair catch on kickoffs. The 25-yard line is an awful placement. Maybe if the fair catch (from any yard line) gave you the ball at the 15, I might be able to stand it. No safety argument changes the fact that the game is getting weaker by the year and you now are on record expediting that. You should be ashamed of yourself.
Thanks for raising the issue, Mike. This was a very difficult vote for us, as the kickoff is one of the most exciting plays in the game. However, it is also the most dangerous play in the game because of the speed and space of the play. The fair-catch rule has been in the NCAA for a number of years and has worked well for them. Also, if a team has a great returner like we do in Keisean Nixon, they will likely return the kickoff rather than fair catch it. The real challenge is finding a way to make the play safer (the XFL experimented with some changes that are encouraging), rather than just having fewer returns. Since we moved the kickoff up several years ago, only approximately 37% of all kickoffs have been returned.
Robert from Milwaukee
If NFL clubs are running out of jersey numbers due to increased roster sizes and retiring numbers, I don't see what the big deal is about just starting to use 100 and above. The numbers then would be unlimited. The same numbering system can be used. 180-189 for wide receivers and tight ends. 190-199 for defensive lineman. 120-149 for running backs. 100-119 for quarterbacks, kickers and punters. Yes, it will look odd at first but I think it would be fine in the long run. 110-plus to start then 200-plus, 300-plus and so on would provide unlimited numbers for teams. If I was an NFL quarterback and my uniform number was 112 I'd be perfectly fine with it.
This is one of the more interesting suggestions that we've ever received, Robert. Thanks. I certainly agree that it would look odd at first, but not sure it would grow on me. While jersey numbers are becoming more limited, I would prefer to give the clubs more flexibility with numbers in other ways (e.g., allow players to wear any number regardless of position).
A question from Paul
I appreciate that your column answers critical questions as well as complimentary ones. I think it is a sign of good leadership to be able to respond to criticism fairly and openly. My question is about Jordan Love. A lot of the fanbase is very excited to see him in action, but I feel people have unfairly high expectations for him in his first season given that we are coming off two Hall of Famers in a row. What would you tell the fans about Jordan as he sets out to become the next great Packers QB? Go Pack Go!
Thanks, Paul. I try to give fans a good sense of the wide variety of emails that I received. With regard to Jordan, I would tell our fans to remember that this will be his first year as a starter, and that there will be a learning curve. That said, though, Jordan has benefited greatly by playing behind Aaron Rodgers for the last three years (much like Aaron learned from watching Brett Favre). Having watched him in practice the past three years, I have seen significant growth in Jordan (particularly in his confidence) and think he is ready to play. Also, he has benefited greatly by taking most of the snaps with the first team offense in the last two offseasons, as well as in preseason games the last two years. Although it was very limited, his play in the Eagles game last year was very encouraging. I've also been very impressed with how Jordan has handled himself over the past three years. He never complained and continued to work hard to improve his game. Most recently, I have seen Jordan step forward as a leader. There will be ups and downs this year, but it will be exciting, and we're confident in Jordan.