Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy was awarded the Big Ten Club’s person of the year honor at a reception in Pasadena, Calif., on Tuesday night.
From 2003-07, Murphy was the athletic director at Northwestern University, a Big Ten member school, before becoming a Packers executive in 2008.
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Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy said on Wednesday that he was “pleased” the new rule prohibiting offensive players from striking a blow with the crown of their helmet passed, and it did so overwhelmingly.
Murphy said the vote was 31-1. It needed 24 votes for passage.
“The biggest issue with our coaches was, ‘Can you officiate it?’” said Murphy, who is a member of the league’s competition committee, which proposed the new rule. “But the more we worked through it, I think people came to believe that it can be officiated.
“I also think there’s a real sense that this is bigger than just … the running backs don’t like or there’s maybe a bad call once in a while. It’s part of a larger effort to take the helmet out of the game, and what we talked a lot about was getting back to using the shoulder, shoulder tackling, wrapping up, more of the traditional tackling you saw years ago. Now so often with tacklers, it’s going for the kill shot.”
A key to both proposing the rule and getting it passed, Murphy said, was confirmation from officials that they were comfortable with the rule’s parameters and what was to be deemed illegal.
“It’s clearly outside the tackle box and clearly more than three yards downfield,” Murphy said. “It’s really meant to prohibit a running back or tackler, squared up, going right at them with the crown of the head.”
Murphy said the competition committee reviewed roughly 50 plays on videotape from last season that constituted either violations or were examples of incidental contact that is not to be flagged. None of those plays involved the Packers, according to Murphy.
Other proposed rule changes that passed included elimination of the “tuck rule,” a change to the replay rules that will allow plays to still be reviewed even if the red flag is thrown illegally, and a prohibition against the defense loading up one side of its formation to try to block a field goal or extra point. Long snappers were also given defenseless player protections.
The “tuck rule,” of course, was made famous by former Packers defensive back Charles Woodson, when he played for Oakland. Back in the 2001 AFC playoffs, Woodson’s late fourth-quarter hit on New England QB Tom Brady jarred the ball loose, and the Raiders recovered to essentially seal the win. But upon review, the “tuck rule” negated the fumble and called it an incomplete pass, and the Raiders eventually lost the playoff game in overtime.
“I plan on giving Charles a call,” Murphy joked.
The replay change became known as the “Jim Schwartz rule” after the Detroit head coach in effect negated a review of a long TD run by Houston on Thanksgiving by throwing his red flag, even though all scores and turnovers are automatically reviewed. The illegal challenge canceled the review, but that will no longer be the case.
“To not have a review was (a) pretty severe, (penalty),” Murphy said. “The goal is to get the call right.”
Murphy added that one of the situations studied on film by the competition committee involved the Packers at the Metrodome in Week 17, when Mike McCarthy threw his red flag on an apparent TD by James Jones that was ruled a fumble on the field. The play was still reviewed because the review had been initiated before McCarthy threw the flag, but the video showed Packers WR Jordy Nelson grabbing McCarthy’s flag and trying to hide it so the officials wouldn’t cancel the review.
“Players will not have to do that anymore,” Murphy laughed.
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Tags: kickoff note, mark murphy, mike mccarthy, ted thompson
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In his remarks to the media following Tuesday’s shareholders meeting, Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy said he has changed his stance on the possibility of the league expanding the regular-season schedule to 18 games.
Murphy said during negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement with the players in 2011, he was in favor of converting two preseason games into regular-season games, making the 20-game season a 2-18 split, rather than the current 4-16. But he’s no longer in favor of such a change.
“I couldn’t support a move to 2-and-18 now,” Murphy said. “With all the focus on player health and safety, it would be really hard to do that.”
Murphy suggested he would support eliminating two preseason games and keeping the regular season at 16, but he acknowledged the challenge there is the lost revenue for the league. He added that it’s debatable whether reducing the preseason by two games would have any impact on player health and safety, because he said a team’s starters might play the same amount of preseason snaps in those two games that they do now in four. Also, that type of reduced preseason might not provide enough time for teams to develop and evaluate their young talent, particularly if starters would then cram their four games of preseason snaps into those two contests.
“But those are the things we have to look at,” Murphy said, “what we can do to make the game as safe as possible for our players.”
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In a meeting with a group of local reporters, Packers officials discussed some additional aspects to the team’s financial report, which featured a record operating profit of $43 million for the most recent fiscal year.
–President/CEO Mark Murphy explained the reason behind a hike in ticket prices for a third straight year in 2012 amidst the team’s record revenues and profits. He said that because the Packers share one-third of the ticket revenue on general bowl seats with the visiting team, it’s incumbent upon a team that always sells out and has tens of thousands of people on a season-ticket waiting list to keep its ticket prices from impacting other teams’ revenues.
“It’s a balancing act,” Murphy said. “We want to be fair to our fans, and be affordable, but we also want to be fair to our partners in the league. We strive to be at the league average.”
Paul Baniel, the team’s vice president of finance, said that in 2009 — after two straight years of not raising ticket prices — the Packers had dropped to 30th in the league in ticket prices. Now, the team’s prices rank 17th or 18th of the 32 teams.
–The Packers Preservation Fund has remained at $127.5 million for several years now, and the team hasn’t added anything to it. Murphy said the organization looks more closely at the total equity of the franchise, and rather than add cash to the preservation fund has been steadily increasing its investments in real estate around Lambeau Field.
“Investing in real estate to me is investing for the future,” Murphy said, not dismissing the preservation fund but explaining that the organization’s safety net is now those two items “in conjunction” with one another.
–Fans flocked to Lambeau Field for stadium and Hall of Fame tours in record numbers over the past year. Each tour averages around 90,000 visitors per year, but in the past year, the Hall of Fame saw 156,000 visitors while 137,000 fans took stadium tours.
–Officials couldn’t say for sure, but it’s possible the Packers could climb well into the top 10 in the league’s revenue rankings when they come out later this year. For the fiscal year ending in March 2011, the Packers had $282.6 million in total revenue, bringing their revenue ranking up from 13th to 10th in the league. This year, revenues hit a record $302 million.
“We’ll be interested to see when the rankings come out where we are,” Baniel said.
For the full story on the financial report, click here.
To see a video Q&A with Mark Murphy, click here.
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Want to ask Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy a question? Murphy Takes 5 is a monthly column written by Murphy. On the first Saturday of every month, Murphy will write about a topic of interest to Packers fans and the organization, and then answer five fan questions. Fans are encouraged to email Murphy with their name and hometown at: MurphyTakes5@packers.com
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Here are some additional tidbits from Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy on the close of the stock sale:
–Online access key: The Packers sold more than 268,000 shares this time compared to around 120,000 in the 1997 stock sale, and Murphy said the key was the ability to sell online this time. He said more than 90 percent of the sales were made online. “That was obviously crucial to us,” he said.
–Shareholder meeting: In past years, the Packers have allowed shareholders attending the annual meeting in late July to bring as many as four guests. As the organization looks at the logistics for this year’s meeting, Murphy said that guest number will have to be reduced because the total number of shareholders has now more than tripled. “Hopefully we can structure it in a way that we’ll know well beforehand, or have a good idea what the attendance will be,” he said.
–Added noise: The addition of 6,700 outdoor seats as part of the south end zone expansion will increase the stadium’s outdoor seating by more than 10 percent, thereby considerably increasing the noise generated by the crowd. Lambeau Field has a current capacity of just over 73,000, with roughly 60,000 outdoor seats. “I think it’s going to increase the home-field advantage,” Murphy said. “We’re designing this so we’re going to keep the sound in the bowl, so it should make the stadium considerably louder, especially when the opposing team is driving down into the south end zone.”
For the original story on the closing of the stock sale, click here.
Tags: home field advantage, lambeau field, mark murphy, noise, shareholder, stock sale
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