GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 14: Mark Murphy, President of the Green Bay Packers, signs autographs for fans prior to the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field on November 14, 2011 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
That goes for whether you're a Packers shareholder, a Packers fan, or an executive for another NFL team.
Unlike Commissioner Roger Goodell and many of the NFL owners, Murphy seems to realize that pushing for an 18-game schedule while claiming to be focused on player safety would be hypocritical. While speaking at a press conference after the Packers' Shareholder's meeting on Tuesday, he explained why he has shifted his stance and is now comfortable staying at 16 regular season games:
Now, to be honest with you, I couldn't support a move to two (preseason games) and 18 ... I just think with all the focus on the player health and safety, it would be really hard to do that ... I would be in support of a move to two and 16.
Shortening the pre-season to two games would cause teams to lose out on revenue from one preseason home game per year, so for that reason alone I find it unlikely to be embraced across the league. However, if alternate means would be proposed to offset that loss, it may be possible. Murphy also touched on the challenges that shortening the preseason would pose for evaluating players and setting the roster; that would put the coaches and GMs in a bind as well.
Murphy also spoke out against the lawsuits facing the NFL around the concussion and player safety issues:
As a former player, almost on a daily basis now I'm getting letters and emails from attorneys asking me to join the lawsuits against the NFL. They're obviously not doing their research. It shows you, there's an active market out there ... If players have problems, whether it be concussions or injuries with their back, knee, whatever, and it's directly related to their participation in the NFL, we need to do everything we can to help them. I'd rather have those things resolved through working together than lawsuits.
First, it's ridiculous to me that lawyers would contact Murphy, who's a top team executive and just a year ago was negotiating on behalf of the NFL owners during the lockout. Furthermore, while the NFL could put forth more effort in trying to assist some former players with serious injuries, these players accepted certain risks as part of their profession. There are risks associated with many lines of work, but those risks are just more obvious and highly publicized for professional athletes. The key is finding a middle ground between the players and owners, as Murphy explained:
You want to strive to make the game as safe as possible, but you don't want to turn it into a 7-on-7 flag football game. Part of what makes the game so exciting is that it's fast and physical; finding the right balance there.
Personally, I love that a guy with such a balanced viewpoint and a willingness to look at all sides of the issues is in charge of my team. So Packers fans, listen to Mark Murphy, because he will instill you with belief that your team is led by a class act from the top down. And NFL executives: you could learn a thing or two from this guy.
Quotes from Paul Imig of Fox Sports Wisconsin.