Say what you want about Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy, but one thing should be abundantly clear after Green Bay was announced as the host of the 2025 NFL Draft:
The man has (pardon the pun) left his mark on the franchise.
Murphy took over as president from the beloved Bob Harlan on January 28, 2008, upon Bob Harlan announcing his retirement.
He had big shoes to fill but Murphy was taking over a well-oiled machine both on and off the field. The Packers had just come within a whisker of the Super Bowl and the new smell of recently-renovated Lambeau Field hadn’t yet worn off. All Murphy basically had to do was keep the car in gear and not run it out of gas.
Until, after not even two months on the job for Murphy, things took a turn.
Brett Favre announced his retirement that month, and it was the beginning of a brand new era. While it was a huge change for the team and its passionate fans, it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise to Murphy. Favre was going to retire at some point during his tenure. It was just a matter of when.
What did come as a surprise however was when Favre decided to unretire and all but demand his old job back. What followed was a very public and heated debate about what to do with Favre with Aaron Rodgers beginning to be entrenched as the starting quarterback.
As a brand new president, Murphy did the smartest thing he could do: He stayed out of it and let the people running the football operation side of the franchise (Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy) handle this and make the decision.
That arguably was the best call he could make as Thompson sent Favre to the Jets and the rest is history.
Murphy, of course, was in charge of the team that won Super Bowl XLV and everyone figured Green Bay was off and running once again and the Murphy/Thompson era would be as fruitful as the Harlan/Ron Wolf era.
In many ways it was, but it also wasn’t. The team continued to make the playoffs and contend for Super Bowls but they never again made it back to the big game itself.
Cracks in the relationship between McCarthy and Rodgers grew and the roster was showing similar faults towards the end of Thompson’s time as general manager. The team fizzled to a 7-9 record in the final year with Thompson and McCarthy both in charge.
Murphy knew something had to be done and did something unexpected: Thompson was replaced and Murphy decided to have both McCarthy and new general manager Brian Gutekunst report to him. Previously the head coach would report to the general manager.
It made some fans wary as meddling members of the board were one reason the Packers were an afterthought in the 1970s and 1980s. Would Murphy take the team down a similar path?
A 6-9-1 season in 2018 that saw McCarthy fired in December didn’t do much to ease any concerns. The hiring of his replacement would ultimately determine if this new arrangement would work out.
Enter Matt LaFleur. After three straight 13-win seasons including two NFC Championship appearances, one could say Murphy made the right call. A rough 2022 and lack of Super Bowl appearance aside, no one can really say Murphy has stuck his hands in things unnecessarily. He’s still letting Gutekunst and LaFleur run things and deserves credit for resisting the urge so many other owners can’t (hello Mark Davis, Dan Snyder, and others.)
The only hiccup started right before the draft 2021 and it really truly didn’t get resolved until a few weeks ago.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter dropped a bomb on the night of the 2021 draft: Rodgers was fed up with the Packers and didn’t want to play for the team again.
What followed was a three-month tap dance and featured a public Murphy comment that was at the time considered a faux pas that would wind up being borderline prophetic.
At an event at Lambeau Field that June, Murphy famously called Rodgers a “complicated fella,” something many fans cringed at and feared would make it harder for the team to keep Rodgers around as the Packers tried to lure the MVP quarterback back to Titetown.
Just under two years and several controversial remarks (vaccinations, ayahuasca, darkness retreats, “people come here to play with me,” and “Green Bay’s not a vacation destination” just to name a few) later, it’s a fairly safe bet to say a majority of Packers fans now agree with Murphy’s 2021 assessment of the team’s former quarterback.
It’s still not clear how much of a hand Murphy had in negotiations with the New York Jets over Rodgers, but the final chapter of that saga has yet to be written. We don’t know how Jordan Love will do but unlike when Favre was traded when he first took over, a majority of the fan base seems to be behind Love. At the very least it’s nowhere near the divided and acrimonious environment around the team when Rodgers took over in 2008.
Murphy is now just over two years from the team-mandated retirement age of 70 years old. He will retire on July 13, 2025, and Murphy saved his best act for last.
Almost one month to the day from when Rodgers was traded, the Packers announced they had been awarded the 2025 NFL Draft. In a city the size of Green Bay, this is as close as it will likely get to hosting a Super Bowl and the draft is still a pretty big deal on its own.
It’s a plan that’s been in motion as far back as 2016. After missing out on a few drafts including next year’s event in Detroit, Murphy’s persistence finally paid off.
Around 250,000 people are expected to be in Green Bay during the three-day draft and the passion of Packers fans and the city of Green Bay will be on display for the league and really the entire sports world to see. It cannot be underestimated how huge this is for the area and we’re not just talking about the $94 million potential economic impact either.
Green Bay is no longer the abnormality in the league. The city can now stand tall and hold its head high knowing that it can keep up with its much larger peers in the other 31 markets, and that sense of confidence is in big thanks to Murphy.
So when all those fans descend upon Titletown in just under two years, it will be a party to remember for everyone there.
For Murphy, it will double as a retirement party. It will be a tremendous feather in his cap as he heads off into the sunset, regardless of how the team fares on the field these next two years.
From moving on from one franchise quarterback to landing the biggest event in the city’s history, Murphy has bookended his legacy in tremendous ways.
Every Packers fan should be tipping their cheesehead to him today.