GREEN BAY, Wis. — It’s been a busy and productive year for Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy and the rest of the team’s executives.
Setting the franchise’s all-time record for profit in 2012 of $43 million — in addition to $64 million raised in the recent stock sale — has allowed Murphy and the Packers to be able to accomplish all of their goals. The most important of those was having the money to afford to make quarterback Aaron Rodgers the highest-paid player in NFL history, while also signing outside linebacker Clay Matthews to a $66 million extension this offseason.
“We want all decisions to be football decisions, not financial decisions,” Murphy told FOXSportsWisconsin.com. “I think making sure we have the resources available (is important) so they can make decisions based strictly on football reasons. That was really big for the organization.
“To have arguably the best offensive player and the best defensive player in the league locked up long-term is really good for the organization, so I think we all feel really pleased we were able to get that done.”
Without the huge profit margin last year, Murphy still wouldn’t have been too concerned about the team’s financial flexibility to dish out such huge sums of cash. But, for a team owned by the community that doesn’t have a rich Jerry Jones type of owner in place, it does add increased challenges when planning how to spend tens of millions of dollars in a short period of time.
“This goes back years, we’ve set aside money in the Packers Preservation Fund for any emergency that may come up, but also to make sure that we can continue to be competitive,” Murphy said. “Whether that be investing in our players, or, the big thing we’re doing obviously, is investing in the stadium and investing in the community.
“For us, there’s not a profit motive. So, for us, if we can put money back and invest money back into the organization or into the community, that’s the equivalent of what other teams do in terms of paying salaries to owners or executives.”
The stadium investments, as Murphy mentioned, has the Packers midway through a four-year, $286.5 million expansion project of Lambeau Field.
Though Murphy has been able to check off several major items from his agenda recently, he wants to make sure that he and his staff are looking for more ways to keep improving different aspects of the franchise.
“You always have to remain vigilant in making sure you’re doing everything you can, so that, number one, the fans have a great experience and that we remain competitive,” Murphy said. “I think the next thing where you’ll start to see some changes is in the whole concept of Titletown; some development around the stadium.
“It’ll help the Packers if we’re able to get more people to come into Green Bay. Those people will go to the Pro Shop and take tours of the stadium, but I think it’s really a way for us to invest in the community.”
Murphy is currently an active part of the community on a week-long trek across the state with the Packers Tailgate Tour. Joined by current players Randall Cobb, Alex Green and Jarrett Bush, as well as retired players Santana Dotson, Frank Winters and Aaron Taylor, Murphy is the nightly emcee for the sixth consecutive year.
“It’s one of the few times when I have a direct connection with our fans, which we get periodically, but really for five straight days you get it here,” Murphy said. “Going across the state, it gives you a good feel for what the fans are thinking and the kind of support we get.
“For me, though, the other real treat is to spend an extended period with our players. And now that we’ve added retired players (two years ago), to spend time with them.
“I really enjoy seeing the interaction between current and former players. Usually at the beginning of the week they’re on opposite ends of the bus. And then, as the week goes on, they end up realizing they have a lot in common.”
The first night of the 2013 Tailgate Tour in Oshkosh was in front of a sold-out crowd of 650 screaming Packers fans. The $30,000 that was raised for that one night of the tour all went to the Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services foundation.
Murphy and the six players also made surprise stops Tuesday at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Neenah, Denmark High School and Nestle Pizza Division.
Other groups that will benefit on different nights of the Tailgate Tour are Beloit Regional Hospice, Camp Albrect Acres, Tomah Area Cancer Support and Opportunity Development Center, Inc.