Green Bay Packers

Mark Murphy Deserves His Flowers

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

President and CEO Mark Murphy took a handful of questions from fans during a Packers.com Q&A, as he does every month. Justin from Tucson didn’t ask a question but instead took the opportunity to pan Murphy on all fronts, calling his leadership “inept” and even hitting him with “nobody likes you.” Murphy only took five questions, so it was peculiar that he gave this bizarre rant the time of day. Turns out, he was using it to inform fans of a little-known rule that will have massive implications for the future.

Days later, the team announced its official search for a new CEO.

Murphy is required to step down at the age of 70 due to organizational by-laws, which constitute regulation, structure, and foresight that is fun to juxtapose with the circus that is this election year. While I certainly won’t dive deep into the latter, Green Bay’s rule is emblematic of a well-run franchise with a disciplined identity that is rare in the NFL today. Since Murphy took the reins in 2007, the Packers have enjoyed sustained success, including a Super Bowl victory in 2011. With Aaron Rodgers, they ultimately fell short of a legacy like the Tom Brady-led dynasty in New England or what Patrick Mahomes has going in Kansas City. Those continue to be incredibly impressive. But they’re also built on the backs of individual superstars or legendary quarterback/head-coach duos.

Sustained success in Green Bay hasn’t been attributable to one man, which Jordan Love’s incredible performance down the stretch of the 2023 season reinforced. Murphy has an unblemished record in large-scale transitions, going from Mike Sherman to Mike McCarthy, Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers, Ted Thompson to Brian Gutekunst, McCarthy to Matt LaFleur, and Rodgers to Love. His business acumen has also been on point. Murphy recently erected the Titletown District outside Lambeau Field and landed the 2025 NFL Draft. The draft’s spotlight on the football-infused, small-market city of Green Bay will be his parting gift to the most passionate fanbase in the game — unless, that is, Love can hoist an even bigger trophy this time next year.

The problems that the Packers have faced in the Murphy era have been hardly attributable to the CEO’s shortcomings. They were perhaps a strip-sack, blocked punt, Kevin King, and Brandon Bostick away from being discussed in an entirely different light, and those are just the ones that I can sum up succinctly. Sometimes, teams just can’t finish games, like the Los Angeles Chargers. Green Bay’s problem has been an inability to finish seasons, often in the most preposterously heartbreaking ways possible. Is it unfortunate? Yes. Does it change the fact that Murphy has overseen a highly competitive team for nearly every season of his tenure? No.

Heartbreak aside, Packers fans have had it good. Last month, the rival Detroit Lions won their first playoff game in 32 years. The Soviet Union was still standing the last time that city had seen its team win in the postseason. That’s an awfully egregious example. But Green Bay has not fallen victim to any of the numerous leadership failures that befell other franchises constantly.

Hawkish, over-involved owners like Dan Snyder, David Tepper, and Jimmy Haslam? The Packers are the league’s only publicly owned team, and it seems to pay constant dividends (albeit not literal dividends). Snyder was a menace for various reasons, but his football decisions are a big reason that Washington has been in the dumpster for decades. Tepper torpedoed the Carolina Panthers after buying them in May 2018, and Haslam seized the first bit of daylight that Cleveland’s had in years by trading the sun, moon, and stars for a guy with more sexual harassment cases than the Cleveland Browns had wins from 2011 to 2017.

There have also been teams rebuilding on a loop, like the Chicago Bears and Jacksonville Jaguars, in addition to the Commanders and Browns. Others have trapped themselves in a cycle of unnecessarily arduous mediocrity in recent years – the New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans, and Dallas Cowboys come to mind. The New York teams have completely squandered their big-market spotlight by being irrelevant. Even the New England Patriots, the most well-run team of the 21st century, are in the middle of a multi-year rebuild that has all but proved that their dynasty belonged to one man.

All the while, Murphy has the Packers on everybody’s “brightest future” list less than a year after trading Rodgers. He didn’t pick Love or develop him, but he put the pieces in place that did. As the entire league trended towards playing rookie quarterbacks earlier, Gutekunst, an internal hire, had the courage to endure the madness he knew would ensue and make the decision that has put the team on the promising path they’re now on.

The draft-and-develop identity can be frustrating when it’s March and everyone’s signing shiny new free agents. But landing stars like Favre, Rodgers, Love, Davante Adams, Jaire Alexander, and Clay Matthews make it all worth it. The team knows how to navigate change. They do it proactively, they’re consistent in their philosophy, and they don’t miss. It’s easy to complain as an NFL fan: the refs suck, and the same teams usually end up in the mix at the end of the season. Too often, a hard-fought game comes down to a silly little kick. But when it comes to leadership and decision-makers, Green Bay has had it good. Mark Murphy deserves a lot of credit for that.

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