London's calling the Green Bay Packers
GREEN BAY—The NFL wants the Green Bay Packers to play in London, and President Mark Murphy is completely on board with it.
It sounds like it should be a slam dunk.
But Murphy, speaking during the annual shareholders meeting Thursday and afterward in a news conference at Lambeau Field, said scheduling the Packers to play in Wembley Stadium is not as easy as it might seem.
First off, it has to be a road game for the Packers because they are not going to give up the cash cow that is a home game. Playing at home nets far more than the split to play in London because the Packers get to keep the money from luxury box fees, parking, concessions and pro shop sales when at home.
“We would never give up a home game,” Murphy said. “It's too important for the community. I would be excited about the chance to play in London. You heard the statistics about global reach of the Packers (given during the shareholders meeting).
“I think our fans here would love to travel to London. I think it would be a great experience. We'll see. There's only certain teams that play home games in London, and so those have to match up.”
Those certain teams are ones such as Jacksonville, St. Louis, Atlanta and Oakland, that can't fill their stadiums on Sunday. In fact, Jacksonville has committed to playing in London for four straight seasons dating to 2013.
The NFL has three games planned in 2014, and Atlanta, Oakland and Jacksonville are the home teams for those games.
In 2015, the Packers are scheduled to play Oakland on the road, which would be a possibility. In 2016, they're scheduled to play Jacksonville on the road.
Typically, a team isn't approached about a London game until close to the time the schedule comes out. Thus, the Packers wouldn't know anything for sure until April.
Murphy said he doubted the NFL would ever make the Packers give up a home game, so it's just a matter of finding the right road one.
“We travel so well that teams are reluctant to give up a home game against the Packers to play in London because it's typically a guaranteed sellout,” Murphy said. “That was the situation with St. Louis a couple of years ago.
“They were scheduled to play in London. They didn't want to move the Packers game to London because they knew our fans would travel so well to St. Louis.”
Murphy said the Packers never really got close to playing in London in that instance. He said he was not aware of any other cases in his tenure that the Packers were under consideration.
Five of the 14 coaches in the history of the Green Bay Packers have posted winning records.
Mike McCarthy became the fourth of the five to have a street in Brown County named after him.
Mike McCarthy Way became the new name for a 0.6-mile stretch of Potts Avenue after the Ashwaubenon Village Board approved the change.
In Green Bay and neighboring Ashwaubenon, there's Lambeau Street, Lombardi Avenue and Holmgren Way. Mike Sherman, who went 59-43 and made the playoffs four times from 2000-05, hasn't been so fortunate.
“Coach McCarthy is pretty emotional,” Murphy said Thursday. “He was really moved by it.”
McCarthy, 50, spoke at a ceremony Wednesday outside the Green Bay Distillery, a bar-restaurant, along Potts and across the street from Nitschke Field, the training-camp home for the Packers.
“It's a reflection of the football teams I've been blessed to coach,” McCarthy said. “It's a reflection of all the hard work of our players, coaches, football operations, all the way through. Because it takes everybody.”
Mike McCarthy Way will begin on Oneida Street just southeast of Lambeau Field. On its direct route east to Ashland Avenue, it serves as the southernmost border of Hinkle Field as well as Nitschke.
According to Murphy, Ashwaubenon officials are hoping to enact the name change within a year. The Packers have agreed to pick up the tab for business expenses incurred by firms along the route in making the change.
At least 10 other streets in Green Bay and Ashwaubenon are named after Packers, including Don Hutson, Cecil Isbell, Clarke Hinkle, Tony Canadeo, Bart Starr, Dave Robinson, Dave Hampton, Reggie White, Brett Favre and Donald Driver.
Robinson and Hampton were investors in a subdivision on Green Bay's east side and named streets after themselves.
Last summer, Ashwaubenon President Mike Aubinger said he was considering recommending to village trustees that only people retired or deceased be eligible to have streets renamed after them.
Ron Wolf, the Packers' general manager from 1991-2001, has been retired for 13 years.
“That would probably be fine,” said Aubinger. “He'd be the type of person who probably would be in line for something if a street was available to rename.
“There are only so many streets. People just aren't happy when you rename the street they've lived on for 40 years.”
After 32 years serving the Packers, video director Bob Eckberg is retiring.
Eckberg started out in the photo department of a local television station when he began processing and shooting film for the Packers. He was eventually hired full time and in 2001 was promoted to video director.
Chris Kirby, who has been assistant video director since 2001, will move into the director's spot. Andy Muckerheide, who is entering his 14th season, has been promoted to assistant video director, and Mike Halbach, who is entering his 11th season, has been promoted to manager of football technology.
Nick Goddard was hired as the new video assistant.
The Packers signed Korey Jones, a 6-foot-1, 232-pound linebacker who spent time with the Arizona Cardinals and the B.C. Lions of the CFL last season.
To make room for Jones, the Packers released linebacker Shaun Lewis, an undrafted rookie who had been signed after taking part in rookie orientation on a tryout basis.