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Packers might not get to visit ‘Bear fan’

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Associated Press
July 26, 2011
— Now that the NFL’s labor dispute is coming to an end, the Green Bay Packers still hope to find a way to celebrate their Super Bowl victory at the White House.

They’re working against a tight timeframe.


Speaking to reporters in Green Bay on Monday, Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy said a trip to Washington wouldn’t be practical during the regular season but the team is working with White House officials to possibly schedule it in August.


That will be a challenge, given that coaches already have to pack extra preparation time into training camp after offseason practice sessions were lost to the lockout.


“We’ve since had some discussions, looking at whether we can find a date in August where the team could go down and visit the White House,” Murphy said. “I hope we can make it. I think it’d be such a special and unique opportunity for our players.”


Of course, President Barack Obama might have some scheduling concerns of his own—especially with the clock ticking on the approaching debt limit deadline.


“I do realize that President Obama has more important things to deal with now than this,” Murphy said.


The NFL generally prohibited contact between team officials and players during the lockout, although the league did make exceptions that allowed the Packers to conduct a “Tailgate Tour” that raised money for charity and hold a ceremony for players to receive their Super Bowl rings last month.


The NFL did not allow the Packers to make a White House visit during the lockout.


If the trip can somehow be saved now, Murphy said he expected it to be particularly sweet for veteran cornerback Charles Woodson.


After the Packers beat Obama’s Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship game, Woodson jokingly chided Obama for not publicly supporting the Packers in the Super Bowl.


When Obama gave a speech in Wisconsin before the Packers’ Super Bowl victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Woodson sent him a signed jersey with the message, “See you at the White House. Go Packers.”


“I’m looking forward to seeing Charles Woodson and President Obama shake hands,” Murphy said.


Murphy said Packers players will report to camp Friday, then practice Saturday and Sunday. Neither of the first two practices will be in pads.


The team holds its training camp practices in Green Bay, so adjusting to the end of the lockout isn’t as disruptive for the Packers as it might be for other teams that go away for camp.


Murphy said the team still plans to hold its annual “Family Night” Aug. 6. Instead of being a full scrimmage, it will be a practice in pads.


“It won’t really be that much different,” Murphy said.


Murphy said the Packers made it through the lockout without having to cut employees’ salaries—although they could have done so if the dispute continued.


“We made a conscious decision not to reduce anyone’s salary,” Murphy said.


With the labor dispute coming to an end, Murphy says the Packers want to re-establish a sense of goodwill with their fans.


“I do think we have to win back the fans,” Murphy said. “I think it has helped that we didn’t miss any games. We missed offseason workouts, but the fans aren’t actively involved in that. But I think the process has started, with us getting back to football.”



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