After surviving challenges of COVID-19 – and facing challenges with star Aaron Rodgers – Packers take half-full view of the toll | national
GREEN BAY – With their 2021 fiscal year record battered by pandemic-induced losses – but not as bad as it could have been – the Green Bay Packers failed to turn a profit for the first time in two decades last year.
But as ugly as it might sound compared to the club’s many years of making money, it was still the favorite topic of conversation for Team President / CEO Mark Murphy on Friday afternoon, as opposed to questions. he had surely anticipated about disgruntled quarterback Aaron Rodgers, whose future with the team remains uncertain with less than two weeks to go into training camp.
After presenting a miniature version of the team’s record to reporters, Murphy was asked in a question-and-answer session via Zoom if he knew if Rodgers planned to show up to training camp on July 27 afterwards. skipping the offseason program amid his dissatisfaction with the organization and, in particular, the front office – headed by Managing Director Brian Gutekunst.
Murphy said he appreciated the question and then replied, “It’s really limited to questions about the financial statements. I would just say that there is nothing new to update on the issue you raised.
At another point in the session with reporters, Murphy was asked how much to have two professional Football Hall of Fame quarterbacks – Brett Favre, Hall inductee in 2015, and Rodgers, who will likely be a pick. first round after the five-year post. – the waiting period for retirement – has helped the team achieve unprecedented success over the past three decades.
The team’s success in the field has led to a refurbished Lambeau Field, major facility upgrades and the famous entertainment, business and residential district of Titletown across from the iconic stadium.
“It definitely helps,” Murphy replied, smiling in response to the barely disguised request related to Rodgers. “Obviously there are a lot of things that go into making a successful football team. Even more so when you talk about successful organizations and business teams. We really enjoy the great game we had, (and) not just the quarterbacks. We’ve had some really great players in a lot of different roles.
Murphy was also asked what an acrimonious training camp – like the summer of 2008, when Favre was finally traded to the New York Jets – or Rodgers never playing for the organization again could do to the finances of the city. ‘team. After initially declining to respond, Murphy and Vice President of Finance and Administration Paul Baniel pointed out that the team’s sold-out streak, which began in 1961, remained intact even when the team moved from Favre to Rodgers that season.
“And you know,” Murphy added, “the person who replaced Brett Favre did pretty well.”
While Rodgers’ uncertain status may cause consternation behind closed doors at 1265 Lombardi Avenue, the team was happy to have survived the financial challenges of COVID-19 without having to dip into their corporate reserve fund for them. rainy days (which now stands at $ 511 million) and having lost $ 38.8 million operating during the year.
NFL revenue sharing generated a record national income of $ 309.2 million that allowed the Packers to operate effectively as the league managed to play a full season despite the pandemic. Overall, the Packers actually ended in the dark with $ 60.7 million in net income, but Murphy acknowledged that this was almost exclusively due to the unusually exceptional performance of the team’s investment portfolio.
In the absence of paying customers in the stands for the team’s eight home games in the regular season and ticket income for the team’s two home playoff games being part of the national income pie, local income Packers went from $ 210.9 million in the pre-pandemic year to just $ 61.8 million last year.
“Our local revenues have been significantly impacted. Nonetheless, we truly believe that we remain in a strong financial position going forward and that we will continue to be able to provide the resources the organization needs to be successful on and off the pitch, ”said Murphy. “While we have all faced health and economic challenges with the pandemic, we really think we came out in a very good financial position. “
Still, Murphy said the losses marked the first time the team had been unprofitable since before the Lambeau Field redevelopment in 2003, and he cited the corporate reserve fund for giving the team a collateral to use their line of credit to avoid drawing on the fund. .
Murphy said the team also incurred significant expenses related to the pandemic – primarily the costs of daily COVID-19 testing for players and staff and the costs of sanitizing the facility each day. Baniel estimated the costs to be in the “middle seven digits.”
“I think each test cost $ 120,” Murphy said. “It adds up quickly.”
With the Delta variant of the coronavirus causing nationwide concerns, and vaccine reluctance being a problem among some Americans, Murphy acknowledged that COVID-19 could still have an impact on the 2021 season, even with the team set at 100% capacity during matches.
“We’re not out of it yet,” Murphy said. “It’s still a concern.”
Murphy also acknowledged that having players and / or staff choosing not to get the shot is a “problem” that could put the team at a disadvantage this season. While the league doesn’t force players and coaches to get vaccinated, it has placed a host of restrictions on those who aren’t.
“At the league level, the protocols that have been put in place are a very strong incentive for players to get vaccinated,” said Murphy. “The most important thing is that if you are not vaccinated, you should get tested every day. If you are vaccinated, you should only get tested once every 14 days.
“We are doing everything we can to encourage people to get vaccinated – not just our players, but our fans. We are all in the same boat. It’s a community effort and the more we get vaccinated, the safer we are all.“
Murphy also touched on a myriad of other topics:
- Whatever the Packers’ international game will be in London. With the expanded 17-game NFL schedule, teams with a ninth home game will be considered for the international game. The Packers’ extra game this season is in Kansas City, but they could go abroad as early as 2022.
As the only remaining team that hasn’t played an international game, Murphy said: “My preference would be sooner rather than later. I think it would be good for the organization. And the theory is that in those years you have nine home games, if you take one out you still have what you would normally have or what you had in the past.
“It would be nice to have nine home games, but I also know that we have a lot of fans in Europe, we have a lot of fans in London who would really appreciate it.”
- The Packers hope to know in October whether Green Bay will be awarded the 2024 NFL Draft. Detroit, Washington DC and Green Bay are the league’s three finalists, with the draft set to be held in Las Vegas next year and Kansas. City in 2023.
- The team has put on hold a planned renovation of the Lambeau Field halls due to the impact of COVID-19 on finances.
- The team is studying the idea of building a new football facility in addition to the Don Hutson Center which would expand the CRIC (“Conditioning, Rehabilitation and Instruction Center”) which was added to the Lambeau field in 2013.