Sorry to have to start the new season on a critical note, but Green Bay CEO and president Mark Murphy made an enormous blunder over a month ago that imperils our team. It was on August 6 that the Packers’ bureaucracy announced that the team will play “at least for the first month of the 2020 NFL season without fans at Lambeau Field.”
That’s right, despite the fact that the world is learning more about the novel and unique virus on a daily basis, our team’s leadership committed to play in an empty stadium against the Lions in Week 2 and against the Falcons in Week 4. Those decisions were reached and announced 45 days prior to the Lions’ game and 60 days before the Monday-nighter against the Falcons.
Choosing so prematurely to play games in Green Bay without fans is a defeatist attitude and a disservice to the team’s legions of loyal fans. I recall very little criticism when this announcement was made. Like most everyone else, I was glum and asleep at the wheel at the time. In this age of the virus, I think we all have become too accustomed to being dictated to – by mayors, governors, commissioners, and Chief Executive Officers. Rise up, fans!
When it comes to people’s health, shouldn’t individuals be able to make their own risk-reward decisions? I suspect that driving from around the state to Green Bay is a greater death risk than is attending the game – and this is especially true with the increased distancing and reduced number of attendees that many other sports teams, professional and otherwise, have reasonably implemented.
As we all know, a Lambeau Field packed with rabid fans has given the Packers a decided home field advantage for many decades.
Why would Murphy give that up so quickly and cavalierly? Like so many other execs, Murphy has a corporate mindset. Instead of remaining a true fan of the “game,” Murph has shown himself as a manager to be more concerned with financial statements and projections than sport. With this latest squishy move, the CEO has shown himself – as he has in other recent ways – to be a political correctness parrot. He’s a follower rather than a leader.
Following the lead of NFL Commish Roger Goodell, Murph has put the interests of our team behind that of the crowd that insists we all bow to the scientists, shut down our businesses, and head to the bunkers until the virus is utterly eradicated.
While we don’t yet have all the results of the Chiefs’ experiment on Thursday, it appears that Kansas City’s fan plan – with a partial attendance of 15,985 (Arrowhead Stadium has a capacity of 76,416) was both reasonable and successful. Congrats to them.
It’s Not Too Late
Mark Murphy should never have reached a decision in early August about attendance at Packers’ games scheduled for September 20 and October 5. He needs to be pressured to acknowledge that, and agree to make a final decision on attendance at these first two home games no more than one week prior to each game. We fans also need to be giving him our unbridled input.
Though I believe they are one of only five or so NFL teams that plan to have a fair number of fans at their home debuts, the Chiefs have shown the way. The enlightened leadership of its owners (Lamar Hunt family), GM Brett Veach, and head coach Andy Reid, provides a fine example to the Packers’ front office. This kind of leadership – and love of the game – is surely a major reason that the Lombardi Trophy currently resides in “the Paris of the Plains.”
As things currently (but not irrevocably) stand, the first chance for fans to be in the stands at Lambeau is on November 1, against the Minnesota Vikings.