The Packers don’t have a traditional owner. CEO Mark Murphy is the closest they have to one. And with not many owners talking publicly about the challenges confronting the NFL in a pandemic, anything any of them say (even one who isn’t really an owner but close enough) is significant.
Here’s what Murphy said about the current situation in a monthly online column posted Saturday: “With training camps set to start in less than a month and with COVID-19 showing no signs of slowing down, the Packers will have to make several difficult decisions in the coming weeks. Since the pandemic arrived earlier this year, NFL teams have had the benefit of time. Unlike professional basketball, hockey and baseball teams who were either in the middle of their seasons or about to start, we were in the beginning of our offseason. NFL teams were able to handle free agency, the draft and their entire offseason programs virtually. We’ve made decisions along the way, but the major ones we’ve been able to put off until we have more information. With so much uncertainty, it has made sense that we have not made decisions until we absolutely have to. As we near the start of training camp, though (rookies will start practice on July 21 and veterans on the 28th), time is no longer on our side.”
He’s right about that. Time isn’t on the NFL’s side. Agreements need to be struck with the union, and decisions need to be made about the contours of training camp, the preseason (if there is one), and the regular season.
With July 4 now in the rear-view mirror, it’s expected that the process will accelerate dramatically this week. It has to, or it will be impossible for rookies to start practicing on July 21, or for the rest of the team to be ready to go on the 28th.