We’ve all seen the camera shots during NFL games. A quick scan to a luxury suite and a millionaire/billionaire owner cheering for their team.
A scene we’ll never see in Green Bay, WI. Never at Lambeau Field. Never for the Green Bay Packers.
The camera shot there would be of two former NFL players: Mark Murphy and Ted Thompson. Murphy was a safety for the Washington Redskins and Thompson a linebacker for the Houston Oilers.
Today, they lead one of the most successful – and iconic – franchises, not only in the NFL, but all of professional sports.
Murphy is CEO and President of the Packers. Thompson is the Packers General Manager.
Murphy and Thompson are employees of the Packers. The team’s “owners” are the fans in Lambeau Field! It is the fans who are the “stockholders” and throughout the decades have invested in this historic and unique NFL team.
In an era where professional sports has become more and more corporate, it is so fitting that the Packers remain a “bottom up”, not a “top down” business. Players who often have incredibly short careers due to injuries will always have an opportunity in Green Bay to be executives as well as athletes.
Interestingly, neither Murphy or Thompson played for the Packers – and both have succeeded legendary leaders: retired Packers President and CEO Bob Harlan and NFL Hall of Fame General Manager Ron Wolf.
It is not coincidence. The field the Packers play on is not named for a corporation. It honors Curly Lambeau, the team’s founder and first coach. The stadium is also not located on a corporate street. It actually has one of the most famous addresses in all of sports: 1265 Lombardi Avenue. Again, to honor Vince Lombardi, for whom the Super Bowl trophy is now named.
In professional sports, the Packers should be the model, not the exception, especially for athletes who want to do much more once their careers have ended.
By John Finkler