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Gutekunst says he doesn't want other teams to gain advantage by reading Packers' media reports

Jim Owczarski
Packers News

GREEN BAY – A day after the publicly owned Green Bay Packers suddenly changed their long-standing policies on the coverage of training camp practices, third-year general manager Brian Gutekunst explained Thursday why he insisted there be no reporting on starters, position battles or lineup rotations. 

“I think, you know, the changing landscape right now of preseason with no preseason games, no fans at practices, as we got into it, it just changed things and, you know, obviously, there’s certain restrictions that are always placed on you guys as far as what you can and can’t report; and I just thought from a competitive advantage viewpoint this was the right thing to do for, you know, for the short term,” Gutekunst said.

The National Football League closed training camps to fans due to the coronavirus pandemic and left each team to determine its policies regarding coverage, either from in-house media or from independent outlets.

The Packers started practices a little later than some teams, and after three days, Gutekunst decided a change was needed.

“I think there’s multiple reasons,” he said. “Again, as we kind of got into the first three days and kind of seeing the landscape of what other teams are doing and kind of the information we were gathering, again, without 8,000 people at practice and four preseason games, I just thought we were at a little bit of a disadvantage. We wanted to kind of equal the playing field.”

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Gutekunst then said reading and viewing media clips is part of the Packers’ scouting process.

“Well certainly our pro scouts have always followed the local beat reporters in all the teams that they cover,” he said. “Certainly this year it is more prominent just because there no preseason games and you have less to go. Again, are we going to make decisions off that information? Maybe, maybe not. But it’s all helpful to us as we go through and we attack the job that we have to do. Again, it’s a very temporary thing. It’s nothing permanent, I think it’s 10 days we have left before this changes (to regular-season reporting rules). We always try to make the best decisions we can for our football team, and that’s the reason this decision was made.”

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The general manager added, however, what will go into claiming a player following the Sept. 5 final cutdown without a preseason.

“Well, with most of these guys, it’s one of two things really: It’s either the pro tape that they already have, whether it be the preseason tape from last year or years past or regular-season tape and then obviously our college reports,” he said. “Our college scouting staff does an excellent job. And all that carries over into our pro system. That’s always been important when we’re looking at guys we might want to claim or sign and it will be even more valuable this year. Those are the things we rely on most. It’s always about the tape and the work that we’ve done on those players leading up to those decisions.”

Gutekunst said the policy will return to pre-pandemic norms in 2021.

“That’s been the intent all along,” he said. “So, again, this rule we kind of implemented (Wednesday) was strictly because of the environment we’re in right now.”