Aaron Rodgers situation with Mark Murphy, Brian Gutekunst generates no boos at Packers shareholders' annual meeting

Richard Ryman
Green Bay Press-Gazette
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GREEN BAY - Green Bay Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy says fans are split over the Aaron Rodgers situation, but if they are, it wasn't apparent at Monday's annual shareholders meeting.

"I do think our fans are split and they just want to see it resolved," Murphy said during a post-meeting press conference.

Rodgers has confirmed that he is at odds with the Packers, but he has let media leaks and speculation speak for him and hasn’t said directly what it would take for him to return to the team.

While the shareholders' meeting was taking place, a report from Rodgers' preferred go-betweens at national sports news outlets indicated the future Hall of Fame quarterback signaled he would play for the Packers this season. Murphy said he was hopeful Rodgers would show up for training camp, which begins Wednesday, but he couldn't say that would happen.

The Packers president said he was prepared to be booed by shareholders, but it never happened. Not when Murphy and Packers board members walked onto the field to applause or when Rodgers' name came up during presentations. One lone heckler made a couple of comments, but then said no more.

Green Bay Packers annual shareholders meeting attendees applaud during the event on July 26, 2021, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.

"I thought there would be more booing, either against us or Aaron," Murphy said after the meeting.

During the meeting and during the press conference afterward, Murphy praised Rodgers for his contributions to the Packers.

"It's been a challenging situation for Aaron and for us. Let's not forget the things he's done for the Packers. He's a phenomenal talent," Murphy said. 

About 3,900 people attended the meeting, while another 8,000 shareholders watched it online.

Before the meeting, shareholders in the Lambeau Field parking lot were not critical of Packers management but said they would be sad if Rodgers did not return for another season.

"It's sort of sad. We have a chance to threepeat in three sports," said Will Schumacher of Edgerton. "People would be coming to Wisconsin."

Schumacher was referring to the Milwaukee Bucks winning the NBA championship, the Milwaukee Brewers having one of the best records in Major League Baseball and the Packers having gone to two NFC championship games and, with Rodgers at quarterback, being a favorite to make it to the Super Bowl this year.

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Dave Klingenmeyer of Rockton, Ill., had a sign that said, "Make amends and let's go win a Super Bowl." He said the Packers could have communicated with Rodgers better, but overall, management knows what's best for the team.

"Management has proven to do good things, even though they do things we don't understand," he said. "They've kept the team young. We didn't like it when they let Jordy Nelson go and let Randall Cobb go," but they proved to be the right moves.

Rebecca and Donald Schmoll of New London said they were hoping to hear something of Rodgers' status at the meeting. 

"It would be nice to know where we are sitting," said Rebecca, who wanted to buy a jersey later and didn't know if she should get Rodgers' or quarterback heir apparent Jordan Love's name put on the back.

Green Bay Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy speaks at the annual shareholders meeting on July 26, 2021, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.

As a number of shareholders do, Gene Simmerman of Wausau said he and son Ben Simmerman would stay for the first two presenters — Murphy and General Manager Brian Gutekunst — and then head to the Packers Pro Shop.

"This is a beautiful complex and generally well run," he said. "The situation with Aaron is a troubling thing. I think he's playing one more year here and then he's gone."

As reported on July 16, the Packers recorded a loss of $38.8 million loss on operations for the 2020-21 fiscal year on $371.1 million in revenue because fans were not in attendance for the regular season in response to the coronavirus pandemic. That compares to year-earlier revenue of $506.9 million, a record, and profit from operations of $70.3 million. 

Technically, the Packers recorded net income of $60.68 million, but that was because of unrealized income on investments, which did very good in a rising stock market. As Packers treasurer Michael Simmer pointed out, that is not something you can judge operating results on, making profit or loss from operations more relevant. 

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With an anticipated return to full stadiums, the Packers expect the financial picture to return to normal this season.

Murphy said the team continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation. Although the Packers and the NFL want to have full stadiums this season, a surge across the world of the more dangerous delta variant of the virus could change those plans.

"I think it's a concern. The numbers are going back up," he said. "The key is vaccinations."

The Packers have not insisted that players get vaccinated, but the NFL issued rules last week that place a financial penalty on players on both teams if a game is canceled because of a virus outbreak. Murphy would not reveal the percentage of Packers players that are vaccinated but did say "we have a ways to go."

He said the Packers will continue to promote vaccinations as safe and the only way to get on top of the pandemic.

The Packers will put Packers Hall of Fame general manager Ted Thompson's name on the Lambeau Field façade, with an unveiling during the first home game, against the Detroit Lions on Sept. 20. Thompson, who made Rodgers his first draft pick, died in January.

 "I don't think Ted's gotten the credit he deserves for what he did for the Packers," Murphy said. 

Also this season, former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue will receive his Pro Football Hall of Fame ring during halftime of the Packers-Chicago Bears game on Dec. 12. Murphy said Tagliabue requested the ceremony be at Lambeau Field during a game of what the former commissioner called the best rivalry in the NFL.

Contact Richard Ryman at (920) 431-8342 or rryman@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter at @RichRymanPG, on Instagram at  @rrymanPG or  on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RichardRymanPG/

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