AJ Dillon on buying Packers stock: 'It is definitely nice to feel technically self-employed'
GREEN BAY - Running back AJ Dillon looked out over the room of assembled Green Bay Packers beat media and smirked.
“This is practically a shareholders meeting, isn’t it?”
The newest Packers shareholder has only held a small portion of his own team for a couple of days, but already he feels a greater sense of ownership over the club that selected him in the 2020 NFL draft.
“It is definitely nice to be technically self employed,” Dillon joked Thursday.
The Packers' franchise is unique, in that it is the only major sports team in the country that is publicly owned. It’s a structure that has been in place since 1923, and was grandfathered in to the NFL’s ownership structure, which does not allow such a set-up. A shareholder/owner has no financial incentive (purposely done so there would be no financial pull to sell the team to a bigger marker and thus help keep it in Green Bay) and primarily can only brag about voting rights and an invitation to the annual shareholders' meeting.
This is all information Dillon took in within hours of being drafted.
“The next morning after I got drafted, I watched a huge documentary – there’s some documentary on YouTube, it’s like two hours long – and it's just all the Packers facts and everything,” recalled Dillon, “and there's this part where they go through the town, they’re interviewing all these owners and I just thought it was a coolest thing.”
While Dillon knew he’d love to be a shareholder one day of his new team, there was no guarantee it’d ever happen. Until recently, there had only been five stock sales in the 102-year history of the club. Previous sales took place in 1923, 1935, 1950, 1997 and 2011. But this week, the Packers opened up the sale doors once again.
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“We’re excited to offer shares for just the sixth time in our franchise’s history,” Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy said. “Since we received permission from the NFL last month for a stock offering, fans have been excited. Their support is a key component of our ability to invest in Lambeau Field and maintain it as a top-tier sporting experience, which in turn contributes to the continued success of the franchise.”
One of those “fans” was Dillon.
“I was up early, so I waited probably like 25 minutes but I saw some people were in there for some time,” he said. "
For the guy who quickly ingrained himself with the team and community, having a tangible place within the club was important. Even after his time on the Packers' roster ends, he’ll still be a part of this iconic franchise, its history and its future.
“Who else outside the Green Bay Packers, like how many other people can say they’re an owner – regardless of how significant it is – it’s so cool to have your name … be attached to this franchise. It’s so historical, so many traditions and things like that. So for me, it was really cool to say ‘yeah, I'm player’ and you know, one day I’ll tell my kids and my grandkids, ‘yeah, I played there but I'm also an owner.'"
In NFL locker rooms, the league’s initials infamously stand for “Not For Long.” Trades, cuts, free agency: It all lends itself to a business that moves players around like trading cards. As such, there are very few guys who make a career with one team. But no matter where Dillon’s career takes him from here, he’ll be forever tied to the Packers.
“The plan is, regardless of football, wherever it may take me or may not take me, to be a Green Bay guy for life," he said.