At some point, the Green Bay Packers are going to play in one of the NFL’s international games.
The logistics, however, are the challenge. For the Packers to lose a home game would be incredibly unpopular in Green Bay, where the football team has such a dramatic impact on the local economy. Opponents don’t want to give up a home game against Green Bay, either, considering how well Packers fans travel and buy unsold tickets. For instance, the Packers will open the regular season at Jacksonville. The Jaguars have played one of their “home” games in London in each of the past three seasons and will do so again in 2016 and 2017. They wouldn’t, however, give up this year’s home game against the Packers.
One solution floated by Packers President Mark Murphy on Friday would be to add one regular-season game and eliminate one preseason game, with all 32 teams playing an international game each season.
“I think one thing we can all agree on is the quality of play in the preseason is not good,” Murphy said. “And players don’t need game time, they don’t need preseason games to get ready for the season. Certainly not four. We’ve talked about this: It’s the one part of the NFL that really stands out that’s not a first-class [thing]. It’s just not good. Especially that fourth game. It’s kind of a throw-away. I’m sure Mike (McCarthy) has looked at it, I think you’ll see a lot of young players playing in those first couple preseason games.”
A change in scheduling, however, would have to be collectively bargained with the NFL Players Association. The union balked in 2011, when Murphy was among those pitching an 18-game regular season and two-game preseason. Until then, Green Bay has other tickets out of the country. One possibility is if the Packers play against a team that will be hosting a Super Bowl. The Texans will host this season’s Super Bowl LI, so a game vs. Houston obviously is out of the equation. Super Bowl LII will be hosted by the Vikings; it’s hard to imagine the league moving a division game. However, the next three championship games will be hosted by the Atlanta Falcons, Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Rams.
“I think it’s either going to take the league saying to another team, ‘It’s worth it for you to give up your home game (against the Packers),’” Murphy said. “Now, there are circumstances where they can require a team to give up a home game. I believe if you’re hosting a Super Bowl or you’re in a temporary facility. So just looking ahead there might be some of those opportunities.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.