It was a beautiful day. Things started at 9 a.m. so the temps were still low, the wind was comforting and the team made very effort to keep everyone on the shaded side of the stadium. They had a 9-year-old boy sing the National Anthem. I wish I could remember his name because he did a great job. At times, between pauses in the song, it was so quiet in Lambeau Field that I could hear the flags on the north end whipping in the wind. I was in the south end zone so that was stirring. The only people in the place who were probably uncomfortable were the big shots on stage that had suits on, most of them dark. It looked like there were going to a funeral.
Packer President John Jones was absent, still recovering from heart surgery. I wonder what role he would have taken had he been there? He is at home recovering and everyone wishes him a quick recovery.
The Packers were expecting 30,000 attendees, and I have not heard if that estimate came through, but I was wondering how many of those folks own stock in other companies and outside of the guys on the Packer Board, how many of those 30,000 fans have attended a share holders meeting for any of their other stock holdings? I know that I have never been to a shareholders meeting for the few stock investments that I possess and would never think of attending. Many of the fans were there to take a tour of the locker room, which is pretty cool, but like most things associated with the Packers, this day is a unique event.
200, 000 Shares
Team bylaws prohibit anyone person from owning more than 200,000 shares of the stock. According to the Packer website:
Shares of stock include voting rights, but the redemption price is minimal, no dividends are ever paid, the stock cannot appreciate in value, and there are no season ticket privileges associated with stock ownership.
Since there is no dividend and shareholders get no financial reward, what are the advantages of holding that many shares over holding just one? Is it just prestige or ego that drives someone to hold that many shares? What are the advantages? They do get to vote on Board Members and other issues. I suppose some kind soul may by that many to help the team financially, but it seems like a waste of money to buy more than one per person. Maybe on of our readers has some insight.
There are rumors that my Grandfather and some other made an effort to accumulate a controlling interest back when he was the coach. Not sure if it is true or if he could have accomplished it, but one of the main reason he left for Washington was that he got a percentage of the team. My Grandmother sold it, but I wish she had hung onto it.
The Packer GM made a brief address concerning the state of the team. He will never be mistaken for a great orator, but TT gave an insightful and at time humorous account of the coaching staff and roster. He was surprisingly candid and while he is duty bound to be optimistic, he did admit that the veterans will have to carry this team in 2006. That could be scary unless all the injured guys come back healthy and the younger guys like Scott Wells step up. The rookies are not going to make the difference according to Ted, that would be asking too much.
By reading between the lines (which is dangerous at times) I also noticed that he was answering some of his critics on three fronts.
1. He addressed his policy of not discussing salary negotiations publicly. He is pretty tight lipped about such things and the Al Harris situation has probably generated many calls on the part of the media for him to tackle Mr. Harris' demands. Ted basically told everyone to give it up – he is not talking.
2. He mentioned that he has no plans of drafting as high as they did this year ever again I interpreted that this point was directed at guys like me who suggested he trade down. He feels that A. J. Hawk is a top-five pick and took him. History will judge.
3. He took at subliminal shot at all the draft experts, pundits and fan boys when he said that the Packer mimic his style. They are deliberate, even keeled and reasonable. The line of the day for me was when TT said that the NFL was not fantasy football. You have to do your homework in this league and all of us part-timers can suck an egg (my words). I do not begrudge this feeling on this point, he is right.
Predictions going into Training Camp
It is always hard to judge these things until the games matter, but my gut tells me one of two things will happen this year. The Packers will be either really good or really bad. They are looking for a lot of players to come in and exceed expectations and they are hoping that others bounce back from injury. If they hit on most of the question marks, they could challenge for a playoff bid. If Ahman Green is serviceable, if Charles Woodson returns to the Pro Bowl level, If Ryan Pickett plays like a first rounder, if they can find three big uglies to fill the middle of the offensive line, then things could be good. If the linebacking corps is as good as TT thinks it could be, then things could be good. If the new guys do not step up and the injured guys do not come back and contribute, then this could be another downer year. If the zone blocking scheme does not work, if Favre turns the ball over like last year, then times could be tough over on Lombardi Avenue.
I know it is a cop out on my part, but there is no other way to look at it in my mind. No one knows how good or bad this team will be. We are all pretenders.
One last item. At the end of the meeting, the team played a video about Reggie White that I missed, I had left by then. Reggie is scheduled to be inducted in the Packer Hall of Fame soon and then into the Pro Football Hall in August. I will be traveling to Canton for the festivities and look forward to reporting back for all Packer Fans. It is still strange to see his name and number up there in the end zone, but I guess I will get used to it.
Editor's note: John Lombardi is the grandson of legendary coach Vince Lombardi. His football experience includes stints with two teams in the World League (now NFL Europe); in the scouting departments of the Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans; and graduate assistant coach and director of football operations at Vanderbilt. E-mail him at email@example.com.