The news on how the Packers are doing financially is mostly good. They made $22 million (up from $18 mill last year) - they contributed $10 million to their contingency fund (grand total of $125.5 million) - expenses were down and total revenues were up $10 million to $218 million.
Buried was a small piece of bad news, local revenue or what they call "Marketing Revenue" was down from $41.4 million to $40.7 million. A lot of money to normal folks, but not a great falloff when you consider the big picture. The Packer people gave some reasons for it and I am sure they are legit, but I cannot help but feel that the newness of Lambeau Field has worn off some. Couple that with another less than special season and it is not unreasonable to think that locally, the Packers are in for some belt tightening if the losses on the field continue to at least equal the wins.
The NFL as a league has never been stronger or more lucrative. Those revenues keep going up, but the challenge for the teams is to make money in the local market. That will allow them to stay competitive. That is why the stadium referendum was so important so many years ago. Or so it would seem.
Is it not strange that since the remodel job on Lambeau took place, the Packers have gotten worse? Their record I mean. The argument for the tax increase was so the Packers could survive and thrive in the competitive world of the National Football League. Survive they are, thriving they are not. Maybe that will change this fall, if it does not, look for local revenues to continue falling.
June 11, 2007
Green Bay Media
Basically three major media markets cover the Packers. Green Bay, Milwaukee and Madison have media folks who cover the Packers full-time. Taking that into account, why have there been no follow up stories about the John Jones situation and his sudden leave of absence? There obviously were stories when it happened and in the few days after, but there has been little to no follow-up the past week or so.
Were this Chicago, San Fran, New York or Dallas, things would be different. I will admit that it is possible that there is nothing to report and consequently there would be a lack of stories. But I also know that there are numerous rumors and stories out there ready for a real journalist to investigate and prove or disprove. I have heard many of them from multiple sources. As much as I like to see myself as a member of the media, I am not. I have a full-time job and do not have as much time to chase these leads, but the full-time guys do, or they should.
So the questions include:
1. Do I have better sources? I really doubt it.
2. Are they in the Packers pocket, afraid to tick them off with potentially negative reporting? Possibly.
3. Do they not care? I don't know the answer to that.
4. Have they checked out the leads and been unable to confirm them? Maybe, but I doubt that. Worst case scenario, they would write the story with the Packers' responses.
Anyway, it just seems ridiculous that there has not been one story aimed at getting to the bottom of what the Packers called John Jones' "management concerns" and the future of the Green Bay Packers. I will admit that I may have missed them, but I do a pretty good job of reading the major papers and I have not seen anything. I have buddies from out of town who are amazed that there is not more being done by our intrepid reporters. They keep pumping me for info and I have nothing to give them lately.
June 7, 2007
More names for the job
John Czarnecki of Foxsports.com has entered into the Packer President speculation. Bryan Wiedmeier, president of the Miami Dolphins; Rob Brzezinski, vice president of football operations for the Minnesota Vikings; and Jay Zygmunt, president of football operations for the Rams are some people he recently mentioned as possible replacements for Bob Harlan. Like me, he also mentioned Ernie Acorsi, who is retired.
Two other names he brought up were Titans GM Mike Reinfeldt, which he thinks is unlikely and Packer VP Andrew Brandt. He dismissed Brandt saying that if Harlan thought him worthy, he would have already promoted him. Both deductions are speculative at best.
Whoever is named president by the Executive Committee will have a monumental task in front of him. He will have to evaluate both Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy and the job they have done. If he finds their performance lacking and makes a change (assuming he has the authority) it will have been a wasted three years. I assume that the new president will have that authority. I also assume that he will also have the authority to hire and fire just about anyone, including Andrew Brandt. I am not sure anyone worthy of the job will accept it without the authority to mold the organization as they see fit.
When it is all said and done, this "leave of absence" will end up costing the Packers more than $5 million in wages and headaches. Add that to the Mike Sherman payoff which is probably north of $2 million per year, and the Packers are literally paying for bad decisions.
June 4, 2007
Who will the Packers go for?
Some news was made here over the weekend when the local paper reported that Ken Herock, former NFL executive, suggested Seahawk's Coach Mike Holmgren as a possible replacement for John Jones/Bob Harlan. Herock also fingered Tampa Exec Bruce Allen and Falcons President and General Manager Rich McKay as names to watch.
I do not see the Packers going after either of those guys. Just a hunch, but I do not think either of them is a serious candidate. Holmgren on the other hand presents an interesting choice.
He did essentially fail as the General Manager of the Seahawks, but it is next to impossible for anyone to handle the dual role of coach and GM. He has the media presence to be what is essentially the face of the organization. I feel that he was largely responsible for the success the Packers had in the mid-1990's. He worked with Ron Wolf very well and drove the Packers to the title. He has experience with Ted Thompson, so that is a plus, unless there is some tension there that we are not aware of. He has a street named after him in Green Bay already. The question is, will the powers that be reward him with the "Number 1 job" in the league after he left the team in a lurch so many years ago? Hard to say.
If not Holmgren, then who? I heard that the Pack is looking for a guy who can be here for a long time so age might be a factor. In no particular order:
The obvious ones:
Mike Reinfeldt - Exec. VP/GM - Titans - Has deep Wisconsin and Packer roots both personally and within his family. ... Was considered the eventual replacement for Harlan before leaving for Seattle. ... May have enemies in the organization for leaving. ... Just took the Titans' job and may be too honorable to leave it so soon. ... The pressure he will face to return for personal reasons if he has the chance may be too much to ignore. Not too old.
Randy Mueller - GM - Dolphins - New to his job, sort of. ... On the staff for a couple of years, but has new authority under the new regime. ... Well regarded within the league. ... Worked for the Seahawks and Saints previously. ... Media Savvy as he worked on air for ESPN. ... Fits the age factor.
Ernie Accorsi - Retired - Most recently with the Giants - Reveres the Packers organization. ... Probably could not be enticed, but should be contacted to get his opinion on who they should go for. ... Former PR guy, so he can do the media thing.
Scott Pioli - Vice President of Player Personnel - Patriots - Worked for Browns and Jets also. ... Bill Belichick's right hand man. ... Has spurned other ovetures from other teams in the past, but this is a different gig. ... Rumor was he wanted the Giants job previously held by Acorsi. ... Not sure how much of his success is Belichick related. ... Fits the age bracket.
A.J. Smith - Exec. VP and GM - Chargers - I only put him here because he has been very successful and is well known. ... Not sure he would even consider the job. ... They have a dream team assembled and I am certain he wants to run it to the Super Bowl. ... Had a terrible relationship with then Coach Marty Schottenheimer, so I doubt he fits the bill PR wise for what the Packers are looking for.
My two darkhorses:
Mickey Loomis - Exec. VP and GM - Saints - Made the moves that resulted in the Saints resurgence last year. ... Oversaw a wreck of a franchise in the wake of Hurricaine Katrina and kept it upright. ... Has experience with many facets of the NFL business. ... About the right age.
Tom Herkert Jr. - General Manager - Eagles - not yet 40 years old, but is credited with keeping the Eagles stocked with personnel without breaking the bank year after year. ... I am sure that not being more involved with things outside the on field world of the NFL will be considered a negative, but he is a sharp, capable individual.
There are others, including in-house candidates Andrew Brandt and Jason Weid and odds are the Packers will pick someone not mentioned, but whomever they pick had better have a keen grasp of the League and what it takes to build a winner.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.