Lombardi blog: December edition

Being a Green Bay native has nothing to do with being a good president

December 5, 2007
Local Ties
Let me play devil's advocate for a moment.

Much was made of the fact that Mark Murphy, the Packer President Elect, does not have local ties. The implication is that the man who leads the organization needs to "understand" the Packer experience and history to do his job properly. The Packers are unique and therefore only a person with ties to the organization can run the team.

The argument, as I understand it, is that only a native of this area can truly get it. The man at the top of the Packer organization has always been a local person or, in Bob Harlan's case, a person with long ties to the team. Harlan, who was born in Iowa, attended Marquette and had worked in baseball before joining the team at least has worked for the team since the 1971. Dominic Olejniczak, Judge Parins, Lee Joannes, Andrew Trumbell and the rest were all apparently local guys.

But Vince Lombardi, Mike Holmgren, Ron Wolf, Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy are not from here. Thompson and McCarthy worked here in the past, but these guys all have led the team to successful seasons without being from Green Bay.

I understand that there is a difference between the President and the coaches and general managers. The President hires the coach and GM. The coach and GM are tasked with winning football games and the President is tasked with that too, but also with preserving the Packers and all the things that make the organization great. But why do they need to have local ties to do that.

Two other candidates mentioned for the job were Jason Wied and Andrew Brandt. Weid is from here, but Brandt is not. Based upon that alone, would Wied be better suited for the job than Brandt? How long does a person need to work for the Packers, or live in Green Bay, before they are acceptable?

Again, do not take from this rant that I dismiss the whole issue of local ties outright. I do not, but it is so ambiguous and vague that I do not know what to make of it. I have lived here for 4-and-a-half years. Am I eligible? Harlan was an employee in various capacities for approximately 17 years before he ascended to the top post. Is that the cutoff?

I once lived in Savannah, Ga. and they used to say that you needed to be fourth generation to be considered a native. Anyone else was a visitor. Every now and then people make a big deal about my grandfather and tell me how great it is and so on. My standard response is that it is all an accident of birth. I was born into it. I did not have anything to do with it. I am glad to see that the Packer presidency no longer has such requirements.

All in all, my guess is that this is less about local ties and more about having an outsider in charge. Mark Murphy is an outsider, but his goals and aspirations should be the same as everyone else's. He, Thompson, Weid, Harlan, McCarthy, Brandt and every board member and fan should want the Packers to win football games. Anyone who is not interested in that should step aside. As long as the team wins football games, the rest will take care of itself. And if Mark Murphy fails, it will not be because he was born in upstate New York.

John Lombardi is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at johnlombardi22@yahoo.com.

Packer Report Top Stories