It was June 25, 1979. Margaret Meyers remembers her first day at the Packers, remembers the baby blue suit she had chosen to wear the night before because it was the best she owned, and remembers working the switchboard before departing because she and the seven other women in the office took turns.
Meyers was new, so she had the final shift answering the club’s main phone line. The rest of her first day is lost in her memory because her head was spinning as she tried to learn a blur of new responsibilities.
It’s 33 years later. Meyers is getting through her final day as President/CEO Mark Murphy’s executive assistant. She’s worked with seven head coaches, weathered the down years when any victory made the staff walk a little taller, has a pair of Super Bowl rings, sat in five offices – the last even had a window – and typed up the first Packers contracts signed by Reggie White and Brett Favre.
A reception in her honor at Lambeau Field was attended by 250 people, and she worked on her speech for most of the day before. A Packers employee departing with three decades of service is celebrated and Meyers is primed to walk away, even on the brink of another season.
“I know I’m ready,” she said. “In January of 2008, I told Mark that I’d probably work a couple more years, but I’ve wanted to go at a time that would be really good for him. My husband, Keith, has been retired for 10 years. It’s time.”
Meyers is sure of it. She joined the Packers after four years at home while her son and daughter grew old enough to go to school. Time moves quickly when judged by the consistent cycles of NFL seasons. Now her daughter Debbi is 41, son Jeff is 38 and she has three grandchildren in grade school.
Meyers was originally hired to fill a couple of roles. In her interview, a positive was she knew how to write shorthand, now a little-used skill. The Packers were looking for an assistant to a coaching administrator, and also someone who could handle business duties as the secretary for Assistant General Manager Tom Miller.
“For the coaching administrator position, I helped with statistics and putting together playbooks, and they asked if I knew anything about football,” she said. “I said yes, I knew about passing the ball and running the ball. They asked me if I knew the terms RB, FB, WR and I thought, ‘I guess I don’t know anything about football.’ I learned quickly.”
In ’82, under CEO Bob Harlan, Meyers started working on player contracts in an administrative capacity, a responsibility she held for two decades. Over those years, she also worked with Mike Reinfeldt (currently executive vice president of the Tennessee Titans), and prepared the contracts for the players that former GM Ron Wolf signed to the Packers.
Her favorite memory needs little prompting – the ’96 season, most notably the Super Bowl XXXI victory over New England at the Superdome.
“Definitely that trip to New Orleans is something I will never forget,” she said. “I was part of the advance team, and we went two weeks early. We worked with the hotel to get everything set up for the team’s headquarters. After everything we had been through as a team, I never expected to be in a Super Bowl or have a Super Bowl ring.”
Or a second one from Super Bowl XLV, particularly when there was a chance she could have already retired.
“Going to Dallas was amazing. I’d never downplay that,” she said. “I wear that ring for special occasions. I’m not a ring person, but I wear the first one every day. It took some getting used to. People see it and they ask, ‘What is that?’ They know it isn’t a class ring. When you wear two, it’s a lot of bling.”
There are other career landmarks – copy machines made life a lot easier when it came to producing playbooks for players and coaches, and Meyers said “the whole picture changed” when Mike Holmgren arrived as head coach in ’92.
The toughest day during her tenure with the Packers also comes with little hesitation: Dec. 19, 1983, when Bart Starr was relieved of his duties as head coach. Green Bay had finished 8-8 the day before.
“That was hard, because everyone loved him so much,” Meyers said. “He called everyone into a meeting room and told us. It wasn’t a big group back then as a staff, but he called everyone in to tell us and that really stands out.”
Her responsibilities grew over the years, as she worked with Harlan, became a chief contact for the board of directors and served as the secretary of the Green Bay Packers Foundation before becoming Murphy’s executive assistant. With Harlan, she assisted in coordinating the search for the club’s next president, and then Meyers’ duties became specific to Murphy.
“She has been invaluable to me since I started with the Packers,” Murphy said. “This is a unique organization, with a unique history. There are policies and procedures where I could rely on her if I had any questions. That is setting aside the personal relationships she has with everyone in the building. Margaret has been a great asset to the Packers.”
Meyers has touched all the bases during her years with the Packers, and has witnessed the organization grow exponentially. Murphy recognized Meyers at the shareholders meeting last week, and Meyers stood and received a rousing ovation from the nearly 13,000 in attendance.
As Murphy updated the shareholders on some of the information about the club, maybe it hit Meyers that in the future she’ll learn about things at the same time as the public.
“I’ll miss being behind the scenes and working with the president of an NFL team and having some access to knowing what’s going on,” she said. “Other than the people I’ve worked with, I guess that’s what I’ll miss the most.”
Now that she’s on the outside looking in, will she still go to every Packers game despite what has been a lengthy commute over the last few years?
“Of course, and coming to Green Bay won’t feel like work anymore.”