GREEN BAY—The Packers are talking with Brett Favre about bringing the former quarterback back to Lambeau Field for a game sometime this season, and the team could be playing a game in London within the next few years.
Those were two key topics Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy discussed with the media shortly after the annual shareholders meeting wrapped up on a sunny but mild summer Thursday in Green Bay.
A public reunion with Favre has remained an ongoing story as his certain first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Fame induction approaches in 2016. Traded to the Jets in 2008 after 16 seasons as the Green Bay quarterback, Favre hasn’t returned to Lambeau since playing games for the Vikings against the Packers in both 2009 and 2010.
Murphy has said the Packers would like to retire Favre’s No. 4 jersey and see him inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame before he heads to Canton, but the first step would be bringing him back for a visit. That was attempted last year, but Favre’s coaching schedule with a high school football team in Mississippi interfered.
“We’ve had ongoing discussions with him,” Murphy said. “We’re hopeful that we can get him back for a game this year.”
Provided that happens, the jersey retirement and Packers Hall induction would occur in 2015.
Murphy recently expressed concern at bringing Favre back too soon, but earlier this week Favre dismissed those concerns in a radio interview, and Murphy appears to have dismissed them as well.
“I really hope and I think … (fans are) going to look back and see the entirety of what he did, not just the last few years when he played for the Vikings,” Murphy said. “He probably had as big an impact on the organization as anybody in the history of the organization, and I’m very hopeful when he does come back that he’ll be fully supported by our fans. I’m confident in that.”
Murphy also sounded confident the Packers would play a game in London within the next few years, especially now that three NFL games are scheduled for Wembley Stadium this season and in subsequent ones.
In his address to the shareholders, he mentioned the same possibility to the 14,759 fans in attendance and the more than 10,000 watching online, but reiterated that a game in London would take the place of a road game, not a home one.
“We would never give up a home game,” Murphy said. “It’s too important for the community. But I would be excited about having a chance to play in London. You heard the statistics about the global reach of the Packers. I think our fans here would love to travel to London and it would be a great experience.”
That willing-to-travel fan base might have prevented the Packers from possibly traveling to London two years ago, Murphy suggested. In 2012, the St. Louis Rams were “hosting” a game in London and were scheduled to host the Packers that season, but discussions never went anywhere because the Rams didn’t want to give up a home game they were almost certain to sell out, given the number of Packers fans who would buy tickets in St. Louis.
“The league would like the Packers to play in London,” Murphy said. “We’re a very unique organization that I think, across the pond, they might find interesting to learn a little bit about the Packers.”
For their part, the Packers plan to learn more about variable ticket pricing by watching the other teams around the league using it in some form this season.
As they study other teams’ policies, Murphy said the Packers would consider lowering the face value of preseason tickets and possibly creating different regular-season price tiers. But the team’s green and gold season-ticket packages and the relative unpredictability of the schedule – with no guarantee that games selected in the offseason as “marquee” games would remain so by the time they arrive, and vice versa – create challenges.
“I’m not sure on the exact numbers, but I think 10 teams are doing it this year,” Murphy said. “We’ll learn from their experiences.” Additional shareholders meeting coverage: