GREEN BAY, Wis. – Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson rarely reveals much about his football team at the team's annual shareholders meeting. It didn't stop him from enjoying the moment with thousands of fans.
Speaking to an estimated crowd of 13,000 shareholders, Thompson cracked a few jokes, delivered his take on the weather, shared the players' schedule as they arrive for training camp on Thursday and praised eighth-year head coach Mike McCarthy. Then Thompson he looked around the historic stadium, pointed to the recently completed south end zone addition that added 7,000 seats, and recalled the start of his first stint with the team more than 20 years ago.
"There have been a lot of changes over the years," said Thompson, hired as a pro personnel scout in 1992. "A lot of changes in the building, the facilities, the stadium."
Murphy said the end zone addition brings Lambeau Field's total capacity to 80,750, making it the third-largest stadium in the league. The crowd cheered when Murphy said Lambeau Field had surpassed Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, with the addition.
President and CEO Mark Murphy noted the Packers are one of only two teams in the NFC to have made the playoffs each of the past four years; Thompson pointed out that the Packers are one of only two teams in the 32-team league to have put together four consecutive seasons with 10 or more victories. Thompson, now in his ninth season as GM, then added that the Packers have made the playoffs in 15 of the past 20 years.
Said Murphy: "I could not be more pleased with the job Ted's doing, and I hope you all feel the same way. . He's built us into a consistent winner and through his hard work, we will be a consistent winner for years to come."
Still, playoff losses the past two years are on everyone's mind around here.
"We're never quite satisfied, we have very high standards here with the Green Bay Packers, we understand that, we understand it was a disappointment in the end," Thompson told shareholders. "The NFL is all about getting ready for what's next — the next play, the next game, the next season. . The NFL is a hard business, it's hard to predict, but we feel that if we prepare well and play well, we have a chance to win every Sunday. Or Saturday. Or Thursday."
The rest of the event was part business meeting, part pep rally. As the NFL's only publicly owned franchise, the Packers are the only league team required to reveal detailed financial data.
Board of directors secretary Daniel Ariens said the team had 5,014,554 shares of stock held by 364,122 shareholders, including those added during the team's sale two years ago that raised more than $64 million to help pay for stadium renovations.
Shareholders were also told the team had $54.3 million in profit from operations and $43.1 million in net income, both records. But the event was less about money matters and more about kicking off the 2013 season, with the first practice of training camp set for Friday.
"You can just feel it. It's palpable," Murphy said after the meeting, referring to the buzz the week creates in the area. The team also has scheduled a 5K run, a kids' movie night and other fan-friendly events over the next few days.
"Training camp has changed quite a bit. You used to have two-a-days and now it's one practice (per day)," said Murphy, who played eight NFL seasons with the Washington Redskins. "To get people here, we've got to have other things going on."
Murphy also said there was "really not anything new" to report about the process of retiring former quarterback Brett Favre's No. 4. Murphy has said the event would not happen in 2013.
"It's really (a matter of) finding a time that's right for him and the organization," he said.