“We won’t love every rule change,” Packers President Mark Murphy said, choosing his words carefully. “But this one. Well, it just doesn’t fit the spirit of the game.”
I sat down for an exclusive interview with Murphy, Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst, and Head Coach Matt LaFleur (a benefit of representing a global media outlet like PackersForTheWin.com, while also being a team owner). In my meeting, it became increasingly apparent that none of them liked the new overtime rules implemented by the NFL on Tuesday.
Murphy went on, speaking with the passion of a man who truly appreciates and respects the game of football and its history. “You have one-hundred-plus men out there, battling each other in the most physical of sports for 60 minutes straight. At the end of that, if you haven’t won… maybe you just don’t deserve it. Sudden death was actually a poetic way to end a football game.”
“Football is fundamentally different than baseball or basketball,” Gutekunst added, shifting in his seat with pent-up anxiety. “Both teams don’t need multiple chances to score if the game is tied after regulation. It’s…” He drew in a deep breath and fiddled with the Meghan Trainor bobblehead on Murphy’s desk. “That’s a pretty… un-masculine proposition.”
Matt LaFleur huffed and shook his head. “Just say it, Gutey! Football’s a man’s sport! We have manly rules and those other games are for p-”
“Matthew!” Murphy slapped the table and glared across the room, silencing everyone, and even making me a little uncomfortable. Murphy may come across as affable and light-hearted in most press conferences, but behind closed doors, he flaunts all the imposing presence of a 6’4 former NFL defender.
LaFleur composed himself and continued in a lighter tone. “You see, football, as a 60 minute game with sudden death overtime, is a beautiful balance… a perfect solution.”
Gutekunst sat up in his seat with an incredulous look. “Yeah, but the new rules-”
“Tss!” LaFleur held up a silencing finger. “The concession to allow a team a possession in overtime if they held their opponent to a field goal was a very reasonable balance.”
“Yeah,” Murphy said, shaking his head and looking agitated, “but only because they changed all the rules and fu-”
“Mark…” Gutekunst pushed his chair back and his eyes widened in fear. “P-please don’t get worked up again…”
Murphy, red-faced and biting his lip, just shook a trembling fist. “Don’t tell me what to do.”
Gutekunst, stumbled back from his seat, eyes fixed in terror on a visibly-agitated Murphy, and cowered behind LaFleur.
“We’re done with this shit!” Mark Murphy screamed as he threw a chair across his office so hard that it knocked over his life-sized Jeff Janis cardboard cutout. “If we go into OT, we’re just not gonna play!” Pounding his desk over and over, he kept repeating, “Stupid fucking rule, crybaby lawyers!” until he was physically restrained by Matt LaFleur, who showed more raw power than his pretty boy appearance would suggest.
“Frankly,” Murphy said after catching his breath, “we’ve been screwed enough by overtime in the playoffs enough. Look back at 2003, 2007, 2009, 2014, 2021.”
I informed Murphy that the Packers didn’t go to overtime in the playoffs in 2021.
He bit his lip and spit blood. “Well it should have.”
“Look,” LaFleur said, injecting a calm tone while Gutekunst excused himself to clean his pants. “We don’t make the rules, but-”
“But we goddam well should!” Murphy barked. “Then we wouldn’t have a bunch participation trophy overtime rules for candy-ass hippies!” He stood up and shoved a stack of papers off his desk. As they fluttered to the ground, I noticed half of them had pictures of scantily-clad women and the other half had pictures of former Packers long-snappers. “You know what? This interview it over. Get the hell out of my office.”
“You can’t kick me out, sir,” I told Murphy with scathing politeness. “I’m an owner.”
Murphy nodded in disgusted agreement. “Come on, Matt,” he said, pulling LaFleur out of his office with him, “I got a coupon for a free pistachio muffin at Kwik Trip.”
Then I sat down at Murphy’s desk, grabbed a Miller Lite from his mini-fridge, and wrote this very column just for you. Just for today.