Back from my summer hiatus and recharged for the long seven, hopefully eight months of Packers coverage. In advance of Friday's opening of training camp, some thoughts on a couple of events that took place while on vacation.
Another core signing
Morgan Burnett is now being paid to be the playmaker the coaching staff has been telling us he is going to be. Burnett agreed to a four year extension worth nearly 25 million dollars, keeping him with the Pack through the next five years. His rookie season was wiped out by injury but he's been the full time starter at safety in each of the past two years. Burnett was solid in 2012, racking up 97 tackles, but he only picked off two passes, both against the Vikings at Lambeau in December, giving him six for his career. He knocked down 13 passes, less than one a week, and as a blitzer, has sacked the quarterback only three times in two plus seasons. Ever since Nick Collins was forced into retirement with his neck injury and now that Charles Woodson has departed after his celebrated run in a Packers uniform, Burnett has to be the big timer in the back end of the Packers defense.
Last Saturday night, the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame inducted it's class of 2013, a worthy trio. Kicker Chris Jacke, defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and former president Emil Fischer. Jacke put up the third most points in franchise history through the Super Bowl XXI season, KGB is the team's all-time sack leader and Fischer presided over the franchise during a turbulent time both on and off the field. Curly Lambeau's feud with the board over the direction of the team led to his abrupt departure to the Chicago Cardinals and the franchise was floundering financially. I was happy to see him included among the contributors who quietly played a huge role in keeping the last of the NFL's town teams solvent.
The money pit
Tomorrow, the owners of the Green Bay Packers will gather at Lambeau to attend the annual stockholders meeting. In advance of the gathering, the only publicly owned pro sports franchise released many of the financial details of the past fiscal year. To put it simply, the Packers are drowning in cash. With expenses for the last fiscal year dropping from 259 to 254 million dollars, thanks to a declining player payroll (from 155 million to 139 million), the non-profit organization reported a record revenue of 308 million, a record net profit of 54.3 million, up 26.4 percent from a year ago and a record net income of 43.1 million dollars. Sick numbers, better than the GNP of some countries. The Packers board of directors and executive committee is charged with investing that money and turning it right back into the football operations and facilities. Over 286 million is being spent on the now completed south end zone and the still under construction Atrium redevelopment. Fans want everything else poured into free agents for Ted Thompson to sign, but it doesn't quite work that way. Keeping the franchise competitive and financially sound are the priorities and based on this latest set of numbers, the organization is doing just that.
Bring on camp
The players check into McCormick Hall at St. Norbert College on Thursday and come Friday morning at 8:20 AM, Mike McCarthy leads the boys onto Ray Nitschke Field for the first practice of camp. Come back for complete daily coverage and analysis on how the 2013 Packers are taking shape.